Commentary

GOP Senators Say People Don't Need 25 Mbps Broadband

Six Republican senators are pushing back against Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposed finding that broadband still isn't being deployed in a "reasonable and timely fashion."

The lawmakers say Wheeler's conclusion hinges on the FCC's decision last year to redefine broadband as speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. Ten percent of the overall U.S. population lacks access to connections at those speeds, as does 39% of the rural population.

The senators argue in a Jan. 21 letter to Wheeler that there is no reason why people need 25 Mbps connections. "We are concerned that this arbitrary 25/3 Mbps benchmark fails to accurately capture what most Americans consider broadband," Sens. Steve Daines (Montana), Roger Wicker (Mississippi), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Deb Fischer (Nebraska), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) and Cory Gardner (Colorado) write. 

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"Looking at the market for broadband applications, we are aware of few applications that require speeds of 25 Mbps," they add. "Netflix, for example, recommends a download speed of 5 Mbps to receive high-definition streaming video, and Amazon recommends a speed of 3.5 Mbps." The Hill first reported on the senators' letter.

The lawmakers fail to mention that Netflix was one of the biggest proponents of the new standard. CEO Reed Hastings reportedly said during an earnings call last year that people will need fast speeds for ultra high-definition video and video-conferencing.

"Once you got an Ultra HD video stream that's 15 megs just a single stream and you're going to want video conferencing, you're going to want online learning, you're going to want all kinds of different applications monitoring of your home, these kinds of things on video," Hastings said, according to FierceTelecom. "So 25 megs is kind of baseline for the next five years as opposed to the past five years."

Advocacy group Public Knowledge, which also urged the FCC to define broadband as speeds of at least 25 Mbps, made similar points last year. That organization argued that 25 Mbps is necessary to guarantee that "average households have adequate capacity for online video and other applications.”

The FCC is expected to vote next week on Wheeler's proposed report on broadband deployment.

4 comments about "GOP Senators Say People Don't Need 25 Mbps Broadband".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, January 22, 2016 at 4:50 p.m.

    Sens. Steve Daines (Montana), Roger Wicker (Mississippi), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Deb Fischer (Nebraska), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) and Cory Gardner (Colorado) do not believe the US should lead in job creation and a dynamic ecomomy.

  2. Peter Losh from Undisclosed , January 23, 2016 at 1:06 p.m.

    Total horse manure. I need broadband for work and also for my entertainment. If I ever purchase a 4K TV, I'll need a lot more than 25mbps.

    its a total embarrassment that the United States, which is supposed to be a technology leader, lags behind countries like Estonia for Internet service, and that we pay the highest prices on the planet for our crappy Internet access. These senators are too fossilized to realize how damaging their views and policies are, and too corrupt to care. Do they all still have 2mbps DSL in their offices?

  3. Stan Valinski from Multi-Media Solutions Group, January 25, 2016 at 12:51 p.m.

    The GOP has repeatedly shut the government down and now they want to screw up the internet so our country falls behind in everything...except corrupt, uneducated politicians.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 25, 2016 at 5:36 p.m.

    What are they afraid of ? How much are they getting paid directly to their campaigns or in offshore trusts to support a position to derail their constituents and the rest of the country ?

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