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FCC Proposes 100Mbps Minimum Home Broadband Speed 461

oxide7 writes "The US Federal Communications Commission unveiled a plan on Tuesday that would require Internet providers to offer minimum home connection speeds by 2020, a proposal that some telecommunications companies panned as unrealistic. The FCC wants service providers to offer home Internet data transmission speeds of 100 megabits per second to 100 million homes by a decade from now, Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said."
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FCC Proposes 100Mbps Minimum Home Broadband Speed

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  • Good thing I got fiber to my house a month ago in my house out in the sticks. Now I get 20Mbps down/4 mbps up and my ISP (Smithville Telephone) has plans going up to 100 down/25 up I think, although its like $140/month.

    • Same here. We have fiber to the house for a couple of years: 100/10 internet without caps/limits plus IP TV. The optical switch in our house has 8 cat6 ports, so there may be a future speed increase once the upstream is upgraded (apparently they use some 10Gbit switches for upstream). We use one port for the router/firewall on our protected LAN, another for the unprotected LAN (for our work laptops), and another for the IP TV digibox.
    • by Krneki ( 1192201 )
      20/20 for 26E a month here. My city has 10.000 inhabitants, so you don't need a huge population to make it profitable. The only reason I can see to not have optic lines in cities above 10.000 people is political laziness.
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        It's not political laziness, it's monopoly laziness. In a lot of places you are
        basically talking about 2 competing natural monopolies: phone and cable TV. If
        one or the other aren't motivated then you will end up with a situation that is
        wildly out of balance consumers being completely shafted.

        Interestingly enough, such companies even go so far as to try to trick people into
        believing that they are getting fiber to the premises. Really low.

        • by Krneki ( 1192201 )
          Monopoly situations are created by political laziness.
    • It is indeed expensive, but Smithville is at least stepping up to offer service in places that were stuck with satellite. I switch late last year. Had to subsidize the fiber run as I am well back from the road, but they were great to work with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Arakun ( 1444095 )
      For $140/month you'd be able to get a 1000/100 connection in Sweden (if you live on the right address that is).
  • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:13AM (#31169410) Homepage Journal

    That would be all well and good if it were the Government's place to mandate minimum speeds. Frankly I'd rather see them focus on keeping the 'net free and neutral or forcing the telcos to expand broadband coverage like they were supposed to after all the incentives they got. Let market forces deal with bandwidth.

    • by kingjoebob ( 1011701 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:30AM (#31169732)
      "Market Forces" you mean let the ISPs charge whatever they want for poor service and very poor speed and uptime? Market forces only work when there is competition, in my area I got once choice. Besides how long does one have to live in this "Market Economy" to realize that big corps will do whatever they can to make a dollar. It is in their best interest to not upgrade their networks and charge out the nose. Change on this magnitude will only come to the masses if the government mandates it, its always been like that it always will.
      • by lwsimon ( 724555 ) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:44AM (#31169998) Homepage Journal

        Odd - Where I live, 500 yards away, they have 8Mbps cable available for $40/mo. The best I can get is 512Kbps DSL for $85/mo. I offered to pay to have the line run up the hill to my home, and got an easement from the landowner to do so, but was stopped when I discovered that it wasn't legal to extend cable coverage outside the prescribed service area.

        Get rid of the government "regulation" on this, and I'd have decent internet in a week.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AndersOSU ( 873247 )

          Maybe, maybe not.

          There are an awful lot of properties that only have internet because the deals the ISPs negotiated with the municipalities require a certain (high) level of coverage. I obviously don't know your exact situation, but it's very possible that the only reason that 8Mbps extends within 500ft of you is that the next town over made them run it that far. They might have been happier keeping cable 10 miles from you and only serving the city center - but in order to access the profitable part of th

        • by hazydave ( 96747 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:37PM (#31170918)

          That's an easy one to solve... I'd deal with that in a heatbeat. Find a reasonable neighbor, offer to pay for their interent access if they'll let you set up a wireless link. Plain old 802.11g with a couple of Yagi or "coffee can" directional antennas, and you're good for hundreds of feet. Better with 802.11n, but only if you're wiring for MIMO (2 or 3 antennas at either end, and issues with where they're placed if you're optimizing it).

