Redefining broadband

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has redefined its definition of broadband. [1] The FCC had used 200 kilo bits per second (kbps) as the threshold and has now increased this by a factor of 20 to 4 Mega bits per second (Mbps). India has proposed that 3-4 Mbps be used as the broadband threshold in a consultation paper arguing "that many bandwidth hungry applications are not getting developed as they see no business model due to restrictive capacity of the Internet in India". [2]

This trend towards higher thresholds for the definition of broadband suggests that the speed used by international organizations—256 kbps—is becoming out of touch with national goalposts and should be reexamined. [3] Nevertheless, most countries do not provide an explicit speed for broadband in their statistics and instead use general criteria such as "always-on" Internet connections or service categories (ADSL, cable modem).

This post will be updated to add the broadband definitions used by different countries as they become available.

See earlier post about this subject.

[1] "In determining whether broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion, this Sixth Report takes the overdue step of raising the minimum speed threshold for broadband from services in “excess of 200 kilobits per second (kbps) in both directions”—a standard adopted over a decade ago in the 1999 First Broadband Deployment Report ... As an alternative benchmark for this year’s report, and given that this year’s inquiry was conducted in conjunction with the National Broadband Plan proceeding, we find it appropriate and reasonable to adopt instead the minimum speed threshold of the national broadband availability target proposed in the National Broadband Plan. The National Broadband Plan recommends as a national broadband availability target that every household in America have access to affordable broadband service offering actual download (i.e., to the customer) speeds of at least 4 Mbps and actual upload (i.e., from the customer) speeds of at least 1 Mbps. This target was derived from analysis of user behavior, demands this usage places on the network, and recent experience in network evolution." See: FCC. July 20, 2010. SIXTH BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT REPORT. http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-129A1.doc
[2] "Extrapolating this trend and considering that a household connection is generally used by 3 to 4 persons, the bandwidth requirement per connection is expected to be minimum of 3 to 4 Mbps per household in very near future to support emerging applications." See: TRAI. June 10, 2010. Consultation Paper on National Broadband Plan.
[3] The ITU and OECD define broadband as 256 kbps. See: ITU. March 2010. Definitions of World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators. http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/handbook.html and "OECD Broadband Portal" at: http://www.oecd.org/sti/ict/broadband

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