A bipartisan group of senators wants to deliver higher broadband speeds. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Angus King (I-ME), and Rob Portman (R-OH) wrote a letter this week asking for an update to federal broadband speed requirements.
The letter notes the new administration’s “commitment to
deploying affordable, high-speed broadband across the country to help bridge
America’s digital divide” and asks that the minimum requirements be updated to
reflect the current needs of households across the country. The senators ask
for upload speeds of 100 Mbps to be the new baseline for broadband, a jump from
the 25/3 Mbps standard put in place by the FCC under Ajit Pai.
“Unfortunately, the FCC data continually overestimates
broadband connectivity due to outdated mapping and poor data collection methods,”
the letter says. The change would prevent the FCC from saying that an area has
broadband access unless it meets the new standard.
“Broadband has helped millions of students maintain their education and provided patients access to vital care through telemedicine services. It has also given family and friends a way to connect in this difficult time while supporting social distancing. All of these vital economic, social, and healthcare-related functions are only possible with access to adequate broadband, the demands for which only continue to increase,” the senators write, making the case for universal service which would bring affordable broadband to all Americans.
The letter was sent to Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the FCC; Tom Vilsack, secretary of the Department of Agriculture; Gina Raimondo, secretary of the Department of Commerce; and Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council.