back to article FCC drops idiotic plans to downgrade entire nation's internet speeds

America's favorite government watchdog – the Federal Communications Commission – has backtracked on plans to downgrade the entire country's internet, agreeing to maintain its current definition of what is broadband speed. In a "factsheet" put out by the telecoms regulator on Friday, FCC chairman Aji Pai noted that the latest …

  1. KSM-AZ

    First part of the article, good info.

    Then we seem to imply it's the governments resposibility to MAKE broadband providers upgrade infrastructure. Say what?

    I've trying to get 10M fiber based service up in 3 not so remote locations. The hold up? Permits. Can't get permits. Ever tried to get a permit to run a cable in California? Get the government out of the way, and then maybe we'll see an improvment. No broadband provider is going to expand into less lucrative rural areas until they can get the infrastructure in place in more lucrative ones without spending zillions to get past the governmental bureaucracy to fund it. The US is *big*, lots of land area, and if you want to expand coverage stop setting up roadblocks.

    1. kierenmccarthy

      Yes and no

      It's a balance of course. The regulator has formal authority to force companies to act - or at least punish them for failing to act - and uses that push the issue.

      It's never perfect but it broadly works. Except when the regulator gives up any pretence of applying pressure and defers to industry on every point. Then you end up with what we have now: slow, over priced internet access and an effective oligopoly.

      Big Cable is making vast profits and failing to keep up with the rest of the world because all it sees is dollar signs. At that point, the regulator needs to step up.


      1. Richard Bennett

        Re: Yes and no

        You might want to look at Ofcom's definitions.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Broadband subsidies, broadband advertising, telling the FCC there's no need for competition because the sky-high prices are for broadband. You can see this all doesn't work when a telco's definition of broadband is 120Kbps of IDSL. Telcos are still free to offer crap service at crap rates but they can't call it "broadband."

      I have no idea why you're trying to get dedicated fiber for just 10Mbps. What a waste. Comcast and AT&T, as bad as they are, have business plans that will guarantee that speed. You could have point-to-point wireless with repeaters renting space on somebody else's buildings and still do better than burying a 10Mbps cable. If it was multiple 1Gbps or 10Gbps links, I could see that you might need a trench opened up.

      1. KSM-AZ

        Obviously you don't have a clue about the technical challenges of a 10g fiber rollout. I do. Where might I obtain some carrier grade multi terabit backplane gear on the cheap? Really, truly, I'm interested in it. Heck, I'm down for some non-finicky 100G single-mode long distance interconnects. Really, advise, please. 40G is tough, going past that is esoteric, and very expensive. But hey broadband should be cheap for *me*. After all I deserve it.

        Further, neither am I interested if our employees can stream the latest episode of Game of Thrones in 4K to their desktop. I would like them to be able to put in a salesorder, securely, and reliably. Hence the desire for 10M on fiber, instead of bundled T's or DSL on aging copper (to connect to MPLS services, you know, with those pesky SLA's). We have secured wireless backup services. Spotty at best, we won't talk about voip on most of it, but hey, you sure sound like you got this stuff down. Please let some of us clueless f-cks actually doing the sh-t in the trench what we are doing wrong!

        Bunch of ungrateful brats this generation.

    3. Curtis


      Try working for the ISP and explaining this to people who have no idea that their county commission controls the right of way and insists on their pound of currency before they'll let upgrades commence. Then blame the ISPs during hearings.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've trying to get 10M fiber based service up in 3 not so remote locations. The hold up? Permits. Can't get permits. Ever tried to get a permit to run a cable in California? Get the government out of the way, and then maybe we'll see an improvment.

      Is getting a permit hard? Well boo-fucking-hoo - I suggest that you put on your big-boy pants and do whatever work is required to get them.

      You are not special; the world does not owe you anything. You have to follow the rules the same as everyone else.

  2. Jared Vanderbilt

    There will be competition

    In states like Colorado voters are approving city governments becoming internet service providers. Taxpayers are spending their own money to upgrade to fiber because the current oligopoly isn't interested in speed, customer service, competition, ...

