Senator Roy Blunt Doesn't Care About Your Slow Internet

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PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR/GAGE SKIDMORE

Slow internet? Senator Roy Blunt is fine with that.

On Jan. 21, the Missouri Republican joined four other U.S. senators to send a letter to Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, questioning the agency's decision to up the minimum-speed requirement for "broadband" Internet from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps. (Mbps, which is how Internet speed is measured, is short for "Megabits per second.")

The FCC made the move to acknowledge the way people today use the Internet. If multiple users are streaming multiple shows in one household, your Internet will need to be faster than 5 Mbps. Netflix suggests a speed of 5 Mbps. Add three users in the same household, Gizmodo points out, and you'd need 15 Mbps.

But while the new requirements could be good news for you and your binge-watching needs, they're bad news for Internet Service Providers, some of which can no longer classify their service as broadband—and that means fewer federal grants for supplying "broadband" to rural areas unless they start delivering a faster service. 

In their letter, the senators stated that they don’t believe most Americans need Internet at that speed, saying, “We are concerned that this arbitrary 25/3 Mbps benchmark fails to accurately capture what most Americans consider broadband.”

But the letter fails to mention that, over the years, all of the senators have received campaign donations from various service providers. In the case of Missouri Republican Blunt, he and his PAC, “Rise to your Beliefs,” have received more than $200,000 from providers and telecommunications lobbyists over the past nine election cycles, according to federal campaign finance reports available online thanks to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Since 2000, the reports show, AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association have all donated money to Blunt’s campaigns.

Blunt's office declined to comment to Riverfront Times on whether the campaign donations influenced his letter.

However, the office did provide us a canned statement reiterating what was written in the letter: “It's critical that everyone have access to the same level of service. The FCC hasn't fully explained how it would be fair to apply a different definition of broadband to urban and rural areas. It has always been the intent of Congress to ensure all Americans have access to comparable service at comparable rates.”


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