Until now, however, the Federal Communications Commission has told Congress that Internet service providers are deploying broadband in a "reasonable and timely fashion."
But the FCC today said that ISPs are falling short. In a statement describing its latest report to Congress, the FCC said that between 14 million and 24 million Americans don't have access to high-speed lines.
"Taking account of the millions of Americans who, despite years of waiting, still have little prospect of getting broadband deployed to their homes, we must conclude that broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement.
That conclusion seems obvious to reformers -- who have long said that the ISPs and the government aren't doing enough to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband -- but drew dissents from the two GOP commissioners. Robert McDowell issued a statement lamenting the FCC's "180 degree reversal" on the issue, while Meredith Baker declared that "broadband infrastructure deployment and investment are a remarkable and continuing success story."
The FCC also redefined broadband as 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream, a significant revision from the previous standard of 200 kilobits per second downstream.
Baker took issue with that as well, saying the FCC "should not adopt the 4Mbps/1Mbps speed threshold as the definition of 'broadband' without conducting our own due diligence."