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

      Re: There will be competition

      . . . and Comcast and AT&T are spending money in states to stop the rollout of municipal broadband. The Wheeler FCC fought the lawsuits against expanding municipal broadband; you can bet Pumpkin Pai will fight to kill it.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: There will be competition

        For the cable companies stock prices (and board bonuses) profits must go up... for that to happen, they need to slash expenses and raise rates. So..... no regulation lets them have it to the joy of the shareholders (returning that value, of course) and ensures the board and the C-suite reap large bonuses. Those of us who want, need, use cable pay the price of course and as we know, no one gives a crap about us except at election time.

        Maybe the first against the wall should be lobbyists? Followed by C-suite types?

  3. ST Silver badge

    The only possible explanation for the FCC / Ajit Pai ...

    ... dropping this idiotic plan is that they have an even more super-idiotic plan in the works.

  4. conscience

    I don't think Pai could be any more corrupt if he tried. Watchdog? Lapdog more like.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I'm sure he can. He's just started and has a few more years in his office chair.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The problem is that the technical definition of broadband would allow a 1 megabit connection over coax cable to be broadband as it is not a narrowband connection. The FFC have implemented their own definition of broadband that is not the same as the technical definition and this doesn't help with the confusion that customers face over internet speed.

    I remember way back in the early 2000s UK cable company NTL had a 128 kilobit service that they were able to define as broadband because it used their coax cable even though it often delivered slower speeds that narrowband ISDN.

  6. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

    Ah, America. Land of the

    Vested interest

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While most other developed countrie aim at least to 100Mb...

    ... but in some remote areas where they will deliver at least 30, does really US believe that 25 is enough? 3Mb up is also insufficient for most non consumer use. Remote workers using cloud services with that speed? Good luck.

    This looks a classic situation where a government is too weak to tackle monopolies or cartels, and bends to them damaging its citizens broader interest. It's not 'from the people for the people', it's just from the lobbyists for a few 'anointed' politicians and their friends.

  8. Blotto Silver badge

    Change the terminology, broadband means broadband, not a specific speed or technology

    If they are serious, about encouraging high speed internet, create a new term for internet connectivity and let the technical terms remain technical.

    Maybe call speeds over 25 mbps down and latency less than 20ms “connection experience 10” and slower speeds with different latencies can have lower numbers?

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Change the terminology, broadband means broadband, not a specific speed or technology

      You could follow the ludicrous USB descripitions in trying to sound better without making earlier standards sound worse :

      low, full, high, super, super+

  9. HarryBl

    I'll never complain about Virgin again...

    1. IceC0ld


      I'll never complain about Virgin again...

      steady on, I'm fairly certain old Branson pickle will take that as a challenge ffs :o)

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Branson never owned VM, it was NTL:Telewest (after they merged), and after the recent sale, it's now owned by Liberty Media. At most, Branson, as Virgin Holdings, was one of the bigger shareholders, but not enough to control anything other than the branding, which he and Virgin licensed to NTL.

        1. The First Dave

          What makes you think Beardy Branson knows that he doesn't own it?

  10. Richard Bennett

    The UK's FCC, Ofcom, defines Super-Fast Broadband as 30 Mbps down, while the UK government defines it as 24Mbps. Ofcom defines "decent broadband" at 10/1/. (CONNECTED NATIONS 2017 report, 15 December 2017).

    According to Kieren McCarthy, Ofcom is idiotic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ofcom is idiotic

      EU has a target of 30Mb for everybody by 2020, with 50% of the population at 100Mb or over. And 100Mb (upgradable to 1Gb) for everybody by 2025, with 1Gb up/down available for public services and demanding users.


      Some countries decided to hasten the deploy of fiber networks, and are now deploying FTTH even outside major cities, cabling smaller towns, with available speeds of 100Mb and beyond by 2020.

      So, yes, Ofcom looks to be aiming to already slow, outdated standards. Good luck, my British friends...

    2. Naselus

      "According to Kieren McCarthy, Ofcom is idiotic."

      Not just according to Kieren, tbh.

