The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday said it was looking into re-evaluating the definition of broadband by raising the minimum speeds required to be called “high-speed internet.”
The FCC is considering raising the national benchmark to 100 Mbps for download speeds and 20 Mbps for upload. That’s a significant increase to the current standard of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.
“This standard is not only outdated, it masks the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left offline and left behind,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.
The last several years — particularly the pandemic stretch when most of us were stuck at home — showed how critical access to high-speed internet is to both our professional and personal lives. This move is the latest attempt by the FCC to close the digital divide and ensure that more people have access to broadband.
Changing the definition of broadband would require internet service providers to boost the speeds they offer, or no longer be able to call their service broadband. The FCC noted that the current standard was set in 2015, and hasn’t been updated since.
Separately, the Notice of Inquiry, which kicks off the review process, will look at setting a future goal of hitting 1 Gbps download speeds and 500 Mbps upload speeds.
The proposal is in accordance with the agency’s regular evaluation of the state of broadband, which is mandated by section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.