U.S. FCC chief: Internet speed critical in broadband competition

Reuters
Wheeler testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing on oversight of the FCC on Capitol Hill in Washington
.

View photo

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before a House Energy and Commerce …

By Alina Selyukh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. market for broadband Internet connections is not competitive enough because many providers do not offer the speedy connections that consumers increasingly demand, the top U.S. communications regulator said on Thursday.

Though most U.S. consumers have multiple options when it comes to picking a company to wire their homes for basic Internet, the choice is markedly limited if a consumer is looking for truly high-speed Internet, according to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler.

"There is an inverse relationship between competition and the kind of broadband performance that consumers are increasingly demanding. This is not tolerable," Wheeler said in a speech at tech startup incubator 1776 in Washington.

"My goal is not to criticize but to recognize that meaningful competition for high-speed wired broadband is lacking and Americans need more competitive choices for faster and better Internet connections."

Wheeler cited data showing that 75 percent of Americans can choose between two or three Internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver download speeds of 4 megabits per second (Mbps). But for speeds of 25 Mbps, 55 percent of U.S. households have only one option and almost 20 percent have none.

In a study released in June, the FCC found that DSL services, though presented as competitors by other ISPs, delivered far slower speeds than they promised and generally lagged fiber and cable providers.

"Traditional DSL is just not keeping up," Wheeler said on Thursday, adding also: "Today it seems clear that mobile broadband is just not a full substitute for fixed broadband."

Another side of the FCC's data is that a notable portion of the U.S. population, particularly in rural areas, entirely lacks access to high-speed Internet, which is currently defined as 4 Mbps download speed and which Wheeler called inadequate.

"That's yesterday's broadband," Wheeler said. "Even 10 megabits doesn't fully capture the increasing demand for better broadband."

For comparison, Netflix recommends a 5 Mbps Internet speed to stream video in high definition. Consumers are increasingly using the Internet to stream music and videos, make calls or use other services that continue to demand faster speeds.

The FCC is studying whether it should require that download speeds of 10 Mbps or higher for Internet service to qualify as broadband, or high-speed.

Wheeler's speech, which FCC officials say is the first of a series, offered important insight into his thinking about broadband competition as his agency tackles numerous issues likely to be colored by this view.

Among the hottest subjects on the FCC's agenda is a review of a proposed merger between top ISPs, Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc, which however do not directly compete against each other as their coverage areas do not overlap.

Another issue recently under spotlight is the FCC's work to set new "net neutrality" rules that address whether ISPs should be able to charge content companies in some circumstances to ensure their websites or applications load smoothly and quickly.

To read Wheeler's speech, see http://bit.ly/1o1tQ0F

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by David Gregorio)

View Comments (208)

Recommended for You

  • US billionaire says WWII Japanese ship found in Philippines

    Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said Wednesday he had found one of Japan's biggest and most famous battleships on a Philippine seabed, some 70 years after American forces sank it during World War II. Excited historians likened the discovery, if verified, to finding the Titanic, as they hailed the…

    AFP
  • Central Florida man killed by police serving search warrant

    By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A 26-year-old Central Florida man died after being shot in the face early on Wednesday morning by a sheriff’s deputy attempting to serve a search warrant in a narcotics investigation, authorities said. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reported in a…

    Reuters
  • 175-Pound Pit Bull Hulk Shatters Misconceptions About the Breed

    This dog just may be the world's largest Pit Bull. Only 18-months-old, Hulk weighs a hefty 175 pounds. He's also best friends with a 3-year-old boy.

