Rural Groups Applaud FCC Proposal for Higher Download Broadband Speed and Want to See Higher Upload Speed

Whitesburg, KY – This morning, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced its proposal to increase the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload to 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload as a condition for carriers to receive Connect America Fund subsidies.

Members of the Rural Broadband Policy Group (“RBPG”) applaud the adoption of a faster download speed, but see room for improvement in the upload speed requirement.

RBPG members support the FCC’s proposal to increase the download speed standard in our country, making our nation more competitive in the global market with higher speeds. Rural advocates also want to see a higher upload speed, preferably adopting a symmetrical speed.

According to the FCC’s 8th Broadband Progress Report, of the 19 million Americans that still cannot access fixed broadband networks at the current 4 Mbps down 1 Mbps up speeds, 14.5 million live in rural areas and a third in Tribal lands.

The following statements can be attributed to members of the Rural Broadband Policy Group:

“We are grateful that the FCC continues to adjust minimum download speeds, we hope that in the near future they will take a closer look at upload speeds.  Current upload speeds are not adequate for online testing for students, prosperous economic development or quality health care in rural communities,” said Connie Stewart, Executive Director of the California Center for Rural Policy.

Christopher Mitchell, Director of Telecommunications at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said,

 “Local needs for Internet access have already surpassed the broadband definition for both download and upload capacity. Updating the definition of broadband is a smart decision, and should be done for both uploads and downloads.”

“Acknowledging the increased speed that is needed to benefit from the Internet is important for rural as well as urban communities and will show how far we have to go. Upload speeds also need to be increased so that we can actually participate in the digital world," said Mimi Pickering from the Appalshop Community Media Initiative.

“Raising the broadband bar is a step forward, but we'd prefer to see a move toward symmetry - because reaching audiences 'downstream' is one thing, but giving communities an equal 'upstream' voice will require much greater and more balanced capacity,” said Sean McLaughlin, Executive Director of Access Humboldt.

“Raising the bar on download speeds is long overdue for rural and underserved populations. However, failing to raise the upload speeds penalizes content producers and local economies, specially in rural America,” said Wally Bowen, Founder of Mountain Area Information Network in Asheville, North Carolina. “ Still, this new broadband definition is a good first step.” 

#####

The Rural Broadband Policy Group is a national coalition of rural advocates with two goals: 1) to articulate national telecommunications policies that allow rural communities to participate fully in our nation’s culture, economy, and democracy, and 2) to encourage collaboration among rural advocates for expanding fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.

 

For more information about the RBPG, please contact
Edyael Casaperalta, Coordinator
Visit us at ruralassembly.org/broadband