Should the United States of America have better broadband standards?
Not according to the FCC.
Apparently, the Federal Communications Commission has started off its annual analysis of the country’s broadband deployment.
In the process of doing so the Federal Communications Commission has proposed to maintain the current level of United States broadband standard.
That current level is around 3 Mbps upstream (which doesn’t really matter since most users aren’t looking at this number) and 25 Mbps downstream (which is all that matters).
This is also the same speed standard that the Federal Communications Commission makes use of each and every year in order to determine whether various advanced telecommunications technologies and capabilities are steadily reaching their deployment stage in all regions of the country and ensuring that all Americans are getting these technologies in a timely and reasonable fashion.
Back when Tom Wheeler played the role of the chairman at the Federal Communications Commission, the agency raised the broadband standard from a paltry 4Mbps/1Mbps to the current 25Mbps/3Mbps.
This happened in the year 2015.
It is also true that back then the FCC had a Republican minority and Ajit Pai was the commissioner in that minority.
But the more important point here is that Aji actually voted against the FCC raising the 4Mbps/1Mbps speed standard.
Ajit Pai became the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission back in 2017.
Since then, Ajit hasn’t done anything to move away from the 25Mbps/3Mbps speed standard.
That is despite the fact that Jessica Rosenworcel, the Democratic Commissioner, called on Ajit Pai to raise that standard.
Now, this week Ajit Pai further cemented his position on the speed standard by proposing to keep the 25 Mbps/3 Mbps standard for another full year.
A couple of days ago, Rosenworcel told reporters that the inquiry in question essentially erred by making the proposal of keeping the country’s national broadband speed standard at just 25Mbps.
Rosenworcel also mentioned that the time had come to show a bit of boldness and successfully move the country’s national broadband speed standard up from 25 Mbps to a much higher 100 Mbps.
Furthermore, Rosenworcel said, the United States of America did not even come close to leading the world at the current speed standard when one factored in the price that most of the broadband providers in the country charged customers.
Additionally, Rosenworcel added, that the United States of America should not be in such a situation and if the country wanted to change the situation in the future then it needed a much more powerful goal.
The country would also need a solid plan to reach that goal, said Rosenworcel.
Moreover, the failure of those incharge in the country to commit to such a course which would take the US to that leading position in the world really disappointed Rosenworcel.
As a result of that, Rosenworcel ended her statement by saying that she regretfully had to dissent.
Readers should note here that the Federal Communications Commission has not yet finalized Aji Pai’s proposal.
It is also true that if the United States of America keeps the current broadband speed standard throughout the country then that would mean the Federal Communications Commission concluded that the process of broadband deployment in the country had already started at a fast enough pace to cover the whole country in reasonable time.
Some reports have said that Ajit Pai could actually use that Federal Communications Commission conclusion to make further attempts in justifying the further deregulation of the country’s current broadband industry.
When are the public comments due?
They are due next month.
This is a good time to mention that Ajit Pai’s speed standard proposal came in the form of a Notice of Inquiry.
The Notice of Inquiry actually does seek public comment on things such as how the Federal Communications Commission should go about conduring the agency’s annual assessment on broadband deployment.
It is quite likely that the public comment would receive a release date in early stages of 2019.
The notice from Ajit Pai mentioned that his team had decided to put forward a proposal which would maintain the current speed standard at the 25 Mbps/3 Mbps benchmark.
Moreover, the notice stated, the team sought comment on their proposal in due time.
But what is advanced telecommunications capability?
Well, the current United States law has defined advanced telecommunications capability as a service.
But not just any service.
It is defined as a service which enables United States online users to originate and also receive high-quality video, graphics, data and voice telecommunications using any kind of technology.
Moreover, the Federal Communications Commission also mentioned that the agency’s previously discovery had found that the current broadband speed standard benchmark of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps was as close to the appropriate measure possible when it came to accessing whether fixed broadband service providers in the country provided users with advanced telecommunications capability.
For those who are interested, this link will take you to the comments page where you can submit your comment.
The due date for initial comments is September 10 while the due date for reply comments is September 24.
