back to article FCC boss says 25Mbps isn't cutting it, Americans deserve 100Mbps now, gigabit later

FCC boss Jessica Rosenworcel thinks Americans deserve better broadband than the current minimum speeds of 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up. She has thus proposed boosting these lower bounds at least fourfold, with the "long term" goal of upping this further to 1Gbps down and 500Mbps up. In a statement this week, the FCC chairwoman …

  1. chuckufarley Silver badge
    Big Brother

    My home cable modem...

    ...Can handle download speeds of 6 Gbps and upload speeds of 800 Mbps, so I don't think there be many technical hurdles to overcome. Just the corporate greed and apathy.

    1. Catkin Silver badge

      Re: My home cable modem...

      There's more to the convoluted telecom networks than your home hardware. The technical hurdles are to see if it's possible to use existing infrastructure to carry a decent Internet connection, hopefully avoiding the need to lay fibre to every home. It's the same reason why British analogue phone lines are set to stop working in 2025; for every legacy standard you support, you hem yourself ever further in.

      Naturally, it would be theoretically ideal to tear everything up and start fresh but that's unlikely to happen.

      1. chuckufarley Silver badge

        Re: My home cable modem...

        Well, I have 600 down and 20 Mbps up on my current connection. For years I have been telling my cable provider that I would pay just as much as I do now per month for 100 Mbps up AND down. They have the fiber in place. The fiber terminator hangs off of a pole right next to my apartment building in Chicago.

        If I ever find an ISP that will let me pick the kind of connection speeds I want instead having to buy their "bandwidth a la mode" I'll switch in heartbeat.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: My home cable modem...

          But you won't, because that's the point of telecom "agreements" ("You don't poach my clients and I don't poach yours, so we avoid competition"). Also known as a "captive market".

          1. chuckufarley Silver badge

            Re: My home cable modem...

            I would, because I could, because I want to know. Most of the people that live in this building would not because they do not want to know. Too much Netflix, too much MSNBC, too much Fox.

            https://xkcd.com/1013/

        2. rg287

          Re: My home cable modem...

          Well, I have 600 down and 20 Mbps up on my current connection. For years I have been telling my cable provider that I would pay just as much as I do now per month for 100 Mbps up AND down. They have the fiber in place. The fiber terminator hangs off of a pole right next to my apartment building in Chicago.

          I entirely agree with the sentiment, but it's not going to happen because it's probably a PON architecture with more downstream channels than up, and they're not going to change that just for you. If it were a point-to-point architecture (not point-to-multipoint) where your apartment was connected to a switchport at their end, then you could certainly pick an arbitrary symmetric speed or even more upload than download.

          That being said, the ratios are still open to them - G.984 offers 2.4Gb down, 1.2Gb up. That's shared with as many as 128 endpoints but still represents a 2:1 ratio, not 10:1 or worse. G987 gives 10/2.5Gb, which is 4:1. There are symmetric PON standards but they need more expensive burst-mode lasers, which they don't want to spend money on. They don't need to be giving people quite such shonky upload speeds but alas, they're optimising for people downloading the latest 30GB Call-of-Fortnite DLC.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Or they could just use regular ethernet gear.

            There is an independent fiber ISP where my sister lives. Standard ethernet backbone to one small town. 1 gigabit symmetric service is 60$ a month. nearly 100% uptake from the residents. No indication of throttling due to over-subscription.

            The cable companies are dragging their heels moving off the old network architecture, but their competition is free to make other choices, where there is any. Big cable has been propping up PON and co-axial cable for years, mostly to try and save the dying legacy cable TV packages they made so much money off in the past. People aren't interested in 179$ cable bills and are going OTT en masse.

            The decade of under-investment in their network and service isn't something we should be enabling, or subsidizing. Push them if you want to see any kind of change.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Technical hurdles = spending anthing more than a dime on improving service

        The cable companies, like the phone company, have been blocking infrastructure improvements anywhere there isn't competition.

        The new target is the same speed the rest of the system was using 10 years ago. There is no upgrade here, they are just forcing the cable co's to stop throttling their customers connections quite as hard. And there is nothing here saying that they can't charge for the service. So this is probably going to let them line their pockets using the "upgrade" as cover.

