Web connections in the U.S. have become faster, but many people still surf the Internet at slower speeds than 25 Mbps -- the Federal Communications Commission's definition of "broadband."
That's according to Akamai's most recent report on the state of Internet connections.
Overall, the average Web speed in the U.S. reached 18.7 Mbps in the first quarter of this year, up by 22% from the first three months of 2016. The U.S. also had the 10th fastest average Web connections in the world. The speediest country was South Korea (average 28.6 Mbps), followed by Norway (23.5 Mbps) and Sweden (22.5 Mbps).
But although speeds are increasing, most connections aren't considered "broadband" by the FCC's standard. In the U.S., only around one in five (21%) of connections were faster than 25 Mbps.
The FCC's decision in 2015 to revise the definition of broadband to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream -- a significant increase from the prior definition of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream -- proved controversial. Advocacy groups like Public Knowledge, as well as video provider Netflix, had urged the FCC to adopt the 25 Mbps standard, but the cable industry opposed the move.
The agency's definition of broadband can be important, because it will affect the FCC's conclusion about whether carriers are deploying broadband quickly enough.
Now that the FCC is under the control of Republicans, the cable industry is again urging the agency to rethink the concept of "broadband." In March, the lobbying group NCTA - Internet & Television Association criticized the current standard.
The group said in a regulatory filing that it met with the FCC and urged it to state that the 25 Mbps definition "is not the only valid or economically significant measure of broadband service."
Advocacy organizations, on the other hand, would like the FCC to define broadand as an even faster 50 Mbps. "People use their connections for many reasons, and often multitask," the Open Technology Institute told the FCC last September. "It is easy to see how multiple people with multiple devices engaging in multiple online activities on the same residential connection can quickly lead to buffering, slow load times, and frustration even with a 25/3 connection."