Internet Speed: What Do Consumers Actually Demand?


President Joe Biden has called for “future-proof” broadband infrastructure as part of his Build Back Better plan, and some members of the U.S. Senate want the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update its definition of broadband to comprise both download and upload speeds of at least 100 Mbps. States like California have likewise advanced bills to prioritize funding for infrastructure that supports 100 Mbps or greater download speeds. It is widely believed that the FCC will update the definition of broadband from the 2015 standard of 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload speeds.


Studies of U.S. broadband usage suggest that typical consumers do not need upload speeds to be as fast as download speeds. Moreover, they typically require download speeds of less than 100 Mbps. Linking public funding to a required symmetrical 100 Mbps  speed tier, or using that tier as a benchmark to define adequate broadband deployment, would have negative consequences for broadband buildout.

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