FCC may redefine broadband as high as 25Mbps download instead of 4Mbps

Confirmed by a representative of the Federal Communications Commission this week, the government agency is considering moving the classification of broadband from 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload to 10 Mbps download or higher as well as a minimum upload speed of 2.9 Mbps. This will force Internet service providers to reclassify plans underneath the new proposed limits as something other than broadband. According to the Washington Post, the FCC will also consider even higher limits, possibly reaching up to 25 Mbps download speeds as a minimum for broadband classification. 

Of course, this type of shift would increase the total number of people in the United States that are classified as not having broadband. According to the last Broadband Progress report from the FCC, that figure currently hovers around 6 percent. In addition a new proposed limit for broadband classification, the FCC is considering multiple classifications based on specific regions of the country as well as the time of day when broadband is accessed.

Ideally, this type of shift in classification will encourage Internet service providers to increase speeds for all subscribers in order to meet the new minimum classification. Alternatively, those companies could also just refer to slower plans as ‘High Speed Internet’ or another marketing term and continue to move slowly with Fiber upgrades around the country. However, if the FCC starts regulating broadband more stringently, the agency could step in to force the ISP to upgrade service speed in specific areas of the country.

It’s likely that this policy shift is related to the increased need for faster speeds that are useful for video streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video. For instance, Netflix recommends a minimum download speed of 5.0 Megabits per second for a 720p high definition stream, 7.0 Megabits per second for 1080p quality, 12 Megabits per second for 3D movies and a whopping 25 Megabits per second for Ultra HD / 4K video quality. Faster speeds are also helpful for high definition video chatting, online multiplayer gaming and large file transfers.

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