FCC defines broadband as 25/3 but USDA funds 4/1 – time to fix that?

According to The Hill, Senator Leahy is asking the Agriculture Department to rethink its definition of broadband based on the FCC’s new(ish) definition…

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Wednesday called on the Agriculture Department to follow the FCCs lead and raise the standard for high-speed Internet for its rural broadband loan program. The program gives money to Internet providers to build out broadband infrastructure in underserved areas.

“There is no doubt that the FCC has set an aggressive speed standard by which to measure progress, but considering 92 percent of urban Americans have access to the FCC’s baseline speed, it is not out of line with what is being widely offered today,” Leahy wrote in a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The FCC last year increased its minimum broadband download speed standard more than six-fold, from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps. It also raised its upload speed standard to 4 Mbps. But the Agriculture Department only requires 4 Mbps/1 Mbps to qualify for the loan program.

The good news is that this change would mean that federal funding would be invested to provide faster connectivity to the areas that need it. Unfortunately I’m not sure that those numbers could be used to retroactively ask CAF 2 recipients to support the faster speeds – although it would be nice to see them try to do that. It seems like if the recipients didn’t want to step up to those speeds that they could leave the money on the table for someone who does.

This entry was posted in FCC, Funding, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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