Jul 18, 2022 - Technology

FCC chair seeks to raise national broadband standard

Photo of FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel in a jacket in front of a microphone
FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel is seeking to raise the internet connection speed considered "broadband," according to a notice posted on Friday.

Why it matters: The FCC set the current standard for minimum broadband speeds in 2015 and has not updated it since then, despite the increasing demands placed on internet connections.

Details: Under the proposal, users would have to get 100 megabits per second download speed and 20 megabits per second upload rate to qualify as having broadband access.

  • The current standard is 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 megabits per second for uploads.
  • Rosenworcel also proposes setting even higher long-term goals for minimum broadband access.

The big picture: Industry players and Republicans have historically leaned toward laxer definitions of broadband, and right now the five-member FCC is deadlocked at 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans.

What they're saying:

  • Rosenworcel, in her announcement: “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. 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."
  • NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association CEO Shirley Bloomfield said in a statement: "NTCA has long advocated that, as a nation, we need to aim higher and do better when it comes to setting broadband objectives."
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