More specifically though, the current speed standard of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps is utilized in order to judge whether the business and home broadband internet technologies like fiber and cable provided users with advanced telecommunications capability.
Apart from that, the Federal Communications Commission’s annual assessment further make the evaluation of mobile broadband deployment.
However, the Federal Communications Commission has not managed to choose a single speed standard benchmark with regards to the country’s mobile access.
The Federal Communications Commission, under Ajit Pai, previously came to the conclusion that the agency could not adopt a single speed standard benchmark.
Because according to the Federal Communications Commission it was unworkable.
As it turns out, the Federal Communications Commission found the mobile experience to be inherently variable.
Which meant that they could not come to a standard.
Moreover, Ajit Pai’s notice (this time around) also sought comments on whether the FCC should simply maintain that kind of approach towards the mobile internet.
Is satellite or mobile acceptable enough?
The adoption of a particular mobile speed standard is not a requirement according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Despite that, the Federal Communications Commission could potentially determine that certain parts of the United States of America would have enough broadband services even if people living in these areas only had access to a mobile service.
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission mentioned that it usually calculated the total number of US citizens who had access to various advanced telecommunications services.
How did the Federal Communications Commission go about doing that?
According to the Federal Communications Commission, it did that by summing the total population of each and every census block that had at least one service provider and,
- Whether or not the calculation had considered all the fixed terrestrial services
- Each and every fixed service
- A combination of mobile and fixed LTE services
- Mobile LTE services
- A different combination of mobile or fixed LTE services
Last year Ajit Pai’s Federal Communications Commission had to face a lot of criticism when it suggested that the American people only needed mobile internet and nothing else.
On the other hand, the Federal Communications Commission under the Obama administration had concluded earlier that people living in the United States of America actually need both mobile and home internet access.
Because according to the Federal Communications Commission back then, both types of internet services had different limitations and capabilities.
Recently, Ajit Pai’s Federal Communications Commission has come around to acknowledging the fact that mobile broadband in its current state did not have the potential to replace and substitute home broadband internet services.
By limiting the 25Mbps/3Mbps speed standard for broadband internet access as far as home internet services are concerned and not specifying the need for a specific speed standard for mobile internet access, the Federal Communications Commission would essentially make it very easy for itself to come to the conclusion that as far as America was concerned, the broadband deployment progress was happening fast enough.
There is no denying the fact that users can now get speeds of up to 25Mbps (that is, download speed) via satellite services as well.
The Federal Communications Commission also noticed that based on the data available via the June 2017 Federal Communications Commission form 477, fixed (and not mobile) terrestrial internet broadband which could at least provide speeds of 25Mbps/3Mbps had been successfully deployed to roughly about 92 percent of all people living in the United States of America.
This included around 98 percent of all people living in urban areas of the United States of America and about 70 percent of all people living in the rural areas of United States of America.
The Federal Communications Commission had also included satellite internet services when it estimated the percentage of broadband deployment.
That is despite the fact that satellite technologies still offer fairly poor latency rates and reasonably low data caps.
Of course, that could change in the future but for now, it remains true.
The Federal Communications Commission has also asked for input from the public on the approach that the commission has taken.
Recently the Federal Communications Commission told the media that the Commission sought comment on its treatment of satellite services.
It included how the Federal Communications Commission should move forward when taking into account any and all possible limitations like the actual capacity of the satellite and the geographic scope of the coverage that the satellite internet reported.
Thus far, the Federal Communications Commision has refused to actually adopt any kind of latency benchmark which would manage to exclude all the existing current satellite services coming under advanced telecommunications and hence be counted as internet service to the American people.
However, some believe that future satellite technologies and internet services that delivered their offerings from low-Earth orbits may actually find success in solving the latency problem associated with satellite technologies.
Ajit Pai, so far, has offered exactly zero data for the FCC’s broadband claim
A lot of media reports have written about how the Federal Communications Commission under the Obama administration regularly found out that broadband internet service deployment simply did not happen fast enough for the Federal Communications Commission to stay on target in terms of providing internet facilities to all American people.
