FCC Done With ISPs Making Excuses For Not Upgrading Their Networks

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler gave a speech today to explain the FCC's position on the growth of broadband networks, showing a much more aggressive stance when it comes to upholding broadband regulations.

Although we aren't used to thinking of broadband in this way, Wheeler posited that the speed and coverage of broadband should expand just like everything else in the computerized world. For the development of silicon chips, we have Moore's Law, which has pushed our technology forward.

Over the last 50 years we have moved from relatively simple systems utilizing 4004 micro processors to the latest quad-core, hyper-threaded, i7-5775c with over a hundred Gigaflops of processing power. As a result, we are accustomed to the rapid development of computer systems, so why not our networks?

During the 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet underwent tremendous advancement and grew at a rate that computers would be impressed with, but that has arguably slowed, and ISPs bear some of the blame. Wheeler said that Moore's Law in fact applies to the development of the Internet, or at least it should, and the hardware used to provide Internet service has substantially decreased.

Because the hardware is cheaper, the cost to maintain the old systems has also decreased, and the cost of providing broadband Internet has decreased, but the price you pay for this service has not. In the past, ISPs have refused to upgrade their systems. The companies used arguments about not having sufficient incentives, the fact that networks were still running fine, and other regulations to defend their stance. Because companies could continue to charge full price for the service regardless of how slow it was, they didn't have much incentive.

Well, the FCC has had enough. Wheeler said that the FCC will no longer let "imaginary" concerns about investment incentives and utility regulations be used to dissuade policies that encourage fast, fair and open broadband. Simply having the Internet working in most areas isn't enough anymore; it needs to be everywhere, it needs to be affordable, and it needs to be fast.

Currently, some major ISPs are opposing the FCC's Open Internet regulations, claiming that it discourages the companies from investing in upgrading their networks. Likely, if these companies continue to oppose upgrading, then the FCC will further its support of municipal broadband networks to usurp control of the Internet from the ISPs in these areas.

CEOs from Sprint, T-Mobile, Cablevision, Charter and Frontier have publicly declared that the Title II regulation does not discourage them from investing. Other companies such as AT&T, Bright House, CenturyLink, Cincinnati Bell, Comcast, Cox Cable, TDS Telecom and Time Warner Cable have made plans to expand their broadband service following the Open Internet announcements.

These plans have been announced despite some of these same companies continuing to oppose the FCC's Open Internet regulations, likely to avoid the FCC trying to push harder for municipal broadband networks.

Despite the FCC's new no-nonsense attitude when it comes to enforcing Internet regulations, Wheeler doesn't want people to get the wrong impression about the FCC and the oversight committee. Wheeler stated that he keeps describing the FCC's role as a referee, not a player, and the FCC's strong stance might appear otherwise, but that is how Wheeler wants it to stay.

Follow Michael Justin Allen Sexton @LordLao74. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.
  • rawoysters
    If I have ever pre judged somebody and been completely wrong, it is with Tom Wheeler. This guy is doing what needs to be done and I have respect for him now.
  • skit75
    I think I'm in the same boat as you although.... when you set the bar so low, tripping over it can feel like an accomplishment. He is saying all the right things. Its as if Big Cable already told him, "There is no revolving door, for you".
  • clonazepam
    I'm just really tired of only having one choice for broadband.
  • jonathan1683
    I love this guy
  • turkey3_scratch
    I agree, I want faster speeds. Speeds have not gone up much in the past years. I particularly want faster upload speeds. I'm tired of them limiting the upload speeds to like 1/8 of the download speeds. Upload should not be throttled down, with lots of people who want to stream nowadays. The FCC actually seems to be doing a lot of great stuff rather than just talking about it.
  • drwho1
    I want Faster Internet, both download and upload and be a lot cheaper than it has been for the last 20 years or so.
  • uglyduckling81
    In Australia we were just starting to roll out a National Broadband Network. Fibre to every home in the cities and high speed wireless to everyone in the country areas. Then our arsehole right wing party got elected that are controlled by their major sponsor, Murdoch that owns Pay TV is Australia and they cancelled it. He doesn't want Australians having access to fast Internet or they might start streaming content from the Internet instead of buying his over priced pay TV.
    All future works were cancelled and only those that had already been paid for were to be finished.
    Sounds like USA needs something similar to what we were going to get.
  • jasonelmore
    Windstream and other smaller regional ISP's are the absolute worst at not upgrading their network..

    For the past 15 years, Windstream DSL in my area has not seen a speed increase. Not only that, but windstream has seen a huge speed decrease, as well as high latency.

    In my city, if comcast is not in your area, you have to buy windstream. If you dont like windstream, then you get 0 Internet. There are no other competitors. This lack of competition is the single most reason windstream has not upgraded anything.

    It's so bad now, that all new customers are placed on a madatory 1 Mbps line, even if you signed up for 3 Mbps. If you complain about the false advertising, they simply credit you $5 a month. We are paying $59.99 for 1 Mbps DSL with no other choice in internet.

    Central Kentucky btw.

    Comcast is faster, but its soooo hard to convince them to expand. The only way you can convince comcast to run cable, is by going door to door to all the neighbors in your location, and get them to sign a petition. EVEN THEN, comcast will want about 10K cash upfront (from people who arent even customers yet) to run the cable.

    And i live on a main highway, imagine if i lived a mile or two from the highway, sheww,, it'd be impossible.

    TLDR: windstream needs to get bought out, or cities need to start kicking them out, because they wont spend any money.
  • uglyduckling81
    I can't edit for some reason: Govt then owns the infrastructure and ISP's are merely retailers. What an awesome system that would of been.
  • jasonelmore
    our DSL boxes are still using T1's btw.. Windstream does not want to offer speeds faster than 3 Mbps because that would cannibalize their T1 sales. T1 3 Mbps for example is $600 a month. 6 Mbps T1 $899 a month.

    Business's in the city that can get cable, drop their t1's, because they can get 20X the speed at 100X LESS the cost.