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What Is Broadband? FCC Wants To Know

The federal agency wants to develop accurate and uniform definitions for broadband to help in its development of a national broadband plan.

The FCC has launched a campaign to define exactly what constitutes "broadband" and providers of the high speed service may not like how it is defined and how the FCC views their delivery of broadband.

In a notice Thursday, the FCC said it is seeking "tailored comment" on broadband in connection with developing a National Broadband Plan as it relates to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Consumers have often been bedeviled by service providers claiming features for their broadband services that somehow aren't experienced by the consumers.

"...Advertised throughput rates generally differ from actual rates, are not uniformly measured, and have different constraints over different technologies," the FCC noted in its posting and added that "it is unclear what the end points of the connection are over which throughput is measured or whether the performance of the end point is reflected in the stated throughput."

The FCC wants to develop accurate and uniform definitions for broadband to help in its development of a national broadband plan it expects to submit to Congress in February. The National Broadband Plan Notice of Inquiry has observed that "broadband can be defined in myriad ways."

U.S. broadband rankings have been slipping in recent years to the point that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found the U.S. was in the 19th place in the worldwide rankings with a 9.6 mbps advertised rate. Japan led the 2008 rankings with 92.8 mbps and Korean was second with 80.8 mbps.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has made the upgrade and spread of more robust broadband an important goal of his chairmanship.

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