Press Release

Redefining Broadband Speeds to Reflect User Needs

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will likely soon release a Notice of Inquiry regarding its annual broadband deployment report, which looks at whether advanced telecommunications capabilities are being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion. In a new insight, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy Jeffrey Westling explains why the FCC might expand the minimum bandwidth requirements for broadband beyond what consumers actually need — and how that could widen the digital divide.

Key points:

  • In the FCC report, the agency may change its definition of broadband to include speed requirements of 100/20 Mbps, well beyond the requirements of a typical family.
  • The speed criteria of broadband networks should change over time to align with the bandwidth requirements of modern applications, but the FCC should take care not to increase the speed requirements to such an extent as to distort the deployment picture.
  • Instead, the agency should carefully undergo an examination of the applications that a baseline broadband connection should support to ensure Americans can access modern applications and services.
  • Modern usage requirements suggest a speed closer to 30/5 Mbps should be the baseline, and even at speeds of 50/5 Mbps, 93.8 percent of Americans have access to fixed broadband.

Read the analysis