Harrisburg, P.A. (WENY)— The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has been taking a closer look at broadband accessibility across the commonwealth. A full report was just released this week, and the speeds in this report are vastly different from what the FCC is reporting.

The team conducting the study collected more than 11 million speed tests from across Pennsylvania in 2018. From their conclusion, the FCC’s accessibility numbers aren’t close to actual accessibility numbers.

“According to the FCC, we have 800,000 people in Pennsylvania that don’t have access to broadband. Well, we found that number was really understated, we don’t even know by how much,” explains Senator Gene Yaw, of Pennsylvania’s 23rd District.

The FCC’s official broadband maps show 100% of availability for broadband speeds that exceed 25 megabits-per-second (Mbps) across the state. According to the report, however, the speed tests show most areas of the state did not actually meet the FCC’s criteria to qualify as broadband connection. In fact, there were zero counties in the state where at least 50 percent of residents received adequate broadband connectivity, as defined by the FCC.

“We understand, we listen. You’ve been saying for years that you really don’t have the access that people say you have, and I think that we proved that. We agree,” Senator Yaw says.

In Senator Yaw’s home district of Bradford County, the FCC claims the whole county has a download speed of 25 mbps. According to this report though, the actual median download speed is 2.7565 mbps. In Tioga County, the FCC says broadband speed is 25Mbps, where as the Center for Rural Pennsylvania shows the actual county median download speed to be 2.93mbps. And the problem goes far beyond broadband connection

“If we’re in an area which incorrectly says we have 100% coverage of 25/3, meaning the upload speeds and the download speeds, and we actually don’t have it, that can affect the ability to upgrade our system,” says Senator Yaw.

The report also says connectivity speeds were substantially lower in rural counties compared to urban counties. Senator Yaw says that divide has grown quite a bit over the past ten years. 

Now that the study is complete, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania is distributing the information to every state senator and representative. Although the group isn’t recommending a specific action, Senator Yaw says something needs to be done

“It affects all parts of our life anymore, so it’s really a major issue and infrastructure issue that Pennsylvania has to address,” Senator Yaw explains.

You can read the full 108-page Broadband Availability and Accessibility report from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania here: Broadband Accessibility Report