A Federal Communications Commission proposal to alter the definition of broadband could have a negative impact on rural New York, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned.
The agency is considering a plan to lower the broadband standard from 25 to 10 megabits per second for downloads and from 3 to 1 megabit per second for uploads.
Another change would designate areas as having high-speed internet access if mobile broadband — service through a cellphone data plan, for example — is available.
Schumer, D-N.Y., said reducing the standards would hinder users' ability to stream videos or download large files.
"It would be inadequate service in almost every single way," he said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
The FCC raised the broadband standards under the Obama administration. New York state has a broadband initiative of its own with the goal of providing access to all New Yorkers by the end of 2018.
The state's broadband program requires download speeds of 100 megabits per second, but will allow 25 megabits per second in rural areas.
Instead of lowering the broadband standard, Schumer believes the federal government should be doing more to expand high-speed internet access.
In a letter to FCC commissioners, he urged them to "reset their proposal."
"Lesser standards would confine rural areas in upstate New York to second-class citizenship and second-class activity, business and personal activity," he said.