        The parts of the cable grid that face competing service have been upgraded with fiber on the street and gigabit service to the customer(still sporting capped uploads). My neighborhood had crap service on sub gig speeds for 5 years, and got bumped to full gig service as soon as they saw a competing fiber carrier start building out in the neighborhood.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My home cable modem...

      Here's an educational exercise for you: look up the word 'contention'.

      Trust me, it's worth it.

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: My home cable modem...

        Here's an educational exercise for you: look up the word 'patronising'.

        Trust me, it's worth it.

    3. WayneS

      Re: My home cable modem...

      As someone with a 4G, 40 Mbps aggregate link to home - last mile has never been the bottleneck for multi-user streaming / Teams / Zoom / VPN etc. Doing some speedtests using various targets show any constraint is usual somewhere in a backhaul / backbone / far-end. Focussing on the speed of the last mile seems to miss the real problem(s).

      Sure, there will be many here that do lots of large storage moves - but this is far from a typical Internet user use case. And I suspect even then constrained more by upstream resources than the last mile.

      1. chuckufarley Silver badge

        Re: My home cable modem...

        Howard, you know? Am I right or am I right?

      2. NeilPost Silver badge

        Re: My home cable modem...

        … or waiting on Google Ad Service or Google Analytics aggregators to render-contaminate your target website… or just for M365 or whatever to respond.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My home cable modem...

        Doing some speedtests using various targets show any constraint is usual somewhere in a backhaul / backbone / far-end.

        And that, dear friends, is a return of the contention beast we fought with when using the Internet still involved something called a modem and KA9Q.

    4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: My home cable modem...

      Coaxial cable is a poor choice for a data infrastructure. It's needlessly complex compared to fiber, which would be a far better (and less expensive) choice.

      We should be building an infrastructure for the future, not incrementally improving the current hodgepodge.

  2. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Dinner bell has been rung!

    Next thing some companies are going to be looking for yet more government money to speed up the connection as they can not afford to do it.

    1. ITS Retired

      Re: Dinner bell has been rung!

      Most of them can, but it would infringe on the CEO's and stock holder's life style.

  3. Electric Panda

    I know someone in the UK, in a major city, who has a 5Mbps internet connection. Not a typo.

    It's absolutely insufferable and you can't really WFH or do anything terribly exciting. When staying at his place temporarily I had to tether 4G to get any work done.

    To be honest I think it might actually be a fault, because surely that's just not normal in this day and age? I haven't had a home connection that slow since literally 2005 or thereabouts and didn't think such things existed anymore.

    He's holding on for now because Hyperoptic have surveyed his building and CityFibre might be digging his road up soon too.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      CifyFibre (aka Vodafone) and dangerous on the run road works. Hopefully you won’t get these cowboys wrecking your town for months on end.

  4. aerogems Silver badge
    Holmes

    I know it's a pipe dream in the current political climate in the US, but what we should be doing is laying a national fiber network. Every time we rip up an old road to redo it, or pave a new road, they should be laying fiber at the same time and leaving termination points at any and every address along the way. Slowly but surely you'd start building a nationwide network, which would then be owned by the federal government and could be paid for via taxes, so free for the citizenry.

    Of course that would elicit cries of socialism and a particular political party would want to give handouts to the existing players who have decades long track records of failing to live up to their promises and just pocketing government subsidies to improve their networks. They will have to start competing on quality of service instead of relying on monopoly agreements within municipalities. You know, the whole free market thing that same political party claims to be a believer in.

    1. chuckufarley Silver badge
      Joke

      But, but, but...

      ...That's Communism! Like in Canada! And Norway! Now if you don't mind, please start Making America Great Again so Trump will stop running for President.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But, but, but...

        Running? With Biden as the best the Democrats can come up with, an arthritic chicken could hobble its way into the white house.

        1. chuckufarley Silver badge

          Re: But, but, but...

          ...an arthritic chicken could hobble its way into the white house.

          What a wonderfully accurate description Trump!

        2. Version 1.0 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: But, but, but...

          He's having to run a lot slower because all his wallets are bloated.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who would want that? The users? They don't have anything to say, and those who have the money and the connections are keen on keeping things the way they are, so they can gobble up subsidies, ask outlandish prices, and yet deliver substandard service-with-a-frown. Money made is better spent lobbying for the status quo than on needlessly investing.

