Years later, our current national broadband map is and always has been a disaster. It became a disaster once broadband providers were able to bribe convince politicians and regulators that the initial map needed to be stripped down to deem any city/area as “served” if one block of residents in that city could access a cellular signal.

Now, the FCC is considering whether to provide consumers with an actual map of broadband deployment around the country. One such possibly change would involve the FCC seeking out basic information about broadband providers as to whether they are actually giving customers the speed promised. There is also talk that the FCC would want providers to disclose their data caps and privacy policies.

As we have seen previously, broadband providers will fight this with their millions put into lobbyists. For years, we saw these providers attack the FCC whenever the definition of broadband was possibly going to be raised.

In the past, the FCC has struggled to raise that definition bar.

  • When the FCC was trying to raise the broadband definition from 768kbps or to 4Mbps, ISP’s complained loudly.
  • When the FCC was giving out millions for one of the Connect America Fund phases, ISP’s like Windstream refused to take all of the money ($775 per install) because the FCC wanted to bump up the definition of an area to “unserved” if that area couldn’t receive 6Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up, instead of 3Mbps down and 768kbps up.
  • The FCC was chastised by the American Cable Association for wanting to raise the definition of broadband speeds to 6Mbps down (for the definition of “unserved”) by claiming that such speeds meant additional “government-supported overbuilding”….whatever that means.

Back in 2009, the cable industry’s primary lobbying group (National Cable & Telecommunications Association) pushed for the FCC definition to remain at 768kbps and 200 kbps. The NCTA also wanted the FCC definition to be defined by the speed advertised and not the speed actually delivered.

…the Commission should continue to look at maximum advertised speed rather than some measure of “actual” speed. In the Notice, the Commission observes that advertised speeds “generally differ from actual rates, are not uniformly measured, and have different constraints over different technologies.” – National Cable & Telecommunications Association