FCC Concludes That Wireless And Fixed Broadband Are Different

Image credit: United States Department of Agriculture

Image credit: United States Department of Agriculture

The Federal Communications Commission recently released a fact sheet on the draft Broadband Progress Report and a statement by Chairman Ajit Pai

This report is mandated to be provided to Congress by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and is meant to update the nation on the pace and progress of broadband Internet access in the United States.

Major Report Takeaways

While many consumers have been critical of the FCC since the repeal of net neutrality on December 14, 2017, Chairman Pai's fact sheet and statement included both some good news and some ambiguous statements for fans of the web:

  • The FCC has determined that the standard for what constitutes broadband connection speed will remain 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed which was made the standard in 2015, an upgrade at the time from 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. Pai recently was reported to be considering downgrading the standard for broadband to 10 Mbps.
  • Mobile services are not a substitute for fixed services. This is a win for consumers because it means companies will need to compete to bring broadband Internet access both over the airwaves to your smartphone and via a wired connection into your home. Some believe this distinction is critical in spurring the rollout of high-speed fiber Internet access.
  • Chairman Pai's fact sheet states that broadband deployment progress is the most accurate gauge of whether telecommunications capability "is being deployed" as the law requires. 

The first two items should come as good news to consumers because it keeps the standard of broadband speed high and ensures continued infrastructure deployment. 

The third statement is quite ambiguous and can be interpreted as the FCC choosing a relative performance indicator instead of an objective one to gauge how well telecommunications companies and Internet services providers are doing to serve customers. This change may make it harder for the FCC, Congress, or consumers to determine if the FCC is doing a good job in this area.