      Think about it: Competition has always been bad for profits, which means true neo-liberalism will try to reduce it to a mere fig leaf. Like in politics either you take over your competitor, or if you can't afford to do it just now, you sign a non-aggression pact until you can: Skirmishes (aka "competition") are expensive and utterly pointless.

      1. Ideasource Bronze badge

        Profit is pointless except for stat chasing after basic needs are met.

        Relative to solving problems, profit is is all loss and waste.

        So I say let them have their profit but do not let them exchange it for anything real so that it remains simply stats, well the actual resources stay available for problem solving.

    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      But ... but ... but

      I upvoted you because I agree with the sentiment. If you're going to build a society that depends on ubiquitous digital services, you better make sure that the necessary communications services are provided. And by this time it should be clear that the major communications operations have minimal interest in providing them. They'll take money and maybe make some token efforts. But they are driven by sales and profits, not by any actual interest in providing service.

      OTOH, I don't think you appreciate how big and thinly populated much of North America is. I'm not at all sure that fibre to every farm, mine, campground, and village of a few hundred souls is realistic, affordable or even possible. The alternative -- cellular phones -- is not currently all that great. And I'm far from certain it's practical either. Cell service here in Northwestern Vermont is not great. Lots of not-spots. And this is in an area with enough people to qualify as a Census Bureau Metropolitan Statistical Area. I can only imagine how poor it is in the Great Basin or Western Plains once you travel out of the few large metro areas. Canada and Australia have even worse situations I should think.

      Satellites? Maybe

      Anyway, I think we need more engineering, less marketing, and perhaps some political leaders who are a bit less clueless.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: But ... but ... but

        That's why I said it should be tied to road construction. It'll take a little longer, but if you've got a crew out there already... And I came from rural America. Grew up in a town with maybe 5,000 people. My high school class was barely over 100 people, and driving to pretty much any other town meant at least a few miles of nothing but farmland. However, at the same time, a lot of what were farm fields nearby where I grew up have since been turned into residential or commercial developments and some of the nearby towns are slowly, but surely, growing closer to one another.

        If you lay the fiber when you're already ripping things up for a road, it's already there if a year or two later some farmer retires and sells their land and it becomes residential housing.

      2. KLane

        Re: But ... but ... but

        Satellite has its uses in remote areas, and I found it to be a reasonable alternative to DSL. However, the issue there is latency. It would be fine for most users (streaming for example), but not really workable for low-latency uses such as gaming.

  5. DS999 Silver badge

    I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

    Fast enough for multiple streams, and a couple of Zoom sessions with outgoing traffic. The idea that gigabit should ever be a "minimum" is ludicrous. There is currently no use case for any home user to need a gigabit. Maybe someday there will be some technology that requires it, but that's like 50 4K streams...

    1. chuckufarley Silver badge

      Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

      I wish I could agree, (and sorry for the down vote) but there is a Freedom of Speech Issue at the heart of upload speeds. Think about it for a bit and you will find it because it is rather obvious once you consider it. If the only thing I can do with speed is consume how can I be a good citizen and speak the truth to my neighbors if I am only speaking at 10 Mbps? You might as well limit me to speaking/writing/sharing 1,000 words a day. Or even 144 characters at a time.

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

      I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic... Fast enough for multiple streams, and a couple of Zoom sessions with outgoing traffic.

      I had a quick look at the stats in the last Zoom meeting I was on, it consumed about 1MB/s in both directions which is already 8 out of your 10Mbs....

    3. Korev Silver badge

      Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

      There is currently no use case for any home user to need a gigabit.

      Some ideas of home users need lots of bandwidth:

      * Youtuber/Tiktoker

      * Graphic designer, video producer working from home

      * Amateur photographer backing up their photos (this is me!)

      * Gamer downloading 100GB games

      1. Mishak Silver badge

        Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

        * Cloud storage, especially when used for backups.

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

          I have a legacy backup disk. Its not full. Its less than half a gigabyte. I just can't type that fast.

          Anyone who lives in the US knows about the Garage Auto-Fill Effect. A typical suburban home has a two car garage, a space that rarely is filled with two cars. It collects junk, all that stuff that should be useful, will be needed some day (or seasonally) and is too valuable to throw away. The space tends to fill of its own accord -- I've actually seen this happen -- and it takes significant will power to keep it under control. Data storage is the same. Lots of 'stuff', most of it irrelevant, its just easier to keep it than toss it.

