Defining Digital Down – Paying More for Less

Brookings on the latest FCC action to redefine the broadband speed standards.

Instead of challenging American companies to, for instance, raise average internet connectivity speeds to levels above those of Kenya, the Trump FCC is seeking to redefine downward what constitutes high-speed broadband. In preparation for the congressional-mandated annual report on the status of broadband deployment in the United States (so-called “advanced telecommunications services”), the FCC seeks to define downward the definition of broadband. Stealthily, this is accomplished by simply changing a conjunction.

In 2011, in a unanimous bipartisan decision, the FCC said Americans need access to both wired AND mobile broadband. Reversing that bipartisan unanimity, the Trump FCC now proposes to change “and” to “or” – a seemingly simple conjunction change with profound impact. Declaring mobile the same as fixed broadband defines broadband down from 25 megabits per second (mbps) to only 10 mbps, while defining up, via mobile data caps and higher prices, what consumer must pay.

Changing the measurement of what constitutes broadband is a sleight of hand that will also allow the FCC to “conclude that Americans’ broadband needs are being met – when in fact they are not,” a dozen Democratic Senators wrote the FCC Chairman. As this thoughtful video from Vox shows, changing the measuring stick will allow the Trump FCC to claim success in bridging the digital divide. With the change of a conjunction, the 23 million Americans the Obama FCC determined did not have adequate broadband access disappear. Trump has “solved” the digital divide! All it takes is to forget the people involved and what their real needs may be and simply define digital down.

The full article is HERE. Conclusion:

Quietly, and with little notice, the agency that is supposed to be protecting consumers is changing its definitions in a manner that favors the corporations they are supposed to oversee at the expense of the consumers they are supposed to protect.

My emphasis added. This is the bottom line. You will be paying more for less.

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