Lowering Broadband Speed Threshold Proposal Draws Hundreds of Opinions

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More than 1,600 public comments have poured into the FCC in response to the agency’s inquiry about broadband deployment. Inside Towers examined some of the comments concerning one controversial FCC proposal that calls for lowering the threshold speed for mobile broadband from the current 25 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) download speed and three Mbps upload speed, down to 10 Mbps download speed and one Mbps upload speed, to more closely match the current speeds subscribers are paying for.

That benchmark was “arbitrarily selected” based on a hypothetical family’s theoretical bandwidth requirements for simultaneous use of multiple devices engaged in bandwidth-intensive activities, according to USTelecom. “It would be disruptive for the Commission to change or eliminate the current benchmark without evidence that broadband at those speeds does not meet the need of consumers as they typically use broadband services today,” USTelecom told the Commission, urging no change to the standard.  

ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers, agrees, saying the FCC should maintain the current speed thresholds for fixed broadband. Changing it would be confusing and if replaced often, it would no longer provide the reference point that is the essence of a “benchmark.”

INCOMPAS, a trade group representing companies like Sprint, T-Mobile and Google Fiber, says when there are more than two providers, the FCC should consider raising the threshold. “Gigabit service is here and will support future uses. It is time for the FCC to update the speed for fixed broadband to one Gig.”

Other commenters, including Public Knowledge and the Broadband Alliance, caution the inquiry’s framing could end up “hiding the true state of broadband” in the U.S. “While other developed nations race to take a leadership position in the global broadband marketplace, the FCC is poised to stop U.S. progress in its tracks by lowering the standards to measure broadband connectivity.”

They continue: “The Commission makes these plans at a time in which the U.S. occupies a woefully low position in the international market. In the first two quarters of 2017, America ranked 65th in the world for mobile upload speeds, directly behind large and sparsely populated Mongolia. The U.S. does not fare much better with fixed broadband, ranking 15th in the world for download speed and 24th in the world for upload speed.”

September 25, 2017              

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