U.S. Doubles Canada’s Broadband Speed Benchmark with New Standard

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has updated its annual assessment criteria for broadband internet rollout in the United States, significantly raising the benchmark for high-speed fixed broadband.

This change is the first major revision since 2015, now sets the standard at 100 megabits per second for downloads and 20 megabits per second for uploads, a substantial increase from the previous paltry 25/3 Mbps. This increase was made to “better reflect the broadband needs of American households.”

The FCC released a report that revealed as of December 2022, roughly 24 million Americans, including 28% in rural areas and 23% on Tribal lands, still do not have fixed broadband internet access. The minimum wireless 5G coverage at minimum speeds of 35/3 Mbps is also unavailable to about 9% of the U.S. population, affecting rural and Tribal areas.

Data also shows that 45 million Americans lack both the 100/20 Mbps fixed service and 35/3 Mbps mobile 5G service. But for schools, it’s a different story, with 74% of school districts meeting the short term benchmark of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students and staff.

The FCC’s future goal is 1 Gbps/500 Mbps broadband speeds, to offer a “more robust system of communication” for American consumers.

Comparing countries, Canada’s Connectivity Strategy aims for broadband speeds of at least 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload. These speeds when announced were far higher than the previous U.S. goal of 25/3 Mbps at the time. But now the U.S. has doubled our standard. It will be interesting to see if Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada will follow suit or increase the standard here.

Ottawa says its goal is to have 98% of Canadian households with high-speed internet by 2026, with a 100% target by 2030. Today, the number stands at 93.5% having high-speed internet, funded by the Universal Broadband Fund’s $3.2 billion investment and other partnerships with provinces and territories.

Earlier this week, the feds and Ontario announced $11.4 million to expand high-speed internet to 2,600 Indigenous households in Six Nations of the Grand River.

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