WASHINGTON, DC – Approximately 26 million Americans, mostly in rural communities, are still denied access to the jobs and economic opportunity made possible by broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s latest Broadband Progress Report to Congress. The FCC’s findings are based on the national broadband maps that were funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration under the broadband stimulus program.

The report also finds that approximately one-third of Americans do not subscribe to broadband even when it is available, suggesting that barriers such as cost, low digital literacy and privacy concerns remain too high. The report also notes that limited broadband capacity for schools and libraries indicate that broadband is not being reasonably and timely deployed and is not available to all Americans. The problem especially acute among low-income Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, seniors and residents of tribal areas.

Despite continuing broadband challenges, the FCC says significant progress has been made over the past few years in both the private and public sectors. Despite the difficult economy, the private sector continues to invest tens of billions of dollars in
broadband infrastructure each year to expand capacity, increase speeds and roll out 4G services. In 2010, private telecom companies invested $65 billion in capital expenditures.

According to the FCC, broadband can help create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for Americans in the coming years, including more than 200,000 jobs through investment in 4G wireless technologies alone. The new and growing “apps economy” has drawn tens of thousands of developers and companies, including startups attracting significant private investment that creates new jobs.