Beyond Speed: FCC Should Focus on Broadband Experience

In 1996, Congress decided that it was crucial to accelerate investments in high-performance broadband networks and enacted Section 706, requiring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to first assess the state of advanced telecommunications capability and then to adopt measures to further network deployments. Until now, the FCC has measured the market based on broadband speeds — after all, that is how providers have sold broadband. However, that’s looking in the rearview mirror. Here at the Fiber Broadband Association we recognize that consumers and providers have moved on, that broadband experience is the key metric, and that everyone understands that this experience best comes from all-fiber networks.

Simply put, fiber gives consumers the experience that they want. Fiber not only provides the fastest symmetrical speed, but it also enables the most reliable, high-quality low latency service that consumers want. It’s also future-proof. Unlike copper and coaxial cable, fiber is built to last. Moreover, even wireless providers understand how critical fiber is — they use it to link all their cell sites. Fiber’s overall excellent experience is why providers are ratcheting up their spending on fiber networks and are touting fiber’s capability to attract and retain customers.

The market has evolved to where all-fiber connectivity is everyone’s goal, and it is time that the FCC got on board as well. In our comments to the FCC, the Fiber Broadband Association encourages the FCC to use an “all-fiber” metric — examining whether customers have access to all-fiber networks — to assess our country’s advanced telecommunications.

“Robust fiber networks aren’t just capable of meeting community and enterprise needs throughout the United States; they’re essential to doing so,” says FBA President and CEO Heather Burnett Gold. “Fiber broadband has what it takes to take our country’s digital potential to the next level, and access to fiber is the critical first step.”

If we want to accurately measure Americans’ access to sufficient broadband technology, looking just at speed won’t do. We must be looking at the technology that can actually provide high-performance, future-proof broadband service: fiber.

As part of its ongoing efforts to fulfil its mandate under Section 706, the Fiber Broadband Association comments also urge the FCC to take steps to encourage and enable faster deployment of all-fiber networks. Tackling barriers to entry and excessive regulation will accelerate deployment to all consumers throughout the country and fast-track a healthier — that is, all-fiber — American state of broadband.

You can read these Fiber Broadband Association comments to the FCC here. For more about fiber broadband and the benefits to our nation and our nation’s economy, visit our website at