Bipartisan senator group calls on FCC to dramatically boost broadband definition

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 4
A group of U.S. senators have called on the Federal Communications Commission to "establish a 21st century definition of high-speed broadband" of 100 megabits per second for both uploads and downloads.

Credit: FCC
Credit: FCC


The senators penned a letter to FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and other Biden administration officials on Thursday asking for the updated definition. They note that the coronavirus health crisis has "reinforced the importance of high-speed broadband and underscored the cost of the persistent digital divide in our country."

Currently, the FCC's broadband standard is 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream from the consumer. That definition was set in 2015, and it was never updated under former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, despite calls to do so.

"Going forward, we should make every effort to spend limited federal dollars on broadband networks capable of providing sufficient download and upload speeds and quality, including low latency, high reliability, and low network jitter, for modern and emerging uses, like two-way videoconferencing, telehealth, remote learning, health IoT, and smart grid applications," the senators wrote.

The letter was written by senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Angus King (I-Maine). Along with Rosenworcel, it was also sent to the secretaries of Commerce and Agriculture, as well as Brian Deese, the director of the National Economic Council.

"Our goal for new deployment should be symmetrical speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps), allowing for limited variation when dictated by geography, topography, or unreasonable cost," the letter continues.

Additionally, the senators say the government should "insist that new networks supported with federal funds meet this higher standard, with limited exceptions for truly hard-to-reach locations."

Rosenworcel, who was appointed in January, already supports changing the FCC's definition of broadband. In April 2020, she said it was "time for the FCC to adjust its baseline upward." At the time, she also called for a 100Mbps download speed and an upload speed greater than 3Mbps.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,462member
    It’s the pitiful upload speed that all DSL and broadband companies use that’s ridiculous. The only way to get better upload speed is using fiber. I have Comcast’s gigabit service and download over direct connected devices ( not WIFi) is usually in the 900Mbps down but I’m lucky to get 20Mbps upload. This all has to do with how Comcast sets up their hardware. They prioritize pushing high income movies over people actually sending files to each other. 
    digital_guywatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 20
    physguyphysguy Posts: 916member
    This continues to amaze/confuse me.   I’m truly rural and have ‘limited’ 15 Mb down/3Mb up. I have a fully automated house, I video conference for work multiple times per day and watch Netflix, Britbox, etc. in the evenings with no issues. I’m not a gamer. My main problem is data caps, not speed. Also, it’s clear from remote interactions with my home that latency is far more critical than speed. I have no objections to faster but I wouldn’t want to pay more for it. Again, requiring one size fits all solutions is a waste. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 20
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,590member
    It was a while coming, but even my little, rural, Spanish coastal town now has 1Gbps symmetrical fibre. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 4 of 20
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 1,966member
    This is the speed I get in the UK under our partly subsidised and pretty well regulated broadband infrastructure:


    edited March 4 sdw2001roundaboutnowGeorgeBMacdavgregjony0
  • Reply 5 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,285member
    I’d love to have faster uploads (my down is fine — rated at 600mbps and in reality sometimes over 700mbps) but the fastest I get for uploads is 18mbps which is what Comcast tops out uploads at until you are at the 1gbps service when it doubles , though for the few months I had 1gbps service I never got faster than 18 up though it may have been my hardware). 

    I am just worried about the laws of unintended consequences.  If they are forced by governmental decree to provide min level of upload they will jack up prices for everyone to cover the costs associated with building that out when most people can make do with slower uploads.  Maybe a bit faster but most people pull down a lot more than they upload. 

    I have no problem with a company offering faster.  Just being forced which would probably jack up everyone’s cost even if you don’t need the faster uploads. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 20
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,383member
    That definition is a little premature, at least for now.  Until a few months ago I had 75/75 FiOS.  Now it’s 200, which actually runs closer to 300.  But that requires an advanced router.  We’re really going to say 100/100 is the new floor for “broadband?” That’s doable for fiber, but cable and satellite can’t touch those upload speeds for the most part.  It’s a good goal, but it’s not reflective of reality.  50/10 would be a better adjustment.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 8,964member
    While I do not need that level of speed, it is certainly not unreasonable.

    The U.S. has too long ignored broadband leaving it in the hands of private organizations to manage and control.
    But, broadband, like eletricity lines, is part of a necessary national infrastructure and needs to be maintained up to snuff to promote and protect national security, growth and development.

    We saw a demonstration of that last year as millions left their schools and offices to work from home via broadband.  And, those without broadband access were sadly left behind -- workers without access to their jobs and kids without access to school
  • Reply 8 of 20
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,559member
    I am pretty sure that upload speeds are certainly not as important as download speeds. Even video calling doesn't require that amount of uploading bandwidth. Who really cares if your e-mail with a file attached takes an extra 2 seconds to send? Or if the massive photos upload to your cloud service takes an extra 5 minutes. Focus should be on download speeds and reducing latency.
  • Reply 9 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 2,883member
    I don’t disagree with this but the bigger issue isn’t the definition of broadband, it’s the availability of it. We have large swaths of the country that don’t even have broadband under the current definition.

