Home & Office

FCC to define broadband as minimum 25Mbps

The Federal Communications Commission will likely raise the requirement for the definition of broadband up from 4 megabits per second download speeds to 25Mbps.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is proposing to raise the minimum speeds allowed for broadband from 4Mbps down, 1Mbps up to 25Mbps down, 3Mbps up.

The FCC is responsible for reporting to Congress on the state of broadband in the United States, and in the next Annual Broadband Progress Report, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated that he is likely to raise the defined minimum benchmark for services to be able to be described as "broadband".

According to a circulated fact sheet, the FCC is considering raising the definition to "reflect current consumer demands, deployment trends, and technological advances".

As a result, the draft report found that the broadband being deployed in rural areas, tribal land, and US territories is not being done so in a reasonable and timely fashion.

The draft report found that 53 percent of rural Americans lack access to the 25Mbps/3Mbps speeds, while across the entire US, 17 percent of -- or 55 million -- Americans lack access to those speeds.

In urban areas, all but 8 percent of residents have access to 25Mbps, according to the draft report.

The FCC had floated the idea of raising the definition from 4Mbps to 10Mbps in its inquiry into advanced telecommunications deployments last year; however, the commission faced resistance from US telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon.

AT&T argued that there was no evidence that less than 10Mbps was not "advanced".

Ars Technica has reported that although the FCC will boost the benchmark speed, it will not be a requirement for government-funded broadband projects.

In Australia, the current federal government has instructed NBN Co to provide minimum download speeds of 25Mbps to all Australian premises by the end of 2019. The government has not mandated a minimum upload speed due to the multi-technology mix using a variety of technologies including fibre, cable, fibre to the node, fixed wireless, and satellite, which will deliver variable speeds.

NBN Co has yet to detail how it will test a customer's connection to ensure that 25Mbps download speeds are able to be achieved, but the company has also placed responsibility for ensuring that the speeds can be achieved with the retail service provider.

The FCC's proposal comes in stark contrast to the Australian government-commissioned report (PDF) put together by fibre broadband critic Robert Kenny and Communications Chambers as part of the National Broadband Network (NBN) cost-benefit analysis, which estimated that the median Australian household would only require 15Mbps in 2023.

Editorial standards