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World Broadband Speeds Released, Broadband Competition Questions, Social Media Algorithms

Emily McPhie

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Taiwan has the world’s fastest broadband, while the United States comes in at 15th place, according to the annual Worldwide Broadband Speed League report released by Cable.co.uk on Tuesday.

The report analyzes more than 276 million broadband speed tests collected by M-Lab, an open source project involving civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private sector companies.

While the average global speed has increased, the gap between the fastest and slowest countries has widened as well, causing concern among researchers.

“Faster countries are the ones lifting the average, pulling away at speed and leaving the slowest to stagnate, said Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk. “Last year, we measured the slowest five countries at 88 times slower than the five fastest. This year they are 125 times slower.”

According to telecoms watchdog Ofcom, the minimum speed required to meet the typical needs of a family or small business is 10Mbps. This goal is still unmet by 141 countries.

FCC clashes with San Francisco over city ordinance

The Federal Communications Commission is attempting to overrule a San Francisco ordinance that prevents owners of residential and commercial buildings from blocking tenants from accessing certain internet service providers.

In a blog post on June 18, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the ordinance an “outlier” and “a policy which deters broadband deployment.”

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., introduced a budget amendment barring the FCC from finalizing the ruling. The amendment passed in the House but has yet to pass the Senate.

“The communications industry is in dire need of more competition,” Porter said in a statement. “San Francisco’s Article 52 has been incredibly effective in promoting broadband competition — giving residents the benefit of competition and choice in the market, increasing their service quality while decreasing their monthly bills.”

Sen. Johnson requests more information on social media algorithms

On Monday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, wrote a letter to Facebook and Instagram executives requesting information on their use of algorithms and artificial intelligence by July 10.

“The lack of transparency regarding human bias and the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence is troubling,” Johnson wrote. “As a result, policymakers and the American public deserve to understand the facts behind the content and suggestions they are served on these internet platforms.”

The letter follows a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing about the use of persuasive technology on internet platforms, at which Johnson raised concerns about the presence of political bias in the algorithms.

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