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The Definition of Broadband Internet Just Changed For the Better

by Jacob Kleinman | January 29, 2015January 29, 2015 3:00 pm PDT

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A new ruling from the FCC could mean faster Internet speeds as a standard in the U.S., especially in rural areas that typically go underserved. A vote from the government agency on Thursday drastically raises the speeds needed for an Internet provider to define its service as broadband.

Following today’s decision, all broadband Internet in the U.S. must offer 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3Mbps for uploads. That’s a huge improvement from the previous definition of 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up.

A majority of about 80 percent of U.S. households already have broadband service that meets those standards, but 13.1 percent of the population’s Internet falls short of the new standards. Another 6.3 percent of American households pay for Internet that doesn’t even qualify as broadband under the old definition.

Of course, the FCC can’t force Internet providers to improve their speeds, but the new ruling could mean trouble for providers still offering DSL service, which uses phone lines to deliver a connection. It’s unclear if that means companies like AT&T and Verizon will decide to build out new cable and fiber networks in response, or simply continue offering DSL Internet in some regions without calling it broadband.

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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