    It’s time we start considering broadband internet to be the utility that it is. Ask anyone whether they would rather give up their internet access or their phone access. Internet access far more important, even more so for the past year. I shake my head at all the people who decry regulation, espousing the virtues of a free market for internet service, yet people across Europe have far better coverage and speeds despite all the awful regulation they must endure. At this point it’s abundantly clear that this is area where the free market does not excel.
    CloudTalkinOferwatto_cobraGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 10 of 20
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,559member
    While I do not need that level of speed, it is certainly not unreasonable.

    The U.S. has too long ignored broadband leaving it in the hands of private organizations to manage and control.
    But, broadband, like eletricity lines, is part of a necessary national infrastructure and needs to be maintained up to snuff to promote and protect national security, growth and development.

    We saw a demonstration of that last year as millions left their schools and offices to work from home via broadband.  And, those without broadband access were sadly left behind -- workers without access to their jobs and kids without access to school
    Sorry. Do not need the Government involved in yet another aspect of life. Been shown over and over again that the federal and state governments should just get out of the way. The electrical grid is a mix of public and mostly private entities and works just fine. I would never expect any level of government them to be able to keep up with technological advances. Home schooling may be an issue for some, but money is not an excuse for not having in a minimal internet connection for working from home. If you have the type of job where you can work from home, you can afford to pay for the bare minimum of internet access.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    tedz98tedz98 Posts: 44member
    A bigger issue is Quality of Service. Outright bandwidth definitions are meaningless without a QOS component. I have 200 mbps service from Spectrum but the QOS was insufficient for me to work from home and see patients using Zoom for telemedicine appointments. I believe in minimizing government regulations but two areas they could help with are forcing ISP’s to define the QOS for all of the plans they offer and improving rural access. But I fear this is just the beginning of the government trying to take over Internet Service.
    Ofer
  • Reply 12 of 20
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 1,966member
    mike1 said:
    While I do not need that level of speed, it is certainly not unreasonable.

    The U.S. has too long ignored broadband leaving it in the hands of private organizations to manage and control.
    But, broadband, like eletricity lines, is part of a necessary national infrastructure and needs to be maintained up to snuff to promote and protect national security, growth and development.

    We saw a demonstration of that last year as millions left their schools and offices to work from home via broadband.  And, those without broadband access were sadly left behind -- workers without access to their jobs and kids without access to school
    Sorry. Do not need the Government involved in yet another aspect of life. Been shown over and over again that the federal and state governments should just get out of the way. The electrical grid is a mix of public and mostly private entities and works just fine. I would never expect any level of government them to be able to keep up with technological advances. Home schooling may be an issue for some, but money is not an excuse for not having in a minimal internet connection for working from home. If you have the type of job where you can work from home, you can afford to pay for the bare minimum of internet access.
    Yes the mostly deregulated and privately owned Texas power grid is an excellent example of the reliability. Wait.
    charlesatlasmuthuk_vanalingamMplsPOferDogpersonGeorgeBMacjony0
  • Reply 13 of 20
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,590member
    mike1 said:
    I am pretty sure that upload speeds are certainly not as important as download speeds. Even video calling doesn't require that amount of uploading bandwidth. Who really cares if your e-mail with a file attached takes an extra 2 seconds to send? Or if the massive photos upload to your cloud service takes an extra 5 minutes. Focus should be on download speeds and reducing latency.
    As everyday life (including backups of it) moves more and more into the cloud, upload speeds are crucial. The same applies for things like sharing a film with someone in a far off location. 
    MplsPGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 14 of 20
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,383member
    elijahg said:
    mike1 said:
    While I do not need that level of speed, it is certainly not unreasonable.

    The U.S. has too long ignored broadband leaving it in the hands of private organizations to manage and control.
    But, broadband, like eletricity lines, is part of a necessary national infrastructure and needs to be maintained up to snuff to promote and protect national security, growth and development.

