Mobile Future

Rural Mobile Services Deployment in the U.S.: Challenges in International Context

This Publication is Related to: Connecting Communities

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This report examines the unique challenges facing the deployment of mobile wireless network infrastructure in the remaining rural areas of the country lacking wireless broadband coverage.

Based on analysis of data on the population and geographic coverage by mobile networks in eight other members of the G20 with similar level of economic development to the United States: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom (UK), the paper found:

  • Population Density Poses Wireless Broadband Deployment Challenges: The most sparsely distributed 1% of the U.S. population lies within 1,880,000 square miles of the country’s total land area – more than twice the size of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
  • The U.S. Leads Deployment of Mobile Broadband Coverage:  The United States has consistently led France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK in terms of population coverage by mobile networks at 3G or above, since approximately 2008.
    • The United States surpassed the population coverage of all five of these countries in only two years, as well as exceeding the total investment (even on a per-subscriber basis) in each of these five countries in order to reach the additional subscribers.
    • The eight European nations with more than 99% wireless broadband coverage are significantly smaller and more densely populated than the U.S.