Americans Unhappy With FCC

Technology > IT

Photo by: Federal Communications via flickr

Many Americans are unhappy with the FCC’s plan to categorize mobile broadband as a full replacement for in-home high-speed internet service, leaving hundreds of comments on the commission’s website.  This came after the FCC put out its annual study concerning broadband deployment, suggesting it was sufficient enough to have a smartphone with mobile broadband networks in lieu of cable or fiber based internet in the home.  

The comments by the citizens highlight several limitations of mobile carriers that make for far less capable service to the average user of broadband connections.  Data speeds are the number one difference.  The standards for mobile broadband are speeds of 10 Megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 1Mbps for uploads.   According to a recent OpenSignal survey, T-Mobile has the fastest network on average, at a 16Mbps rate, while Sprint was under 10Mbps.

The FCC’s threshold for a broadband connection is at or above 25Mpbs download speeds and 3Mpbs for uploads, which not even the top mobile network can come close to matching. Most are less than half of those speeds.  

Another complaint Americans have for the FCC is that connections are limited because of restrictions placed on them by the carrier.  The problem is many mobile network providers implement data caps, meaning users only have a limited amount of online access before they are charged more or have their connection slowed drastically.

Broadband providers have their own data caps, however, that are much higher than mobile network caps at around 300GB per month, in comparison to the 2 to 10GB for mobile services. Even further, mobile networks have other limitations on tethering which would probably be necessary if one wanted to replace their home broadband with mobile services.  Tethering allows a person to access the internet from another device by using a smartphone as a hotspot.  

Despite all this evidence about network limitations etc., there are whispers that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai who was appointed by Donald Trump, just might decide access provided by a mobile network is good enough for large chunks of the country that currently have limited broadband access.

If this action takes place it would be a 180° turn from the stance former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler took under the Obama administration.  Wheeler maintained before he left his post that Americans should have access to fast internet connections both at home and from mobile networks.

The FCC said it will accept comments on this matter until September 7, while having a reply period open until September 22.