          I actually design radios in my day job, and one such device is a mesh router that can run up to about six miles. I've been really tempted to tap real broadband in neighboring towns... the frequencies used, illegal as hell, unless your're police or the military... but tempting anyway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vvaduva ( 859950 )

        Yeah, so the cost of upgrades required by the government come out of their asses right? If you think you are not going to be the one paying for the FCC-mandated upgrades, you are living in la-la land. Who do you think is going to pay for it, the isp? No, the customer will.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Actually, the cost of the upgrades should come out of the $200 Billion [pbs.org] that Hatta (162192) mentioned below. The BIG problem with this is that it would seem the money was handed out without:

          (a) A mandate with a specific goal.
          (b) Mileposts clearly specified for progress toward that goal.
          (c) Follow through by Government regulators (wait, could this be that?)
          (d) Payment per milepost acheived, due upon delivery not upon agreement to consider delivering.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:33AM (#31169776)

      Letting market forces deal with the bandwidth would be fine if there were any real broadband competition out there. Most people in the U.S. have two broadband choices, DSL through their telco or cable through their cableco. A few (very few) are lucky enough to have a third choice (like Fiber optic through FIOS or similar). With competition being so limited, their is little incentive to build up the system--particularly to rural areas where a user's only broadband option may be satellite (if you can even call that "broadband").

      My own situation is a good illustration. I live in suburb of a fairly large city. I have two options, a DSL line (max 3Mbs) or a cable line (max 12Mbps). The telco has had the ability to build out to 6Mbps for years now, but has never done so because they knew that the cableco would ultimately pass them anyway. The cableco built out to 12Mbps but charges ridiculously high rates for it. The cableco also has zero incentive to build anything beyond 12Mbps or lower their prices, because their only competition is limited to 3-6Mbps max. Basically, without some government prompting, or the arrival of something like FIOS (which has been deathly slow in deployment), there is absolutely no reason for any of my providers to do anything but sit on their asses and charge whatever they choose.

      • Real competition wouldn't work either, because no one gives two shits about running expensive fiber to decreasingly dense, and therefore less profitable exurbs. Everyone wants to serve commercial hubs, no one wants to serve small towns.

        What we need is mandated, subsidized coverage at least at the state level with minimum speeds and common carrier provisions (meaning companies other the one that laid the cable can use the line.)

        This is how we handled rural electrification and nationwide telephony, it should

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Except your precious market forces exert more pressure on telcos to provide the minimum amount of bandwidth for the maximum cost the market will bear. There's absolutely no incentive for them to provide a minimum guaranteed speed outside of regulation. Just look at their current lobbying efforts do define broadband down to under 200K.

    • by whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:38AM (#31169876)

      Let market forces deal with bandwidth.

      Yeah, because that really seems to be working out so far. Clearly the competition between the major providers is pushing them to improve and excel.

    • I would agree except for one thing: most of these companies are government sanctioned monopolies. That in my mind means its up to the government to dictate terms of service and pricing.

      Personally I don't think that for-profit government sanctioned monopolies should exist, but who cares what I think?
    • by dintlu ( 1171159 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:45AM (#31170014)

      I see this is a sign that the government is realizing the importance of the internet to the future of commerce and national security.

      Minimum speed mandates are the first step towards government-maintained infrastructure. By setting a target the telcos will be unable to reach, and buoying consumer expectations to expect this level of service soon, the door is opened for the government to implement solutions for upgrading or providing a portion of the telecommunications infrastructure themselves.

      Frankly the telcos have nobody but themselves to blame. They took taxpayer money and instead of spending it on infrastructure upgrades to keep the US competitive with other nations, they sat on their collective asses raking in record profits while the quality of their networks and their customer satisfaction went to shit. If market forces worked, this would be unnecessary.

    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:58AM (#31170232) Homepage

      1. If you read the presentation [fcc.gov], he's actually setting the 100 Mbps as a goal, and sets out some "recommendations" for ways to achieve it. No mandates yet.

      2. 100Mbps in 10 years from now ought to be a dawdle. Hell, 100Mbps next week would be possible here if the Fios people would install to my building. Japan's average network speed [washingtonpost.com] right now is 50 Mbps. US companies know that it would cost them money to upgrade their infrastructure, and with most markets being historically-defined monopolies or oligopoloys, they have no incentive to compete.

