FCC Stops Looking To Include Wireless Access In Broadband Definition

The FCC announced that it is no longer considering adding wireless internet access to its definition of broadband internet access.

The net neutrality issue has dominated FCC headlines for the 2017 holiday season, but the organization still has other involvements in steering U.S. internet infrastructure development. One of those goals, at least during the Obama administration, was expanding U.S. broadband internet access. In 2015, under former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC voted to change the definition of “broadband” internet from a speed of 4/1 to 25/3 (down/up Mbps). The increase in speeds didn’t mandate ISPs to change their plans, but it did change what they could advertise as “broadband.” The goal was to drive ISPs who wanted to sell “broadband” plans to offer faster internet access.

The current FCC under Chairman Pai is, of course, a vastly different organization. In 2017, Pai proposed to lower the revised speed standards by merging “wireless” internet access into the definition of “broadband.” “Wireless” internet was defined as having a minimum speed of only 10/1 (down/up Mbps), so it is a significant step down from the speed of wired “broadband” internet. The move would have significantly increased U.S. broadband coverage, but only by lowering the standards of coverage--a hollow achievement for Pai’s goal of expanding broadband coverage in the rural U.S.

It seems the FCC is, at least, backtracking on that specific effort. In the press release for the draft 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, Pai said he plans to maintain the current 25/3 (down/up Mbps) definition for “broadband” and not merge “wireless” internet into that definition.

The draft report maintains the same benchmark speed for fixed broadband service previously adopted by the Commission: 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload. The draft report also concludes that mobile broadband service is not a full substitute for fixed service.As a result, the draft report evaluates progress in deploying fixed broadband service as well as progress in deploying mobile broadband service and takes a holistic approach to evaluating the deployment of these services.

The draft won’t be changing anything we know about the FCC’s broader stance, however. The FCC maintains that net neutrality regulations stifled broadband deployment. It also argues that its current policies are meeting its mandate to expand U.S. broadband internet access.

The draft report indicates that the pace of both fixed and mobile broadband deployment declined dramatically in the two years following the prior Commission’s Title II Order.However, the draft report also discussed how, over the course of the past year, the current Commission has taken steps to reduce barriers to infrastructure investment and promote competition in the broadband marketplace. Taken together, these policies indicate that the current FCC is now meeting its statutory mandate to encourage the deployment of broadband on a reasonable and timely basis.

One of those policies will undoubtedly be Pai’s earlier-announced, but not detailed, proposal for a $500 million increase in funding for rural broadband deployment.

  • Fait
    Ajit Pai is the typical D.C. moron making decisions about things he is completely and blissfully ignorant of. Worst...FCC Chairman....ever.
  • Sveg
    This was nothing more then lowering a defined method of service speed allowing barrel scraping service providers to fly a false flag.
    Sadly this causes consumer confusion thinking (WooHoo; I have Broadband!).
    Yet nothing changed from the previous week other than a title and cost change for such a title.

    Nutshell: They lowered requirements of a title and improved nothing with the sneaky intention of using such a grossly broad title for false "Broadband" funding.
  • allawash
    This whole debate reminds me of the South Park T.M.I episode.
  • "The FCC maintains that net neutrality regulations stifled broadband deployment. It also argues that its current policies are meeting its mandate to expand U.S. broadband internet access."

    That's some strange reasoning. Removing net neutrality will remove the incentive for ISP's to continue develop their network. Increasing demand for faster connections due to people streaming video, music, etc. to their mobile devices or at home has driven the speeds in my country to crazy levels. I have 250/20 mbps connection from my cable provider. The biggest companies offering wired telephone connections offer optical connection. Speeds at 300mbps downlink and more.

    I feel for US people.
  • mihen
    Did you guys read the article before bashing Pai? The commission is not reducing the requirements to be considered broadband and is not using wireless internet as a substitute. Pai originally planned to lump it together with a lower standard, but opted not to.

    The takeaway from this article are 3 things. If you don't want to bother reading it.
    a) The FCC broadband definition is 25mb up/3mb down or 10/1 for wireless.
    b) The FCC has taken steps to reduce barriers in broadband infrastructure development.
    c) The FCC plans to increase funding for rural broadband deployment.
  • teknomedic
    I'm sure allowing wireless to have a slower definition of broadband and keeping it separate doesn't have any negative motives for screwing the public on a future decision.

    Let's see... reduce the requirement for wireless... means wireless providers dont need to upgrade anything once again. Increased funding to rural deployment means wireless peeps can now grossly undercut local wired options for deployment since they are held to lower speed standard and all they need to do is build a few extra towers and reap all the bonus money that they won't fully use.... Seems legit.
  • dark_lord69
    Whatever Verizon needs Pai will be there to help.

    Support state attorney generals suing the FCC! This repeal is a massive disservice to the citizens of America.

    Corporations that supported the repeal were the biggest beneficiaries.
    And Pai's findings and studies he reviewed were based on studies backed by the companies that would benefit the most.
    They ignored a 2 billion dollar investment that Sprint made. And while a few major companies cut back slightly most actually increased investment during this time.

    "Free Press also notes that while AT&T and a few other publicly traded ISPs may have reduced spending after net neutrality, twice as many increased their investment levels."

    Read more: Does Net Neutrality Stifle Investment and Innovation? | Investopedia https://www.investopedia.com/insights/does-net-neutrality-stifle-investment-and-innovation/#ixzz551m5IWGI