Commentary

Providers Balk At Proposal To Boost Broadband Definition

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission defined broadband as connection speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream -- a big bump from the prior definition of 4 Mbps.

Web companies like Netflix as well as consumer advocates supported the FCC's move, but the cable industry balked, arguing that the new benchmark was arbitrary.

Now, the FCC is gearing up to again consider broadband benchmarks. The agency has proposed retaining the 25 Mbps definition for wireline service, and is also considering issuing a new benchmark of 10 Mbps for wireless service.

Both of those proposals have generated heated debate. Advocates, as well as Democratic lawmakers, for consumers say the FCC shouldn't endorse the idea that wireless broadband -- especially at speeds of just 10 Mbps -- can substitute for faster wireline connections. Advocates also argue that the FCC should be raising the bar for broadband service, not merely holding steady.

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The Open Technology Institute said in a filing last year that broadband should be defined as speeds of at least 50 Mbps downstream.

The lobbying group Incompas, which counts Internet service providers as well as Silicon Valley companies as members, is urging the FCC to go even further by revising the standard to 1 Gigabit per second, in markets with at least three providers.

Not surprisingly, broadband providers oppose this idea. AT&T writes in its most recent filing, made available this week, that Incompas doesn't offer any basis for the 1 GB benchmark, except that some providers are offering that speed.

Comcast says in its most recent papers that the "only utility" of the proposal "is to highlight Incompas’s desire to have this proceeding veer off track toward the thicket of more heavy-handed and unnecessary regulation."

The cable company adds: "Calls to raise the speed benchmark, in some cases by a drastic amount, are, in reality, a siren song to give into 'the temptation to slant the report’s findings to support a broader agenda.'"

As a practical matter, current FCC seems unlikely to increase its speed standards. But even as cable providers, Silicon Valley and advocates debate policy considerations, broadband is bound to get faster. DSLReports reported today that cable providers could soon be able to offer connections at 10 Gbps.

2 comments about "Providers Balk At Proposal To Boost Broadband Definition".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, October 14, 2017 at 9:52 a.m.

    How lovely. The US regresses as the rest of the world progresses. Either this is a traitorous act from infiltrating persons to undercut the US/control the masses to keep them in their subservient places or they took stupidity pills as a kid or they are getting paid off. 

  2. Barry Dennis from Netwebomni, October 14, 2017 at 5:48 p.m.

    It's important not to forget that Cable offers "shared" MPS speeds. The more Users online result in reduced speeds.
    Overall, Cable and Telco investment would be accelerated and competition increased by forced separation of Broadband-the infraspructure-and Content; video streaming, Data, Voice, the whole bsall of Content wax.
    Helpful reminder? The FCC's mission is "regulation in the public interest."
    That's NOT the case now.

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