FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today is proposing to raise the definition of broadband from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up.
As part of the Annual Broadband Progress Report mandated by Congress, the Federal Communications Commission has to determine whether broadband “is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” The FCC’s latest report, circulated by Wheeler in draft form to fellow commissioners, “finds that broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, especially in rural areas, on Tribal lands, and in US Territories,” according to a fact sheet the FCC provided to Ars.
The FCC also gets to define what speeds qualify as broadband, or “advanced telecommunications capability,” as it’s called in policy documents. The FCC last updated that definition in 2010, raising it from 200Kbps to the current 4/1 standard. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 said that advanced telecommunications capability must “enable users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology.” Wheeler’s proposed annual report says the 4/1 definition adopted in 2010 “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.” (Despite the annual requirement, this would be the first such report since 2012.)
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