The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States recently voted for a new definition of broadband – a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and a minimum upload speed of 3Mbps.
According to Gizmodo, the FCC voted to redefine broadband as “Internet which is actually fast enough to use.”
“The 4Mbps/1Mbps standard set in 2010 is dated and inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way,” the FCC said.
While this definition is mainly aimed at advertised Internet services, the impact can be significant.
“If a company can’t call its service broadband, everybody will know that it’s slow. So if they want to stay competitive, they’ll have to guarantee faster speeds,” Gizmodo explained.
In South Africa the definition of broadband, which is published as part of the ECA Amendment Bill of 2012, is far more ambiguous.
“Broadband means an always available, multimedia-capable connection with a minimum download speed as determined by the Minister from time to time by Notice in the Gazette”
But is a definition of broadband useful? Arthur Goldstuck, MD of IT research firm World Wide Worx, thinks so.
“A minimum definition is useful from the point of view of regulatory requirements and quality of service guarantees. However, it is less useful for the users themselves,” he said.
He added that local operators would struggle to meet the demands of the emerging definitions of broadband.
“They perform exceptionally well within pockets of reception excellence, but are more likely to preside over broadband traffic jams and roadblocks across their coverage areas,” he said.