    We saw a demonstration of that last year as millions left their schools and offices to work from home via broadband.  And, those without broadband access were sadly left behind -- workers without access to their jobs and kids without access to school
    Sorry. Do not need the Government involved in yet another aspect of life. Been shown over and over again that the federal and state governments should just get out of the way. The electrical grid is a mix of public and mostly private entities and works just fine. I would never expect any level of government them to be able to keep up with technological advances. Home schooling may be an issue for some, but money is not an excuse for not having in a minimal internet connection for working from home. If you have the type of job where you can work from home, you can afford to pay for the bare minimum of internet access.
    Yes the mostly deregulated and privately owned Texas power grid is an excellent example of the reliability. Wait.
    The flip side of that is they just fired the whole board and CEO of the system.  Can't do that with government.  Moreover, the notion that "deregulation" was the problem is dubious at best.  They have a ton of alternative energy. The issue with that is it's unreliable and inconsistent, so meeting demand requires a higher base load generated by traditional sources.  I wonder which side of the political aisle has been attacking fossil fuels and making it impossible to expand capacity?  
  • Reply 15 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 2,883member
    sdw2001 said:
    elijahg said:
    mike1 said:
    While I do not need that level of speed, it is certainly not unreasonable.

    The U.S. has too long ignored broadband leaving it in the hands of private organizations to manage and control.
    But, broadband, like eletricity lines, is part of a necessary national infrastructure and needs to be maintained up to snuff to promote and protect national security, growth and development.

    We saw a demonstration of that last year as millions left their schools and offices to work from home via broadband.  And, those without broadband access were sadly left behind -- workers without access to their jobs and kids without access to school
    Sorry. Do not need the Government involved in yet another aspect of life. Been shown over and over again that the federal and state governments should just get out of the way. The electrical grid is a mix of public and mostly private entities and works just fine. I would never expect any level of government them to be able to keep up with technological advances. Home schooling may be an issue for some, but money is not an excuse for not having in a minimal internet connection for working from home. If you have the type of job where you can work from home, you can afford to pay for the bare minimum of internet access.
    Yes the mostly deregulated and privately owned Texas power grid is an excellent example of the reliability. Wait.
    The flip side of that is they just fired the whole board and CEO of the system.  Can't do that with government.  Moreover, the notion that "deregulation" was the problem is dubious at best.  They have a ton of alternative energy. The issue with that is it's unreliable and inconsistent, so meeting demand requires a higher base load generated by traditional sources.  I wonder which side of the political aisle has been attacking fossil fuels and making it impossible to expand capacity?  
    Thanks for spreading the same lies the governor was spouting. 

    Facts: Wind and solar make up 7% of the energy production in TX. We have wind turbines in MN that work quite well all winter. The Wind turbines in TX didn’t function during the winter storm for the same reason the power plants didn’t - the utilities didn’t want to spend the money to winterize them, despite recommendations to do so after another big winter storm caused similar issues 10 years ago.

    Finally, think about what you said - “alternative energy...is unreliable and inconsistent so meeting demand requires a higher base load generated by traditional sources.” Say what? If you got rid of every solar panel and wind turbine in the state where would the power come from? The same power plants that you complain are required to make the ‘higher base load,’ and the same ones that were off line. 

    No, the disaster in TX was foreseeable and preventable. In the end it was nothing but a colossal failure to prepare. Now they’re dealing with hundreds of millions in damages and wanting federal bail outs. Had they been regulated, they would have been forced to be prepared. We have regulated power here in MN and it’s quite predictable and reliable. Even when we have blizzards and -40º temperatures. TX may have fired the whole board of the system, but it does them little good now. The board isn’t paying for their mistakes, the citizens are.
    OferDogpersonGeorgeBMacjony0muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 20
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 790member
    The current definition of broadband is a joke, but I imagine some thought and discussion would be needed to benchmark the dividing line that defines broadband.

    My home has a pretty demanding setup and the Comcast 200 Mbps service keeps up with multiple Apple 4K TV’s, a bunch of smart home stuff, multiple Apple watches, iPhones, iPads and Macs. The upload speed seems to stay about 12 Mbps based upon the daily tests my eero unit runs.

    I really do not think residential broadband needs symmetrical data rates, but 12mbps seems a little low.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 20
    mike1 said:
    Sorry. Do not need the Government involved in yet another aspect of life. Been shown over and over again that the federal and state governments should just get out of the way. The electrical grid is a mix of public and mostly private entities and works just fine. I would never expect any level of government them to be able to keep up with technological advances. Home schooling may be an issue for some, but money is not an excuse for not having in a minimal internet connection for working from home. If you have the type of job where you can work from home, you can afford to pay for the bare minimum of internet access.
    If you read a little history, you would know that in the 1930s the Rural Electrification program 
    was made by the government to wire electricity to areas that had none.
    watto_cobraGeorgeBMacjony0muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 8,964member
    mike1 said:
    While I do not need that level of speed, it is certainly not unreasonable.

    The U.S. has too long ignored broadband leaving it in the hands of private organizations to manage and control.
    But, broadband, like eletricity lines, is part of a necessary national infrastructure and needs to be maintained up to snuff to promote and protect national security, growth and development.

