From time to time you hear folks talking about broadband penetration and how impossible it is to get carriers to talk about how many within which communities are, and are not, being served.
Perhaps you heard this story this week: there are now officially more cellphone-only households than there are wireline-only households in the United States.
The interesting tweak to the story is its source.
In a copyrighted story by the Associated Press, reporter Alan Fram released the statistic that showed that the trend away from wireline telephones accelerated in the last half of 2008, as spending-wary Americans more frequently choose to keep their cell service instead of their wireline service.
Six in 10 Americans have both services, but a quarter of those never use the wireline service for voice calls (they’re hooked up to computers and alarm systems). In the end, it all means that 35% of all Americans can only be reached by cell phone.
The Federal Communications Commission is the nation’s regulator of wired and wireless communications services. As the body charged with oversight of services so key to our everyday lives, one might expect that they’d be keen on watching on how communications in the United States grows and shifts. But they weren’t the ones releasing these numbers: this excellent communications data comes from the US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC).
Now the CDC did not use any regulatory authority to get our carriers to tell them anything about their industries — and the FCC apparently isn’t a good-enough source for the communications data they needed, either. So they actually went out and visited some 12,597 American households and found out for themselves.
So I thought it would appropriate, here on the Public Knowledge blog, to pass on this milestone communications data which is not available from the FCC. Which makes me wonder, what does the Federal Communications Commission know about Communications in the United States?