from the good-luck-with-that dept
Except... no. Not according to the big broadband providers, which did the FCC comment-equivalent of a freak out at this possible proposal. Let's start with AT&T:
Although the industry remains well ahead of the curve, the centerpiece of the Commission’s Notice is a proposal to change the definition of advanced capabilities – in particular, a proposal to increase the minimum “advanced” capabilities benchmark from 4 Mbps download speeds to 10 Mbps. Given the pace at which the industry is investing in advanced capabilities, there is no present need to redefine “advanced” capabilities, and, as discussed below, the proposed redefinition is not adequately supported. The Commission should undertake a more rigorous, fact-based and statutory analysis before determining what, if any, definitional revisions are warranted at this time. Even recognizing that the definition of broadband will evolve over time, the Notice presents no record basis for a conclusion at this time that a service of less than 10 Mbps is no longer “advanced.”AT&T insists that people really aren't using that much bandwidth, and that the FCC overestimates how much bandwidth things like streaming HD video really take. In a neat bit of tautological reasoning, AT&T actually argues that because people aren't using that much bandwidth now (perhaps because AT&T doesn't let them...), it's clear that this isn't a reasonable definition of broadband:
Consumer behavior strongly reinforces the conclusion that a 10 Mbps service exceeds what many Americans need today to enable basic, high-quality transmissions. AT&T data show that, in areas where its customers have access to a service that offers download speeds greater than 10 Mbps, many consumers choose to buy services with lower download speeds. Indeed, even in areas where only a 6 Mbps service is available, a substantial portion of consumers choose to purchase a lower-speed service.Perhaps that's because your pricing sucks, and even when people do pay more, you do crappy things like throttle Netflix.
Over to Verizon, which argues that raising the broadband speed definitions would be a problem because it might confuse people, and you know how much Verizon wants everyone to have a clear understanding of everything, right?
Furthermore, the Commission should avoid adopting new requirements for defining “broadband” that would unnecessarily complicate the Commission’s analysis and hinder the proper assessment of broadband deploymentSimply boosting a number to more accurately represent what is considered a high speed internet connection would "complicate" things how exactly? Oh, because now we couldn't compare the old bogus numbers to the new bogus numbers.
for the sake of consistency and to ensure meaningful comparisons over time, the Commission should maintain a relatively stable benchmark for defining broadband, even if the Commission also sees a benefit of tracking the availability and adoption of higher-speed servicesVerizon also pulls AT&T's trick of claiming "well, people have slower connections, so that's proof that lower standards are fine."
At the same time, the data confirm that services providing 4 Mbps/1 Mbps are still popular and meaningful to consumers.Meaningful? I wonder how the data concludes that.
Next up, we've got NCTA, representing the cable companies, and it's (of course) of the opinion that it would be absurd to raise the rates, because, really, there isn't any good HD content online anyway:
The Commission suggests that higher speeds may be needed to handle “super HD” video traffic, but even if true, given the limited presence of super HD video at this time, and the many other Internet services and functionality that can be easily accommodated with a 4/1 connection, there is no basis for finding that a connection must be able to handle one particular type of video in order to meet the definition of broadband.Yes, but perhaps the reason there isn't much super HD video is because your damn connections are too slow. Content follows bandwidth. If the FCC jacks up the standards, the broadband guys will ramp up their speeds, and watch the content flow...
There are some other fun submissions, including CTIA, representing the wireless operators (which include Verizon and AT&T, of course) arguing that looking to the future is lame, man. We should base our broadband stats on historical usage:
The Commission should analyze mobile broadband speeds in light of existing marketplace offeringsDon't aspire to the future, let's settle for today's mediocrity. At least some folks are arguing for the change, including the Communications Workers of America, who probably realize that requiring higher speeds would likely lead to more work for its members. It's interesting to note that satellite internet providers are more than happy to support the FCC's higher standards, noting that those rates are easy to meet. Compare and contrast this statement to the whining from above:
The FCC’s proposal to adopt a 10/1 Mbps speed benchmark represents a reasonable minimum threshold to ensure consumers in a “moderate use household” can satisfy their broadband internet access needs. Speeds of this level allow a “moderate use household” to stream videos, make VoIP phone calls, browse webpages, and check emails, which are the core broadband applications used by typical consumers. Consumer broadband satellite services provided by Hughes go as high as 15/2 Mbps and by ViaSat go as high as 12/3 Mbps, and they offer all of the above applications as part of their respective satellite services.That said, those satellite providers do then complain about including a "latency" component to the benchmarks, because satellite internet latency has always sucked.
Public Knowledge went in the other direction, arguing that even 10 Mbps is too low and that the new standard should actually be 25 Mbps. Imagine the level of freakout from the legacy broadband players if that went through...
Either way, upping the definition of what qualifies as broadband by the FCC would be a big step in more accurately reflecting the state of the broadband market in the US today, both from the standpoint of what kinds of speeds are really available and recognizing the lack of competition across the nation. The fact that it's scaring the traditional broadband players so much says an awful lot about how they've been able to hide behind the weak benchmarks in the past.