The FCC wants to update our definition of broadband internet, but AT&T and Verizon say it’s fine as is.

When experts say the internet is essential to our modern society, they aren’t kidding; outside of streaming our movies and providing our videogames, even the United Nations considers it a basic human right. For that reason, pushing for a faster and more efficient internet seems natural, yes? According to AT&T and Verizon however, the current definition of fast internet speeds works perfectly well.

In response to an FCC proposal to change the definition of minimum broadband speeds, AT&T and Verizon filed arguments that 4Mbps is an adequate minimum. The FCC had recommended 10Mbps as its minimum. “Given the pace at which the industry is investing in advanced capabilities, there is no present need to redefine ‘advanced’ capabilities,” AT&T wrote. “Consumer behavior strongly reinforces the conclusion that a 10Mbps service exceeds what many Americans need today to enable basic, high-quality transmissions.”

Back in 2010, the FCC updated the definition of broadband to 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream, based on data suggesting that 94% used fixed broadband services. But today, the FCC thinks these definitions need to be updated, even to the point that 10Mbps could be too low. “A 25Mbps connection is fast becoming ‘table stakes’ in 21st century communications,” Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a speech last week.

Whether 4Mbps is a serviceable or not, updating the definition is an important factor in determining internet access. For example, 80% of Americans who want broadband with 25 Mbps can only get it with one provider. Simply changing the definition of broadband would raise the minimum speeds cable companies must provide.

According to Comcast, about 47% of residential customers use 50 Mbps internet speeds. For context, Netflix recommends 5Mbps for 720p video and 7Mbps for 1080p.

The debate arrives at an interesting time for the FCC, which is closing comments on its controversial Open Internet policy next week. This in turn has prompted a Net Neutrality Internet Slowdown protest supported by companies like Netflix.

Source: Ars Technica

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