The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) raised the threshold for 'broadband' internet speed by four times

The FCC has made a significant update to the definition of "broadband" internet in the United States. On April 28, 2021, the federal agency announced that it has raised the minimum download speed required to market internet service as "broadband" from 25 megabits per second (Mbps) to 100 Mbps. This marks a quadrupling of the previous threshold and reflects the increasing demand for high-speed internet access for activities such as remote work, online learning, video streaming, and gaming.

The significance of the FCC's decision

The decision to raise the broadband threshold by the FCC is reflective of the evolving technological landscape and the growing reliance on high-speed internet for various aspects of daily life. The previous benchmark of 25 Mbps was established in 2015, and since then, the proliferation of bandwidth-intensive applications and the increasing number of connected devices in households have made higher download speeds a necessity.

By quadrupling the minimum download speed for broadband classification, the FCC aims to incentivize internet service providers to invest in infrastructure capable of delivering faster connections to consumers. This move can potentially lead to improved internet access and enhanced digital experiences for individuals and businesses across the country.

The FCC's decision also underscores the recognition of high-speed internet as an essential utility, akin to electricity and water, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated the digital transformation and highlighted the importance of reliable internet connectivity for remote work, telehealth, and social connectivity.

Implications for internet service providers

The FCC's updated definition of broadband has implications for internet service providers (ISPs) who market and provide internet access to consumers. With the new minimum download speed of 100 Mbps, ISPs will need to reevaluate their service offerings and ensure that they are capable of meeting the revised requirements.

For some ISPs, this may entail making significant investments in upgrading their network infrastructure to deliver faster internet speeds to customers. This could involve deploying fiber-optic technology, enhancing existing broadband networks, and expanding coverage in underserved or rural areas.

Moreover, the higher threshold for broadband classification may prompt ISPs to revisit their pricing and packaging strategies. As faster broadband speeds become the new standard, ISPs may need to adjust their offerings and pricing to remain competitive in the market and meet the expectations of consumers who increasingly rely on high-speed internet for work, entertainment, and communication.

Consumer benefits and considerations

The FCC's decision to raise the broadband threshold to 100 Mbps has the potential to benefit consumers in several ways. With faster download speeds, consumers can enjoy smoother streaming of high-definition video content, seamless video conferencing, enhanced online gaming experiences, and quicker downloads of large files.

Additionally, households with multiple connected devices and simultaneous internet usage will benefit from the increased bandwidth, reducing network congestion and ensuring that everyone has reliable access to high-speed internet.

However, it's important to note that while the new broadband threshold signifies a commitment to better internet access, not all consumers may immediately have access to 100 Mbps download speeds. In some areas, especially rural and underserved regions, internet infrastructure may not yet support such high speeds, and consumers in these areas may continue to face connectivity challenges.

Furthermore, the availability of faster broadband speeds at affordable prices and the competition among ISPs to deliver high-speed internet may vary based on location. As such, consumers should remain informed about the internet options available to them and advocate for improved internet infrastructure and access in their communities.

The push for universal broadband access

The FCC's decision to raise the broadband threshold aligns with broader efforts and initiatives aimed at achieving universal broadband access across the United States. The recognition of high-speed internet as a necessity for participation in the digital economy and for accessing essential services has spurred policymakers, industry stakeholders, and advocacy groups to prioritize closing the digital divide and ensuring that all Americans have access to reliable, high-speed internet.

To this end, various public and private sector initiatives have been launched to expand broadband infrastructure, increase internet affordability, and promote digital literacy. These efforts are particularly critical in rural and underserved areas where broadband deployment has been historically challenging due to factors such as sparse population density, rugged terrain, and limited economic incentives for private investment.

The FCC's decision to raise the broadband threshold to 100 Mbps serves as a step towards creating a more inclusive and digitally connected society. By setting higher standards for broadband classification, the FCC encourages the ongoing development of robust internet infrastructure that can meet the evolving needs of consumers and businesses, regardless of their location.

The global perspective on broadband standards

The FCC's decision to quadruple the minimum download speed for broadband classification also invites a comparison with internet standards and regulations in other countries. While the definition of broadband and the minimum acceptable internet speeds may vary from one nation to another, the overarching trend is towards higher speeds and greater accessibility to high-speed internet.

Countries such as South Korea, Singapore, and several European nations have set ambitious targets for broadband deployment and routinely deliver internet speeds that surpass the newly established 100 Mbps threshold. These nations have made substantial investments in fiber-optic infrastructure and advanced broadband technologies, resulting in widespread availability of gigabit-speed internet connections to residential and commercial users.

The global shift towards faster broadband speeds reflects the increasing reliance on digital technologies, the rising demand for data-intensive applications, and the recognition of high-speed internet as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation.

In this context, the FCC's decision to elevate the broadband threshold underscores the United States' commitment to keeping pace with global broadband developments and ensuring that American consumers and businesses have access to internet speeds that are competitive on the world stage.


The FCC's decision to quadruple the minimum download speed required to market internet service as "broadband" represents a significant milestone in the ongoing evolution of internet access in the United States. By raising the threshold to 100 Mbps, the FCC acknowledges the increasing demand for high-speed internet and aims to spur investment in broadband infrastructure to meet the evolving needs of consumers and businesses.

The move has implications for internet service providers, consumers, and efforts to achieve universal broadband access. ISPs will need to adapt their offerings and network capabilities to meet the new broadband standard, while consumers stand to benefit from faster internet speeds and improved digital experiences. Concurrently, the push for universal broadband access gains momentum as high-speed internet is recognized as essential for participation in the digital economy and for social connectivity.

As the United States sets higher benchmarks for broadband connectivity, it aligns with global trends towards faster internet speeds and underscores the strategic importance of robust broadband infrastructure in the digital age. The FCC's decision serves as a decisive step towards ensuring that high-speed internet access becomes more accessible and reliable for all Americans, regardless of their location or circumstances.

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