Former FCC chairman Ajit Pai has left the building, but not without giving the telecom industry one last pat on the back: in his final Annual Broadband Report, he decided that 3Mbps upload speeds and 25Mbps download speeds are still more than good enough for Americans (via Ars Technica).
“We find that the current speed benchmark of 25/3 Mbps remains an appropriate measure by which to assess whether a fixed service is providing advanced telecommunications capability,” the report reads.
How come? Because the FCC feels that’s as much as it’s required to do by law: “We conclude that fixed services with speeds of 25/3 Mbps continue to meet the statutory definition of advanced telecommunications capability; that is, such services ‘enable users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications.’”
I don’t know what you consider “high-quality,” but I know from experience that my 5Mbps upload speed, for which I pay $100 a month, doesn’t let my family “originate” much in the way of large video uploads or game streaming.
Those 25Mbps / 3Mbps speeds aren’t even minimums, by the way, because the Annual Broadband Report isn’t something meant to be enforced. It’s a benchmark by which the FCC determines whether it’s doing its job of helping to close the digital divide — where as many as 1 in 3 US households don’t have broadband internet access at all. Currently, if a single ISP claims it can deliver a single 25Mbps down / 3Mbps up internet connection anywhere in your entire census block, much less your home, the FCC considers its job done. Oh, and the FCC doesn’t even audit those numbers! It’s a “fox guarding the henhouse” kind of thing.
Some of the reporting loopholes are getting fixed, but the speeds and the ridiculous prices the US pays are not.
As for Pai, who tops our list of the 84 biggest tech fails of the decade, he’s now free to find a lucrative job as a telecom industry lobbyist. Former President Donald Trump gave his entire administration explicit permission to do that, killing a five-year ban on officials lobbying their former agencies, on his way out the door.