What GAO Uncovered
Although most small corporations have access to broadband, tens of millions of small businesses continue to lack ample access to satisfy their desires. According to two new surveys by the Countrywide Federation of Impartial Small business and Google, all over 8 p.c or about 2-3 million U.S. tiny business enterprise deficiency obtain to broadband. Compact organizations possible reward from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) and the Division of Agriculture’s (USDA) funding to extend broadband deployment. For case in point, FCC approximated that roughly $9.2 billion allocated for broadband infrastructure in 2020 will serve above 5.2 million residences and firms.
Much of the literature GAO reviewed suggests that FCC’s current broadband least benchmark speeds—25 megabits per 2nd (Mbps) for downloading and 3 Mbps for uploading—are probable far too slow to meet numerous compact small business speed wants. The figure beneath illustrates the a variety of sorts of enterprise broadband use and the associated relative speed necessities.
Illustrative Illustrations of Different Forms of Business Broadband Use
Resources range in phrases of the specific speeds they advocate for small corporations. For illustration, in 2017, BroadbandUSA—a Nationwide Telecommunications and Details Administration program—published a simple fact sheet stating that compact businesses need a minimal of 50 Mbps speeds in get to carry out duties such as handling stock, running point-of-sale terminals, and coordinating shipping and delivery. A 2019 USDA report on rural broadband and agriculture said that, as technological know-how developments and volumes of data required to deal with agriculture generation expand, speeds in surplus of 25/3 Mbps with much more equal download and add speeds will most likely be required.
To satisfy a statutory need to ascertain on a yearly basis irrespective of whether advanced telecommunications ability is being deployed on a acceptable and timely basis to all Individuals, FCC sets a bare minimum broadband velocity benchmark. In its 2021 Broadband Deployment Report, FCC mentioned that the present-day benchmark, previous set in 2015, proceeds to meet up with that requirement. Nevertheless, FCC officers stated they are not aware of any compact business enterprise demands that have been taken into thought in pinpointing the least pace benchmark. Examining small enterprise velocity prerequisites could help notify FCC’s dedication of the benchmark pace for broadband.
Why GAO Did This Analyze
Little firms are necessary to financial progress by creating jobs and selling economic prospect. Broadband is a important resource for little businesses, with growing relevance because of to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 demands FCC to really encourage and guidance broadband access via funding and other actions.
This report responds to a provision in the John S. McCain Countrywide Protection Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 as nicely as a request for GAO to analyze broadband for little organizations. Among other aims, this report examines (1) modest enterprise obtain to broadband and how federal broadband funding packages may possibly serve compact companies and (2) the extent to which FCC’s broadband velocity benchmark meets the needs of compact organizations. GAO reviewed pertinent literature, documentation on federal broadband funding and relevant FCC statutory demands to advertise broadband deployment. GAO also done interviews with modest firms, broadband companies, sector associations, researchers, and condition and federal officers.