The federal government has had the same definition of “high-speed” broadband since 2015. Currently, high-speed internet is defined as 25Mbps for downloads and 3Mbps for uploads. However, with more people accessing the internet than ever before during the pandemic and greater demand for infrastructure spending, lawmakers are pushing for the definition to be changed. A bipartisan group of senators wrote a letter called for the FCC to quadruple base high-speed internet, setting it at 100Mbps download to be the new standard for high-speed internet.
The letter, written and signed by Senators Michael Bennet, Joe Manchin, Angus King, and Rob Portman, reads, “Going forward, we should make every effort to spend limited federal dollars on broadband networks capable of providing sufficient download and upload speeds and quality.” “There is no reason federal funding to rural areas should not support the type of speeds used by households in typical well-served urban and suburban areas.” It adds.
The letter requests that the FCC and other agencies redefine “high-speed broadband” to anything above 100Mbps. Such a move would mean that the FCC could not say anywhere with slower speeds was receiving broadband. This would be a huge shift from the FCC of former chairman Ajit Pai, who created the old 25Mbps standard and refused to change it.
The current pandemic has shown how ineffective current speeds are as they can’t support an entire family living and working from home. Zoom recommends speeds of 3.8Mbps for one 1080p video stream. The shift to remote work and schooling means that many families are running concurrent streams.
“Ask any senior who connects with their physician via telemedicine, any farmer hoping to unlock the benefits of precision agriculture, or any student who receives livestreamed instruction, or any family where both parents telework and multiple children are remote learning, and they will tell you that many networks fail to come close to ‘high speed’ in the year 2021,” the senators wrote.