    We saw a demonstration of that last year as millions left their schools and offices to work from home via broadband.  And, those without broadband access were sadly left behind -- workers without access to their jobs and kids without access to school
    Sorry. Do not need the Government involved in yet another aspect of life. Been shown over and over again that the federal and state governments should just get out of the way. The electrical grid is a mix of public and mostly private entities and works just fine. I would never expect any level of government them to be able to keep up with technological advances. Home schooling may be an issue for some, but money is not an excuse for not having in a minimal internet connection for working from home. If you have the type of job where you can work from home, you can afford to pay for the bare minimum of internet access.

    LOL... Quite obviously we do need government involved -- as we fall further and further behind waiting for for-profits to turn altruistic.

    We have an electric grid (although it's now badly obsolete and outdated) throughout the country THANKS TO THE GOVERNMENT.  It was the government that stepped in and electrified the entire U.S. with programs like the TVA and then followed up with tight regulations on the for-profit monopolies that they enabled.   For a hundred years it has served the nation well --- thanks to the government that you hate.

    Another reason for opening it up to rural areas is emerging:  The automation of farming -- where tractors no longer need tractor drivers and crops are monitored for hydration, weeds, disease.  All that modernization needs broadband.

    Or, we can choose your ideology and fall further and further behind places like China.
    Me?  I'd rather compete with them than complain about them.   But that requires investment that private industry is not willing or able to make.

    Since the beginning the nation has thrived and grown on infrastructure provided or supported by the government -- from mail service to railroads to electrification to phone service to interstate highways to broadband.  But now greedy people are looking to suck that national infrastructure dry by privatizing it and the fools are buying their propaganda that all government is bad and only private industry is efficient and effective (while autocratic China sails on by us as the world's leading economy).   

    The verdict of history is clear:   Neither 100% private industry nor 100% public services are best -- you need to use what works best where and when it works best.   Ideology insisting on all of one or all of the other simply does not produce the best results.  China, which transitioned from 100% socialism to a mix of socialism and capitalism shows how the wise use of the combination works best.  Theirs is the only economy that expanded in 2020 and will expand at triple the rate of ours in 2021 -- as it typically does.  We need to drop our own failed ideologies and start moving forward again -- and that will take a partnership of public and private initiatives wisely administered.
    edited March 6 jony0muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 20
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 8,964member
    tedz98 said:
    A bigger issue is Quality of Service. Outright bandwidth definitions are meaningless without a QOS component. I have 200 mbps service from Spectrum but the QOS was insufficient for me to work from home and see patients using Zoom for telemedicine appointments. I believe in minimizing government regulations but two areas they could help with are forcing ISP’s to define the QOS for all of the plans they offer and improving rural access. But I fear this is just the beginning of the government trying to take over Internet Service.

    Sounds like you just made a strong case for the government to do just that.
    It's funny how those who proclaim the benefits of democracy hate the government that provides it.
    jony0
  • Reply 20 of 20
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 1,966member
    sdw2001 said:
    elijahg said:
    mike1 said:
    While I do not need that level of speed, it is certainly not unreasonable.

    The U.S. has too long ignored broadband leaving it in the hands of private organizations to manage and control.
    But, broadband, like eletricity lines, is part of a necessary national infrastructure and needs to be maintained up to snuff to promote and protect national security, growth and development.

    We saw a demonstration of that last year as millions left their schools and offices to work from home via broadband.  And, those without broadband access were sadly left behind -- workers without access to their jobs and kids without access to school
    Sorry. Do not need the Government involved in yet another aspect of life. Been shown over and over again that the federal and state governments should just get out of the way. The electrical grid is a mix of public and mostly private entities and works just fine. I would never expect any level of government them to be able to keep up with technological advances. Home schooling may be an issue for some, but money is not an excuse for not having in a minimal internet connection for working from home. If you have the type of job where you can work from home, you can afford to pay for the bare minimum of internet access.
    Yes the mostly deregulated and privately owned Texas power grid is an excellent example of the reliability. Wait.
    The flip side of that is they just fired the whole board and CEO of the system.  Can't do that with government.  Moreover, the notion that "deregulation" was the problem is dubious at best.  They have a ton of alternative energy. The issue with that is it's unreliable and inconsistent, so meeting demand requires a higher base load generated by traditional sources.  I wonder which side of the political aisle has been attacking fossil fuels and making it impossible to expand capacity?  
    Well, you can, it's called an election.

    It's unreliable because the lack of regulation meant the power generation units weren't hardened to save money, which went into the pockets of shareholders. A decent regulator pushes for protections against unforseen and uncommon circumstances, and would have forced cold-weather hardening. In any case as others have said, fossil plants shut down because of the same issue. How do you explain that one?
    edited March 6 GeorgeBMacjony0
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