A group of four senators is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to change its definition of high-speed broadband in order to significantly increase base speeds.
Under the current FCC policy, created in 2015, 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up is the minimum standard for broadband. In their letter, Senators Joe Manchin, Rob Portman, Michael Bennet and Angus King make the case that those speeds are no longer cutting it, particularly during a pandemic when many Americans are working and attending school remotely. They propose that there should be a new standard of 100 Mbps for both download and upload speeds, and that this should be a consistent definition across the federal government.
“Ask any senior who connects with their physician via telemedicine, any farmer hoping to unlock the benefits of precision agriculture, any student who receives livestreamed instruction, or any family where both parents telework and multiple children are remote learning, and they will tell you that many networks fail to come close to ‘high-speed’ in the year 2021,” they write. “For any of these functions, upload speeds far greater than 3 Mbps are particularly critical.”
The letter was sent to the FCC’s acting chair, Jessica Rosenworcel. As ArsTechnica points out, Rosenworcel has previously supported updating broadband standards to higher speeds, so there’s at least some reason to believe the issue may get more attention under the current administration.