When you’re shopping your internet options, no doubt the phrase “high-speed internet” appears often in what you’re reading. But what does that really mean, and how is it defined beyond being a popularly searched term?
What is considered high-speed internet is more formally referred to as broadband internet, but in America even that definition has changed over time, as outlined in a recent Washington Post article. Up until 2015, broadband internet was classified as anything with an average download speed of 4 Mbps, which, before streaming became so commonplace, was fast enough for most residential users. In 2015, the FCC revised to 25 Mbps downloads and 3 Mbps uploads.
With these new classifications, 55 million Americans did not have access to high-speed internet, and the FCC had a mission to make broadband internet accessible to those 55 million people. Now, it’s 2017, and what is the plan?
To change the definition of high-speed, broadband internet, of course.
That’s right, instead of doing the work to build the infrastructure to bring affordable internet access to these people, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wants to define broadband internet as 10 Mbps download speeds and 1 Mbps upload speeds. That definition will make the amount of people “without high-speed internet access” lessen by half overnight.
Of course, this does nothing to solve the problem, but it puts the problem out of the public eye and makes people feel better, all while costing the government very little.
In this day and age, access to the internet isn’t a luxury for middle-class homes and above for entertainment. It’s essential for education, for job searches, to be a part of the modern world. Rural communities, especially, are falling way behind, and those far outside of urban centers need the connection even more. Hopefully the FCC does the right thing and lowers the number the right way—by actually increasing the amount of people who have access, rather than decreasing the standard.