FCC ponders redefining broadband



How fast is broadband? For years ISPs and other companies have been playing fast and loose with their definitions of broadband, and while there is an official definition the FCC is circulating an internal document that may bump the minimum up- and download speeds required to call yourself broadband.

Last Friday the FCC started circulating an internal inquiry discussing whether they should officially raise the up- and download minimum speeds for broadband. The current minimum download speed for broadband is 4 megabits per second and upload speeds of 1 Mbps. The FCC is toying with the idea of raising those numbers up to between 10 Mbps to 25 Mbps for download and 2.9 Mbps for upload.

The inquiry will make its run through the FCC for a while before it is officially presented to the public for comment.

It might not seem like simply changing the definition of broadband would actually improve broadband speeds – in fact it would raise the number of Americans who can’t get broadband service up from the current figure of 6%.

It would however give the FCC a bit more clout if and when they decide to take ISPs to task for not delivering on their promises or dragging their feet.

According to an article in the Washington Post, “If the FCC does put a more stringent definition on what is considered broadband, it could indirectly affect other ongoing policy debates. The FCC has the authority to regulate Internet providers if it believes that the rollout of Internet infrastructure is being impeded. Under a higher standard for broadband, the commission could argue that an ISP isn't working fast enough to upgrade its networks, and intervene.”

Considering that watching an HD movie on Netflix requires roughly 5Mbps while other people in the household might be trying to do something else over that same broadband connection it seems obvious that 4Mbps just isn’t going to cut it. But somehow I doubt that the FCC is going to start tracking down companies who call their service broadband when technically it doesn’t meet the minimum specifications.

For example, for years now all sorts of wireless transmission technologies have claimed to be broadband when they were far from meeting even the current definitions. When you start weighing down systems with multiple subscribers on a single line or combining DSL for upload with satellite for download things start to get even murkier. Subscribers in one part of a city may get much slower broadband than subscribers in another part of the city using the same ISP.

But bringing the definition of broadband up to reflect the current state of connectivity is certainly a good start.



Guy Wright

Guy Wright has been covering the technology space since the days when computers had cranks and networks were steam powered. He has been a writer and editor for more years then he cares to admit.


More

The XK-180 Jaguar: How To Own A Legend

There are those of us that lust for cars that no one else has and my own personal lust worthy vehicle is the Jaguar XK-180. This car was slated by Ford to be the new F-Type but it was replaced by the car that is currently in the market about 14 years later by Tata. Well an outfit in Europe called JePe Specials has stepped up to the plate and built a new exact replica, granted it’ll cost you a whopping $360K but you’d be in an owner of a car that will likely never make it out of double digits in terms of total sold. Well a change taking place next year in the US DMV law will make it so many...

NASA Prefers to Have The ISS in Commercial Hands

The ISS is the largest artificial body in the orbit and can be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

5 Things To Look For In Your HR Software

In the 1960s, engineers developed a primitive form of Employee Information System which helped companies better organize employee reports and administrative data. Since then, the development in technology has transformed this early prototype into an advanced reporting and decision-making system that aids in creating a working environment which offers employees advantages like accurate and up-to-date information, self-service capabilities, and a more interactive workplace. Most importantly, throughout the last decade the emergence of human resource information system (HRIS) software has helped...