Sunday, June 29, 2008

Finally..... FCC Ups Broadband Definition..... Is It Enough?

On June 12, 2008, the FCC released it's Fifth Section 706 Report, examining the availability of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans, as required by section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Section 706 directs the Commission to encourage the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans by using measures that “promote competition in the local telecommunications market.” Further, it requires the Commission to conduct a regular inquiry to determine“ whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.The fourth report was published in 2004 so this report was due.

I've written here frequently about the definition of broadband in our country - here's a quote from the FCC website:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) generally defines broadband service as data transmission speeds exceeding 200 kilobits per second (Kbps), or 200,000 bits per second, in at least one direction: downstream (from the Internet to your computer) or upstream (from your computer to the Internet)."

According to the FCC report, the Commission will start measuring broadband in the U.S. using the following tiers of service:

First Generation data: 200 Kbps up to 768 Kbps
Basic Broadband : 768 Kbps to 1.5 Mbps
1.5 Mbps to 3.0 Mbps
3.0 Mbps to 6.0 Mbps
6.0 Mbps and above

So, according to the FCC, broadband in the United States is now defined as 768 Kbps or greater.

I've also written in the past about how broadband is mapped in the United States:

Currently, the FCC counts a single broadband subscriber in a 5-digit zip code as indicating the entire zip code has broadband availability, even if the sole subscriber is a business and not a residential consumer. This can lead to highly inaccurate and overly generous notions of actual broadband availability and use, particularly in rural areas where zip codes are quite large."

According to the new Section 706 report, the FCC will obtain and map additional information about broadband service availability to better direct resources toward unserved and underserved areas. Armed with this additional broadband data, the Commission will be better able to assess and promote the deployment of broadband across the nation.

To answer my post title question "Is it Enough?" - in my opinion no way. I'll pick the 76 page FCC report apart, focusing on the highlights, in my next few blog entries.

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