FCC Launches Inquiry to Examine U.S. Broadband Deployment

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) which seeks comment on the availability of fixed and mobile broadband service across the nation as part of its annual assessment of U.S. broadband deployment. Pursuant to Section 706(b) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC must annually make an inquiry to determine whether advanced telecommunications capability – broadband access service – is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion. In its last report – the 2015 Broadband Progress Report – the FCC changed the definition of broadband to Internet access service with actual download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and actual upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps, and made a finding that broadband deployment was not reasonable and timely. For its next report, the FCC is seeking comment on whether consumer access to both fixed and mobile broadband should now be the standard by which to judge overall U.S. broadband deployment. If mobile broadband is added to the FCC’s assessment, comment is sought on what speed of service should serve as the benchmark for mobile broadband. The NOI also seeks comment on whether to consider standards beyond speed when assessing overall U.S. broadband deployment, including latency and consistency of service. It also seeks comment on whether to consider factors beyond physical deployment, including pricing and data allowances, privacy, and broadband adoption.

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