Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has put the agency’s wheels in motion to consider a four-fold increase in its definition of internet service speed that qualifies as “broadband” service.

A redefinition of service speed by the FCC would be the agency’s first change to its definition of broadband service in seven years, and could impact how the commission and other Federal agencies move forward with programs that aim to increase broadband service deployment across the United States.

Rosenworcel said on July 15 that she has circulated a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) to her fellow commissioners that would increase the national broadband standard to 100 megabits per second download/20 megabits per second upload. The current standard set in 2015 is 25 megabits per second download/3 megabits per second upload.

The NOI, Rosenworcel said, “discusses a range of evidence supporting this standard, including the requirements for new networks funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”

“The needs of internet users long ago surpassed the FCC’s 25/3 speed metric, especially during a global health pandemic that moved so much of life online,” said Rosenworcel.

“The 25/3 metric isn’t just behind the times, it’s a harmful one because it masks the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left behind and left offline,” she said. “That’s why we need to raise the standard for minimum broadband speeds now and while also aiming even higher for the future, because we need to set big goals if we want everyone everywhere to have a fair shot at 21st century success.”

As part of the (NOI) Rosenworcel also proposed that the commission take into account other factors such as “affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access” as determining factors if broadband is being deployed in “a timely and reasonable fashion.”

Beyond the bid to boost the new definition of broadband to 100 megabits per second download/20 megabits per second upload, the NOI also proposes to set a “future” national service speed goal of 1,000 megabits per second download/500 megabits per share upload.


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