Electric Co-ops: FCC’s Vote to Increase Broadband Benchmark a Step in Right Direction, More Work Needed

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) CEO Jim Matheson today issued the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to increase broadband benchmark speeds from 25/3 megabits per second to 100/20 Mbps.

“The Commission’s vote is a step in the right direction but still falls short of meeting the needs of rural communities,” Matheson said. “Affordable and reliable broadband access creates new ways to live, learn and earn in rural America. Rural families and businesses should not be subjected to second class service simply because of their zip code.  

“Consumer residential and business demands have already surpassed the benchmark approved today. With that in mind, the FCC should move to set future-proof benchmark speeds of at least 100/100 Mbps to ensure the broadband needs of rural communities can be met as demand continues to grow.”

The prior benchmark of 25/3 Mbps was set nearly a decade ago, and demand for bandwidth has surged exponentially since then. NRECA has long argued that the FCC’s proposed 100/20 Mbps standard is inadequate, and that the FCC must adopt a broadband speed benchmark of at least 100/100 Mbps.

The continued adoption of artificial intelligence, internet-based devices, telework practices, and the expanded use of applications supporting telehealth and online education will continue driving a need for even faster internet highways in the future.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $15 billion annually in their communities.