FCC Backtracks On Reducing Broadband Speed Standard, Admits Wireless Can't Replace Home Broadband

The FCC has been catching heat in its current form for making changes to existing regulations governing broadband internet access. The big change the FCC made was to eliminate the net neutrality rules that forced ISPs to treat all traffic equally, no matter the service or application. Another place where the FCC was considering a big change was with a plan that could have weakened the definition of what speed and type connection qualifies as "broadband." 


Thankfully, the FCC is stepping away from a new classification that would change the definition of broadband. The draft 2018 Broadband Deployment Report has now been issued by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The good news is that the FCC has chosen to keep the same speed benchmark for broadband internet connectivity. The speed will continue to be at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. The FCC was previously eyeing a rule change that would call any connection that was at least 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up as broadband.

Pai wrote, "The draft report maintains the same benchmark speed for fixed broadband service previously adopted by the Commission: 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload. The draft report also concludes that mobile broadband service is not a full substitute for fixed service. Instead, it notes there are differences between the two technologies, including clear variations in consumer preferences and demands. As a result, the draft report evaluates progress in deploying fixed broadband service as well as progress in deploying mobile broadband service and takes a holistic approach to evaluating the deployment of these services."

"The draft report indicates that the pace of both fixed and mobile broadband deployment declined dramatically in the two years following the prior Commission’s Title II Order. However, the draft report also discussed how, over the course of the past year, the current Commission has taken steps to reduce barriers to infrastructure investment and promote competition in the broadband marketplace. Taken together, these policies indicate that the current FCC is now meeting its statutory mandate to encourage the deployment of broadband on a reasonable and timely basis."

"But while we are now headed in the right direction, our work has just begun. Far too many Americans still lack access to high-speed Internet, and that’s why the FCC’s top priority under my leadership remains bridging the digital divide and bringing digital opportunity to all Americans."

Many will disagree with Pai of course. Any American who lives in an area with just one broadband provider, where basic broadband speeds are expensive and customer service is atrocious, knows lack of competition is a problem (I'm looking at you Comcast). The best news in this statement is that the FCC has backed away from considering mobile broadband as a replacement for standard broadband. Anyone who has tried to use mobile broadband in a rural area will see the logic and reality in that decision.