Until now, Internet service providers in the U.S. have only needed to deliver 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to provide service which qualified as broadband. That will change now that the Federal Communications Commission has voted to change the definition of broadband to mean at least 25 Mbps down and 4 Mbps up.
It’s apparently good news for consumers who crave increased Internet speeds, but the 3-2 vote came Thursday despite some pushback earlier in the week from the cable industry via the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s official blog. The NCTA says that its opposition to the new standards isn’t based on an unwillingness to invest money in faster service. And it states that its members are continually improving performance.
The new standards for broadband will allow the FCC to better gauge areas of slow connectivity and help in determining which communities should receive subsidies. Despite politics, this should be good news in the long run. And as GigaOm‘s Stacey Higginbotham points out, this is an aggressive move on the part of the FCC.
For a measure of how bold this is, consider that the previous standard was only changed in 2008 to define broadband as 786 kbps down up from dial-up speeds of 200 kbps down at a time when people were already using services such as Skype. So until this move, the definition of broadband usually lagged the actual broadband speeds that the majority of customers were actually offered in the country. But according to the FCC, about 20 percent of the country can’t access speeds that meet the new definition, which is why this is so notable.