High-Speed Internet Use Saw Uptick in 02

High-speed Internet connectivity rose 27 percent in the first half of this year, says FCC.

Belying cautionary tales that broadband deployment faces major hindrances in the United States, high-speed Internet connectivity rose 27 percent in the first half of this year.

The Federal Communications Commission released data Tuesday showing that there are 16.2 million high-speed connections in service today, up from 12.8 million in the second half of last year. The statistics are based on data that service providers must file with the FCC twice a year.

More than 10 million of the high-speed lines carry advanced services with speeds higher than 200 kbps upstream and downstream. Those lines grew 41 percent during the first half of this year.

Covad Communications Group Inc., one of the few startup carriers to survive the telecommunications consolidation in progress, praised the FCC for policies that promote competition. Incumbent carriers, the Bell Operating Companies in particular, have been lobbying the government to eliminate some rules requiring them to lease parts of the local network to rival companies at regulated rates. Covad cited the rules as instrumental in the increase in broadband connectivity.

"This latest data continues a trend of uninterrupted broadband growth since 1999, when the FCC adopted its line sharing rules," Covad president and CEO Charlie Hoffman said in a news release. "The FCCs implementation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act has enabled Covad to provide consumers with lower-priced, more innovative DSL services. This growth also provides powerful proof that the FCCs continued support of competition and line sharing fosters the potential for explosive growth in broadband deployment."

Cable modem Internet access also grew considerably in the first half of this year, to 9.2 million lines from 7.1 million.