FCCs RFC for the Definition of Broadband

Fred Baker fred at cisco.com
Tue Aug 25 18:30:32 CDT 2009

On Aug 24, 2009, at 9:17 AM, Luke Marrott wrote:

> What are your thoughts on what the definition of Broadband should be  
> going
> forward? I would assume this will be the standard definition for a  
> number of
> years to come.

Historically, narrowband was circuit switched (ISDN etc) and broadband  
was packet switched. Narrowband was therefore tied to the digital  
signaling hierarchy and was in some way a multiple of 64 KBPS. As the  
term was used then, broadband delivery options of course included  
virtual circuits bearing packets, like Frame Relay and ATM.

The new services I am hearing about include streamed video to multiple  
HD TVs in the home. I think I would encourage the FCC to discuss  
"broadband" to step away from the technology and look at the bandwidth  
usably delivered (as in "I don't care what the bit rate of the  
connection at the curb is if the back end is clogged; how much can a  
commodity TCP session move through the network"). http://tinyurl.com/pgxqzb 
  suggests that the average broadband service worldwide delivers a  
download rate of 1.5 MBPS; having the FCC assert that the new  
definition of broadband is that it delivers a usable data rate in  
excess of 1 MBPS while narrowband delivers less seems reasonable. That  
said, the US is ~15th worldwide in broadband speed; Belgium, Ireland,  
South Korea, Taiwan, and the UK seem to think that FTTH that can serve  
multiple HDTVs simultaneously is normal.

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