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25 Mbps is not enough, FCC increases broadband speed benchmark after nine years

Depiction of internet download speed

100 Mbps is the new download speed benchmark set by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The agency announced that it has updated the speed benchmark for fixed broadband, thereby, increasing the upload speeds to 20 Mbps.

That's a four-fold increase when compared to the previous numbers set by the FCC almost nine years ago. In 2015, the fixed broadband speed benchmarks for download and upload speeds were 25 Mbps and 3 Mbps, respectively. The updated benchmarks are based on consumer usage patterns, standards used in federal and state programs, and what the internet service providers are marketing and delivering.

In a press release, the agency stated:

The Federal Communications Commission today adopted its annual assessment of whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion across the U.S. In addition to deployment, the Report considers broadband affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access, when determining whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to “all Americans.”

It's worth noting that while ISPs have started offering gigabit connections to users, popular streaming services like Netflix still recommends a minimum of 15 Mbps download speed to watch titles in 4K UHD. However, you may need a faster internet connection to enjoy buffer-free streaming and use modern technologies such as virtual reality and cloud gaming.

The agency concluded in its report that "advanced telecommunications capability" hasn't reached many Americans living in rural and tribal areas. As of December 2022, fixed broadband service (excluding satellite) wasn't deployed to over 24 million Americans, including about 28% living in rural areas and over 23% living on Tribal lands. The report added that over 45 million Americans still lack access to a 100/20 Mbps fixed service.

With that said, the Commission has set a long-term goal of reaching 1 Gbps download and 500 Mbps upload speeds. The latest benchmark stands above the 91.93 Mbps global median download speed recorded by Ookla in January 2024. However, the global median upload speed is still double the latest benchmark.

The global median download speed has increased to 91.93 Mbps from 79 Mbps in 2023. Meanwhile, the global median upload speed increased from 34.92 Mbps in 2023 to 43.40 Mbps in 2024.

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