FCC Chair: Current Definition Of Broadband Isn’t Fast Enough

The FCC’s current definition of “broadband” Internet is 4Mbps downstream and only 1Mbps up. These were adequate speeds in a world where you occasionally watched a grainy YouTube video, but they don’t reflect the needs or uses of most consumers, and those benchmarks are only going to grow more irrelevant with each passing day. FCC Chair Tom Wheeler admitted as much to Congress yesterday.

“When a single HD video requires 5 Mbps of capacity, it’s clear that the FCC’s current benchmark for broadband – 4 Mbps– isn’t adequate,” wrote Wheeler in his prepared remarks before the House Committee on Small Business.

Earlier this summer, the FCC proposed that if broadband providers wish to receive Universal Service funds from the Commission — money raised through phone bill surcharges and disbursed to help deploy needed services — these companies would need to adopt 10Mbps downstream as the new benchmark.

“When 60% of the Internet’s traffic at prime time is video, and it takes 4 or 5Mbps to deliver video, a 4Mbps connection isn’t exactly what’s necessary in the 21st century,” Wheeler explained to the Committee. “And when you have half a dozen different devices, wireless and other connected devices in a home that are all going against that bandwidth, it’s not enough. What we are saying is we can’t make the mistake of spending the people’s money, which is what Universal Service is, to continue to subsidize something that’s subpar.”

Both AT&T and Verizon have come out against increasing the benchmark to 10Mbps, claiming it is a “casual, back-of-the-envelope calculation of bandwidth requirements of the highest-volume households that are simultaneously using multiple bandwidth-intensive applications.”

[via Ars Technica]

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  1. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    huh, TWC keeps trying to talk me up from 15mbps, saying it’s not really high speed. which i know, but it’s what i am willing tolerate at the current price point and still deal with some netflix buffering once in a while. AT&T keeps sending me flyers about how i could !! ups to 6MBPS !! now through u-verse. for about double what i am paying for 15.
    the internet you can get on the street in amsterdam as wifi for a couple of bucks a day beats anything i can currently get hardwired to my home.
    and when i was looking for data on that, i found this bit about a network provider in amsterdam that managed to recently to, well, this is a hell of an accomplishment and makes me ashamed of american internet
    “AMS-IX breaks 3 Terabit per second barrier”
    https://ams-ix.net/newsitems/161