Wireless carriers are scared of the FCC changing the definition of broadband

July 12, 2014
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Recently, the FCC proposed to change the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream to between 10-25 Mbps downstream/2.9 Mbps upstream. Much like in the past, wireless carriers and Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) are dead-set against such an increase as it would force them to upgrade infrastructure and would cause the number of ‘unserved’ areas in the country to rise significantly.

In a report from Moffett Nathanson, he notes that any change of definition will ‘skew’ penetration statistics due to a significantly drop in the number of people who have what is deemed as broadband under the new definition (due to so many having slow DSL connections or worse).

“Raising the FCC standard will naturally lower the number of people who have ‘broadband’ (i.e. penetration will fall, at least initially),” said Craig Moffett, senior analyst. - FierceWireless

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Specifically, wireless carriers such as Verizon must be petrified at the notion of raising the definition of broadband. Why? Because Verizon was able to recently pay off convince the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities that their DSL and wireless programs were good enough to be deemed sufficient to complete their state broadband obligations.

Verizon would much rather push off their wireless plans that are more expensive for consumers and costs less to maintain by Verizon. Any raise in definition would force Verizon to ACTUALLY upgrade dying landlines and/or their wireless service in areas where it is lacking.

Over the years, ISP’s and wireless carriers have fought HARD to stop the FCC from ever raising the definition of broadband. The FCC first defined broadband as over 200 kilobits per second (kbps). In 2008, the FCC pushed the definition of broadband up to 768 kbps-1.5 Mbps. In 2010, the FCC again moved up the definition of broadband to 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.

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Three years ago, the FCC released a report which found that 68 percent of “broadband” connections in the United States can not actually access “broadband” speeds since the connections did not meet the minimum requirement (at the time) of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.

But according to the latest Internet Access Services report from the FCC, 69.7% of the country’s 92.6 million fixed-line broadband connections met the FCC’s broadband speed threshold definition of 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream and that 37.8% of mobile connections met the FCC’s 3 Mbps broadband definition threshold.

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The National Broadband Plan put out by the FCC in 2010 set a goal that every household should have 4Mbps Internet access by 2020. South Korea on the other hand has established a goal to connect every home in the country with gigabit fiber connections by 2012.

The fact that this country has so many people unable to receive decent internet speeds in 2014 speaks volumes as to the need for additional competition in the broadband industry. Look around the internet and you will find that many of the commonly used services are requiring higher broadband speeds. Speeds that many in the US can not get.

We should not be hiding these stats because of how bad the conclusion may be. Let’s try to fix the problem.

 

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