55 percent of the US population does not have access to quality broadband services, and the Federal Communication Commission chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed to upgrade (revise) the definition of Broadband.
Mr. Wheeler has proposed that the old definition (which considering 4MB connections as broadband) should be replaced and only connections offering up to 25MB should be classified as Broadband.
The 1996 Telecommunications act defines high speed broadband a service that “enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications using any technology.” Tom Wheeler argued that the high spec requirements of modern hardware and software technology necessitate upgrading to higher capacity broadband with 25Mb downstream and 3MB upstream.
In their latest report the FCC identified that broadband was not being delivered to all rural American’s with the same priority as in urban centers. While 53 percent of rural America still awaits high speed broadband, only 1 percent have been provided high speed broadband services since the roll out began in 2011.
Senior FCC USA representatives informed ArsTechnica in an interview that ISPs will not be required to match the 25MB/3MB standard. The new upgrade will however test ISPs’ ability to provide customers with high speed internet that matches the ideal benchmark.
The new definition will apply on fixed broadband services which include fiber-optic and cable service providers. Satellite networks which usually operate on mobile devices will also not fall in this category since these mobile networks are not considered to be replacements for fixed broadband.
— Ali Samadpour (@AliSamadpour) January 6, 2015
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The Verge reported in May last year that ISPs in the US were deliberately throttling customers’ bandwidth. By throttling, providers like Comcast were able to skim money from streaming providers (like Netflix) to ensure their subscribers get high speed connections when streaming. Communications company Level 3 alleged that 6 unnamed companies were throttling bandwidth in an attempt to make web services to pay them for more traffic.
In a hearing last month to raise the bar for broadband services, Mr. Wheeler recommended that the standard be raised to 10Mbps. Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon both rejected the suggestion and advocated that US customers do not need any more than 4Mbps broadband speeds.
More conspicuous and suspicious in this case is the behavior of ISP giants like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast. While the Government and FCC discuss the changes that are needed for high speed broadband, these ISP giants are looking to provide consumers the same low speeds while limiting and throttling bandwidth.
AT&T has made the case very puzzling since broadband giants will be required to make significant upgrades to their infrastructures and, more importantly, their pricing plans. Large ISPs are complaining that consumers don’t subscribe to expensive broadband packages, giving rise to questions about the legitimacy of subscriptions and leading consumers to believe that they are being over-charged.
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