Net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers must treat all data on the internet the same without discriminating or charging differently, is effectively dead. The Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality on December 14 last year, dismantling net neutrality regulations. This has set the ground for the repeal to go into full effect, so the FCC chairman Ajit Pai is shifting his attention to another matter.
Internet service providers in the United States are currently obliged to meet certain standards regarding upload and download speed. These standards have been redefined multiple times thus far. From 2011 until 2014, rural service needed to offer at least 4 megabits per second for download speed and at least 1 megabit per second for upload speed. In 2014, this was bumped to 10 megabits per second for download speed and 1 megabit per second for upload speed.
Then FCC chairman Tom Wheeler decided to redefine the standards once more. In 2015, he changed the minimum to 25 megabits per second for download speed and 3 megabits per second for upload speed.
At the time, these regulations shook the broadband industry to its core. Ars Technica deemed Mr. Wheeler “the broadband industry’s worst nightmare.” Luckily for the ISPs and much to the dismay of American internet users, lowering these standards will be discussed and voted upon on February 3. The Federal Communications Commission thinks broadband speed in America is defined too aggressively and wants to “relax the overall standards carriers are supposed to meet,” Extreme Tech reports.
According to a document released on August 8, 2017, and published on the FCC’s official website, the agency’s current chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to make the following changes.
The minimum standard broadband providers have to meet will now be 10 megabits per second for download speed and 1 megabit per second for upload speed. This means Americans will, essentially, go back to 2014 when it comes to internet speed.
Broadband availability will be determined based on wireless or wireline service. Broadband availability used to be defined based on wireline service alone. This means wireless service will qualify as broadband. This maneuver will, naturally, reduce the number of Americans who officially lack access to affordable service, at least on paper, but won’t do much to actually improve the situation.
“Changing these requirements is a fabulous boon for ISPs, which now face little scrutiny for their attempts to push consumers towards highly lucrative wireless plans with minimum performance metrics and little-to-no guarantee of acceptable service,” Extreme Tech reports.