FCC Increases Broadband Speed Benchmark

Last Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted its annual assessment of whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion across the U.S. In addition to deployment, the Report considers broadband affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access, when determining whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to “all Americans.”

The Commission’s Report, issued pursuant to section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, raises the Commission’s benchmark for high-speed fixed broadband to download speeds of 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of 20 megabits per second – a four-fold increase from the 25/3 Mbps benchmark set by the Commission in 2015.

The increase in the Commission’s fixed speed benchmark for advanced telecommunications capability is based on the standards now used in multiple federal and state programs (such as NTIA’s BEAD Program and multiple USF programs), consumer usage patterns, and what is actually available from and marketed by internet service providers.

The Report concludes that advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion based on the total number of Americans, Americans in rural areas, and people living on Tribal lands who lack access to such capability, and the fact that these gaps
in deployment are not closing rapidly enough.

The Report also sets a 1 Gbps/500 Mbps long-term goal for broadband speeds to give stakeholders a collective goal towards which to strive – a better, faster, more robust system of communication for American consumers.