  11. Curtis

    Hardware difference

    ADSL2+ (the most common technology on landlines) will only do 12.5M max. In order to provide 25M, the provider is looking at Bonded Pair (which sucks up twice as many lines) or VDSL, which required grooming the old lines. And in many areas, especially the "rural" ones, the county commissions refuse to permit the upgrades without hefty "fees".

    1. KSM-AZ

      Re: Hardware difference

      It depends on how far you are from the DSLAM. Carriers are slowly migrating the billions of purchased hardware over to new vdsl3 endpoints, and they've actually pushed near gb speeds with the latest hardware. Att uverse last mile is generally bonded, actually vdsl these days, but ymmv by location. Can't run 5 mi on copper any more for the newer stuff. If you can get under a mile to the dslam 100m is no problem unless your copper is shot.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Hardware difference

      No, ADSL2+ can reach 24Mb without bonding, but you need to be close to the DSLAM, and the DSLAM itself needs some specific setup. Just, usually, only a few people are withing the 24Mb radius, and most DSLAM won't support the faster speed. Same for upload speeds, going beyond 1Mb requires specific setups, and still, only 3Mb or so are reachable. VDSL2 degrades over distance as well, for top speed you still need to be within 1km or less from the cabinet.

      The any local roadblock is something government must tackle. Here for nation-wide FTTH deployment the solution was the company that won the bid pays for everything, including restoring roads, etc. after digging (microtrenching and reusing power lines facilities make it much cheaper), etc.. Moreover all public buildings (including schools, libraries, etc.) are cabled free of charges. But local entities must approve plans quickly and facilitate works, otherwise they get excluded - and have to explain to their citizens why the neighboring ones have FTTH and they don't...

  12. Jtom

    This is a hit piece designed to manipulate readers into being against the current administration.

    Besides the strawman arguments ("they would probably"..."likely"..., then castigating them for things which they have not done), he makes undefined analysis like only 3% of the country ..... Ok, compare the city of New York to Alaska. What percent of that is just NYC? If you are talking LAND AREA, the answer is well under 1%. The 3% of the country stated in this article likely captures 75% of the population.

    Next, when looking at costs and speeds, realize that the sparsely-populated rural areas can be hundreds of kilometers from a large city. Do not try to compare the difficulties in providing services throughout the US to a country like GB.

    Look, I live about 25 km from a major US southern city (the South is supposedly behind the rest of the country in everything). We have a choice between two landline service providers, Comcast and ATT. My provider is Comcast. I just did a speed test. I am getting 42.5 G down, 12.12G up. My downstream reaches 70 G at times. What do YOU get?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interesting to see someone already got 100 *Gb* Internet. It makes you very lucky but a bad example, though. <G> I too know people who live in places which were used as "technology demonstration" and got very advanced connections (not 100Gb, though), just, they don't represent the average citizen.

      The 3% referred to "Census blocks with housing units" - not the whole "land area", and "with housing units" I guess it excluded blocks with "zero population".

      Deploying a new network infrastructure may have different challenges, depending on how the population is "dispersed". Cabling a few large cities is cheaper than having to cable a lot of small towns. Some European countries population is far less concentrated, requiring a far more distributed network - with the need to reach even small mountain towns.

      It is true some rural areas may be "hundred of kilometers" (a Yankee using metric units!!?? Maybe a fake Russian post??? LOL!) from a large cities, but you don't really need to bring a fiber cable directly from NY or SF... any smaller nearby city will be enough.

    2. Mike Moyle

      "The 3% of the country stated in this article likely captures 75% of the population.

      "Next, when looking at costs and speeds, realize that the sparsely-populated rural areas can be hundreds of kilometers from a large city. Do not try to compare the difficulties in providing services throughout the US to a country like GB."

      Are you actually a closet Democrat? Because, usually, it's they who are accused of writing off wide swathes of "flyover country" when suggesting policies, and yet here you are.

  13. Eduard Coli

    It's your FCC

    This is the kind of thing that makes the US lags behind Europe, Asia and most third world nations in broadband quality and speed.

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