FCC Changes Mind on Broadband

The Federal Communications Commission has redefined the classification of “broadband internet”, raising the minimum download limit from 200Kbs to 1Mbs. However, this change the FCC said is “long overdue”, has sparked discussions about telecom monopolies and pricing models, and put the subject of net neutrality center stage.

200Kbs is an eleven-year-old limit set by the FCC in the days when Dial-Up internet was how the majority of Americans accessed the internet. While changing the definition may seem small and irrelevant to most people, it is actually a powerful tool in this online social media and internet-integrated world. Previously, Internet Service Providers were able to use the low definition of broadband to minimally conform to the FCC’s National Broadband Plan to provide affordable, high-speed internet to every American.

But even as the US internet infrastructure is becoming stronger and less expensive, ISP and telecoms are raising prices–ATT’s new $25 for 2 gig/month data plan for example. And while higher on internet speeds has brought out telecom complaints of additional expenses to build infrastructure to match, it also revealed telecom pricing and control strategies for tiered access to the internet. Throttling access to the internet is a violation of the freedom of internet, Net Neutrality Act.

While the only concrete occurrence is a higher broadband speed definition, with the upcoming Google Fiber Network and the fierce telecom pricing wars, it will be a while before the full impact is seen on the face and structure of the internet.