On September 8, Doug, Sully and Trent attended the Arkansas Connectivity Conference, hosted by Arkansas Farm Bureau. The event focused on developing plans to improve high-speed, broadband connectivity and cellular connectivity in Arkansas and featured FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr as the keynote speaker.
The conference was an excellent opportunity for us to visit with several of our clients but also participate in important conversations around the future of broadband. One of the key discussion topics centered around the definition of broadband. Commissioner Carr had commented the previous day during a presentation at the Arkansas Connectivity Summit that he felt like broadband speeds of 25 Mbps / 3 Mbps are perfectly acceptable for most of today’s households. We disagree for a couple of reasons:
First, this definition might be appropriate today for households with very little connectivity-reliant technology needs in the home, but as we see data consumption increasing by 50% year over year*, these speeds will never be fast enough to support continued growth. Further, households with children connecting to educational needs, professionals working remotely, smart home and security cameras and homes in which streaming is the preferred entertainment medium all demand significantly higher download and upload speeds in order to be properly ‘served.’
Second, virtual businesses are becoming the norm. As upstream traffic continues to increase because of more residential use of IP phones and Zoom calls, combined with virtual learning, symmetrical speeds are a must. Economic development has always hinged on businesses being served with adequate broadband connections. Now with remote workforces becoming the norm, economic development depends more than ever on adequate (or premium) connectivity in the home. For small towns, communities and states to flourish in the coming years, a focus on truly future-proof broadband is critical.
As we expressed in a recent social media post, we as an industry need to be very clear on how broadband is defined to make it future proof. Elements like fiber, symmetrical connections, minimum speeds of 1 GB (or more) are all factors that will drive broadband sustainability for the next 20 or more years.
It’s important that we as an industry embrace and promote the same definition of broadband so we can remain united on the future of connectivity.