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US Government: Internet Expansion Too Slow


If you think access to broadband should be growing faster, the government agrees with you.  In a new report, the FCC finds that while providers have done a decent job building out high-speed Internet, as many as 10% of Americans, that’s roughly 34 million people, still lack access to what the government considers broadband.

As a result, the FCC has concluded that the expansion of broadband isn’t happening in a “reasonable and timely” fashion, and the agency says the law calls for the FCC “to take immediate action” to speed things up.  “Broadband” by the agency’s definition, is Internet service that enables download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps.

According to an FCC factsheet, “Advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to all Americans.”  From all this, you can expect the FCC to put more pressure on Internet providers to step up their efforts.  You can also expect the Internet industry to push back.

There is controversy in the FCC’s broadband definition because last year the agency revised its standard upward, from 10 Mbps download, 1 Mbps upload.  Agency critics said the FCC would use this higher standard to justify imposing more aggressive requirements on Internet providers.  And indeed, Internet providers themselves slammed this week’s report, saying it “lacks credibility.”

“This annual process has become a cynical exercise,” the trade group US Telecom said Friday, “one that …is patently intended to reach a predetermined conclusion that will justify a continuing expansion of the agency’s own regulatory reach.”

As a result of these findings, the government is expected to take a series of steps to push broadband deployment forward.  Some of these include reforming a low-income telephone subsidy program to allow poor Americans to buy home Internet, and disbursing millions of dollars in federal money to support Internet providers’ construction projects.

AT&T claimed that, “the FCC keeps moving the goal-posts on their definition of broadband, apparently so they can continue to justify intervening in obviously competitive markets.”

The FCC will vote January 28, 2016 on whether to issue the report as currently written.

In a side-note: Engadget reported, “As of March 2015, the average download speed in the US is 33.9 Mbps.”

Read Article (Brian Fung | | 01/08/2016)

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