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  • Writer's pictureSamiksha Jain

How Fast Should Your Internet Be? What's the FCC's 2024 Update?


How Fast Should Your Internet Be?

In an era where digital connectivity is as essential as utilities like water and electricity, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has redefined what constitutes a "fast enough" internet connection. As of March 2024, the FCC states that 100Mbps download speeds are the new normal for fully participating in modern society, a significant leap from the previous standard of 25Mbps set in 2015. But what does this shift mean for you, and how can you ensure your internet speed is up to par?


Understanding Internet Speeds: The Basics

Firstly, it's crucial to grasp what internet speed means. Measured in Megabits per second (Mbps), it dictates how quickly data can be downloaded or uploaded from the internet to your device. The FCC's updated benchmarks—100Mbps for downloads and 20Mbps for uploads—are designed to reflect the growing digital demands of an average household.


Why the Shift to 100Mbps?

The decision to quadruple the speed standard stems from a recognition of our increased reliance on digital platforms for work, education, and entertainment. With multiple devices per household streaming shows, attending online meetings, or playing games simultaneously, a faster internet connection has transitioned from a luxury to a necessity.


The Impact on 5G and Rural Connectivity

For 5G services, the FCC has set a different standard, recognizing the unique challenges and capabilities of wireless internet. The new benchmark is 35Mbps download and 5Mbps upload speeds. This distinction underscores the FCC's commitment to ensuring that even mobile internet users have access to quality connectivity, albeit recognizing the technical limitations compared to wired connections.


Rural areas, often the most underserved in terms of internet speed, stand to gain significantly from these updates. The stark digital divide means that raising the minimum speed standard could catalyze efforts to bring high-speed internet to these communities, thereby bridging the gap in digital equity.


The Future of Broadband: A Gigabit Vision

Looking ahead, the FCC has set a lofty goal: internet speeds reaching 1Gbps for downloads and 500Mbps for uploads. While no timeline is provided, this ambition reflects a clear vision for a future where ultra-fast internet is ubiquitous, supporting even more sophisticated online activities and technologies.


Navigating the Cost of High-Speed Internet

With the average cost of plans offering at least 100Mbps hovering around $100 per month, affordability remains a concern. The FCC's update highlights the need for policies and programs that ensure everyone can afford the internet speeds now deemed necessary for full participation in digital life.


What This Means for You?

So, how fast should your internet be? The answer, according to the FCC, is faster than you might have thought. Here's what you can do:

  • Test Your Speed: Use free online tools to check if your current internet speed matches the FCC's new benchmarks.

  • Explore Your Options: If your current plan falls short, consider contacting your provider about upgrading. In light of the FCC's update, many ISPs may offer competitive packages to meet the new standards.

  • Stay Informed: As technology evolves, so too will the definition of "sufficient" internet speed. Keeping abreast of such changes ensures you won't be left behind in our increasingly digital world.


Conclusion

The FCC's revised internet speed standards are more than just numbers. They are a recognition of our digital evolution and a commitment to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of where they live, have access to the tools needed to thrive in the 21st century. As we move towards this future, understanding and advocating for sufficient internet speeds becomes a shared responsibility—one that holds the key to unlocking the full potential of our digital society.


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