The FCC is seeking input on how it should prepare its 2021 annual broadband deployment report. The report, which is intended to determine whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner, traditionally generates controversy, and 2021 is likely to be no exception – particularly considering that the FCC is proposing few changes to the methodology and definitions used in the 2020 report.
The most controversial element of the proposed plan is likely to be the minimum broadband speed definition. In a notice of inquiry (NOI) adopted earlier this month and made public yesterday, the commission recommends retaining the definition that has been used for several years – 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream – and to continue to gather information about one lower and three higher speed levels.
In a statement, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that the minimum level should be at least 100 Mbps and upstream speeds should be reconsidered. She also recommended measuring the availability of gigabit speed service.
Hears a pet peeve of mine…
Speed levels measured would include: 10/1 Mbps, 25/3 Mbps, 50/5 Mbps, 100/10 Mbps and 250/25 Mbps.
If you measure 10/1, people will think that’s broadband. By “people” I mean the federal government. There is money still out there to fund networks to 10/1. At that speed, it would be difficult to have one kid participate in online school. It would be difficult to have one person work from home. You might be able to watch Netflix but it would be difficult to interactive or be productive online. To a lesser degree, the same is true about 25/3.
Ten years ago, the National Broadband Plan aimed at 100 million homes with 100/50 Mbps by 2020. What’s amazing is that our upload goal has actually decreased since then – by half! (For the homes outside of that 100 million, there was a goal of 4/1.) Recently I wrote about how Minnesota should rethink their speed goals. I’m going to share the same FCC chart here that I shared there.
It tells a story, especially in COVID-post-COVID America. Any home with four users or devices at a time doing moderate or high use – required “more than 25 Mbps”. It doesn’t even address upload.