The FCC has announced new changes to minimum broadband requirements, following complaints from U.S. citizens that broadband advertisements lead to less than 25Mbps speeds.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the new requirements will be added to the Annual Broadband Progress Report, sent to Congress annually to update broadband requirements.
Congress is unlikely to deny the FCC the new regulations against telecom providers trying to disguise cheap internet speeds as “super fast broadband”, after finding 55 million Americans lack broadband availability.
Rural areas are especially subjected to poor broadband performance, due to telecom providers not funding development of new infrastructure in the area.
AT&T and Comcast have argued against this new broadband requirement, potentially because adding it will put the telecom providers in new court battles with the FTC over false advertising.
It will also push telecom providers to always ensure their broadband is over 25Mbps, even though most of the times it is in urban areas.
Essentially, the FCC is raising the minimum, but is not doing anything to control the lackluster performance by AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable on customer service.
Even though the minimum broadband requirement will help rural growth, the FCC has many more decisions to impact telecom providers in the next year, including two large scale mergers and the net neutrality debate.
According to several sources, Chairman Tom Wheeler is warming to the idea of Title II reclassification, so much so that AT&T recently complained to the FTC that data throttling at peak times was allowed under ‘common carrier’, even though those rules do not currently exist.
The FCC will not vote on net neutrality laws until February, before the decision both the Republican and Democrat party will try to push through new legislation on net neutrality.