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The FCC is considering reclassifying broadband as 10-25 Mbps

The FCC last set its definition of broadband as 4Mbps downstream, and 1Mbps upstream. That was fine for 2010, but it’s arguably outdated in 2014 – you can’t reliably stream HD video or host high-quality video chats on that kind of connection. The agency is clearly aware that it needs to modernize, as it’s drafting a proposal that would increase the baseline to at least 10Mbps down and 2.9Mbps up. It may also explore tiered definitions that vary based on regions or even times of day. Broadband in a gigabit-class city like Austin may get tougher standards than rural Wyoming, for example.

What is high-speed Internet? Believe it or not, there is a technical definition. Currently, it’s set at 4 megabits per second. Anything less, and in the government’s view, you’re not actually getting broadband-level speeds. For years, that definition of broadband worked reasonably well. But these days, 4 Mbps may not get you very much anymore. The rise of streaming music and video means that all the things we do online now require a lot more bandwidth compared to even five years ago. So the Federal Communications Commission is beginning to consider whether to raise the definition of broadband — a change that might have big implications for the way we regulate Internet providers. The FCC soon intends to solicit public comments on whether broadband should be redefined as 10 Mbps and up, or even as high as 25 Mbps and up, according to an agency official who asked not to be named because the draft request was not yet public. The new threshold would likely increase the number of people in the United States that statistically lack broadband, which in 2012 amounted to 6 percent of the population.

What do you think?

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Written by Chastity Mansfield

I'm a writer, an amateur designer, and a collector of trinkets that nobody else wants. You can find me on Noozeez, and Twitter.

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