          The real reason for all this bandwidth is so advertisers can continue to crowd our screens with meaningless garbage. There's a practical limit to the amount of real data we can consume as individuals but everyone wants our attention so they all crowd the bandwidth. A pointless waste of resources, especially as its not bandwidth that's important but latency (which advertisers don't care about...).

      2. chuckufarley Silver badge

        Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

        Just to chime in on potential data usage for real broadband connections...

        My homebrew SAN runs iSCSI using 10 Gbps Ethernet over Copper. Wouldn't it be fun, and maybe even useful, or worst case scenario educational, to have a homebrew WAN?

      3. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

        None of those things need a gigabit. If you are downloading a game update you don't need it instantly. You definitely don't need backups to be saved instantly - you don't care if it takes 5 seconds or 5 minutes for the upload.

        Why would a "Youtuber" or "Tiktoker" need more bandwidth? An HD livestream is like 5 Mbps.

        Now do those things need more than 50/10? Sure, but this is for a government mandated MINIMUM. Given that we haven't even got the original 5/1 available everyone in the US pushing the limits higher (and re-upgrading places that have already been upgraded while places that were never upgraded continue to not be upgraded) is not very smart policy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

          "you don't care if it takes 5 seconds or 5 minutes for the upload."

          Yea, if it actually *were* 5 minutes. But it's not, not even near. Not even 50 minutes.

          Typical hard drive in modern times is in terabyte class and dumping a backup out of that on gigabit connection, i.e. 0.1GBps takes > 10 000 seconds. That's three hours. Good luck on having uninterrupted transfer for that time.

          Commenter seems to live somewhere in the 1980s or so with the timing and disc sizes. 50/10 isn't enough for any real work. Unless it's megabytes per second, not bits.

    4. Georgski

      Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

      I gave you an upvote as I get by on 50/20 as a home coder. We are in an era where D-VCS won, where we have large package caches, and continuous integration so we're not pushing up the stuff we build locally.

      But it's entirely unworkable for content creators - and TikTok et al made everyone into content creators.

    5. Ideasource Bronze badge

      Re: I'd say more like 50/10 is realistic

      Capacity comes first. Application develops within that capacity.

      If humans applied the same logic to the wheel when the idea was new...

      ... Well we have no existing statistics on current wheel usage therefore it's clearly never needed.

      What obvious nonsense that is.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Regulators

    Problem here is that the US has never been good at regulation, and most of what there is is fragmented down to state level where the regulators are weaker still. So regulators are much weaker than the businesses they regulate, and politicians and regulators are easily bought.

    Maybe that's what US citizens want, less state intervention, and a situation where the free market delivers what companies want to deliver. Which often seems to be slow speeds, localised monopolies, and high prices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Regulators

      More at Federal Level just doing stuff/national standards…. but choice, evil big government advisements from vested local interests always override it.

      US Federal, v State v County v Town/City duplication of effort, differing laws different states and constant squabbling is a fucking embarrassment.

  7. ChoHag Silver badge
    FAIL

    Ukraine has gigabit now, including in the rural parts.

    In a war.

    100Mb? Vaguely in the future?

    They're taking the piss. And [y]our money.

  8. Danny 5
    Happy

    Lucky I guess

    Reading about those speeds is just SO weird if you're not used to them. We have the benefit of being a European hub here in the Netherlands, so the infrastructure here is generally top notch. I was with the same provider for well over a decade and had a 50/50 Mbps connection, not the fastest by any margin, but fine for what I was using it for. Due to several changes I didn't support and the high price of their services, I recently switched providers, I got connected for half of what I paid before and now have a 400/400 connection (yeah I know, I'm crazy for not having switched earlier, I'm beating myself up over it too), still nowhere near the fastest that's on offer, but a massive step up from what I had. To think a highly developed country like the US is still using low speeds like that is just baffling to me.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Lucky I guess

      Here in this bit of Swtizerland you can get up to 25Gbs for ~65CHFs/month...

