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FCC May Redefine What It Means to Have 'Broadband' Internet

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler // Susan Walsh/AP

The Federal Communications Commission is all up in your interwebs lately. First, they're debating net neutrality, then they considered making broadband Internet a public utility, after that they're allowing paid prioritization, and now they're looking to redefine what "broadband" actually means

High-speed Internet, as defined by the government, is four megabits per second. Anything less does not technically count as broadband Internet. You're reading this article, and if it happened to load with pictures, your speed is probably faster than 4 Mbps. While 4 Mbps might have been fine in the past, the amount of digital content jam packed into websites (see all of those links and images below and to the side of this piece?) demand higher web speeds. Video and music streaming is also on the rise — both require ever faster connections. 

Because of our need for e-speed, the FCC is now considering redefining how many Mbps broadband requires. The FCC is debating setting that speed at 10 Mbps, or perhaps even 25 Mbps. Netflix HD streaming requires at least 5 Mbps, and that's if you're not using your connection for anything else. If you like watching a movie while video chatting, uploading pictures to Facebook, and maybe looking at some cat memes in your other browser window, you're going to need closer to 10 Mbps to be happy. 

An FCC official told the Washington Post that the redefinition of speeds will also cover uploading speeds. In the event that downloading is redefined at 10 Mbps, the upload speed would be defined at 2.9 Mbps. It's currently set 1 Mbps for a "broadband" connection.

More Mbps, more cat videos, more problems for the FCC. 

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