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Broadband internet just got redefined — again

The word “broadband” is often used in marketing materials, but its actual definition has been malleable over the years. Now, though, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a new report to indicate what should be considered “broadband.”

The new standard designates 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload speeds, up from the last time they were defined in 2015. At that point, the FTC decreed 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. That’s how far we’ve come.

You might be wondering where these numbers came from, and according to the FTC, they are “based on the standard now used in multiple federal and state programs,” as well as “consumer usage patterns” and “what is actually available.”

According to Speedtest.net, the average download speed in the U.S. is 256 Mbps, which is eight times faster than it was a decade earlier. In case you’re wondering, that puts the country at 12th in the world for internet speed. As Toms Hardware points out, streaming movies on Netflix requires 15 Mbps or higher for 4K content, while Nvidia GeForce Now needs 35 Mbps for 1080p game streaming.

Yet, the FTC’s report concluded that a survey taken in December 2022 found some deficiencies in how the country is currently doing with fast internet accessibility.

“The report concludes that advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion based on the total number of Americans, Americans in rural areas, and people living on Tribal lands who lack access to such capability, and the fact that these gaps in deployment are not closing rapidly enough.”

More than that, the report indicates that it has a long-term goal for “broadband,” eventually arriving at 1 Gbps download and 500 Mbps upload speeds. It didn’t provide a timeline for this goal, but based on the last time a report on broadband was given, it may be many years before another update is provided.

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Luke Larsen
Senior Editor, Computing
Luke Larsen is the Senior editor of computing, managing all content covering laptops, monitors, PC hardware, Macs, and more.
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