FCC Launches Inquiry for Annual Broadband Progress Report
Washington, D.C. (August 6, 2015) – In preparation for its annual assessment of U.S. broadband deployment, the Federal Communications Commission has launched an inquiry seeking comment on whether consumer access to both mobile and fixed broadband should now be the standard by which to make this judgement.
Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires the FCC to make an annual assessment of whether broadband is being deployed to all Americans on a reasonable and timely basis. Based on an assessment of fixed broadband availability, the 2015 Broadband Progress Report, released in early February this year, determined that deployment was not reasonable and timely, finding that nearly 55 million Americans did not have access to broadband capable of delivering high-quality voice, data, graphics and video offerings.
The Notice of Inquiry adopted by the Commission today notes that Americans increasingly use both fixed and mobile broadband, but for different purposes. While fixed terrestrial broadband service can have advantages for high-capacity home use, mobile broadband has become increasingly important for many uses, including connecting on social media, navigating during travel, communicating with family and friends, receiving timely news updates, and more.
In the event mobile broadband is added to the assessment, the FCC is seeking comment on what speed of service should serve as the benchmark for assessing availability. The FCC is also proposing to consider the availability of fixed satellite broadband in its annual assessment of fixed broadband availability.
Today’s Notice of Inquiry further seeks comment on whether to consider standards beyond speed when assessing broadband deployment, including latency and consistency of service. And it asks whether to consider factors beyond physical deployment, including pricing and data allowances, privacy, and broadband adoption.
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