The term broadband used to officially mean 1Mbps Up and 4Mbps Down, but now the FCC voted to change this to the delight of consumers and to the scorn of the broadband industry and their cohorts.
So in other words to sell broadband as a broadband service the industry must increase upload speeds by 300% and download speeds by almost 500% to classify it officially as Broadband in the sales literature.
Of course the broadband industry is now unable to shovel the same term, “broadband” to the 20% of households that are simply unable to obtain those speeds because of the reluctance of the DSL networks to upgrade those areas, which means the broadband industry is unable to claim and the receive subsidies paid to them for not having deployments of at least 10Mbps total.
This redefinition will further highlight the fact that a lack of competition that has left large portions of the country with pricey and slow “broadband” service, which technically isn’t broadband anymore.
The original definition of the term broadband pre 2010 was defined as anything faster than 200kbps, then upgraded that definition later to take into account of up and down stream data speed of 768kbps downstream and 200kbps upstream. After 2010 the FCC redefined broadband again as speeds of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. Of course the broadband industry fought each one of those reclassification every step of the way, because in order to continually receive subsidies payed to them they had to continually upgrade their networks.
Consumer advocates have praised the announcement by the FCC, and of course the broadband industry denounced the move. In fact the NCTA, the cable industry’s chief lobbying organization, issued a statement calling the 25 Mbps metric “arbitrary” and unrealistic in his quote:
“While cable network Internet speeds already meet and exceed the FCC’s new broadband description, we are troubled that the Commission majority has arbitrarily chosen a definition of broadband in its Section 706 report that ignores how millions of consumers currently access the Internet. Instead of an accurate assessment of America’s broadband marketplace and the needs and uses of consumers, the FCC action is industrial policy that is not faithful to Congress’s direction in Section 706 to assess the market, but a clear effort to justify and expand the bounds of the FCC’s own authority.”
The FCC will use the new standard to highlight the industry isn’t particularly competitive. The agency is mandated by Congress to ensure broadband’s being deployed in a “reasonable and timely basis,” and if the FCC can show it isn’t (which pretty clearly isn’t hard) then the FCC will have more legal ammunition against ISPs in the future legal fights over net neutrality with municipal broadband.
The FCC’s full announcement can be found here.