Washington State Bill Would Boost Definition Of Broadband To 100 Mbps

from the keep-the-bar-set-at-ankle-height dept

For years we’ve noted how the U.S. has consistently maintained a fairly pathetic speed definition of “broadband” at the behest of major monopolies that didn’t want to try very hard.

Originally defined as anything over 200 kbps in either direction, the definition was updated in 2010 to a pathetic 4 Mbps down, 1 Mbps up. It was updated again in 2015 by the Wheeler FCC to a better, but still arguably pathetic, 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream. As we noted then, the broadband industry whined incessantly about having any higher standards, as it would only further highlight how a lack of competition and feckless oversight resulted in lagging network upgrades.

Despite a recent push by Senators to push the FCC to redefine broadband as something more modern and realistic (like 100 Mbps up, 20 Mbps down), the agency remains mired in policy gridlock thanks to the GOP’s foot-dragging on approving qualified commissioner nominations.

So, as they have been doing in response to other areas of federal apathy and corruption (see: broadband privacy, net neutrality) states like Washington have decided to take things into their own hands. Washington State Senate Bill 5715 would boost the standard definition of broadband to 100 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up.

That means the state, which recently doled out another $145 million in broadband funding to various tribes, ports, and counties, is insuring that money being spent on broadband that actually meets modern needs. As opposed to years of the federal government throwing subsidies at apathetic regional phone monopolies, just to convince them they should upgrade aging DSL lines to 10 Mbps.

Again, ensuring broadband has a modern definition that meets modern needs isn’t something that’s inherently partisan. But the telecom lobby (again, nervous that raising the bar from ankle height would only highlight market failure) has convinced numerous federal regulators (predominately on the GOP side) that it should be, and should be fought against tooth and nail.

The GAO has informed the FCC its broadband definition is pathetic for several years now. And each time it’s considered, the telecom lobby pouts and scuttles the effort. Fortunately, the federal government did apply a 100 Mbps target for most of the projects that will be funded by $46 billion in new broadband infrastructure grants, so the message hasn’t been entirely ignored.

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Comments on “Washington State Bill Would Boost Definition Of Broadband To 100 Mbps”

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Arnold Beck says:

Real competition MAY make this all moot

Out in rural washington state there are pockets of good (but not great) comcast cable internet, but public power systems that have existed since the 1930s are gearing up for universal fiber; many counties have got a jump on it by starting to build years ago but telco and cablecos put in state laws decades ago to slow it down. But the voters threw out the repubs who were taking the money from the incumbent players and now entire state government is democratic and the legislature nullified all the bad laws which were in the way of our public utility folks from building out these systems, just like we built the power and telephone REA in the 30s.

But the wireless cell folks are ramping up fast, the local tmobile (hq in the state) has a large chunk already covered by midband and Verizon should be coming up fast see with cband. Give both the pud fiber and cell folks 1-2 years and the outlook may be radically different, unless the big moneybags retakes state government; but with Putin running wild in Europe and the large contingent of military here, dont believe that will happen.

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