Ars Technica covered the story that AT&T and Verizon say 10Mbps is too fast for “broadband,” 4Mbps is enough:
AT&T and Verizon have asked the Federal Communications Commission not to change its definition of broadband from 4Mbps to 10Mbps, saying many Internet users get by just fine at the lower speeds.
“Given the pace at which the industry is investing in advanced capabilities, there is no present need to redefine ‘advanced’ capabilities,” AT&T wrote in a filing made public Friday after the FCC’s comment deadline (see FCC proceeding 14-126). “Consumer behavior strongly reinforces the conclusion that a 10Mbps service exceeds what many Americans need today to enable basic, high-quality transmissions,” AT&T wrote later in its filing. Verizon made similar arguments.
In contrast, Comcast says that about 47 percent of their subscribers get at least 50Mbps. The cities (including San Leandro) that have gigabit access show no signs of slowing their subscriber base.
An intriguing table in the article, FCC 2014 Household Bandwidth Scenarios, shows a single user in a “low use household” using at least 4 Mbps to watch/record one standard streaming movie, one voice call, a little browsing and syncing. A single user in a “high use households” needs at least a 10Mbps download speed to watch/record one super HD movie, make one HD video call, move files to/from the cloud, and check for email. The truth is that households are rarely one user and one device, and since we’re talking home use, demand times tend to be concentrated into parts of the day when people are home. Also note that the focus of this table is on “consuming” (downloading) and not “sharing” (downloading and uploading) as an Internet of Things will require.
As our health, energy, and communications technologies advance, so will the data requirements for coordination and management at home and away. AT&T and Verizon don’t wish to meet the needs of the present or be a part of the future. That would be fine if they weren’t the only provider in many areas. It’s the job of the nation’s policymakers to rightfully aim higher and redefine broadband with an eye toward the future. We encourage you to let the FCC know your thoughts on minimum broadband speeds, AT&T’s and Verizon’s claims, or other matters affecting your Internet access by phone, email, letter, or otherwise.