NTIA Supports FCC’s 100/20 Mbps Broadband Definition

Dec 27, 2023

By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband

Washington, D.C., Dec. 27, 2023 – The telecommunications division of the U.S. Department of Commerce is backing the idea of raising the speed definition of broadband but was silent about taking it to a much higher level sought by a few fiber broadband companies.

Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) alerted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week that it supported raising the definition of broadband to 100/20 Mbps. The current threshold is 25/3 Mbps, which many view as outdated.

“We support the [FCC’s] proposal to raise the speed threshold for fixed broadband to 100 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream, both to reflect changes in current and anticipated user needs and to provide consistency with the standard established by Congress through [the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act] for NTIA’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program,” NTIA said in a Dec. 26 letter to the FCC.

NTIA’s letter didn’t address raising the broadband speed level to 100/100 Mbps – creating a symmetrical standard supported by regional fiber companies like Allo Fiber, Google Fiber and Ting Internet.

“Increasing the definition of broadband to 100/100 Mbps will help to close the digital divide by making certain low-income and rural America will not be getting Internet that is already antiquated the day it is installed,” the three companies said in their Dec. 11 submission.

The cable broadband industry’s largest trade association – NCTA - The Internet & Television Association – is disputing the need for 100/100 Mbps as the new standard when consumers download consumption far outpaces their upload capacity needs.

“A number of parties suggest that the [FCC] should move to a symmetrical speed threshold, such as 100/100 Mbps,” NCTA said in a Dec. 18 filing with the FCC. “The arguments for such an approach are disconnected from the reality of broadband user experience, investment, and deployment and would yield results that have a variety of negative consequences.”

CTIA, the wireless industry's leading trade association, endorsed NCTA’s market-based approach to setting the national definition of broadband based on actual consumer usage patterns.