A new report from the Federal Communications Commission finds that while providers have done a decent job building out high-speed Internet, as many as 10 percent of Americans — roughly 34 million people — lack access to what the government considers broadband.
As a result, the FCC has concluded that the expansion of broadband isn’t happening in a “reasonable and timely” fashion, and the agency says the law calls on the FCC to “take immediate action” to speed things up.
“Broadband,” by the agency’s definition, is Internet service that enables download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps.
“Advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to all Americans,” according to an FCC factsheet.
From all this, you can expect the FCC to put more pressure on Internet providers to step up their efforts. You can also expect the industry to push back.
The FCC’s broadband definition is politically controversial because the agency last year took the opportunity to revise its standard upward, from the previous broadband definition of 10 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up.
Critics of the agency said then that the FCC would use the higher standard to justify imposing more aggressive requirements on Internet providers. And indeed, Internet providers themselves slammed this week’s report, saying it “lacks credibility.”
“This annual process has become a cynical exercise,” the trade group US Telecom said Friday, “one that … is patently intended to reach a predetermined conclusion that will justify a continuing expansion of the agency’s own regulatory reach.”
On the heels of this report, the government is expected to take a series of steps to push broadband deployment forward. Some of these include reforming a low-income telephone subsidy program to allow poor Americans to buy home Internet, and disbursing millions of dollars in federal money to support Internet providers’ construction projects.
(c) The Washington Post