The Federal Communications Commission recently announced plans to raise the minimum rural broadband speed standard to 25 Mbps. This move would more than double the current requirement, boosting speeds in rural areas that receive broadband through government-subsidized programs, according to The Verge.
“Rural Americans deserve services that are comparable to those in urban areas,” Chairman Ajit Pai said in a blog post on the FCC’s website. The chairman also expressed in the blog post the committees intentions to beef up 5G and stop unwanted robocallers.
The FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF) subsidizes these rural broadband programs through a fund financed by phone bill fees. The increased minimum would only be applied to networks that are built after the new standard becomes law, but the FCC plans to incentivize ISPs to increase the network speeds in less populated regions.
Pai was appointed by President Obama to the FCC in 2012. A few months prior to his becoming chairman in October 2017, the FCC released a notice of inquiry stating, “We anticipate that any speed benchmark we set would be lower than the 25 Mbps/3 Mbps benchmark adopted for fixed broadband services, given differing capabilities of mobile broadband. We ask commenters to discuss this choice.”
This recent announcement seems a touch out of character for Pai, who is best known for leading the charge towards ending net neutrality and has voiced recent disapproval of raising speed standards. He received backlash last year for claiming that 10 Mbps speed on mobile devices could be a sufficient substitute for in-home broadband services, allowing the FCC to say that broadband was being deployed across the country at a reasonable pace.
Pai criticized former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s effort to increase the nationwide broadband standard to 25 Mbps, though now he seems to have latched onto the idea, implementing those urban speeds to rural areas.