FCC To Vote On 25 Mbps Speed Hike at Jan. 29 Meeting

Is Proposing Upping Definition Of High-Speed to 25 Mbps Downstream

Add the FCC's proposal to change the definition of high-speed broadband downstream speeds from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps to the list of things being fast tracked at the FCC as the President pushes high-speed broadband as a State of the Union priority.

According to a well-placed FCC source, Chairman Tom wheeler plans to add that vote to the Jan. 29 meeting. The vote will be on the FCC's latest Sec. 706 report to Congress on whether advanced telecommunications is being deployed to all Americans in a timely fashion.

The report concludes it is not, in part based on the new 25 Mbps table stakes for high-speed broadband--though just last month the FCC made 10 Mbps downstream the standard for the Connect America Fund Universal Service Fund broadband subsidies (http://www.multichannel.com/news/technology/fcc-ups-speed-threshold-caf/...).

"The speed change proposal should not come as a big surprise. when the FCC issued the Notice of Inquiry on the new report back in August it suggested then definition of “high speed” needs to be increased from the current 4 Megabits per second downstream/1 Mbps upstream to at least 10/1.5 and might have to go as high as 25/6 Mbps to accommodate or anticipate all those cloud-storing, video watching, online educating Americans.

If the FCC concludes advanced telecommunications is not advancing fast enough, Congress has charged it with using its regulatory powers to make it happen. Or at least that has been the interpretation of recent Democratic chairmen. Republicans have tended more to see Sec. 706 more narrowly.

The President plans to talk up high-speed broadband in the State of the Union and the importance of getting it, and affordably, to everyone in the country. He has already announced initiatives to further that goal, and sent a letter to the FCC backing whatever steps it can take, which will include that Sec. 706 speed change, as well as a vote on petitions to preempt state laws limiting municipal broadband, which the chairman plans to vote on at the Feb. 26 meeting, according to a source.