The FCC just announced that they have changed the definition of broadband to reflect consumer demand and advances in technology. The new rules define broadband as 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 3 Mbps for uploads. That’s quite a jump from the previous guidelines, from 2010, of 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up.
This announcement is part of the FCC’s attempts to motivate internet service providers to help the U.S. catch up to other developed countries’ broadband speeds. Using the updated benchmark, the FCC reports some alarming 2015 statistics that reveal the urgent need for wider access to fast internet.
- 55 million Americans do not have access to advanced broadband.
- Over half of all rural Americans lack access to broadband, and the divide is even greater on Tribal lands and in U.S. territories. For contrast: only eight percent of urban Americans lack access to high speed internet.
- Thirty-five percent of schools in the U.S. lack access to fiber networks that are fast enough to support e-learning tools.
- Overall, the broadband availability gap closed by only three percent last year.
In 1996 congress defined “high-quality” broadband as being capable of handling high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video services. Since then, progress has certainly been made, but technology is outpacing U.S. internet speeds. The FCC seeks comments on how they can improve broadband speeds across the country, and they urge private and public sectors to advance robust broadband to all Americans as soon as possible.