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Image credit: Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

You have 30 more days to tell Ajit Pai not to neuter broadband

Twelve Senate Democrats bought you some time.
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Aaron Bernstein / Reuters

While it's attacking net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is pushing a second proposal that could also limit internet freedom. Under Tom Wheeler, broadband was redefined to mean 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds, but Pai's FCC wants to change that to include mobile networks with meager 10Mbps/1Mbps speeds. That hasn't been as well-publicized as the Title II issue, so many folks aren't aware that the comment period expires tomorrow. After a letter from 12 Democrat Senators urging an extension, however, the FCC agreed to prolong it by 30 days.

"Such a striking change in policy would significantly and disproportionately disadvantage Americans in rural, tribal, and low income communities across the nation," the letter from Al Franken, Elizabeth Warran and other Senators reads. "The lack of service or high-speed internet is preventing individuals in these communities from applying for jobs; their children from doing their homework; and many small business owners from running businesses out of their homes."

Such a striking change in policy would significantly and disproportionately disadvantage Americans in rural, tribal, and low income communities across the nation.

The new deadline for initial comments is now September 21st, and the response deadline October 6th. The extension is just a symbolic victory, however, as Pai seems intent on pushing through the new rules regardless. Neither the White House under Trump, nor the carrier-friendly Republican-heavy legislature and Senate are likely to stop him, and Pai himself has said that public comments are pretty much irrelevant.

Unless you have an expensive data plan, it's hard to see how mobile internet can substitute as broadband. In the US, tethering is often not included, making it impossible to work on a PC via a mobile connection. Data caps are also much lower, generally topping out at a pathetic 20GB, after which users are throttled. And unlike wired internet, data connections can be spotty throughout the US, with LTE unavailable in many places.

In case you're wondering why Pai settled on 10Mbps/1Mbps for mobile, it's likely because LTE speeds in the US average just under 15Mbps, giving carriers a cushion. That dismal rate ranks the nation 59th on Open Signal's global LTE speed charts, behind such nations like Kazakhstan, Slovenia and Ecuador.

To make your own opinion be heard, hit the FCC's comment site right here.

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