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FCC Urged to Not "Slow Down" Broadband

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Friday, September 22, 2017   

LEXINGTON, Ky. - The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wants to redefine broadband by lowering the standard for speed, a move advocates for affordable access say will hurt many Kentuckians.

The regulatory agency currently defines home broadband at 25 megabits per second. FCC chair Ajit Pai wants to substitute cellular service as the new standard, at 10 mbps.

Kate Forscey, an associate policy counsel for the advocacy group Public Knowledge, said mobile internet is not a sufficient replacement for fixed-broadband to the home.

"It's very difficult to stream University of Kentucky basketball, but also more fundamental needs like applying for jobs, for kids to do their homework and file book reports or do research," she said. "It's the FCC's job to make sure that people aren't getting left behind in 21st-century America."

However, Pai has maintained that wireless is a viable substitute. Public Knowledge filed its response to the FCC proposal Thursday, joining a flood of other comments opposing the lower standards.

According to a 2016 report from the FCC, even with the current standards, two out of every five rural Americans still lack access to 25-mbps broadband. Forscey said the proposed changes would be a step backward in rural and low-income Americans' battle for connectivity, stopping that in its tracks.

"Let's not let the agency change their rules for its own homework assignment to ensure broadband deployment, so that it doesn't even have to do the project," she said. "Congress told them, in no uncertain terms, to get real high-functioning connectivity to all Americans, to every corner of our nation. No one should have to settle for less."

Similar to the huge public outcry over net neutrality, Forscey said it's important for people around the country to tell the FCC their experiences with broadband.

The FCC filing is online at www.fcc.gov.


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