Seems like speeds and maps are popular topics right now; the Minnesota Broadband Task Force was also talking about these topics. MeriTalk reports on the latest FCC meeting…
Much of the hearing focused on what the FCC has defined as broadband speed – 25 Mbps in download speeds and 3 Mbps in upload speeds. Ali called that speed definition “woefully inadequate” for the average family of four where two adults are working from home and two children are attending K-12 online. In addition to it being unsuitable for families, he also pointed out that it prevents businesses – especially rural businesses – from embracing emerging technologies. He specifically cited the precision agriculture industry as a field that requires modern broadband speeds. Ali argued for establishing a goal of 100/100 Mbps speeds, or symmetrical upload and download speed.
O’Rielly disagreed with Ali’s assessment, both with his overall opinion on the 25/3 Mbps and the claim that precision agriculture specifically needs much faster speeds. O’Rielly described the existing speed definition as “incredibly functional,” and said he’s seen data that suggests users could have six simultaneous Zoom calls with that speed. Forde also supported O’Rielly’s position that 25/3 Mbps was sufficient for the average family. Additionally, he argued against needing symmetrical speeds, saying that even during the year-long surge in teleworking and telelearning, download demand remains significantly higher than upload demand.
The committee also touched on how long it will take the FCC to update its broadband service maps. As recently as last year, the FCC said it could get the maps updated in just a few months. However, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the committee, said the FCC is now saying it could take upwards of two years, which he said was unacceptable.
O’Rielly said if the committee wants the mapping completed sooner, it needs to make mapping the FCC’s top priority. However, he demurred when Sen. Wicker asked if he believed it could be completed in a few months.
Both Forde and Wilkins touched on the role the private sector plays in expanding broadband access, and stressed the importance of working with Federal, state, and local authorities.
Forde said broadband companies need to be “focused like a laser” on underserved areas and get broadband deployed “as soon as possible.” Further, Forde said, “we know where those areas are and we know how to reach them.”