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The Federal Communications Commission released its third report on the availability of high-speed Internet services, which found satellite broadband offerings growing but still dominated by cable's speedy Web service.

According to the new FCC data, there were 9.6 million high-speed Internet users as of June 30, 2001, a 36 percent increase during the first half of 2001 and a 250 percent increase from the FCC's second report issued in August 2000.

Satellite and fixed wireless technologies increased its usage to nearly 200,000, the report said. DSL lines in service totaled 2.7 million, an increase of 36 percent during the first half of 2001. High-speed cable lines in service increased 45 percent to 5.2 million.

Commissioners were split on whether broadband service is making an impression in rural areas.

Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy said the data suggests the digital divide could be narrowing. "The deployment gaps between urban and rural areas and between high-income and low-income households have narrowed significantly since the issuance of our last report," she said.

"To be sure, deployment still needs to improve in rural areas and among low-income households," she added. Still, Abernathy said there has been improvement since the last report, which demonstrates that "such deployment - while not perfect - remains reasonable and timely."

Commissioner Michael Copps said those living in rural areas, or with a low income or disability, "are at significantly greater risk of not having access to broadband.

"Is deployment reasonable and timely to these Americans?" Copps asked. "I do not believe that the commission has adequately explored this question. Without doing so, we have not fulfilled our statutorily mandated responsibilities," he said.

Commissioner Kevin Martin said he is concerned that deployment of high-speed Internet services still lags in underserved areas. "While that gap is narrowing, there is no question that the continued lag is far from ideal," he said.

From SkyReport (Used with permission)
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