FCC Internet Speed Benchmark

On March 14, 2024, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced  a new speed benchmark for Internet service providers (ISPs) to meet or exceed. The benchmark now calls for download speeds of 100 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps.

The last time the benchmark was updated was in 2015. Then, the FCC called for download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps. In other words, the expectation of Internet speed has quadrupled in 9 years. Let’s unpack why this matters and how it could affect your home or business Internet.

The Purpose of the Benchmark

According to the FCC,  President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act in 1996. This Act was created to promote competition in the communications industry and expand access and affordability to phone and video services to communities across the US. Over time, the Act became monumental in expanding the broadband industry.

The FCC began setting Internet speed benchmarks to expand access to high-speed Internet to all American communities—rural and urban alike. The most recent update to the benchmark was calculated by researching currently available speed options in the US and the speed at which Internet access is expanding to rural areas.

Ultimately, the FCC says that download speeds of 100 Mbps are necessary for Americans in a growing digital landscape. As broadband providers expand their coverage across the nation, they can consider that benchmark to determine the speeds their consumers need in their everyday lives.

The Future of the Benchmark

Although the new benchmark was just released, the FCC continues to prepare for the future. Long term, they believe the standard should trend toward download speeds of 1 Gbps and upload speeds of 500 Mbps. This may seem like a substantial increase; however, fiber providers like Pavlov Media are already meeting or exceeding this expectation.

Fiber-optic infrastructure  is built with speed in mind. Instead of using electrical signals to transmit data, fiber optics use light pulses. This allows fiber to provide symmetric upload and download speeds, which means that upload and download speeds are identical. So, if fiber Internet meets the download speed benchmark, it will exceed the upload benchmark.

How to Get Involved

If you want your voice to be heard when the FCC decides about Internet speed benchmarks, look for your community’s participation in Broadband Data Collection. You can also check the FCC’s Broadband Data Map to see available services in your area.