Broadband speed standard increased to 100 Mbps

Robin Layton

Mar 15, 2024 — 3 min read

To advertise their speeds as "broadband" internet, ISPs must offer at least 100 Mbps in download speeds and 20 in upload speeds.

Family looking at computer

After nearly 10 years, the broadband speed standard has been officially increased from 25/3 Mbps to 100/20 Mbps for download and upload speeds. This brings the government benchmark of internet speed up to date with other federal and state broadband programs like the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program (BEAD) that provided $42.45 billion in state broadband grants.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week announced in its report the increase, along with the observation that the digital divide is not closing fast enough.

“Advanced telecommunications capability is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion based on the total number of Americans, Americans in rural areas, and people living on Tribal lands who lack access to such capability, and the fact that these gaps in deployment are not closing rapidly enough.”

What does this mean for you?

A change on paper showing a 4X increase in internet speed won’t increase your sub-100 Mbps plan, but it will lay the groundwork for internet service providers to increase the plan speeds they offer. They also cannot call speed plans under 100 Mbps “broadband” internet with this new increase.

This will be reflected in the new broadband “nutrition labels” that the FCC is requiring all ISPs to use in their marketing materials. The goal of the labels is to “disclose important information about broadband prices, introductory rates, data allowances, and broadband speeds, and to include links to information about network management practices, privacy policies.”

Why internet speed matters

The average U.S. household gets about 237 Mbps in speed now, but millions are not getting even the old minimum of 25 Mbps. Your internet speed determines what you can do online, and without a certain level of speed, your actions will be limited.

To illuminate the difference, a 25 Mbps plan will only allow one user at a time, on one device, to check email or browse online. To stream a movie in 4K resolution takes about 20 Mbps, so you’d need nearly every bit of speed to just watch the show. You definitely are unable to game at that speed.

A 100 Mbps plan allows one to four users to be online at the same time, with streaming or working from home.

Fortunately, several ISPs offer cheap internet plans starting at 100 Mbps for under $50/mo. In fact, some cable and fiber internet providers start plans at 300 Mbps, which provides a smooth internet experience for multiple simultaneous users.

Fixed and mobile 5G coverage

The FCC’s report also looked at the state of fixed wireless broadband and Mobile 5G coverage:

  • Fixed terrestrial broadband service (excluding satellite) has not been physically deployed
    to approximately 24 million Americans, including almost 28% of Americans in rural
    areas, and more than 23% of people living on Tribal lands;
  • Mobile 5G-NR coverage has not been physically deployed at minimum speeds of 35/3
    Mbps to roughly 9% of all Americans, to almost 36% of Americans in rural areas, and to
    more than 20% of people living on Tribal lands;
  • 45 million Americans lack access to both 100/20 Mbps fixed service and 35/3 Mbps
    mobile 5G-NR service; and
  • Based on the new 1 Gbps per 1,000 students and staff short-term benchmark for schools and classrooms, 74% of school districts meet this goal.

Looking to the future, the FCC also set a 1 Gbps/500 Mbps long-term goal for broadband speeds.

Find more broadband news and studies on trends in the industry on Allconnect’s news hub and research hub.

Robin Layton

Written by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

Robin Layton is an editor for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. She built her internet industry expertise writing and editing for four years on the site, as well as on Allconnect’s sister site … Read more