    ABC News
  • View

    Turkish jetliner skids off on runway (9 photos)

    A Turkish Airlines jet landing in dense fog in the Nepalese capital Wednesday skidded off a slippery runway but there were no serious injuries, officials said. Officials at Kathmandu's Tribhuwan International Airport said the plane with 238 people on board was coming from Istanbul when the…

    Yahoo News
  • Chad president tells Boko Haram leader to surrender or face death

    By Madjiasra Nako N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - President Idriss Deby of Chad said on Wednesday he knew the whereabouts of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, and called on him to surrender or risk being killed. Chad's army has waged a series of battles against Boko Haram…

    Reuters
  • Australians on Indonesia death row arrive on execution island

    Two Australian drug smugglers were taken Wednesday to an Indonesian island where they will be executed despite frantic diplomatic efforts to save them, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was "revolted" by their looming deaths. Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the ringleaders of the…

    AFP
  • France, Cameroon wouldn't take foreigner later shot by LAPD

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A homeless foreigner shot to death by Los Angeles police was in the country illegally after serving time for a bank robbery but couldn't be deported because no country would take him, U.S. immigration authorities said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • U.S. may review 1959 airplane crash that killed Buddy Holly

    (Reuters) - U.S. transportation safety investigators said on Wednesday they are reviewing a request to reopen a probe into the 1959 airplane crash that killed musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, better known as "The Big Bopper," and their pilot. The original investigation 56…

    Reuters
  • Iranian president says Israel 'greatest danger'

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday said Israel creates the "greatest danger" in the region, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In a speech on Capitol Hill, Netanyahu said Tuesday the nuclear agreement US President…

    AFP
  • Mom convicted of killing son, 5, by poisoning him with salt

    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A woman who blogged for years about her son's constant health woes was convicted Monday of poisoning him to death by force-feeding heavy concentrations of sodium through his stomach tube.

    Associated Press
  • Former marine reported killed in Syria

    A former Royal Marine has become the first Briton to be killed while fighting with Kurdish forces battling Islamic State jihadists in Syria, leaving his family "devastated" Wednesday. Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, died on Monday in a battle with IS militants, a source in the Kurdish People's…

    AFP
  • Killers sought in deaths of 300,000 chickens in South Carolina

    By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said on Monday. Birds have been found dead of unnatural causes in 16 chicken houses at…

    Reuters
  • Passengers use emergency slides after landing in Denver

    DENVER (AP) — Passengers on an American Airlines flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, were forced to slide off the plane on emergency chutes soon after landing in Denver on Wednesday.

    Associated Press59 mins ago
  • Americans Love K-Cups, but Their Creator Regrets Inventing Them

    Now it seems that John Sylvan, the inventor of the tiny containers, is firmly on Team #KillTheKCup too. “No matter what they say about recycling, those things will never be recyclable,” said Sylvan.

    Takepart.com
  • 'Thousands' of Russian troops in east Ukraine: US envoy

    The United States' senior envoy to Europe alleged Wednesday that Russia had deployed "thousands and thousands" of troops to neighboring Ukraine. Speaking to a congressional foreign affairs committee, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland also told US lawmakers that Russia was flooding…

    AFP52 mins ago
  • Student Shot With BB Gun On Campus Shocked by University`s Reaction

    A student at Norfolk State University says she was shot with a BB gun and hit with a bottle of urine outside of a all-male dorm room on campus, but says the school offered little help to her or other students when she contacted them.

    Tribune
  • Georgia police officer killed in shootout

    By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia police officer was killed in a shootout with a suspect in suburban Atlanta early on Wednesday, authorities said. Officers went to investigate reports of shots in a suburban neighborhood and came under fire about 1:30 a.m. EST, according to the Fulton…

    Reuters
  • Senate fails to override Obama's veto of Keystone XL approval

    By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate failed on Wednesday to override President Barack Obama's veto of legislation approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline, leaving the controversial project to await an administration decision on whether to permit or deny it. The Senate mustered…

    Reuters
  • Survivor testifies about 2 friends stabbed, bound, drowned

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A man who survived being beaten, bound, stabbed in the neck and kicked into the Schuylkill River took the stand in a hearing Tuesday and described the night his two friends lost their lives.

    Associated Press