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FCC to update broadband definition; few users 4K video-ready

In telecom news, the FCC is prepared to update its broadband definition as part of its annual broadband progress report, while an Akamai report found that only one in five broadband users is ready for 4K video.

This week in telecom news, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking to update its broadband definition from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps to reflect the growing bandwidth needs of users. Meanwhile, an Akamai report found that only one in five broadband users have access to broadband speeds that can accommodate 4K video.

A report from SNS Research, a telecom market research firm, found that software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) investments will reach $21 billion in 2020 as more carriers abandon hardware platforms on their networks to cut costs.

FCC to define broadband as 25 Mbps

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed revising the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

Wheeler is expected to include this proposal in the commission's Annual Broadband Progress Report, which is mandated by Congress. In the report, the FCC must determine whether broadband is being deployed to residents in a "reasonable and timely fashion." According to a draft of the report given to Ars Technica, it is not, particularly in rural areas and tribal lands.

The report also allows the FCC to define what speeds qualify as broadband. The FCC updated the broadband definition in 2010, from 200 Kbps downstream to the current 4 Mbps. Wheeler said the current definition is "inadequate for evaluating whether broadband capable of supporting today's high-quality voice, data, graphics and video is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way."

While the proposed changes to the broadband definition won't require Internet Service Providers to adopt 25 Mbps, it will affect how the FCC evaluates the performance of ISPs.

One in five broadband users ready for 4K video

About 19% of U.S. broadband users are ready for 4K video, according to Akamai's latest State of the Internet Report.

Bandwidth support for 4K adaptive bitrate streams generally require between 10 to 20 Mbps, according to the report. Akamai defined 4K-ready broadband users as those with connections supporting a 15 Mbps threshold. The report found that only three states had average connection speeds that were above the 4k-ready threshold of 15 Mbps: Delaware, Washington and Connecticut.

While these states may meet the threshold for 4K-readiness, that doesn't mean 4K content and 4K-ready technology, like televisions and displays, are available or being adopted by users, the report noted.

The average broadband speed in the U.S. was 11.5 Mbps, with states like Delaware on the high end reaching speeds of 17.4 Mbps and Alaska on the low end at 7.2 Mbps.

With the FCC expected to redefine broadband as 25 Mbps, 4K-readiness could be more widespread and lead to faster adoption of 4K displays and content.

SDN, NFV investments to reach $21 billion

Software-defined networking and network functions virtualization investments are expected to reach $21 billion by 2020, according to a report from SNS Research.

Global mobile network capital expenditure (Capex) is expected to increase from $170 billion 2014 to $203 billion in 2020 as carriers deploy LTE and heterogeneous networks to meet the demand for high-speed broadband networks. In an effort to cut Capex costs, carriers are increasingly turning to SDN and NFV to reduce reliance on hardware platforms, according to the report.

The report found that carrier investments will focus on areas including OSS/BSS, data center and mobile core/Evolved Packet Core (EPC).

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