Setting broadband objectives

What should be our national objective for broadband speeds?

Of course, faster is almost always better. Last Friday, in the United States, FCC Chair Rosenworcel announced that she will be proposing to increase the US national standard for minimum broadband speeds from 25 Mbps download / 3 Mbps upload to 100/20. The 25/3 standard was set in 2015. She is also proposing to set a long-term goal for broadband speed of 1 Gbps down and 500 Mbps up.

Canada’s 50 / 10 objective was set in 2016.

I thought it was interesting to see such a long term aspirational national objective, effectively setting today’s commonly available urban speeds as a national target. In addition, Chair Rosenworcel is looking beyond speed, proposing that the FCC consider “affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access as part of its determination as to whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion.”

The aspirational target does not specify a symmetric speed. Will that be addressed by some in the comments phase? The reality is that there are very few consumer applications for symmetric gigabit per second connections. Such connections are more commonly found in business.

It will be an interesting proceeding to follow. A year ago, the US government’s infrastructure stimulus package allocated $65B for broadband.

Changing the minimum broadband speed from 25/3 to 100/30 means that considerably more areas will be classified as deficient. What additional costs will be associated with the move to a 100/20 standard and where will the funding come from?

Will a more aggressive new minimum standard mean that some areas will be funded for upgrades to 100/20 service before other regions have even received service at today’s 25/3 service levels?

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