Free Press Offers FCC Input On Defining Broadband


Free Press has told the FCC it needs to define broadband in terms of a host of factors, including price, openness, speed -- actual rather than advertised -- and more.

That puts it 180 degrees from the recommendations of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. Both weighed in Monday at the FCC with comments on a definition for broadband service.

The FCC needs that definition as it comes up with the congressionally-mandated national broadband rollout plan.

But rather than setting only minimum threshholds for speed and service, Free Press argues the FCC should also take an "aspirational" approach, aiming high with symetrical bandwidth of 100 mbps, and eventually 1 gigabit per second.

That contrasts with the current, unsymmetrical FCC definition, supported by NCTA, of "download speeds of more than 768 kbps and upload speeds of more than 200 kbs" to define high-speed broadband.

It also appears to be a way to address the complaints of FCC broadband advisor Blair Levin that some initial comments in on the broadband plan were more aspirational than practical.

Free Press also said the agency should set a definition based on what users can do with their connections, which means both a baseline and a target, updated regularly.

But even if a high speed is offered, it argued, any definition must take into account the cost to the end user as well. If the price is to high, then as a practical matter, according to Free Press, it isn't available. Any arbitrary limits on conent or applications should not qualify as broadband service either, they say.