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Should the Government Ensure Fast Home Internet Service for All Americans?

by Countable | 8.16.17

What’s the Story?

The Federal Communications Commission under the Trump Administration has taken a position against expanding or enhancing at-home internet access or speeds due to the increasing use of mobile phones with access to the Internet.

Why Does it Matter?

As explained by technoblog ArsTechnica, Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act "requires the FCC to determine whether broadband (or more formally, ‘advanced telecommunications capability’) is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion." If the FCC finds it is not, they’re required by law to “take immediate action to accelerate deployment of such capability by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and by promoting competition in the telecommunications market.”

All of these changes were outlined in a recent FCC Notice of Inquiry (NOI). In it, the Commission asks for comments from the public) about whether mobile access is a replacement for fast broadband service.

During the previous two administrations (W. Bush and Obama), the FCC had sought to expand internet access. And last year, the FCC concluded that Americans need home *and *mobile data access.

But now that Trump’s nominee Ajit Pai is in charge of the FCC, the Commission "seems poised to change that policy by declaring that mobile broadband with speeds of 10Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream is all one needs." As ArsTechnica explained, in doing this “the FCC could conclude that broadband is already being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion [via cell-phones], and thus the commission could take fewer steps to promote deployment and competition.”

The 10Mbps for downloads and 1Mbps for uploads is less than half as fast as the FCC’s current benchmark for broadband, which is 25Mbps/3Mbps.

Democrats, meanwhile, have vowed to "make make it a national priority to bring high-speed Internet to every corner of America" as part of their “Better Deal” platform.They say it’s necessary to “give working Americans the tools to succeed in the 21st Century.”

NOI comments on the FCC site have thus far leaned heavily towards the status quo: ensuring fast at-home access to the internet.

"I do a lot of work from home, and restricting home Broadband access basically makes my work impossible to do," wrote Zachery Hysong. “I need high upload limits, as well as stable connections for downloads that Mobile 4G simply does not allow!”

Kawika Heftel shared similar sentiments: "10 mbps internet on my phone can in NO WAY replace a broadband home connection. Fast internet is essential for so many things from paying bills to banking to job applications, it's basically a utility. Not to mention I work from home. How the hell am I supposed to do videoconferencing with my coworkers on my phone???"

As for Pai’s comment on the matter, in 2012, during his first year on the Commission, he said, "[T]he Commission has consistently ignored in recent years the statute's direction that ‘advanced telecommunications capability’ may be deployed ‘using any technology.’"

Mignon Clyburn, a Democratic FCC commissioner, joined the public in filing a NOI statement: "Consumers who are mobile only often find themselves in such a position, not by choice but because they cannot afford a fixed connection… Mobile and fixed broadband are complements, not substitutes. They are very different in terms of both the nuts and bolts of how the networks operate, and how they are marketed to customers, including both from the perspective of speed and data usage."

What Do You Think?

Is mobile internet access an acceptable replacement for at-home internet? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think. Then head over to the FCC and share your thoughts.

—Josh Herman

(Photo Credit: Lightcome via iStock)

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(63)
  • chrisagiddings
    08/16/2017
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    Fast, unthrottled internet isn't a luxury anymore. It's a necessary competitive instrument required in the workplace for nearly any job one might seek. Government investment in broadband infrastructure provides opportunities for those of lower income and in rural areas to engage in a competitive job market as well as reduces barriers and training time to learning new skills or trades.

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  • Brian
    08/16/2017
    ···

    We've moved passed internet being a luxury. It becomes more essential everyday. Access is imperative to not only to progress but to remain competitive in a world that is increasingly technological.

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  • David
    08/16/2017
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    Keep Government hands off my internet. Allow the free market to work. Encourage competition to keep prices down and service up. That is the best way for our economy to spread the availability of the internet.

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  • Carol
    08/16/2017
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    Vote for Net Neutrality!

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  • Linda
    08/16/2017
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    Yes, of course government should ensure fast and equal speed of the internet for all. It should be treated as a utility.

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  • MJDalio
    08/16/2017
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    Government mandate will screw it up and make it more costly. The way to improve our networks is to allow unrestricted competition everywhere. I live in a community that has restricted wired access to only one company (Comcast). The signal at my location is so week that an amplifier was installed and with that only marginal improvement. If we had competition then the infrastructure would be upgraded to fiber in lieu of the copper wire and all of us would see improvements. We would also see a reduction in cost which is the reason why it will not happen. The elite political cronies are all bought off by the big media companies!

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  • Norm
    08/16/2017
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    We pay the highest cable fees here in the US. So you bet ladies and gentlemen. And by the way it's my understanding South Korea is wired with super fast fiber optics internet. Trump wants to bring jobs to Americans but doesn't he seem to sabotage these efforts at every turn?

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  • Mark
    08/16/2017
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    Internet is a luxury. You do not deserve luxuries you pay for what you can afford. If you can't afford fast internet you don't deserve fast internet. If you can't afford slow internet you don't deserve internet at all. Just because you want something doesn't mean you can have it. I want lots of things I can't afford, like the latest Ferrari, but you don't see me demanding my government representatives to fix it so I can get one.

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  • Dara
    08/16/2017
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    There are more internet users daily. Do NOT restrict the net. It must be expanded.

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  • Grace
    08/16/2017
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    Yes, many countries have fast internet for its people and free of charge l!

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  • Claude
    08/16/2017
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    The market determines use of internet not government

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  • Chris
    08/17/2017
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    Free market solutions only go so far and work best in urban areas where there is a competitive market and profit to be made. For those of us in rural areas there is little economic incentive for profit making companies to install broadband. Much as was done in the 1930's with electrification in rural parts of the US, government subsidies are needed to encourage and facilitate broadband installation.

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  • Lori
    08/16/2017
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    Yes, why change it to be slower? Just to charge more for different internet packages? Keep it equal and the same for all and make it better, not worse.

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  • Mike
    08/17/2017
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    A fast and efficient Internet is essential for future sustained growth. The U.S. cannot compete with China or South Korea with 20th century technology. A bonus--lots of new jobs will be created.

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  • Chelle
    08/16/2017
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    That is part of our infrastructure!

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  • William
    08/16/2017
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    No. Not a federal issue. Fast internet is not an unalienable right. It is a luxury for those who can afford it.

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  • Brian
    08/16/2017
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    The internet should be treated as a public utility wit fast speeds for all in this digital age

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  • Marti
    08/18/2017
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    Fast, reliable internet is now a necessity in developed countries. Right up there with electricity, clean water, garbage service and the postal service.

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  • Rockford
    08/17/2017
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    Everyone should have access to high speed internet, that should be part of the infrastructure bill along with high speed rails across the country clean tap water projects roadways renovations investments in our energy systems and investments our public transportation systems

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  • Dennis
    08/17/2017
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    That's under infrastructure. The FCC needs to devote their time cracking down on news organizations that don't publish the truth. This endless noise emanating from the media must be disciplined to only present the facts, not becoming the news by acting out controversially for ratings, and publishing anonymous news without first vetting the hearsay.

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