The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted 3-2 to change the definition of broadband. The new definition of broadband is 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.
The vote ran along Democratic party lines, and against Internet providers and industry lobbyists, who argued that the FCC should maintain its original definition of broadband as 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up.
Why does this matter? Because it determines how the FCC can communicate about the nation?s broadband in its Broadband Progress report. Ultimately, the new definition could cause issues for DSL providers, especially Verizon and AT&T, that will be forced to upgrade their technology to push 25 Mbps into homes.
FCC’S Wheeler Calls Out Verizon
?While cable network Internet speeds already meet and exceed the FCC?s new broadband description, we are troubled that the commission majority has arbitrarily chosen a definition of broadband in its Section 706 report that ignores how millions of consumers currently access the Internet,? the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a statement.
?Instead of an accurate assessment of America?s broadband marketplace and the needs and uses of consumers, the FCC action is industrial policy that is not faithful to Congress?s direction in Section 706 to assess the market, but a clear effort to justify and expand the bounds of the FCC?s own authority,? according to the association.
But FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler pointed out the industry?s hypocrisy, using Verizon as one example. Verizon argued that customers are satisfied with the current speeds, but Wheeler noted how the company pushes its customers to buy higher, more costly Internet speeds.
?In their marketing materials Verizon says, ?while FiOS provides a lot of speed for bandwidth hungry devices, you?d be surprised how fast it goes. You can think of your household?s Internet connection like a pizza to be shared with your whole family. Some people are hungrier than others and if too many friends show up no one will get enough to be satisfied,’” Wheeler said.
“This is what their website says,? Wheeler added. ??25/25 is best for one to three devices at the same time, great for surfing, e-mail, online shopping and social networking, streaming two HD videos simultaneously. 50/50 is best for three to five devices at the same time, more speed for families or individuals with multiple Internet devices, stream up to five HD videos simultaneously.? ?Somebody is telling us one thing and telling consumers another.”
Analyst is on Wheeler?s Side
We caught up with Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, to get his thoughts on Wheeler?s comments. He told us while he thinks Wheeler was a touch sarcastic, it was valuable for him to point out the disparity between what service providers were telling the FCC and their customers.
?In essence, companies like AT&T and Verizon are claiming that it will be difficult or impossible for them to meet the FCC’s new broadband delivery standards while at the same time they are pushing consumers into higher performance premium services,? King said. He noted that was akin to an automaker moaning about the difficulty of achieving better energy efficiency while touting the terrific gas mileage of its new cars.
?All in all, I’m on Wheeler’s side,? he said. ?With more and more information and entertainment services shifting to online delivery, AT&T, Verizon and other SPs need to be held accountable to ensure that their claims match what they deliver to customers.?
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