The Potential Fallout Of Changing FCC's Broadband Definition

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Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel recently proposed that the FCC adopt new standards for what qualifies as broadband internet access service and for determining whether broadband deployment is sufficient to meet American needs. Chairwoman Rosenworcel is proposing to raise the minimum speed for broadband to 100 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream. This would be consistent with the standard adopted in the most recent FCC universal service auction, which required participants to offer the same downstream and upstream speeds. Chairwoman Rosenworcel also is proposing to set a national goal of 1 gigabit per second downstream and 500 Mbps upstream speeds "for the future," although that would not be a binding standard. In addition, Chairwoman Rosenworcel has proposed that, for the first time, the FCC consider "affordability, adoption, availability and equitable access" in determining whether broadband is being deployed sufficiently. This more granular analysis would make it more difficult for the FCC to conclude that broadband is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis.

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