When it comes to words with nebulous meanings, "broadband" has to be at the top of the list. There was a time when it meant anything faster than dialup. In many places, broadband service doesn't offer much more than that.
The United States is ranked 19th in broadband speeds with an average advertised rate of 9.6 megabytes per second, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Compare that to Japan with 92.8 mbps, Korea with 80.8 mbps and France with 51 mbps.
The industry is calling out for more spectrum to be sold off to businesses, more spectrum auctions. "We can't wait eight to 11 years for additional spectrum," CTIA President Steve Largent told reporters after a speech by Blair Levin, the FCC's top broadband official.
Levin told industry executives at that speech this morning that "A key input is spectrum. There is consensus in the record; there is not enough of it," Reuters reported.
So, what are providers going to do with all that spectrum? Provide massively bigger pipes to consumers and businesses? Well, in letters to the FCC the big telecoms all encouraged the FCC to keep its definition at these underwhelming numbers.
At least 0.768 mbps downstream and 0.200 mbps upstream.
Verizon: "It would be disruptive and introduce confusion if the commission were to now create a new and different definition." Comcast wants the definition at 0.256 mbps for downstream and upstream.
Hmm. How about a different perspective? How about 5 mbps in both directions, as FreePress recommends.
"We fully recognize that incumbents for the most part will scoff at a symmetrical definition," wrote Derek Turner, research director at Free Press. "The commission must ignore any such self-serving pleas for watered-down standards."