Cable Industry Fights New 25 Mbps Broadband Definition Because The Need For Those Speeds Is 'Hypothetical'
from the please-don't-make-us-work-for-our-money dept
We recently noted how the FCC has been making a push to bump the current definition of broadband from where it sits now — around 4 Mbps downstream, and 1 Mbps upstream — to a more modern 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream. Carriers have of course been crying a lot about this, given it will more clearly highlight the lack of effort they’ve been making — especially in the less competitive markets. While U.S. broadband competition is pretty pathetic across the spectrum, several studies lately have shown it’s particularly bad anywhere above 10 Mbps.
“…the two parties that specifically urge the Commission to adopt a download speed benchmark of 25 Mbps?Netflix and Public Knowledge?both offer examples of applications that go well beyond the ‘current’ and ‘regular’ uses that ordinarily inform the Commission?s inquiry under Section 706” of the Telecommunications Act. Hypothetical use cases showing the need for 25Mbps/3Mbps “dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user,” the NCTA said.”
Because really, what kind of boob would want to draft a broadband standard that looks toward the future, right?
Of course, you’d think the cable industry would actually want a higher broadband definition, since its relatively-easy-to-deploy DOCSIS 3.0 (and soon 3.1) technology can achieve those speeds quite easily. That would give them a policy leg up against DSL providers, many of which have struggled with the significantly more expensive upgrade from copper-based network to fiber. And not too surprisingly, Verizon, AT&T and companies like CenturyLink are against raising the standard definition for just those reasons. But there’s something else at play here as well.
If you read Techdirt, you know that DSL providers like AT&T and Verizon are actually backing away from DSL they don’t want to upgrade on a massive scale, meaning we’re entering an era where the cable monopoly is going to be stronger than ever across huge swaths of the country. Under Congressional mandate, the FCC is required to ensure broadband is being deployed in a “reasonable and timely basis.” If the data shows it isn’t (and that’s precisely what the data shows), it gives the FCC legal ammunition in all the current heated broadband fights (net neutrality, municipal broadband). A legally-grounded FCC means less leeway for this growing cable monopoly to abuse its dominant market position, which is why the cable industry would very much like to keep our broadband definition buried somewhere in 2002.