The importance of broadband internet access continues to grow more important to Americans who wish to be able to both work and play with the greatest technical capability, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to clearly define what speed thresholds need to be met for internet service providers (ISPs) using public funds to do business.
In a new press release circulated through the commission’s official website, the FCC states that any internet service providers using money through the Connect America fund must provide speeds of at least 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads. This is in order to ensure that these subsidized services provide the same speeds that “99% of urban Americans enjoy,” and represents the first update to the speed requirements of the Connect America program since 2011. The press release detailed its reasoning and expectations further by saying,
According to recent data, 99% of Americans living in urban areas have access to fixed broadband speeds of 10/1, which can accommodate more modern applications and uses. Moreover, the vast majority of urban households are able to subscribe to even faster service.
The Connect America fund, also known as the “National Broadband Plan,” was unveiled in early 2010 as a national effort to increase internet speed and availability to areas of the country with little or no internet access. One of the most oft-mentioned goals associated with the plan was to provide “100 million U.S. homes[…]affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and actual upload speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2020. This will create the world’s most attractive market for broadband applications, devices and infrastructure.”
According to a piece on the matter at IGN, major telecom companies AT&T and Verizon were hesitant to accept a new definition of broadband speed laid out by the plan because they felt, “Given the pace at which the industry is investing in advanced capabilities, there is no present need to redefine ‘advanced’ capabilities.” This new decision seems to indicate that the administrators of the FCC do not agree with that belief, though its prudent to point out that the FCC and AT&T in particular have been in disagreement about matters like these for quite some time.
Overall, the goal of the plan is to provide more internet access to more people, and given the growing importance of the internet in the daily lives of millions of Americans, one of the ways to accomplish that goal would seem to be with adjusting the expected speeds as the technology advances. For more information on the National Broadband Plan and to see how connected your area is, visit the FCC’s overview of the plan as well as their “national broadband map” with details on how connected your neighborhood is.
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