Rumored FCC upload standard not designed for transparency

Might be substandard, but impossible to tell for sure. Click for bigger version.

The FCC’s definition of adequate broadband service as 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up has long been outdated. The California Public Utilities Commission has been working with a minimum of 6 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up since 2012, when it adopted it as the threshold for determining which areas would and would not be eligible for broadband construction money from the California Advanced Services Fund.

In April, the FCC floated the idea of requiring minimum download speeds of 10 Mbps as part of its rural broadband subsidy program, the Connect America Fund. Now, according to a story in the Washington Post, the agency is looking at establishing 10 Mbps or better – 25 Mbps was mentioned – as a more general download standard. And possibly boosting the minimum acceptable residential upload speed to 2.9 Mbps.

It’s interesting that the rumored upload minimum is a hair less than 3 Mbps. The current national broadband mapping program, which in turn drives parameters for the California availability map, is based on tiers, two of which go from 1.5 Mbps to less than 3 Mbps and from 3 Mbps to less than 6 Mbps. Setting the minimum at just under 3 Mbps will make it harder to document where incumbents are providing substandard service and, consequently, harder to get funding to build competing infrastructure.

But it is still all rumor. The plan, apparently, is for the FCC to begin an inquiry into revising minimum broadband speeds and the first step in that process will be publication of a formal notice that sets the table for discussion. It’s a fair bet that industry lobbyists are already making their case. When the discussion finally does go public, be sure to make yours.