Sixty-five million Americans depend on broadband services for work, education, entertainment and communications. But too many other Americans have no access to broadband services, according to a new telecom industry survey commissioned by Tellabs.

Aggravating the country’s broadband gap is the current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) definition of broadband: 200 kilobits per second. At that rate, it takes longer to download a movie than to watch it. The survey reflects responses from 451 readers of leading U.S. telecom publications.

Respondents strongly support expanding broadband availability in the United States, especially in underserved rural areas. The lack of broadband availability, whether due to geographic or economic reasons, hurts productivity.

Eighty-nine percent of the survey’s respondents think lack of broadband access hurts an individual’s educational, productivity and employment potential, and 81 percent think America should use some of the current Universal Service Fund to expand rural broadband. Seventy-nine percent think where you live should not dictate broadband availability, and 77 percent think economic status should not determine broadband availability.

“Whatever industry solution is eventually worked out, it’s obvious the telecom industry will have a central role to play in further expanding access and the services that run over broadband access,” said Ron Westfall, research director at Current Analysis.

Industry professionals called for a new definition of broadband. An overwhelming 94 percent of respondents said the current FCC definition of broadband does not deliver a true broadband experience. In fact, 84 percent of respondents feel a better definition of broadband is a service that can deliver high-quality streaming video.

The United States ranks 15th globally in broadband penetration measured against population, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to the survey results, 84 percent of respondents think the United States trailing so many other nations in broadband penetration is a serious problem, and 93 percent think broadband is essential for continued Web 2.0 innovation.

“We already have the technology and the business infrastructure to take America’s broadband capabilities into the next generation and make this country the world leader in the provisioning of ultra high bandwidth services,” said Joe Savage, president of the Fiber-to-the-Home Council. “Indeed, the deployment of these services already is under way, with more than 2.5 million American homes now connected directly into high-speed fiber networks. But we need to ensure that national, state and local policies encourage and do not inhibit every community’s progress toward the high bandwidth future that is so important to our economic competitiveness.”