Tech Lobbying Group Urges FCC To Define Broadband As Gigabit Service

The Federal Communications Commission should define broadband as internet connections of 1 Gbps, up from the current benchmark of 25 Mbps downstream, the trade group Incompas argues in a new regulatory filing.

“Markets with gigabit connectivity not only have faster speeds, but also more affordable prices,” Incompas writes. “The U.S. should be adopting benchmarks that reflect truly 'advanced' telecommunications capability, not settling for baseline speeds.”

The organization -- which represents online video providers like Amazon, Google and Netflix, as well as smaller broadband access providers like Wide Open West and Windstream -- filed the comments in response to the FCC's call in August for input on its next report about the state of broadband in the United States.

The last time the FCC revised its definition of broadband was in 2015, when the agency set the benchmark at 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. That standard marked a significant increase from the prior definition of 4 Mpbs downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.

Last month, the agency proposed retaining those standards.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel dissented from that proposal, arguing that the agency should define broadband as speeds of at least 100 Mbps.

“With many of our nation’s providers offering gigabit service, it’s time for the FCC to adjust its baseline upward, too. We need to reset it to at least 100 megabits per second,” she stated.

Incompas argues in its filing that changes in the market since 2015, combined with increased broadband use spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, warrant a new benchmark.

“Consumers are using much higher speeds today due to the growth in streaming and over-the-top services, as well as the number of users per subscription,” Incompas writes.

The NTCA -- The Internet & Television Association, which lobbies for broadband providers, argues in favor of maintaining the current benchmark.

“Even as the COVID crisis has caused an exponential increase in the use of video conferencing applications for work, school, and telehealth, it remains the case that a 25/3 connection generally is sufficient to enable such applications,” the group writes.

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