Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Puerto Rico Home Broadband Adoption Surges

According to Connect Puerto Rico’s 2014 broadband survey results released today, home broadband adoption in Puerto Rico increased by 15 percentage points between 2010 and 2014, surging from 31% to 46% of adults with home broadband service. Governor Alejandro Javier García Padilla announced the positive broadband growth during the REGULATEL press conference. This change represents an additional 377,000 adults who now subscribe to home broadband service. In addition, broadband deployment on the Island continued to increase to meet this increased demand, with 76.9% of households having access to fixed broadband speeds of at least 50 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps upstream.

These achievements note marked improvement in the broadband adoption and availability gaps in Puerto Rico. Four years ago, no household in Puerto Rico had access to 50 Mbps download speeds, and broadband adoption was 31%, well below national averages. Three years ago, the Puerto Rico Broadband Task Force, administered by Connect Puerto Rico, established aggressive goals of broadband adoption and availability, and these Connect Puerto Rico studies demonstrate that significant progress in meeting those goals has been made.

However, many gaps remain. Compared to the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico broadband adoption still trails substantially, and while gigabit networks are now being constructed on the mainland, Puerto Rico homes, businesses, government agencies, and community institutions still lack access to those robust, next-generation networks.

“Broadband Internet access and adoption in all of Puerto Rico is essential for economic development,” said Giancarlo González, chief information officer of Puerto Rico. “Our administration has put forth numerous efforts, which are outlined in the ‘Agenda de Recuperación Económica’ presented this past April 2014. These efforts include the Gigabit Island initiative, which aims to provide Puerto Rico with the necessary infrastructure to provide residents and businesses affordable Gigabit-speed capabilities.”

Among the findings of the new broadband availability and adoption research: 

  • Even with advances, a significant broadband adoption gap remains. Adoption of home broadband service in Puerto Rico increased by 15 percentage points from 2010 to 2014 (31% to 46%). By comparison, home broadband adoption across the United States grew by just 4 percentage points between 2010 and 2013.
o    Puerto Rican broadband subscribers report that they now pay less on average for their service ($39.47, compared to $42.37 in 2010). Meanwhile, Puerto Rican households report that they now subscribe to broadband that is more than three times faster, on average, than they did in 2010. 
o    Home broadband adoption has grown fastest among lower-income households across the Island – among households earning less than $15,000 per year, home broadband adoption has increased by 23 percentage points from 15% in 2010 to 38% in 2014. 
o    Despite these increases, more than 1.5 million adults still do not have broadband service at home in Puerto Rico.

  •   Broadband network capacity has grown. In the last four years, Puerto Rican households with access to 50 Mbps download and 1.5 Mbps upload fixed broadband went from 0% to nearly 77% and just over half, or 52.9% of households, have access to 100 Mbps download and 1.5 Mbps upload fixed broadband.
o    In urban areas of the island, 81.8% of households have broadband service available at speeds of 100 Mbps download and1.5 Mbps upload. 
o    Between 2011 and 2014, access to cable broadband service of at least 3 Mbps download and 768 Kbps upload has increased 15.7 percentage points. For access to the same speed tier, fixed wireless broadband service has increased 32.8 percentage points. 
o    Broadband subscribers have self-reported that their advertised download speeds have increased from 3.3 Mbps in 2010 to 11.72 Mbps in 2014.

The data were released in conjunction with Connect Puerto Rico’s participation in REGULATEL, the international forum designed to bring together dozens of representatives from various countries and organizations to exchange ideas relating to the development and regulation of telecommunications. This is the first time that this plenary assembly is being held in San Juan.

“Since our confirmation to preside the PR Telecommunications Regulatory Board, we have reiterated the importance of mapping to better understand and plan for state actions with respect to broadband deployment,” said Javier Rúa, president of the Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board. “Connect Puerto Rico’s contributions to this project have been invaluable. We envision taking this roadmap to the next level by including broadband infrastructure adoption, not just on a residential level, but on the commercial side as well.”

Connect Puerto Rico has been collecting, validating, and publishing broadband adoption and availability data in Puerto Rico since 2010. Additional data and analyses will be available in an update to the Puerto Rico Gigabit Island Plan due to be released in early 2015. The updated Plan represents the work of the Puerto Rico Broadband Taskforce and is intended to bring together Puerto Rico public and private stakeholders, as well as federal leaders, to address the acute digital gap across the Island. The Connect Puerto Rico website provides an innovative broadband mapping tool called My ConnectView offering unmatched views of Puerto Rico’s technology landscape. Residents and businesses are encouraged to use the interactive map to find area providers and help validate the data. Funding for these projects comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration State Broadband Initiative, which is funded through January 2015.


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