Blog Post

200 kbps is not broadband

Which ever way you look at it, 200 kbps is not broadband. And FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said something we have known all along…

….For too long, we have defined broadband as 200 kbps in one direction—a measure that was outdated even when it was introduced years ago and that has become increasingly untenable today, especially when one considers what consumers in other countries routinely expect and receive…

Copps statement came along with FCC’s notice of inquiry into broadband deployment in the United States. He said that the biggest issue in formulating a coherent broadband strategy is the “lack of reliable government data. Until we know where we stand today, how can we possibly build the broadband future that our nation deserves?”

The FCC also issued “a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on methods of collecting information needed to set broadband policy in the future,” reports eWeek

9 Responses to “200 kbps is not broadband”

  1. Kevin Walsh

    I find this article to be especially insightful with regard to how Governments view things.

    Note the last sentence of the third paragraph: “how can we possibly build the future that our nation deserves?” Well, Mr. Copps, you don’t. You’re a regulator. You build nothing. The best that you (or any of your colleagues in Washington (and state capitals for that matter)) can do is to stay out of the way. Let those that build and operate high-speed access infrastructure do so with minimal interference from regulators.

    Finally, after shaking off the last boneheaded attempt to create competition by Government fiat (1996 TRA), we’re right at 50% broadband penetration and lead the world in broadband subscribers. Telcos have/are getting religion and deploying access infrastructure capable of delivering tens or hundreds of megabits downstream (and a lot more upstream) to better serve gamers and YouTubers and SlingBoxers and wannabe political satirists.

    So fine, let the FCC count things. And, yes, it’s great they’re finally beginning to understand that 200Kbps was never broadband. But, no, don’t try to enact legislation so that broadband penetration rates in the US resemble those of small countries with government-owned PTTs.

  2. George B

    I predict that the US will always have somewhat lower peak speads for broadband compared to several other countries. It is more difficult and expensive to deploy broadband to single family homes with relatively long distances back to optical fiber backhaul compared to high-rise apartments with short connection distances. However, US consumers including myself have voted with dollars to live in a largely suburban nation with space between neighbors.

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~small/Urban/USdens.html
    http://www.time.com/time/covers/20061030/where_we_live/

    We probably need separate words to describe a 10x improvement in connection speed relative to dial-up internet access, roughly 500kbps, and multi-Mbps speeds required for good quality video. The dial-up connection speed at my parents farm is only 20kbps, so 200kbps would be a worthwhile improvement even if it’s not broadband.

  3. Laura Unger

    The FCC needs to update its definition. The minimum high speed should be is 2 MPPS upstream and 1 MBPS downstream. For other countries that would still be slow but we need to start somewhere. As one comment says, even when we pay for higher speeds there is no consumer protections that require providers to give you what you pay for. The only way for these issues to be addressed is a serious public policy encouraging real high speed broadband, affordable for every American. It is not going to happen by itself. Other countries (like Japan)have 100 MBPS for the same as we are paying. We need to take steps now. There is some good information on the state of American broadband and proposals for change on http://www.speedmatters.org.

  4. I’m sitting here near silicone valley with 1289kbps down and 322kbps up and a latency of 69ms. That is on a run of only 50 miles. Hardly worth what I’m paying for my DSL. But my friends with cable don’t seem to get much better, especially when a lot of people are on line.

    We need a reform of our current standards that requires minimum speeds as well as time limits for deployment. For some more ideas chek out: http://www.speedmatters.org/

  5. This could be a problem for AT&T (Formerly SBC Global). I “got a deal” on bundling my phone and DSL. The only problem was that speeds barely broke 300 kbps in either direction. I should note that for some time after signing up the speeds were in the 900 kbps download range, but after AT&T did some work in the area I ended up in the 300 range. AT&T told me this was in the “acceptable range”. I switched to Comcast and use Skype for long distance. Life is good again.

    Disclaimer – Skype is an investor in FON where I work.

  6. Thanks for providing the original document details from where the technology illeterate TRAI copies out the stuff.

    Indian consumers are cheated when they are offered mere 265 kbps with a limit of 1 to 2 gbs downloads, but sadely, no one bothers to put a voice against this. All the private and public ISP’s take undue advantage of this careless attitude owing to which Indians dont have a true ‘broadband’ experience.

    Hope that one day this will be solved.