Talking tech since 2003

The term “broadband Internet” may take on a whole new meaning, according to a report from The Washington Post.

As it stands today, an Internet service provider must provide a connection that is at least 4 megabits per second in order to call it “broadband.” Unfortunately, there are many online services that require a faster connection in order to function properly. That’s why the FCC may potentially step in and raise the minimum for “broadband” speed from 4 megabits per second up to 10, or possibly even 25. The FCC also has a minimum upload speed, too: 1 megabit per second, which the agency is considering raising to 2.9 megabits per second.

fccShould this occur, the U.S. will likely see its percentage of homes with broadband Internet access drop, as those with slower connections fall below the minimum speed threshold.

In light of the current Net Neutrality debate, the possibility of the FCC redefining “broadband” could have some interesting implications. The Washington Post’s Brian Fung believes that, if broadband Internet providers aren’t working quickly enough to upgrade their infrastructures for higher speeds, the FCC could use its authority to step in and regulate those providers. A higher minimum speed requirement for “broadband” could put the FCC closer to making such a move, should it deem that providers aren’t interested in upgrading their networks to keep up.

There’s also the possibility that changing what “broadband” means could motivate some providers to upgrade on their own. The term “broadband” has become synonymous with high-speed Internet services like cable and fiber, and not being able to use the term could make some offerings appear less advanced than others to the casual customer. Speaking of the term “high speed,” it would be interesting to see if the FCC also bans that word from use if a service doesn’t reach a certain connection speed, as the term could be confused with “broadband.”

I’ve put the “high speed” question in to the FCC and will update if I hear back.

What do you think of the FCC’s idea? Love it? Hate it? Leave your thoughts below.

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