The FCC Reclassifies Broadband: What Does This Mean for Your Business

JP Lessard February 6, 2015

In this post, Joe Sasdelli, IT Consultant at Miles Technologies, discusses the latest FCC reclassification of broadband and the impact it will have on businesses.

On Thursday January 29th, the new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tom Wheeler, issued his first Broadband Progress Report. The biggest takeaway from this report is the reclassification of broadband internet speed as 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for download speed from its previous classification of 4 Mbps. This previous classification was set in 2010.

Just for frame of reference, Netflix recommends 5 Mbps download for HD content and up to 25 Mbps down for its Ultra HD 4K content.

In only five years, technology has seen the downfall of Blockbuster, the emergence of Netflix, the introduction of iPads, and the presence of 3D TVs in many homes. And along with these great strides technology, the FCC has decided to update its policies as well.

In 1996, Congress required the FCC to annually publish updates to “determine whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.” Wheeler has chosen 25 Mbps as the new standard because this was being advertised by many Internet Service Providers (or ISPs) as a necessity for homes using multiple devices at once. In his report, Wheeler also stated that when 25 Mbps internet speed was available, customers choosing that plan or higher quadrupled in a two year span.

In rural areas of the country, 53% of people currently do not have the option for broadband. This not only affects home users, but also impacts businesses within these areas. The increase in multimedia, video-conferencing, file-sharing, and other technologies make internet speed critical to a business.

How Will the Reclassification of Broadband Impact Businesses?

Here is a hypothetical but likely scenario in the current Internet market: XYZ Inc. is an engineering firm with its offices located in a rural area of the country. When XYZ started business fifteen years ago with five employees, the speed offered by their ISP was sufficient. The speed provided by their DSL service was 3 Mbps.

In 2015, XYZ has grown to 25 employees, but their ISP has not made any improvements in the area. Engineers at XYZ now have to wait 30 minutes for 3D drawings to send over the Internet to a customer, sales employees are being disconnected from video-conferences with potential clients because there is simply not enough bandwidth, and management are left scratching their heads about how they can get back to doing business.

How does the FCC reclassification help a company like XYZ? With the recent reclassification, there are now more areas than ever without broadband speeds. In the coming year, the FCC will be disbursing funds to support infrastructure upgrades in these areas. The FCC has encouraged ISPs to upgrade internet connections not reaching the new standards by leveraging subsidies and funds for ISPs meeting the new criteria.

How Can I Find Out How Fast My Internet Is?

Finding out your current internet speed is relatively easy. Users can check internet speed by visiting http://www.speedtest.net/. In order to get an accurate gauge of your internet speed, you should conduct the test more than once. Try testing the speed during business hours and then again after hours to see if there is any discernible difference.

If your speed is below the new classification of 25Mbps, you will want to find out how you can improve this. You can reach out to your ISP and see if they have any plans to improve infrastructure or equipment in your area.

Alternatively, you can reach out to an IT managed services provider (MSP) to discuss options for getting your internet—and IT infrastructure in general—running faster. You do not want to let slow internet or a slow network make you a less productive business.

What are some of your main challenges when it comes to internet connectivity at your business? Is your broadband connection not as fast as advertised? Please share your experiences with us in the comments below.

Want to learn more about how an IT MSP can troubleshoot or improve your broadband connection? Contact us today to speak to an experienced IT advisor.





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