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Broadband Roundup

Coronavirus Roundup: BroadbandNow and NCTA Each Track Internet Speeds, Alianza on Robocalls

David Jelke



Photo of robocall protester from March 2012 by J MacPherson used with permission

The BroadbandNow database company released its fifth report tracking home internet speeds. The data comes from the 200 most populous cities in the country, as well as hundreds of rural communities.

The key findings indicate that rural areas are being hit the hardest by the impact of the coronavirus on broadband speeds.

  • Over the past week, 67 cities (33.5 percent of the top 200) experienced median upload speed decreases of 20 percent or greater below range of previous weeks in 2020. Last week, the number was 61, or 30.5 percent.
  • In turn, 51 cities (25.5 percent) have recorded download speed dips of 20 percent or greater, compared to last week’s 52.
  • Median rural download and upload speeds have remained relatively stable for three weeks now, which still sees them measuring lower on average than in previous weeks of 2020.
  • Six cities have recorded median upload speed decreases of greater than 40 percent out of range this week, including Baltimore, Maryland; Jamaica, New York; Oxnard, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico, Boca Raton, Florida; and New Orleans.
  • The two cities that experienced significant median download speed decreases of greater than 40 percent out of range last week are still struggling this week: Evansville, Indiana; and Saint Paul, Minnesota.

NCTA says peak broadband usage has plateaued

Meanwhile, NCTA, an  internet and television association, released its own data through its COVID-19 Internet Dashboard on Wednesday. NCTA data indicates that broadband demand during the coronavirus outbreak has plateaued.

The data comes from its member internet service providers, who in total service 10s of millions of American homes and businesses. The NCTA credits its networks preparedness for keeping pace with American’s increasing use of broadband.

The NCTA’s key takeaways include the following:

  • National downstream peak growth has shown some slight decline over the past three weeks, down 2.2 percent since the week of March 28 – April 4. Overall, since March 1, national downstream peak growth is up 17.8 percent.
  • National upstream peak growth has remained generally level over the past two weeks, up less than 1 percent each week since April 4. Overall, since March 1, national upstream peak growth is up 35 percent.

 Alianza issues call to go beyond STIR/SHAKEN guidelines for robocalls

Allianza, a cloud voice company, on Wednesday stressed the importance of blocking robocalls, in addition to implementing STIR/SHAKEN guidelines that would authenticate the name and origin of a robocaller, according to a blog post by Scott Bell.

Robocalling is the number one complaint the Federal Communications Commission receives, with over 200,000 complaints each year.

STIR stands for Secure Telephony Identity Revisited, and is a standard developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force. The loosely-form acronym SHAKEN stands for the “Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs.”

The STIR/SHAKEN framework became part of the TRACED Act passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December 2019, and it is designed to shift the burden of call identification and authentication to international VoIP providers, which would lower the amount of robocallers.

To read Drew Clark’s explanation and diagnosis of the STIR/SHAKEN framework, please visit “Telephony Industry Rises to the Challenge of Robocalls, With Legislation, Regulation and Enforcement Close Behind,” December 13, 2019.

In the blog post by Bell, he points out that manually blocking of robocallers will also be necessary to truly curb the onslaught of robocallers, since STIR/SHAKEN would only act as a deterrent with uncertain efficacy by shining a light on bad actors.

Bell also noted that a drawback of the STIR/SHAKEN guideline is that it will only work on VoIP networks, so it will not be a comprehensive solution to robocalls.


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