WASHINGTON The United States continues to lag behind other countries in broadband adoption and download speeds, according to a report released by the Federal Communications Commission on Friday.
Based on broadband data from Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries, the United States ranked ninth out of 29 countries for mobile broadband adoption on a per capita basis, and 12th out of 33 countries for percentage of households with fixed broadband, the FCC said.
The United Kingdom, South Korea and Iceland were among countries to top the United States' 63 percent broadband adoption rate.
Extending affordable Internet access to all Americans is a priority of the FCC. The agency released its National Broadband Plan last year, a blueprint for expanding coverage, making more airwaves available for mobile services and upgrading Internet speeds up to 25 times the current average.
Consumers in some large European and Asian cities reported faster download speeds than consumers in comparable U.S. cities, the report released Friday said.
For instance, average download speed was found to be 11.7 Mbps in New York with a population of nearly 8.4 million people compared with 35.8 Mbps for the 10 million residents of Seoul, South Korea, the report said.
But the agency acknowledged that gaps and variations in data collection methodologies across countries prevent any definitive conclusions from being made.
Therefore, the report also detailed efforts by the FCC, along with the State Department and Commerce Department, to work with OECD to make more reliable, standardized data available and less expensive to collect.
A separate FCC report released on Friday found that about 26 million Americans, most of whom live in rural areas, do not have access to broadband. A third of Americans with access do not subscribe to broadband, likely due to high costs, low digital literacy and concerns about privacy, the FCC said.
The report will be delivered to Congress.
The agency said it relied on data from actual broadband deployment for the first time this year. In past years, the report was based on estimates derived from broadband adoption.
The head of the lobbying arm of the cable industry called the FCC's conclusions in this report regrettable and wrong.
"While the Commission's headline proclaims that 20 million Americans are denied access to broadband, by that measure private investment has fueled the build-out of broadband networks to nearly 300 million consumers and is responsible for the jobs that flow from that investment," said Michael Powell, president and chief executive of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.
USTelecom, the broadband trade association, also questioned the FCC's findings.
Walter McCormick Jr, the group's chief executive, pointed to FCC data showing that 95 percent of Americans have access to fixed broadband, and 93 percent are happy with their service.
He also said private sector investment in broadband grew by $3 billion from 2009 to 2010 to $66 billion.
"Clearly the private sector is doing its part -- broadband has been deployed to virtually every corner of America where a business case can be made for investment," McCormick said.
(Reporting by Jasmin Melvin; Editing by Gary Hill)