NTCA: Rural Anchor Institutions Enjoy Increased Fiber Access

  • Rural Broadband Association (NTCA)
ARLINGTON, VA — The majority of libraries, public schools and healthcare facilities are connected to fiber networks and many can now access gigabit speeds, a significant improvement over the connectivity available five years ago. This is according to a survey report recently released by NTCA, the Rural Broadband Association, which represents nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies in rural and small-town America. The survey covered broadband connectivity that NTCA members provide to rural anchor institutions such as public schools, libraries and medical facilities.

Increased Speeds to Anchor Institutions
Compared to data collected by NTCA in 2013, both the maximum speed of broadband reported as available to connected anchor institutions and the average speed reported as purchased by those institutions have increased significantly. The survey conveys that internet speeds offered by local internet service providers to the schools, libraries and hospitals within their incumbent service areas have been able to stay ahead of increasing bandwidth demands.

K-12 Schools Average 1 Gbps
The maximum connection speed that NTCA members reported making available to K-12 public schools averaged 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps), with 82 percent of those schools connected by fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) networks. About 76 percent of rural hospitals and medical clinics and 64 percent of libraries were connected by FTTP according to survey respondents, with average maximum speeds of 734 Mbps and 500 Mbps, respectively, available to those anchor institutions.

“Small, rural broadband providers have leveraged a mix of community commitment, entrepreneurial spirit, private capital and critical programs like the FCC’s High-Cost Universal Service Fund to bring connectivity to rural America, including these vital public institutions that aid the health, well-being, and education of rural Americans across the country,” said NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield. “This survey shows that many NTCA members have made significant improvements to their networks and continue to prioritize the connectivity needs of key community assets.”

More than 100 NTCA members completed the survey, which consisted of questions about available and purchased broadband internet speeds throughout incumbent service areas, as well as the prevalence of rural anchor institutions and network technologies deployed to connect them.

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