Google Fiber, ALLO, Ting ask FCC to upgrade speed requirements for broadband

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently accepting comments in regard to the minimum speed requirements for broadband.

And this week, the CEOs of Google Fiber, ALLO Fiber and Ting Internet sent a letter to the FCC, urging it to update its definition of broadband to symmetrical upload and download speeds of 100 Mbps.

The FCC currently defines broadband as having download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps. And most people would agree those are really slow and outdated speed thresholds.

In its Notice of Funding Opportunity for BEAD, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) defines an underserved location as one that lacks access to reliable broadband service with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps.

But many consider even those speeds to be not “future-proof.”

In their letter to the FCC, Google Fiber, ALLO and Ting said that in today’s world, upload speeds are just as essential as download speeds, with many people working from home, and children doing their homework online, not to mention the demands of video conferencing and telehealth. “An asymmetrical standard implies that entertainment use cases for the internet are more important than productivity uses that consistently require more upload bandwidth,” they wrote.

They noted that a video conference for telework, using 1080p video, requires 3.6 Mbps per participant. So, a call with 10 people requires 36 Mbps of upload speed.

“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,” wrote the companies.

In its recent Notice of Inquiry, the FCC advocated for an increase for the national fixed broadband speed benchmark to 100/20 Mbps.

Whether the FCC decides it update its definition of broadband, and to what speeds, is yet to be seen. 

In terms of BEAD, the NTIA has already expressed a preference for fiber deployments to unserved and underserved locations, so those deployments should not have any problem delivering symmetrical speeds of at least 100/100. But in places where states determine that fiber is too expensive and other technologies may be allowed, then speed threshold definitions might come into play.