The Federal Communications Commission has significantly underestimated the number of people who lack access to broadband service, according to new research by BroadbandNow.
The FCC said last year that 21.3 million Americans had no access to broadband. But the actual figure is closer to 42 million, according to BroadbandNow -- an organization that offers information to consumers about internet providers.
BroadbandNow says it manually investigated the availability of broadband service at more than 11,000 addresses, all located within census blocks where providers supposedly offered broadband.
To accomplish this, researchers used Internet service providers' online tools that allow potential customers to determine availability by typing in an address. Those manual checks revealed that service was often unavailable, the report states.
The FCC's estimate that 21.3 million people lack broadband comes from information submitted by internet service providers about which census blocks they serve. When the FCC compiled its estimate, it only asked providers if they offered service anywhere in a census block.
The FCC agency recently voted to collect more precise data by asking providers to submit maps showing exactly which areas they serve within census blocks.
BroadbandNow isn't the only one to question the FCC's report. Microsoft also said its observations conflict with the FCC's estimate.
“In some areas, the Commission's broadband availability data suggests that Internet service providers ... have reported significant broadband availability (25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up) while Microsoft’s usage data indicates that only a small percentage of consumers actually access the Internet at broadband speeds in those areas,” Paula Boyd, Microsoft senior director for regulatory affairs, wrote in a filing submitted to the agency last March.