Republicans argue that Netflix, Amazon don't require anything near 25 Mbps

The FCC's 25 Mbps broadband definition is facing a fresh round of criticism from a number of Senate Republicans who say that video streaming sites such as Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) require speeds that are far lower than the regulator's requirement.

A group of six senators told Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, in a letter that they are worried the 25 Mbps requirement will create new regulatory constraints on incumbent ISPs (Internet service providers).

Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) signed the letter.

"Looking at the market for broadband applications, we are aware of few applications that require download speeds of 25 Mbps," the senators wrote in the letter obtained by The Hill. "Netflix, for example, recommends a download speed of 5 Mbps to receive high-definition streaming video, and Amazon recommends a speed of 3.5 Mbps."

The letter added that "according to the FCC's own data, the majority of Americans who can purchase 25 Mbps chose not to."

In January 2015, the FCC voted along party lines to change the definition of broadband from a minimum of 4/1 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps, a move that will force incumbent telcos and cable operators to rethink how they market and deliver services to consumers and businesses.

At that time, the FCC said under the current broadband definition of 4/1 Mbps, only 6.3 percent of U.S. households have no access to wired broadband. What's more, another 13.1 percent don't have access to broadband under the new 25 Mbps downstream definition.

A draft of the FCC's 2016 Broadband Progress report says that over 34 million U.S. citizens can't get a minimum 25 Mbps wireline broadband connection and over 39 percent of rural consumers can't get any broadband service at all. Additionally, 41 percent of consumers that live in tribal lands can't get access, and nearly half of the U.S. schools fall below the 1 Gbps per 1,000 students goal.

The senators said they were concerned FCC isn't being consistent with its broadband definition. The letter cited that the regulator sees progress in getting 25 Mbps services out to more consumers, but it only mandates a 10 Mbps speed for service providers that sign up to take funds from the second phase of its Connect America Fund (CAF-II) program.

AT&T (NYSE: T) has been equally critical of the FCC's 25 Mbps broadband definition.

In a blog post, Jim Cicconi, senior EVP for external and legislative affairs for AT&T said that the FCC's broadband report is another ploy by the FCC to apply its net neutrality rules to a broader range of services.

For more:
- The Hill has this article

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