FCC Increased the Bandwidth Required to Market Internet Services As Broadband

The FCC has increased the speeds necessary to qualify internet service as “broadband” for the first time since 2015. Following the agency’s annual high-speed internet assessment, it was determined that 100 Mbps downloads and 20 Mbps uploads will now be the new standard.

This development is likely to unsettle ISPs, who have been accustomed to referencing the previous standards of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps and persuading consumers that they are receiving high-speed broadband.

The FCC’s report highlighted several areas where the country’s online infrastructure is lacking. It concluded that broadband deployment is not progressing rapidly enough to adequately serve Americans, particularly those in rural and Tribal areas. The agency expressed concern, stating, “These gaps in deployment are not closing rapidly enough.”

Broadband Connection

Specifically, the report noted that fixed terrestrial broadband service (excluding satellite) has yet to be extended to approximately 24 million Americans, including about 28 percent of rural residents and over 23 percent of those residing on Tribal lands.

Regarding mobile services, it mentioned that approximately nine percent of Americans (including 36 percent in rural areas and over 20 percent on Tribal lands) lack sufficient 5G cellular speeds of at least 35 Mbps down / 3 Mbps up.

The report also established a long-term goal of broadband speeds reaching 1 Gbps down / 500 Mbps up “to provide stakeholders with a collective goal to strive towards.” These figures may indicate the direction in which the Commission aims to shift the benchmarks in future updates.

In 2015, when the commission established the 25 Mbps / 3 Mbps requirements, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel remarked, “Frankly, it should be 100 Mbps”—a benchmark that the agency has now adopted, nine years later.

While the FCC cannot mandate ISPs to increase their speeds, this move represents a significant step it can take. The FCC can, however, prohibit ISPs from marketing their services as “broadband” if they fail to meet these standards.

It remains to be seen whether infrastructure providers will comply or resort to other marketing tactics to promote services with slow and outdated internet speeds.

Josh Alba
Josh Alba
Josh Alba stands at the forefront of contemporary business journalism, his words weaving narratives that illuminate the intricate workings of the corporate world. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for uncovering the underlying stories behind financial trends, Josh has established himself as a trusted authority in business writing. Drawing from his wealth of experience and relentless pursuit of truth, Josh delivers insights that resonate with readers across industries.
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