Easiest way to ubiquitous broadband? Lower the goalpost. Quickest way to hurt rural areas? Lower the goalpost

I wrote about this earlier. I thought it bore repeating – especially when I found a great, straightforward explanation of what’s going on in the Huffington Post

Every year, the law requires the FCC to issue a report on whether “advanced telecommunications capabilities” is being deployed to “all Americans.” The FCC treats mobile services as different from cable, DSL or other services that run to the home. The FCC reasons that people use direct to the home services and mobile services very differently. For technical reasons, wireline services like cable or fiber or DSL work faster and more reliably than mobile services. So even though some people rely exclusively on mobile broadband (largely because they can’t afford both a wireline and a wireless subscription), the vast majority of Americans own both mobile devices and have a wireline subscription at home.

At the moment, the FCC defines home “broadband” as providing 25 mbps down and 3 mbps up (“25/3”). Many communities can only get that speed from a cable provider – assuming they have one that serves their communities. If you don’t have a home broadband provider that offers those speeds in your community, then the FCC reports that your neighborhood doesn’t have access to “advanced telecommunications services” (the technical term the statute uses). If the FCC discovers that certain identifiable groups of people, like rural Americans, don’t have access to broadband that meets the standard, then the law requires the FCC to take steps to ensure that those left behind get the access they need.

Pai’s Proposal: Lower the Standard For Broadband So We Can Say Everyone Has Access.

There is a proceeding for determining the rules about upcoming reverse auction for Connect America Funds. There are concerns that the FCC will give much of that money to satellite companies and declare that America’s broadband problem is basically solved. Comments for that proceeding are open now but closing soon. (Senator Franken helped keep that door open until Oct 6.) The Institute for Local Self Reliance’s Community Networks recently did a podcast with Jon Chambers (formerly of the FCC) on the topic.

Word is out on a letter being circulated in the House of Representatives for Members to sign on to express their concern on the idea of lowering speed goals. That should be available next week.

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

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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