Broadband isn't broadband unless it's 25Mbps, mulls FCC boss

4Mbit/s no longer cutting the mustard

US comms watchdog the FCC wants to increase the minimum speed ISPs must deliver in order to label an internet service as broadband.

Chairman Tom Wheeler hopes to scrap today's minimum of 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up, and instead require carriers to provide 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up if they want to claim broadband internet service in the US.

The proposal is part of an evaluation the FCC carried out for its Annual Broadband Progress Report. According documents seen by The Register, the basis for the redefinition is a belief by Wheeler that bandwidth speeds have not kept up with user demands.

The FCC argues that rural areas of America are particularly underserved by ISPs. The commission estimates that 53 per cent of the rural population falls short of the new proposed minimum. What's more, 20 per cent don't even have access to the current standard of 4/1.

Service for those in rural areas often lags that of urban markets as carriers baulk at the cost of extending broadband to remote areas with few customers. The FCC, however, is charged with pressing those companies to provide their services to all citizens.

"The FCC set its current benchmark of 4/1 over four years ago," the commission said.

"That dated standard is inadequate for evaluating whether broadband capable of supporting today’s high-quality voice, data,graphics, and video is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way."

Overall, the FCC estimates that 55 million people, 17 per cent of the population, lack access to the proposed new 25/3 broadband standard. More than 53 per cent those on tribal lands do not have 25/3 service available and 8 per cent of those in urban markets don't have access to broadband. ®

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