The Definition of Broadband Is Outdated – Let’s Change It


Recently, several Internet service providers have balked at the idea of broadband service being reclassified as 10 Mbps by the FCC. Socket is not one of them.
Under current FCC definitions, broadband in the United States is defined as 4 Mbps. Any ISP seeking to build out a broadband network using government funding or subsidies must therefore provide speeds of at least 4 Mbps to the users they plan to serve.
Socket received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to build a fiber network to the underserved residents of rural Boone and Callaway Counties. This network currently provides speeds of at least 100 Mbps per household (25 times faster than the minimum), with faster speeds available to business customers. And we’re hoping to push that speed even higher.
Technology marches faster than anyone ever predicts. Just four years ago, the definition of broadband was a mere 768 kbps – that’s kilobits. The idea that those speeds would be adequate for people working from home or taking online classes today is unthinkable. So what will that threshold be in 2020?
Building new networks is costly and time consuming, and as a result, any company hoping to do it will need significant funding. It was true of both our power grid and our landline telephone system, and those networks have provided an immeasurable benefit to our nation as a whole.
Using these funds confers a responsibility to provide a broadband network that will have an equally beneficial effect – one that will last for decades to come. A 4 Mbps network does not meet those standards. In fact, a 10 Mbps network may not, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.
Add your voice to the conversation – learn more about what other ISPs are saying, and check out the full FCC proposal here.
UPDATE: As of December 11th, 2014, the FCC has decided to raise the definition of rural broadband from 4 Mbps to 10 Mbps.