Battle Over Broadband Speed Definition Teed Up

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The FCC opened its 14th inquiry on U.S. broadband deployment; the agency is obligated to determine annually whether advanced telecommunications is bringing deployment to all Americans “in a reasonable and timely fashion.”

However, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel disagreed with her colleagues and dissented on the Notice of Inquiry, saying it appears to set the stage for a repeat of last year’s fights. She criticized the final report that came out of the inquiry this February, saying it wrongly concluded — “despite clear evidence of 24 million Americans without high-speed service — that broadband deployment nationwide is both reasonable and timely.”

Rosenworcel is pushing to move the national broadband standard to 100 Mbps. The new inquiry proposes to retain the definition as a download speed of 25 Mbps. “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,” she said in her dissent. “Our failure to commit to that course here is disappointing.” 

The 2018 report evaluated five years of data on fixed terrestrial services meeting the 25 Mbps/3 Mbps speed benchmark, mobile LTE services with a minimum advertised speed of 5 Mbps/1 Mbps, and three years of data on actual speed test data for mobile LTE services with a median speed of 10 Mbps/3 Mbps. The Commission proposes to review fixed and mobile services using the same four categories in the new inquiry: (1) fixed services only; (2) mobile LTE services only; (3) fixed and mobile LTE services; and (4) fixed or mobile LTE services. The agency seeks comment on these proposals and specifically invites suggestions on whether additional speeds should be added.

The agency also invites public input on its efforts to stimulate broadband deployment such as streamlining wireless infrastructure siting reviews. Comments to GN Docket 18-238 are due September 10.

August 13, 2018     

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