Community Blog

Re-definition of broadband

By Ameya Barve, NTAF Marketing Chair, Spirent Communications

The FCC recently changed the definition of “broadband” as we know it. It raised the minimum download speeds needed from 4Mbps to 25Mbps, and the minimum upload speed from 1Mbps to 3Mbps. This new definition has a profound impact not only for the consumers (about 20% of all US consumers now no longer have broadband based on the new definition) but also for the Internet Service Providers – the biggest impact will be to DSL providers as the new definition essentially removes most DSL services from the broadband discussion, as DSL (which is delivered over telephone lines) can never reach the new download threshold due to technical limitations.

It has also left the cable providers scrambling to meet the new requirements. The question though is, how will they test and certify that their services meet the new criteria as laid out by the re-definition? As part of ensuring that their services perform to the new requirements, the providers will have to do significantly more inter-operability and integration testing and this is where NTAF can help. NTAF recently released two new specifications, TS-005 which helps defines high-level APIs and the TS-006 which helps describe topologies in reports. Both the new specifications as well as the original NTAF specifications (TS-001 to TS-005) will significantly improve the time it takes for the Service Providers to perform their testing.

The re-definition is arguably a good move by the FCC – it brings the definition more up-to-date and realistic with today’s needs. Testing and certifying to the new definition will bring up new challenges and NTAF can help by providing the specifications that will allow the ISPs to perform interoperability and integration testing quicker than before. How the ISPs react to this new definition though, remains to be seen.

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