The FCC just took a bold step in the right direction. We’d previously reported the agency was discussing a reclassification on what broadband Internet actually is, with a proposal to raise the threshold to 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds for broadband. All the talk actually led somewhere, and the FCC is settled on that redefinition of 25/3Mbps as broadband. The previous definition of broadband was 4Mbps download, and 1Mbps upload. While this doesn’t change what your Internet provider offers, it does change how they present it.
This reclassification will have some impact beyond marketing, though. In rural areas, where higher Internet speeds are lacking according to the FCC, projects are underway to bring better connectivity to more people. To qualify for federal subsidies, those projects typically need to encompass broadband Internet, so bringing a 10Mbps download to outlier areas won’t cut it any longer.
This also affects smaller DSL providers, who often have older physical cables that can’t deliver on this faster broadband classification. Larger entities, like AT&T and Verizon, are also offering DSL connections.
The National Communications and Telecommunications Association isn’t as happy as you might be about this. In a statement, they say the FCC has “arbitrarily chosen a definition of broadband”, and failed to accurately assess the needs of consumers.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler gave a different take. “When 80 percent of Americans can access 25-3, that’s a standard. We have a problem that 20 percent can’t. We have a responsibility to that 20 percent” he said.
Again, this doesn’t force your Internet provider to offer more, it just ups the ante for broadband. If you can look to broadband as the ‘minimum wage’ of the modern Internet, they we all just got a raise, so to speak.