New Web Site Aims to Provide Data about Broadband to Public
BroadbandCensus.com, a new web site designed to help Internet users measure and gauge broadband availability, competition, speeds and prices, launched a beta version of an Internet speed test. Through the release of the beta version, BroadbandCensus.com encourages testing and feedback of the technology in preparation for a national release.
The speed test seeks to allow consumers all across America to test their high-speed Internet connections to determine whether broadband providers are delivering the promised services. At BroadbandCensus.com, users can learn about local broadband availability, competition, speeds and service. By participating in the speed test and an anonymous online census questionnaire, users can greatly contribute to the nation’s knowledge and understanding about the state of the nation’s broadband competition and services.
“We believe the Broadband Census will provide vital statistics to the public and to policy makers about the true state of broadband in our country today,” said Drew Clark, Executive Director of BroadbandCensus.com. “By releasing a beta version of the speed test, we hope to encourage feedback from early adopters in the research and education community so that we can create an even more robust mechanism for collecting broadband data.”
BroadbandCensus.com is deploying the NDT (Network Diagnostic Tool), an open-source network performance testing system designed to identify computer configuration and network infrastructure problems that can degrade broadband performance. The NDT is under active development by the Internet2 community, an advanced networking consortium led by the research and education community. The NDT has been used by other broadband mapping endeavors, including the eCorridors Program at Virginia Tech, which is working to collect data of residential and small business broadband trends throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Internet2 supports its more than 300 member organizations in getting the best performance from their advanced network connections,” said Gary Bachula, Internet2 vice president for external relations. “We are pleased that the Network Diagnostic Tool can play an important role in helping U.S. citizens and policy makers gain a better understanding of existing broadband services. This information will help consumers and policy makers make better decisions about future broadband services,” said Bachula.
“The eCorridors Program endorses and supports the Broadband Census as a means of continuing the effort with the participation of key national players,” said Brenda van Gelder, Program Director of eCorridors. Virginia Tech launched the first of its kind community broadband access map and speed test in July 2006. “We believe that mapping broadband along with these other factors can have significant political and economic impacts by providing the public a user-friendly, grassroots tool for maintaining oversight of available internet services, applications, bandwidth and pricing.”
The NDT provides network performance information directly to a user by running a short diagnostic test between a Web browser on a desktop or laptop computer and one of several NDT servers around the country. The NDT software helps users get a reading on their network speed and also to understand what may be causing specific network performance issues.
Congress and state government officials have all recently focused on the need for better broadband data. And the Federal Communications Commission last week called for greater transparency about the speeds and prices of service offered by broadband carriers.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, has introduced legislation that would provide the public with better broadband information. Markey’s “Broadband Census of America Act,” H.R. 3919, has passed the House of Representatives and is now before the Senate.
By allowing users to participate in collecting Broadband Census data, BroadbandCensus.com aims to build on these initiatives, and to provide consumers and policy-makers with timely tools to understanding broadband availability, adoption and competition.
Additionally, Pew Internet & American Life Project has contracted with BroadbandCensus.com to gather anonymized information about users’ broadband experiences on the web site, and to incorporate those findings into Pew’s 2008 annual broadband report. “Connection speed matters greatly to people’s online surfing patterns, but few home broadband users know how fast their on-ramp to cyberspace is,” said John Horrigan, Associate Director for Research with the Pew Internet & American Life Project. “BroadbandCensus.com will help fill a gap in understanding how evolving broadband networks influence users’ online behavior.”
BroadbandCensus.com is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License. That means that the content on BroadbandCensus.com is available for all to view, copy, redistribute and reuse for FREE, providing that attribution is provided to BroadbandCensus.com, and that such use is done for non-commercial purposes.
About Broadband Census.com:
Broadband Census LLC is organized as a Limited Liability Company in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Drew Clark is the principal member of Broadband Census LLC. To find out more about the organizations and individuals providing financial, technical, research or outreach support to the Broadband Census, please visit BroadbandCensus.com. For more information: http://www.broadbandcensus.com
About Pew Internet & American Life Project:
The Pew Internet & American Life Project produces reports that explore the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the internet through collection of data and analysis of real-world developments as they affect the virtual world. For more information: http://www.pewinternet.org
About Virginia Tech e-Corridors Project:
eCorridors is an outreach program of Virginia Tech that was established in 2000. Its activities include telecommunications policy, communications infrastructure, research and other computing applications as well as community networks and economic development in a networked world. eCorridors is a primary means through which government, private sector industry and community stakeholders participate and collaborate with Virginia Tech researchers and IT professionals. For more information: http://www.ecorridors.vt.edu
FCC Delays Auction of Citizens Broadband Radio Service Frequences in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic from Coronavirus
Agency Changes Upcoming Auction 105 Schedule, Postpones Auction 106
Adjustments Made in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2020—The Federal Communications Commission today announced schedule changes for Auction 105 as well as the postponement of Auction 106.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, these changes were deemed necessary in order to protect the health and safety of Commission staff and to allow parties additional time to prepare to
participate in Auctions 105 and 106.