However, the Federal Communications Commission under the Trump administration (and Ajit Pai’s chairmanship) made the conclusion back in February of 2018 that authorities had done enough to deploy broadband access of the internet to all people living in America t a reasonable rate and a timely fashion.
The Federal Communications Commission also credit Ajit Pai’s net neutrality plan (or in other words, repeal) for successfully turning things completely around.
Here is the problem though.
The report that the Federal Communications Commission published in February 2018 came out a full four months before Ajit Pai had managed to get his repeal finalized and ready.
This should lead anyone to understand that the report which the Federal Communications Commission produced back then did not contain any data which supported Ajit Pai’s claim that his repeal plan to end net neutrality rules actually sped up the deployment of broadband internet services in America.
Ajit Pai did cite some proof though.
All of that came from four companies that were involved in those deployments.
Many media reports back in February wrote that a total of three deployments from the ultimate total of four were, in reality, planned during the administrative period of President Obama.
The Federal Communications Commission funded two of those deployments well before Ajit Pai became the chairperson of the Federal Communications Commission.
The other thing is that, all the four deployments came from internet service providers which had already made official announcements on broadband expansions well before Ajit Pai became in charge at the Federal Communications Commission.
Needless to say, all of these deployments came about while all the net neutrality rules were still present.
It is true that the data the Federal Communications Commission puts out usually lags behind the current (present) time by a total of 12 months, or a full year.
In other words, even the next Federal Communications Commission may not have the required data as a result of the net neutrality rules repeal.
Readers should also know that the report which the FCC published back in February of 2018 actually did not make use of any data after December 2016.
It is safe to assume that the 2019 FCC report may only use data earlier than December 2017.
As some of our readers would already know that Ajit Pai’s plan to repeal net neutrality rules only go through via the vote in December 2017.
Not only that, it is also known that Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal plan only got implemented in June of 2018.
Now, even though the 25 Mbps/3 Mbps fixed internet broadband speed represented the only official speed standard benchmark which the Federal Communications Commission used in order to judge the actual progress in its report that came out in February 2018, the FCC report also mentioned various deployment data that came from a multiple number of other speed tiers.
The notice that came out two days ago mentioned that the 2018 FCC report presented various deployment figures for a total of three broadband internet speed tiers for fixed internet services, specifically for the commission’s 25Mbps/3Mbps speed standard benchmark and 50 Mbps/5 Mbps and 10Mbps/1Mbps along with two other speed tiers for various mobile LTE services, more specifically 10 Mbps/3 Mbps and Mbps/1 Mbps.
The notice also mentioned that the Commission sought comment on whether the commission’s upcoming report should include any other additionally internet speed tiers.
It also asked to mention which speed tiers should the commission consider for its next report.
Some are of the view that the high-quality graphics (currently 4k resolution) which the US law defines here already cannot happen below 25 Mbps bandwidth.
Moreover, even higher graphics quality of 8 to 10k resolution required an internet connection greater than 100 Mbps of download speed.
Hence, according to some, it becomes rather painfully obvious that the FCC clearly is lacking any understanding of the current US law.
Then there is the problem of latency requirement or the lack thereof.
Applications that require low latency rates such as video games suffer a lot if they have to deal with no Quality of Service on various WiFi home routers and low bandwidth.
Readers should also not ignore other services which require a lot of high upload like Parsecs.
With these, even the highest of upload limits on the fastest cable connections (around 10 to 20 Mbps) aren’t really sufficient.
While others believe that the 25Mbps speed standard which the FCC is looking to keep should come with a mention of download caps along with reduced cost.
There are some sections who believe that the FCC has to focus on moving towards the 100 Mbps standard for the future.
All in all, it is probably true that the vast majority of households in the US could do well with 25 Mbps as far as general functions are concerned.
No one can consider the 25Mbps speed as great.
But it should be enough doing one’s homework/office work at this speed.
This speed is also enough to stream videos.
Of course, all of this does not mean that the FCC should not increase the speed benchmark for the future.
The only problem that the FCC needs to solve is to ensure that rural families are able to get these standard speeds.
Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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