FCC says 150 GB is all rural residents need

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Telephone companies that get federal subsidies to provide rural broadband service have to offer at least one service package with a monthly data cap of 150 GB and charge no more than $71 for it. That’s the top line from an annual survey run by the Federal Communications Commission to set benchmark rates for subsidised service in high cost – also known as rural – areas.

The survey looks at rates paid by consumers in urban areas, in particular those served by cable and fiber to the home systems, and the amount of data they use every month. The notice posted late yesterday by the FCC says…

According to the Commission’s 2015 Measuring Broadband America data, 80 percent of cable broadband subscribers used 156 GB or less per month. For simplicity, for 2016, we specify a minimum monthly usage allowance of 150 GBs for [large incumbent carriers in the current round of Connect America Fund subsidies].

In the December 2014 Connect America Order, the Commission codified for [small rural telephone companies] the requirement adopted in 2011 that [they] offer usage capacity that is reasonably comparable to comparable offerings in urban areas. We conclude that we will use the same approach for annually determining the required minimum usage allowance and therefore apply the monthly usage allowance of 150 GBs to [small rural telephone companies] as well.

The FCC’s method for calculating benchmark prices is a little more complicated. The summary data from the FCC’s survey is available to download – I’m still trying to hack through it – but at first glance the $71 rate falls midway between the (really) rough average for AT&T – about $60 a month – and big cable – something like $80 a month. But that includes all service tiers, not just the 10 Mbps download rate that FCC thinks is good enough for subsidised service, rural and urban alike.

  • The FCC should not embrace the consumptive, unit-based billing concept promoted by legacy telephone and cable companies. That and the focus on throughput speed reinforces a mindset of bandwidth poverty that is holding the nation back. The U.S. needs universal FTTP.

  • what about usage-based billing that AT&T and Comcast impose on subscribers???

  • disqus_IECNmCZKqE

    We have to see how this plays out, but I have the feeling that for instance AT&T will use the funding to buy 600mhz spectrum since they are allowed to use a wireless solution.

    This is so messed up, it will result in the final destruction of their neglected wired network and people in those areas will never ever get a access to a real open network pipe.

    At the same time it allows AT&T to compete in the 600mhz auction with collective funding screwing the competition over as well, I’m pretty sure that’s what the rural areas can expect.

    These funds should have never allowed AT&T to use a wireless solution, it should have been used to replace copper with fiber, if not, any company could have delivered a wireless broadband solution, or communities could have used the funds to create their own networks, we don’t need and want AT&T.

    These funds should have never just been awarded to AT&T after screwing their customers in a large portion of their service areas for decades, they are rewarded with collective funds so they can keep on doing this for decades to come.

    In just a few years we are back at square one when 10 Mbps is not the sufficient standard anymore, maybe we all can pay AT&T again to do another update like we have been doing for decades already.

    Same is happening with the lifeline, FCC throwing collective funds against it to be able to deliver “robust broadband” to the poor, and here the funds can be used for 500mb wireless 3g data or fixed 150Gb 10/1 mbps connection.

    Again the collective funds will be used for limited wireless instead of only using funding for real meaningful broadband connections and setting real broadband standards for ISP’s if they want to have access to collectibe funds.

    FCC made some good decisions lately, but there is still a lot rotten at the core.