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FCC Raises the Bar for Broadband, Adopts E911 Order

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took important steps to improve the consumer broadband market in the United States. At its monthly Open Meeting, the FCC changed the definition of broadband that it uses to assess whether broadband is being deployed in a timely fashion throughout the country. The Commission adopted a new standard of 25 Mbps download speeds, up from 4 Mbps in the old definition. Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel highlighted the need for a forward-looking approach to ensure that consumers everywhere have access to the speeds needed to access the robust platform of online tools available today.

The following can be attributed to Danielle Kehl, Policy Analyst at New America’s Open Technology Institute:

“America should be a global leader in offering world-class, high-speed Internet access. Although the FCC’s old definition of ‘broadband’ may have made sense at one point in time, today we need and expect much faster connections to support everyday activities online. As Commissioner Clyburn emphasized, the new benchmark reflects current needs of consumers across the United States, and it will help get America back on track as a leader in the broadband market. While many Americans currently can access 25 Mbps speeds, the new threshold also highlights the importance of ensuring that the hardest to reach areas of the United States are not left behind.”

OTI Policy Counsel Josh Stager added:

“Consumers are flocking to plans that offer 25 mbps download speeds. The Commission's action today reflects that reality and holds our broadband infrastructure to a standard that will keep America globally competitive. Anyone who wants the Internet to remain a driver of economic growth and innovation should welcome this move.”

The Commission also voted unanimously to pass rules that will require mobile phone carriers to provide emergency responders with precise location information about customers who call 911, even when those customers are located indoors. OTI and a number of other groups have recently urged the FCC to address privacy and security concerns regarding precise location information.

The following can be attributed to OTI Senior Policy Counsel Laura Moy:

“The technology that will be developed and deployed in response to the Commission’s rules could be used not only to deliver critical assistance during emergencies, but also for corporate and government surveillance. We hope that the Commission’s Order updating location requirements for 911 calls addresses our concerns about possible abuses of highly precise location information.”

Expert Contact
Danielle Kehl
Policy Analyst, Open Technology Institute
kehl@newamerica.org

Media Contact
Jenny Mallamo
Media Relations Associate, New America
(202) 596-3368
mallamo@newamerica.org