      3. Of course it's the government's place to mandate minimum speeds and other standards. What do you think the FCC does? "These frequencies use that standard with that much energy. This telephone exchange uses that protocol with these power standards at that transmission rate." They define "broadband" as minimum 750kbps (ha!). If they want to define the "High-Speed Broadband" label as minimum 100Mbps for clarity's sake, and encourage its adoption, that's exactly what they're there for.

  • Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 )

    ...I'm going to have to side with the ISPs on this one. I think requiring them to offer high-speed internet to that many people is realistic by 2020, but at that speed? That's pushing it...

    The only way to really get ISPs off their collectively slow asses is to increase competition. Too many areas of the country are stuck with only one or two choices...which isn't a choice at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0racle ( 667029 )
      It said to 100 million homes. How many of those homes are in densely packed cities? It's probably not as hard as it sounds. It would however require upgrades to the infrastructure that they seem to desperately want to avoid spending money on.

      Of course, most likely nothing will come of this so it doesn't really matter.
    • by morari ( 1080535 )

      Or we're stuck with no choice whatsoever because our area isn't deemed profitable enough to even run cable television through! I don't understand why the telephone lines, water pipes, and power lines can run down my road just fine, yet no one is willing to offer anything outside of dial-up and satellite internet access. The government needs to step in and get the ball rolling on exactly this type of thing.

      • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

        Agreed. Government loves investing in worthless crap, how about something worth investing in for a change? Look at the billions of dollars they waste on a yearly basis. It would be interesting to see how much it would cost to set up a fiber-optic network throughout the country.

        Yes yes, concerns about the government setting up that kind of network...that's why the money would just be given to the ISPs on the (very) strict condition that it is used to build the necessary infrastructure. But of course that

      • I believe they tried by giving the telcos lots of tax breaks and money to improve the broadband network...but attached no strings to it, so the money just went to their exec bonuses and never went to the broadband network.
    • ...I'm going to have to side with the ISPs on this one. I think requiring them to offer high-speed internet to that many people is realistic by 2020, but at that speed? That's pushing it...

      At worst, I suppose it amounts to "um, yeah, we're gonna make you replace all those ancient copper lines with fiber now, kthxbye". Which, given their government-granted monopoly status and subsidies, doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

      • It would be more useful if they also removed the bogus limits on running servers out of your home. The original concept for the Internet was that everyone could/would have some public/shared content on their computers. Why should trojans and worms have all the fun?
        • Depending on your ISP, you may be able to run a server by just asking them to unblock port 80 -- they may even do it for free. You never know until you try*.

          *Well, unless you read the fine print that is. And even then theory != practice.

    • but at that speed? That's pushing it...

      Really? In our area, the ISP announced a few years ago that they would not lay any new copper. All connections are now fiber only. That includes TV, telephone, and internet (with 20/2 and 100/10 services). The cost in laying fiber is not much different from laying copper, and the bandwidth is much higher, especially in the boonies.

      This was a wise decision, as the "last mile" is the hardest to upgrade, so putting in capacity for the future means that it will not become a bottleneck for some time. The optic

    • If you lived in Romania, you could pay to use your apartment's fiber-optic line via an Ethernet connection. For $4 Euro per month, my friend gets uncapped transfers that max out to 10MB/s inside the country. The very worst speeds I've seen were 500kb/s while there.

      Now you could say "But we have many more people", well yes, but this is a country who was communist not too long ago. You also have much more money. For example, a good wage is $10,000 euro per year for a skilled worker with a degree. So at this p

  • Bad Idea. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oahazmatt ( 868057 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:14AM (#31169420) Journal
    Bad idea. Have you seen what most ISPs charge for 15?
    • Sure, they can "offer" it, for only $9999.99 per month (plus taxes where not void). Any takers? Aaaaanyone at all?
      • No, because 100mbit internet lines tend to be much much less than that-- I think we were quoted $1200/mo by one company, and worst case $5000 or so from another.
    • Yeah, they would certainly use it as an excuse to jack up prices. They'd complain that government meddling only hurts the consumer and raise prices through the roof to ensure that that's the case.

      I do think that the internet should be considered a basic utility and that internet access should be guaranteed like water and electricity; however, I think that the right to online access ends at e-mail and Slashdot. 100 Mb/s is nice, but I'd say 1 Mb/s would be more appropriate for a mandated rate goal.