      I could get every device in my network and dedicate 1Gbps to it :-)

      1. xyz Silver badge

        Re: Lucky I guess

        And here in Catalunya (and probably all of Spain) they installed fibre to every village so you can have 1gbps if you want and cheap. Cheapest contracts on the tele are all 300 to 500mbps. If you're ever here driving through the countryside, you'll see a blue line painted on the side of the roads showing where the fibre is.

  9. Luiz Abdala
    FAIL

    In Brazil, of all places, I got 100 mpbs up and down already.

    To top that, my plan is outdated, no longer sold, all the ISPs sell only 300 mpbs minimum, and with no "cable" TV attached on the plan, just raw broadband, for cheaper than what I am currently paying.

    I plan to change soon and ditch the TV plan that only shows low quality programs, that I don't watch anyway, any longer. All the good stuff have their streaming equivalent straight from the web, so the "cable" is no longer justified.

    And I just bought a FireTV from Amazon that hosts an impressive amount of streaming channels, that even takes voice commands from Alexa, which is neat.

    By the way, I am paying the equivalent of 64 USD / month here in the... remote South America. The next plan is going for 21 USD. (64 still feels like I am being ripped off.)

    How come the US of A is so far behind ? This is beyond my understanding.

    1. ITS Retired

      Re: In Brazil, of all places, I got 100 mpbs up and down already.

      Basically, big corporation have bought our government. Too many of our congress critters are on the take. The average person can't have nice thing because those are reserved for the wealthy. That it in a nutz shell.

  10. Fred Goldstein
    Alert

    Some background: The article is wrong to talk about "ISPs" in general. A-CAM is a program offered only to legacy rural Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers that have been collecting subsidies from the Universal Service Fund. This is only given to companies whose cost of doing business is higher than they could sustain via their subscriber rates. They used to get a blank check and could spend upwards of $50k per house to connect fiber to the ranch, or could sit on old copper. A-CAM is based on a computer model of what it costs to string fiber to all of the houses in a small carrier's given geographic unit. So if they take it and do spend fiber, paid for by a 30%+ tax on everyone's interstate telecommunications services (a proportional take of phone bills, ISP services being exempt but leased lines paying full rate), then they have to offer 100/20. These are generally places that do not have cable, unless the (A-CAM) phone company offers it.

    The US isn't like Blighty. We have huge rustic areas with extremely low population density, and the farmers and ranchers live on their farms and ranches, far from neighbors, not in villages. A-CAM carriers often serve the least-densely-populated 1% or less of the population, but they cover a lot of area. In some places stringing fiber is fairly cheap (plow into soft soil) but in others very costly.

  11. Seajay
    FAIL

    Don't worry, the UK have this...

    ...we're right up there in the international internet fast lane... with a minimum service obligation of 10mbps!

    "The Government have defined a decent connection as one that can deliver 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed"

    https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8146/

  12. Bob Whitcombe

    Have not seen speeds this low since 2000

    Ah, they say - "Only in America". When I was working for Intel I was in Asia twice a month, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, China. Used to get 100M Internet for $20 in Japan in 2004. And the US is still rationing Internet Bandwidth and people are fine with that? Unbelievable.

  13. bill 27

    HAHAHA!

    I'm doing good to get 2MB down and 500K up! Then there's whole reduction in speed if I go over my monthly data cap.

  14. StLMintNewbee

    Make it cheaper.

    How about just making it cheaper. $50 a month for internet is a ripoff. I’m good with the existing speed. Can you make it $15? Thanks.

  15. Grunchy Silver badge

    I only have 5 Mbps

    Baud (“modulation rate,” or pulses-per-second) is approximately equal to bits-per-second, but there’s quite a lot of signal theory involved to work out the exact relationship.

    My rule of thumb was always about 10 pulses per byte, so 300 baud would deliver about 30 bytes per second; similarly, my 5 Mbps delivers about 500 kB per second.

    In my opinion, my 5 million baud connection is pretty darn fast!

    I can watch 1 hi-def stream with that, or download pretty much any software update, eventually.

    (I remember copying C64 diskettes with 4 minute “fast hack’em”, which could copy a complete 180 kB diskette with only 3 passes. That means the entire copier program fit inside 4kB in order for it to duplicate 60kB per pass.)

    Frankly: not only is slower internet service cheaper, it’s also more secure. A hacker attacking my network could only steal one 30MB photo from my network per minute! Actually not: upload speed is only a fraction of download speed, for whatever reason.)

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