In a recent letter addressed to the FCC on Thursday morning, a number of senators have finally stood up and called for the federal agency to officially change and redefine the current minimum speeds that popular internet service providers can call as "high-speed" broadband. The lawmakers seek to change the terms of the definition from 25/3 Mbps to 100/100 Mbps.
FCC's Previous 'High Speed' Definition
The FCC reportedly adopted the current minimum high-speed broadband definition back in 2015. This was when streaming services like Netflix were just in their early growth stages. However, even by January of 2014, Netflix reportedly had over 33.1 million subscribers and this was when the previous minimum high-speed broadband standard was left at just 4/1 Mbps.
Previously, when the FCC finally raised the definition of high-speed broadband, the office said that the previous standard that was set back in 2010 was then inadequate. The office also noted that the 4 Mbps download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed was still grossly inadequate to be able to keep up with the pace of the advancements during that time--including high-quality voice, graphics, data and also video offerings.
Increase of Internet Usage Since the Pandemic
Now, with other traditional cable networks also offering their very own streaming services, there are now hundreds of thousands of people all watching streams on YouTube and Twitch every single day, as well as cloud gaming expanding to even more homes. The high-speed broadband minimum standard is currently yet again woefully outdated for the majority of different multi-person households.
An article by Gizmodo noted that not only is the proposed new definition four times higher compared to the minimum download speed, btu senators are also now calling for a higher symmetrical download and upload speed. This is reportedly something that is achievable only for fiber internet as opposed to the regular internet connections.
Letter Sent to the FCC
The Verge reported that Joe Manchin from the D-WV, Sens. Michael Bennet from the D-CO, Angus King from the I-ME, and Rob Portman R-HO are the lawmakers all behind this particular bipartisan letter. The senators then wrote that over the course of the next five years, if this trend still continues, data needs are also expected to increase by at least 25 percent a year.
This doesn't even include the accounts of millions of children and parents that have had to work as well as attend school from their homes for the last year ever since the start of COVID-19. The senators referenced this critical reality in their letter. The new definition could push internet providers to look for ways to improve their internet offerings if they are to claim that they can supply their users with "high-speed" internet.
Basically, not every service would then have the ability of claiming that they are capable of supplying high-speed internet connection.