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Cable group claims that raising the broadband definition is too "complex"

The NCTA wants the FCC to keep the definition of broadband low so that Comcast won't look like a monopoly.

Published onJanuary 26, 2015


The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) is back and wants the world to know that the idea of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) raising the definition of broadband to 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream is a bad idea.

The FCC’s current definition of “broadband” Internet is 4 Mbps down. Originally, the FCC defined broadband as anything faster than 200 kbps, then upgraded that definition to 768 kbps down. It was only in 2010 that the FCC officially defined broadband to mean 4 Mbps down.

Now, the NCTA has filed a report with the FCC that laid out their position on the matter. In it, the NCTA claims that:

  1. Raising the definition would hurt the chances of a successful Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger. By raising the definition, many customers of smaller ISP’s will not be deemed as “broadband subscribers” and Comcast will suddenly have a much large percentage of “broadband subscribers” in the country.
  2. Those who want to use video and data services have no need to receive speeds faster than 25 Mbps. In fact, according to the NCTA, customers barely even need speeds of 10 Mbps or 15 Mbps. (“It is beyond question that consumers would consider a 24 Mbps service (or, in many cases, a 15 Mbps or 10 Mbps service) to be a substitute for a 25 Mbps service for all current and anticipated needs….” – NCTA, FCC Filing, 1/22/2015)
  3. Groups such as Public Knowledge noted to the FCC in their own filing that the average family now streams 3 HD movies a night and has a backup system in place. Nonsense says the NCTA. Public Knowledge is “dramatically exaggerating the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user.”

Then there is my favorite argument. According to the NCTA, if the definition of broadband was raised to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, it would “breed complexity and confusion.” Apparently, the NCTA believes that since the FCC is considering net neutrality rules whether a company is delivering speeds of at least 25 Mbps calls “into question the relevance of any new definition of broadband.”


Essentially, the NCTA wants the FCC to keep the definition of broadband low so that Comcast won’t look like a monopoly and ISP’s around the country won’t be forced to upgrade services. That’s about it. The notion of customers being “confused” by the increase in speeds is comical.

Then again, let’s remember that the NCTA is the same cable lobbying group who in 2009 pushed for the FCC broadband definition to remain at 768kbps downstream and 200 kbps upstream. The NCTA also wanted the FCC definition to be defined by the speed advertised and not the speed actually delivered.

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