    • Bad idea. Have you seen what most ISPs charge for 15?

      My neck of the woods, I can get 50Mb/20Mb fiber connection for $80/month today. Can also get WiMax services up to 150Mb/150Mb, so it's not really a matter of the technology either, even "way back" here in 2010...

    • Ya, I know. not specifying the ~ price range is as good not doing anything.
      I am sure if I contacted any ISP right now I could get 100Mbps, if I had enough money.
  • Google just announced their plans to do lay high-speed fiber... and now the FCC is defining a minimum bandwidth.
    Looks like the internet in that little country called the US will finally catch up with the rest of the world... Maybe i'll finally get some speed from US P2P users now... ;-)
  • That would require that the U.S. take the world lead in internet development. It's completely unrealistic to expect something so unprecedented.
  • 1984 (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:18AM (#31169486) Homepage Journal

    Because 100mbps is the bandwidth required for the telescreens?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:19AM (#31169512)

    I like how we Americans think its fine that the rest of the world is surpassing us in everything else, bandwidth included.
    World's most powerful nation going at the speed of fail.

  • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:20AM (#31169528) Journal

    This is the IT equivalent of Bush's "We're going to Mars" announcement.

    It will be followed by actions which will make it impossible. (The equivalent of cutting Nasa's budget and programs)

    So my money is on...reducing competition, letting infrastructure fail, and killing net neutrality for the Trifecta.

    Who'll give me Vegas odds on these?

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Politicians making big promises and then failing to deliver?!?!? Well, there goes my faith in those guys.
    • The hard part is getting "right of way" to lay the fiber. Fiber isn't that expensive and compared to ISP prices it is almost cheaper to lay the fiber to your home yourself.
  • by MSTCrow5429 ( 642744 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:20AM (#31169530)
    ...that 100 million people by 2020 should have a pretty pony. This will result in 50 people receiving tainted horse steaks by 2035.
  • by Entrope ( 68843 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:20AM (#31169536) Homepage

    I, for one, welcome our new pony-mandating FTC overlords and our rainbow-mandating EPA overlords. Every American should have the government-granted right to upload pictures of their pony galloping under a rainbow at 100 Mbps speeds!

  • From the article:

    "First, we don't think the customer wants that. Secondly, if (Google has) invented some technology, we'd love to partner with them,"

    Almost sounds like a troll to me. I think most consumers would love a 100Mbps connection -- assuming it was reasonably priced. That being said, Verizon already offers FiOS at speeds up to 50Mbps, so 100Mbps isn't that much of a stretch.

    Sadly, I'm stuck in an area where it's either ADSL1.x or cable.

  • Now if only they could force companies to unbundle their services and keep the cost proportional to the service. By that I mean, if they bundle tv, phone and internet for $99/month, they can offer each service for $33/month.

    Which is not the case at the moment. I cannot get internet service from either Verizon or Comcast (my only two providers) for $33/month at the same speed as they offer for their bundled service.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The only way they could do that is by increasing the bundled price; there's certain fixed costs of your service that don't increase proportionally to how many subservices you have.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    WTF is the FCC doing, making suggestions about my dealings with my local ISP over a link that doesn't cross state lines?

    That rhetorical question has kind of a quaint ring to it. Let's face it: America has certain expectations from their government, regardless of legal concerns. So let's just legalize it. I propose two constitutional amendments:

    Congress shall have the power to do whatever they think is a good idea. All previous amendments conflicting with this, are hereby repealed.

    The right to be subject

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pretty soon, we'll have 1Gbps connections to-the-home with 1GB monthly transfer limits. I can't wait. I'll be able to transfer my monthly quota in mere hours now!
    Speeds doesn't matter one god damn when usage is so restricted. Telcos and Commcos win again!

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:27AM (#31169666)

    They should federalize all franchising so that local and state governments cannot limit which telecoms and cable companies can operate where.

  • Until we repeal the government mandated monopoly. Or they'll just redefine 6 Mbps as 100 Mbps. I certainly wouldn't put such douchebaggery passed Comcast, I mean Xfinity, to do so.

  • Why complain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:31AM (#31169740) Journal

    In the mid-90s the Telecom industry was given 200 billion [pbs.org] dollars to roll out 45 megabit internet across the country. Nothing ever came of it, and the telecom industry got to pocket that $200 billion.

