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Drumbeat Gets Louder For 2 Mbps Minimum Broadband Definition

May 18, 2007

Saying that the FCC "has not kept pace with the times or the technology," At a hearing yesterday into the FCC's broadband qualifications, Rep. Ed Markey accused the FCC of not keeping "pace with the times or the technology."

Backed by Markey, The Broadband Census of America Act, currently in draft form, requires the  the FCC to increase its broadband threshold speed from 200Kbps to 2Mbps and to stop claiming that a ZIP code has broadband access if even a single resident in that ZIP code does. It also asks the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to prepare a map for the web that will show all this data in a searchable, consumer-friendly format.

Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America, said that the US is "stuck with a twentieth century Internet" and that he would support increasing the "broadband" definition to 2Mbps.

Ben Scott of Free Press suggested the definition needs to be an evolving standard that increases over time, which is in contrast to the current FCC definition; it has not changed in nine years. "We have always been limited by the FCC's inadequate and flawed data," he said.

Steve Largent of the CTIA,suggested that the FCC keep the current threshold at 200Kbps but provide more granularity so that users can see exactly which speed tiers are available in their neighborhoods.

Kyle McSlarrow, who heads the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (and who was yesterday calling for a vastly reduced FCC), said that his group supports the 2 Mbps broadband definition floor, but that the FCC and Congress should take heart in the flurry broadband initiatives already in place.

"It's not like the marketplace isn't addressing consumer demand," McSlarrow said, pointing out that Comcast recently demoed 100Mbps cable technology.

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