Rural fiber broadband availability on the rise

Dec. 14, 2023
A new NTCA broadband/internet survey found that more rural providers offer fiber broadband connections to their customers.

More rural area customers continue get benefits from fiber-based broadband services being rolled out by local providers.  

According to the NTCA’s 2023 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report,” more member companies are deploying networks offering higher upstream speeds in rural communities. The 2023 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey was conducted in August 2023, and 36% of NTCA’s members responded.

On average, nearly 84% of respondents’ customers can receive downstream speeds greater than or equal to 100 Mbps, with over 67% of customers having gigabit access downstream speeds.

Survey respondents noted that upload speeds are important for critical user applications like video conferencing, remote work and school continue to increase, with nearly 82% on average realizing upload speeds of 100 Mbps or higher and 61% of customers on average having access to gigabit upstream capability.

NTCA noted these improvements in customer experience are driven by continuing efforts to expand the reach of robust and reliable underlying networks. The average proportion of customers served by this year’s respondents via fiber connections is nearly 84%.

Higher speeds are resonating with NTCA members’ customers as they become available.

Nearly 60% of respondents’ customers, on average, subscribe to 100 Mbps downstream broadband or better, up from just over 49% in the 2022 survey — and for the second consecutive year, the 2023 survey found that subscriptions for services between 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps downstream have become more popular than services between 25 and 100 Mbps.

“This year’s survey reinforces and underscores NTCA members’ abiding commitment to the communities they serve, advancing broadband built to last in rural America, and highlights how rural consumers are making greater use of these services,” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA. But as our members know well and as the survey also highlights, the mission of the service is just beginning once the initial deployment is done. We must sustain these foundational efforts so that rural consumers can access affordable broadband that keeps pace with their escalating demands for many years.”