    Sounds to me that the telecoms should know a good thing when they hear it.

    • by Shag ( 3737 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:23PM (#31170654)

      Basically everyone with a phone in the USA has been paying an extra fee for decades now to fund rollout of broadband to rural areas. Not only have the rural areas not gotten it, even a lot of built-up areas don't have it. In fact, when municipalities have tried to create their own high-speed networks, the telcos have gone so far as to sue to prevent it. Taking $200 billion to do something, then making efforts to prevent that something from even happening? Evil.

      I'd like the FCC to ask the telcos where the $200 billion went... and if the telcos want to claim things are impossible, maybe the FCC can ask them to give that $200 billion back, since we all know there's a company (Google) that's chomping at the bit to install super-fast FTTH.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AndrewNeo ( 979708 )

      Which is exactly why I hope they mandate this, and don't give them any money to do it.

  • cap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:39AM (#31169894)

    Hmmm. 100 megabits/sec. At that rate, my 2 gig cap would be reached in

    2000 megabytes * 8 bits/byte / 100 megabits per sec = 160 seconds aka 2 minutes 40 seconds

  • The truth is by 2020, everyone should have 10 Gbps fiber to the home. Anything less will make internet speed the limiting factor.

    Let's also remember that Sweden had common, affordable 100Mbps to the home almost a decade ago.

  • I am all about the government keeping their hands off of things but the ISPs seem to be going the way of the Telcos, they have the public by the testicles and are charging insane rates for terrible service. Heck just this weekend I was running at 500Kbs and I pay for tier 2 RoadRunner service. I routinely have to call for spotty access, sometimes things just drop. Now I know a thing or two about networking so I can troubleshoot this but what about Joe 6 pack? Our internet access has been pretty stagnan
  • Besides FCC not having authority to do this, why is this the government's job? What's next, mandating home delivery of groceries? This is government run amok.

  • Thinking back 10 years, we had 56k around here 10 years ago. Now a days 10-16 MBit is very common (central Europe) in urban regions (where around 1/3rd of the population lives). Projecting that to 2020, we'll be at 200-300 MBit. If the US does not manage to upgrade their infrastructure to at least 100MBit in residential areas by then, it will probably declared a developing country or something.

    Hell, around here we even have most of the fibre laid already, just have to get the switch from copper based endpoi

  • by grandpa-geek ( 981017 ) on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @11:50AM (#31170098)

    IEEE-USA has been advocating bi-directional gigabit broadband for several years. The telcos have offered dumbed-down, legacy speeds because they are trying to become more closely associated with the entertainment industry than with telecommunications. The entertainment and other content industries do not want the competition that comes when every subscriber can become an originator.

    The failure to mandate that broadband is at least 100 mbps places the US way behind other countries and makes our innovators much less able to develop new concepts in broadband-based applications. That is why Japanese who come to the US are said to feel like they are entering a telecommunications third world.

    The FCC is moving to have the US join the developed telecommunications world.


  • Not that it would matter what speed you get if they keep they extremely low max caps.
    and why 100Mbps, it seems so excessive, I find my 5Mbps adequate. And what about upload, if their is not a similar increase in upload speed you would not see any benefit form 100Mbps unless you download from many many servers at the same time. With 100 Mbps you will be able to run out of bandwidth for the month in a few minutes.

    And their is probably a lot more important things they could be going for: net neutrality, inc
  • I bet ISPs will be rubbing their hands together over this: "100mbps minimum? No problem - just make everybody pay for a T6 connection!"

  • by TibbonZero ( 571809 ) <Tibbon@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 17, 2010 @12:42PM (#31171006) Homepage Journal
    Ten years ago I had a 1.5mb cable modem from Comcast (actually I think I got my first cable line in 1998).
    Today I have a 20mb cable modem from RCN (which costs nearly 2x as much as the 1.5mb line I used to have).
    Each of these were the fastest consumer lines available to me.
    100mb in 10 years sounds rather unambitious really. Consumer usage (I'm assuming) is probably growing at a rate akin to Moore's Law. There would be 6 and 2/3 cycles of Moore's Law in 10 years. My 20mb line should turn into a 1300mb line in 10 years at this rate and consumer usage will probably meet the demands.
    Unfortunately by this logic I should have a 96mb line available already, which isn't true at least where I live

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