FCC Chair Proposes Increasing US Broadband Standard to 100Mbps

3 min readJul 18, 2022

by Ryan Whitwam

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has an expansive mandate to regulate radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable systems across the United States. Not only does it decide what words you get to say on TV, it (sometimes) ensures the neutrality of internet traffic, and doles out blocks of wireless spectrum to commercial entities to provide services. It even tells ISPs what they can call “broadband.” The FCC is aiming to boost that standards to 100Mbps down and 20Mbps up, but getting the proposal across the finish line may be impossible in the current climate.

Among the FCC’s numerous mandates is that it reviews the state of consumer telecommunication technology every year to determine if it is being deployed in a “reasonable and timely fashion.” If not, the FCC is authorized to goose ISPs to ensure that Americans get better, faster connectivity. The last time the FCC updated its broadband standard was in 2015 under Chairman Tom Wheeler, when it increased to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up. His successor, Ajit Pai opted not to increase the standard at all during his tenure from 2016 to 2021, according to Ars Technica.

Current Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel released the new national broadband standard proposal on Friday last week, citing changes in online content and services since the last change in 2015. In January 2021, Ajit Pai dismissed calls to boost the 25/3 standard. So, the increase to 100/20 would be substantial, and may force ISPs to update their cheaper offerings. “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,” says Rosenworcel. The Chairwoman also proposed that the FCC should work toward a 1Gbps standard in the next several years.

Former Chairman Ajit Pai thought 25Mbps down was plenty even as late as last year.

However, it’s not as simple as issuing a statement. The FCC must pass the proposal with a vote, and all consequential votes are deadlocked along party lines. In this case…


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