Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

A growing plethora of streaming services and an increase in video conferencing by remote workers choosing to stay home rather than head back to the office post-pandemic has the Federal Communications Communications (FCC) ready to change how it defines "high-speed" internet. More reports, including one from ABC6 in Rochester, highlight the increasing need for faster internet in rural communities.

The report says Harmony Telephone Company 2020 was awarded a $9.7 million grant to bring high-speed internet to rural Howard and Chickasaw counties in Iowa. They are ready to get construction underway.

According to WeAreIowa, the commission's chair has reportedly opened an official "notice of inquiry" that includes a proposal to change the standard for high-speed internet--currently set at the download speed of 25 mb/s and an upload speed of 3 mb/s to something higher, ideally to a ratio of 100-20.

An official with the FCC explained why the change is needed:

The 25/3 metric isn’t just behind the times, it’s a harmful one because it masks the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left behind and left offline. That’s why we need to raise the standard for minimum broadband speeds now and while also aiming even higher for the future, because we need to set big goals if we want everyone everywhere to have a fair shot at 21st century success.

The change would have to come to a vote by the FCC's sitting members, who are currently deadlocked 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans on the idea. A tie-breaking vote may or not occur if or when President Joe Biden's nominee for a fifth spot on the commission is confirmed.

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