Published in News

FCC claims US internet is too fast

by on08 January 2018

Might allow the carriers to slow it down by half

As part of its programme of reducing costs for monopolistic carriers, Donald “Prince of Orange” Trump’s FCC is looking at allowing the internet to become slower so that carriers don’t have to invest too much.

GOP Chair Ajit Pai thinks broadband speed in America is probably defined too aggressively and it wants to relax the overall standards carriers are allowed to meet.

The FCC splits broadband providers into two groups: wireless and fixed - also sometimes called ‘wireline’.

Historically, the FCC has set minimum standards that fixed broadband providers had to meet, both for marketing purposes and in order to qualify for any Connect America funding. The CA program is the spiritual descendent of federal cost-sharing agreements that subsidised the interstate system, telephony build-outs, and electricity across rural parts of the country.

Comcast used to tell users that one person, with one device, needed at least 10Mbps service.

In 2011, the FCC declared that rural services needed to offer at least 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up. In 2014 the FCC increased that to 10/1, and in 2015 to 25/3.
The cable industry and various ISPs cried foul, claiming 25/3 was much too fast. Well, much too fast for what they wanted to provide.

FCC chairperson Tom Wheeler pointed out that ISPs seemed to have no trouble marketing their services to people as if huge bandwidth pipes were a functional requirement of the modern internet, and that higher broadband standards would be needed with customers increasingly streaming media and adopting 4K TV.

But the telcos continued to moan that 25Mbps broadband standards were too high, despite telling people 10.5Mbps service was only enough for email and shopping.

Now that Ajit Pai has already undone net neutrality for the telcos, he now wants to to make a number of changes to the current standards so that the conform to what the telcos have wanted for years. A new wireless broadband definition (10Mbps down, 1Mbps up), with the wired standard unchanged.

At the same time he will bring in a 10/1 standard for wireless and allowing wireless or fixed service to qualify as broadband will reduce the number of Americans who officially lack access to affordable service and/or acceptable performance without actually doing anything to improve the problem.

However the FCC’s statement parrots a fact that the telcos have insisted is true, which is mostly spin – mobile and fixed broadband service are the same thing. Unlimited cellular data plans are substantially more expensive than fixed service and carriers reserve the right to start throttling you after a certain amount of data usage per month.

The FCC changes mean that ISPs will face little scrutiny for their attempts to push consumers towards highly lucrative wireless plans with minimum performance metrics and little-to-no guarantee of acceptable service.

It seems that for all his banging on about US infrastructure, Trump has forgotten that the Internet is the infrastructure of the 21st century. All Pai’s efforts to slow down the internet, allow internet throttling are guaranteed to turn the US into an internet backwater.

Last modified on 08 January 2018
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Read more about: