Aug 06, 2014

How fast should an internet connection be to be considered broadband?

The FCC is looking at new regulations that will govern what ISPs actually have to offer in order to legally call it broadband or high-speed internet. At the moment, the FCC allows 4Mbps download speeds to be advertised as broadband/high-speed, but is considering a change to a 10Mbps download minimum. What speeds are needed for an internet service to be fast enough to really be considered “high speed?”

Internet Access

"Various minimum data rates and maximum latencies have been used in definitions of broadband, ranging from 64 kbit/s up to 4.0 Mbit/s.[14] In 1988 the CCITT standards body defined "broadband service" as requiring transmission channels capable of supporting bit rates greater than the primary rate which ranged from about 1.5 to 2 Mbit/s.[15] A 2006 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report defined broadband as having download data transfer rates equal to or faster than 256 kbit/s.[16] And in 2010 the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defined "Basic Broadband" as data transmission speeds of at least 4 Mbit/s downstream (from the Internet to the user’s computer) and 1 Mbit/s upstream (from the user’s computer to the Internet).[17] The trend is to raise the threshold of the broadband definition as higher data rate services become available.[18]"

I think that more important than increasing that number is to prohibit a “maximum download speed” to be used as the advertised download speed if it is not attainable at least 50% of the time. I’ve had internet service from a provider that NEVER reached the advertised (and paid for) speed. It would benefit ISP customers if the advertised speed was required to reflect reality, and encourage more informed decisions regarding which service to purchase.


Apart from increased accuracy in advertised speeds, I would say that a 10 Mbps minimum download speed sounds about right for the threshold of broadband service. You can get by with a little less, assuming you have adequate bandwidth, but I personally wouldn’t really consider 6 Mbps to be “high-speed” at this point. 

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