The FCC is considering an increase in the minimum speed for broadband Internet.
The argument over fast lanes, slow lanes, net neutrality and peering has caused concern that the future of the Internet could be in danger.
But the Federal Communications Commission could have a trick or two up its sleeve.
The FCC confirmed to Mashable an earlier Washington Post report that a notice of inquiry is being circulated among commissioners that calls into question the adequacy of current broadband speed requirements.
The move comes as streaming media has caused dramatic changes in the data consumption habits of even casual Internet users.
Netflix accounts for almost one-third of data traffic in North America in the eveningsNetflix accounts for almost one-third of data traffic in North America in the evenings, followed by YouTube with 17%.
Internet service providers (ISPs) are required to provide at least 4 megabits per second (Mbps) on downloads and 1 Mbps on uploads to be considered broadband. The new inquiry would seek comment on raising those minimums to 10 Mbps of download or higher.
The FCC is tasked with monitoring U.S. consumer access to broadband Internet. Raising minimum speeds could provide the commission with more leverage to push ISPs to increase investment on Internet infrastructure.
The FCC is currently taking comments on its newly proposed rules for how IPSs are allowed to handle data traffic on its networks. Net neutrality advocates have warned that the new regulation would open the door for companies to be able to solicit payments from content providers for greater speeds.
A new minimum speed for broadband would conceivably have more impact on consumers than content providers, as consumers would be guaranteed the speed at their connection. Content providers would receive no such guarantee and are susceptible to slowdowns due to factors such as limited bandwidth and congestion at peering points.
The notice circulated on Friday is different from the rules proposal about Internet regulation and would only seek to solicit comments from the public or companies in the industry. No proposed rules are being discussed.
A study by Internet content delivery firm Akamai found that average download speed in the U.S. at the end of 2013 was already around 10 Mbps.