Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jump in online video calls for higher FCC minimum broadband definition

PC Magazine reports this week on a survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project that found the percentage of adults who watch video online has nearly doubled since 2006, up to 62 percent versus 33 percent in December 2006.

The item underscores the inadequacy of the current minimum definition of broadband of at leasat 768 Kbs download standard adopted by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which has also been written into the rules governing the disbursement of $7.2 billion in federal economic stimulus funds for broadband infrastructure. That speed isn't going to hack it for video, which most observers agree is the fastest growing form of online content.

The 768 Kbs standard also represents a huge step down from the speeds Congress contemplated in a January draft version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as minimally defining wireline broadband of at least 5 Mbs download and 1 Mbs uploads and 45 Mbs on the downside and 20 Mbs up for "advanced" wireline broadband.

Under the stimulus legislation, the FCC is required to develop a national broadband plan and present it to Congress next February. The agency should dispose of its outdated definition of broadband and instead adopt the minimum standards outlined in the draft stimulus legislation as they are better matched to meet the growing bandwidth requirements of online video.

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