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Today in a press release, the FCC declared a change in how the term “broadband” is defined in association with various internet-access packages provided by ISPs like Comcast. In the document, the FCC redefines broadband as 25Mbps/3Mbps, as apposed to the previous 4Mbps/1Mbps.

The Commission had signaled a push towards this idea back in May of 2014. In response, they were sent this letter from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association(NCTA).

The statement from the NCTA reads like a complex legal document and seems a bit condescending. It warns that it is not the FCC’s job to “define a distinct product market” and that actions such as redefining broadband may be overstepping the FCC’s authority. It continues to explain that since this redefinition can not define a product, that it would have no effective regulatory authority and is thus, pointless. It also attempted to counter the FCC’s claims that a modern workable internet connection needs to be much greater than the recent definition of broadband, which was 4Mbps down/1Mbps up.

What “workable internet” actually is has been debated. It appears that the NTCA’s notion that 4Mbps/1Mbps being a workable internet speed for average users may be inaccurate. Bandwidth guidelines from Netflix state that it takes at least 5Mbps to stream an HD movie, and 25Mbps to stream something in ultra-HD. The NCTA has declared these to be great exaggerations according to their own data on the subject. While some have argued that 25Mbps is excessive, others have stated that it should be taken into account that many people share a single internet connection with housemates or family.

scumbag netflix

What’s another 50 minutes?

Apparently the FCC did not agree with the NCTA. In their press release today, they claimed that the previous definition of broadband “is failing to keep pace with today’s advanced high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings…” and that “The 4 Mbps/1 Mbps standard set in 2010 is dated and inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way.” The FCC stated that 17% of all Americans, mostly those in rural areas, did not meet this new standard.

But why all this fuss over the definition of the word “broadband?” — In 1996, a Telecommunications Act was passed that required the FCC to report annually on whether broadband was being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, and to take immediate action if it was not. Congress defined broadband as an internet service that allowed users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video services.

Honestly, with the above definition of broadband in mind, specifically the part that mentions how users should also be able to originate high quality content. One might question why the upstream side of this standard is not even higher, but any improvements will likely be welcome.

Some may be wondering why it even matters what the FCC calls broadband. If internet service providers can still go around selling people sub-broadband internet packages, why does the definition of the word really matter? The answer to that question is… Because eventually, ISPs may not be allowed to even sell these packages. The FCC was commissioned by congress to ensure that broadband standards were met in a timely fashion, and to “encourage” the adoption of these standards if they were not. By changing the definition of broadband, the FCC will have more authority to push cable companies into delivering high-quality internet to more individuals. What actions the FCC will take to encourage ISPs to increase the quality of their services has yet to be revealed.

internet bandwidth breakdown USA

Checkout the current distribution of bandwidth across the US

Hopefully this new standard will help bring higher quality internet services to more users, but will this also encourage ISPs to jack up their prices? Will the FCC really be able to push internet providers into offering higher quality services to more users? Please let us know whether you think this is a good or bad thing in the comments below.



Benjamin Jeanotte

Hi, I'm Ben. I am a 35 year old gaming veteran. My first console was a Mattel Intellivision(released 1981, purchased 1983) and I have owned at least one major console from every generation since. With thousands of titles behind me, I am a harsh and critical gamer who enjoys hating on games as much as loving them. — I am not just a writer for Techraptor, but a huge fan of it as well. You will probably see my comments on many articles, not just on MY articles, but others too. I look forward to having some glorious discussions and debates with you all.

  • wow, so little places to have excellent internet in the usa

  • Cy

    It’s very rare that government interference in a private business doesn’t result in the consumer ending up paying higher prices. If they really cared about everyone getting better internet they should do something to break up the regional monopolies companies like Time Warner and Comcast have.

  • Ben Jeanotte

    I think that’s a VERY good point! Good thinking.

  • Breaking up a monopoly would only result in smaller local monopolies.

    They need to own the cables.

  • Ryan Juel

    Or give the companies incentive to compete with each other. If they’re not encroaching on each others’ markets, perhaps a little monopoly ruling from the FCC or FTC might be enough to spur some growth that way…

  • Ryan Juel

    You’re telling me. I’ve been squawking about this for a while now.

  • Typical

    Why? So the government could let the cables deteriorate as badly as the rest of our infrastructure?

  • dsadsada

    Didn’t the government have to break up Rockefeller’s oil processing monopoly or something before some several decades ago? What resulted out of that? I’m not familiar enough with American history.

  • Typical

    He basically took all of his lieutenants together and made them separate companies in a nice shell game.

  • dsadsada

    I did hear that since he owned stocks in each company, he made more than he ever did before. But I was wondering more about what that did to the industry.

  • destroy_all_monsters

    That’s the fault of the vendors and not the government. The wheel of bs is cartel operates substandard service, gov’t intervention, said cartel using it as an excuse to boost prices and so on.

    The regional monopolies have a stronger case than say Ma Bell did in part due to the fact their lock-in occurred because they were supposed to provide universal coverage. They have a strong case in many locales, not so much in others. Regardless DOJ != FCC.

  • Insaniac99

    If we want the consumer to benefit in the end, broadband needs to be classified as Title II, then this redefinition will help us.

  • Ben Jeanotte

    Fortunately I live in the Portland area that is dark-blue on the map ^_^ Our area just got an upgrade the pushes our bandwidth to 100/15. Yes, it’s still suck- Comcast, but aside from the price(often more than my electricity bill JUST FOR internet) and their evil lobbying, I haven’t had any problems with them in several years.

  • Nick

    So wait, anyone with a basic comcast sub is no longer considered broadband, and most DSL lines similarly are not broadband. How does redefining non-dialup non-25Mbps connections as not-broadband help the consumer? Is the FCC only going to apply new regulations to broadband? If this is the case then this does nothing as it allows cable companies to offer 20/5 service and not be considered broadband.. I don’t see how this is beneficial unless the FCC is going to put out a minimum standard broadband speed that all ISPs must provide. The likelihood of this also seems slim as it’s very controlling and doesn’t seem like it’s something the FCC will do.

  • Nick

    That’s not good internet, that’s paying way too much for something that should be affordable. I don’t think internet companies have any right to charge upwards of $100 a month for a 100mb line. it’s rediculous.

  • Ben Jeanotte

    I agree, the price in insane! But they got us by the balls… DSL sucks, there’s really no other options.

  • Ben Jeanotte

    Hey Nick, i explained why, but I’ll highlight the important part. Congress has commanded that the US shall have expansive “broadband” in all areas, and if growth of “broadband” does not continue at a good rate, that the FCC shall have the authority to encourage that growth.

    By changing the definition of broadband, the FCC just granted themselves the authority to push and regulate internet providers that are not offering up to this new standard.

  • Nick

    ahh got it.

  • Nick

    I agree, I also live in the Portland area and comcast is literally the only provider with any consistency here.