FCC Increases Broadband Benchmark Speed to New Level

In a significant move aimed at advancing internet accessibility across the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a substantial increase in the benchmark speed for broadband services.
broadband internet connection usersThe FCC has raised the benchmark for high-speed fixed broadband to download speeds of 100 megabits per second and upload speeds of 20 megabits per second. This marks a significant four-fold increase from the previous benchmark set at 25/3 Mbps back in 2015.

This decision comes as the FCC recognizes the evolving standards in federal and state programs, such as the NTIA’s BEAD Program and various USF programs, along with changes in consumer usage patterns and the offerings provided by internet service providers.

According to the FCC, the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability has not been occurring in a reasonable and timely manner. This is evidenced by the significant number of Americans, particularly those in rural and Tribal areas, who lack access to such capabilities, with deployment gaps not closing rapidly enough.

The FCC’s report, utilizing the agency’s Broadband Data Collection deployment data for the first time instead of FCC Form 477 data, reveals the following as of December 2022:

Fixed terrestrial broadband service (excluding satellite) has not reached approximately 24 million Americans, including nearly 28 percent of those residing in rural areas and more than 23 percent of individuals living on Tribal lands.

Mobile 5G-NR coverage, with minimum speeds of 35/3 Mbps, has not been physically deployed to around 9 percent of all Americans, nearly 36 percent of those in rural areas, and over 20 percent of individuals on Tribal lands.

Approximately 45 million Americans lack access to both 100/20 Mbps fixed service and 35/3 Mbps mobile 5G-NR service.

Regarding educational institutions, the FCC has introduced a new short-term benchmark of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students and staff, with 74 percent of school districts currently meeting this goal. Additionally, a long-term goal of 1 Gbps/500 Mbps for broadband speeds has been set by the FCC.

This move by the FCC underscores a concerted effort to bridge the digital divide and ensure equitable access to high-speed broadband services for all Americans, regardless of their geographic location or socioeconomic status.