Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Speedier broadband standards? Pai’s FCC says 25Mbps is fast enough

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica |

Slow down, buddy —

FCC kicks off annual analysis of nationwide broadband deployment.

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to maintain the US broadband standard at the current level of 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream.

That’s the speed standard the FCC uses each year to determine whether advanced telecommunications capabilities are “being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.”

The FCC raised the standard from 4Mbps/1Mbps to 25Mbps/3Mbps in January 2015 under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler. Ajit Pai, who was then a commissioner in the FCC’s Republican minority, voted against raising the speed standard.

As FCC chairman since 2017, Pai has kept the standard at 25Mbps/3Mbps despite calls to raise it from Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. This week, he proposed keeping the standard the same for another year.

“This inquiry fundamentally errs by proposing to keep our national broadband standard at 25Mbps,” Rosenworcel said yesterday. “It is time to be bold and move the national broadband standard from 25 Megabits to 100 Megabits per second. When you factor in price, at this speed the United States is not even close to leading the world. That is not where we should be and if in the future we want to change this we need both a more powerful goal and a plan to reach it. Our failure to commit to that course here is disappointing. I regretfully dissent.”

While Pai’s proposal isn’t yet finalized, keeping the current speed standard would likely mean that Pai’s FCC will conclude that broadband deployment is already happening fast enough throughout the US. Pai could use that conclusion in attempts to justify further deregulation of the broadband industry.

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Public comments due next month

Pai’s proposal came in a Notice of Inquiry that seeks public comment on how the FCC should conduct its annual broadband deployment assessment, which will likely be released early in 2019.

“We propose to maintain the 25Mbps/3Mbps benchmark, and we seek comment on this proposal,” the notice says.

US law defines advanced telecommunications capability as service “that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology.”

The FCC previously found that the “speed benchmark of 25Mbps/3Mbps was the appropriate measure to assess whether fixed services provides advanced telecommunications capability,” the FCC notice said.

Comments can be submitted at this webpage. Initial comments are due on September 10, and reply comments are due on September 24.

Specifically, the 25Mbps/3Mbps standard is used to judge whether home and business broadband technologies such as cable and fiber provide “advanced telecommunications capability.” The FCC’s annual assessment also evaluates deployment of mobile broadband, but the FCC hasn’t chosen a single speed benchmark for mobile access. Pai’s FCC previously concluded that “adoption of a single speed benchmark was unworkable given the inherent variability of the mobile experience,” and yesterday’s notice seeks comment on whether to maintain that approach.

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Is mobile or satellite good enough?

Despite not adopting a mobile speed standard, the FCC could determine that parts of America have enough broadband even if they only have mobile service. The FCC said it calculates the number of Americans with access to advanced telecommunications services “by summing the population of all of the census blocks with at least one provider of services

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