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FCC Chair Rosenworcel Proposes 4X Increase in Minimum Broadband Speeds

Jessica Rosenworcel
(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON, D.C.— FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel would like to see much faster broadband speeds and is proposing that minimum broadband speeds be quadrupled to 100Mbps with a longer term goal of 1 Gbps. 

The push for faster minimum broadband speeds is part of a Notice of Inquiry that would kick off the agency’s annual evaluation of the state of broadband across the country.

In a statement, Rosenworcel called the current minimum requirements “harmful” to “low-income neighborhoods and rural communities being left behind and left offline.” 

Rosenworcel also proposed setting a long-term goal for broadband speeds of 1 Gbps for downloads and 500Mbps for uploads. 

The Notice of Inquiry proposes to increase the national broadband standard to 100 megabits per second for download and 20 megabits per second for upload, and discusses a range of evidence supporting this standard, including the requirements for new networks funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.  

The FCC previously set the broadband standard at 25/3 Mbps in 2015 and has not updated it since. 

“The needs of internet users long ago surpassed the FCC’s 25/3 speed metric, especially during a global health pandemic that moved so much of life online,” said chairwoman Rosenworcel.  “The 25/3 metric isn’t just behind the times, it’s a harmful one because it masks the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left behind and left offline.  That’s why we need to raise the standard for minimum broadband speeds now and while also aiming even higher for the future, because we need to set big goals if we want everyone everywhere to have a fair shot at 21st century success.”

Looking beyond speed, Rosenworcel also proposed that the Commission consider affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access as part of its determination as to whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion.  

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.