“Many Americans have had to make tough decisions on how they do business in this rapidly changing environment, and the FCC is no different,” said agency Chairman Ajit Pai. “After consulting agency staff within the relevant Bureaus and Offices, we determined that it was in everyone’s best interest to make these changes. But we remain committed to holding the 3.5 GHz auction this summer and look forward to beginning this important mid-band auction in July.”
For Auction 105, involving the auction of Priority Access Licenses for the 3550-3650 MHz band, the short-form application (FCC Form 175) filing window will now open on April 23,
2020 at 12 p.m. EDT and will close on May 7 at 6 p.m. EDT. Upfront payments will be due June 19.
Bidding will begin on July 23. Interested parties should continue to monitor the Auction 105 website at www.fcc.gov/auction/105 for any future announcements regarding the auction schedule and other important auction information. To read the Auction 105 Public Notice, visit https://go.usa.gov/xdhf4.
The FCC is postponing indefinitely Auction 106, an auction of construction permits in the FM broadcast service that was scheduled to begin on April 28. Auction 106 applicants that
submitted upfront payments may obtain a refund of those deposits after submitting a written request. Additional processes are outlined in today’s Public Notice. A revised schedule will
be announced in a future public notice. To read the Auction 106 Public Notice, visit https://go.usa.gov/xdhfZ.
Tech Freedom and Other Advocacy Groups Push Back Against Growing Pressure to Modify Section 230
WASHINGTON, July 11, 2019 – Pushing back against a growing group of critics on the right and the left, the pro-free-market pro-free-speech group Tech Freedom on Thursday released a set of seven principles and online resources designed to “guide conversation about amending Section 230.”
As the principles statement declares: “we value the balance between freely exchanging ideas, fostering innovation, and limiting harmful speech. Because this is an exceptionally delicate balance, Section 230 reform poses a substantial risk of failing to address policymakers’ concerns and harming the Internet overall.”
In its current form, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (and part of the 1996 Telecom Act) holds online content creators responsible for what they publish, while protecting third parties that generate this content from liability.
“Section 230 is the law that made today’s Internet possible. Without it, hosting user-generated content would be impossible. Today’s most popular social websites would never have taken off and the Internet would look basically like cable,” said Tech Freedom President Berin Szóka.
“Making Section 230 protections contingent upon approval of government bureaucrats would be a grave mistake. Regulation must evolve as the Internet evolves, but creating new government powers that would be subject to the whims of whichever party occupied the White House would be bad for all Americans,” said Kevin Glass, vice president of communications at National Taxpayers Union.
The statement also included expressions of support from Prof. Eric Goldman, Santa Clara University School of Law, Sharon Bradford Franklin, director of Surveillance & Cybersecurity Policy, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Emma Llanso, director of the Free Expression Project, Center for Democracy & Technology, Bartlett Cleland, president of the Innovation Economy Alliance, and others.
Some of Tech Freedom’s resources on free speech and Section 230 on its website, including:
- An op-ed “Some conservatives need a First Amendment refresher”
- A letter to AG Session “DOJ Inquiry re Tech Companies Bias is Misguided”
- A blogpost “Reality Check for Trump and Republicans Crying ‘Bias’”!
- Tech Freedom President Berin Szóka’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the filtering practices of social media platforms
- A statement on the passage of SESTA
- A statement on the takedown of Backpage and its implications for Section 230 and recent sex trafficking legislation
- Tech Policy Podcast #226: The Fairness Doctrine: Next Generation
- Tech Policy Podcast #214: Information Intermediaries in a Nutshell
Federal Communications Commission Announces $169 Million in Rural Broadband Funding
WASHINGTON, June 10, 2019 – The Federal Communications Commission on Monday authorized $166.8 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to 60,850 unserved rural homes and businesses in 22 states. Providers will begin receiving funding this month. A map of the winning bids is available here.
This funding represents the second wave of support from last year’s successful Connect America Fund Phase II auction. The FCC authorized the first wave of funding in May, providing $111.6 million in funding over the next decade to expand service to 37,148 unserved homes and businesses in 12 states.
To date, the first two rounds of authorizations are providing $278.4 million over the next decade to expand service to 97,998 new locations. Over the coming months, the FCC will be authorizing additional funding as it approves the final applications of the winning bidders from the auction.
“I’m pleased to announce that the second round of funding starts now for buildout of high-speed Internet service to 60,850 rural homes and businesses, which will bring them to the right side of the digital divide and give them access to the 21st-century opportunities that broadband offers,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
“Providers will be deploying gigabit-speed connections to the majority of locations for which funding is being authorized today, while nearly 8,000 homes and small businesses on Tribal lands will be getting fixed broadband service for the first time,” he said.
Providers must build out to 40 percent of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. Buildout must increase by 20 percent in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached at the end of the sixth year.
The Connect America Fund Phase II auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America.
In addition to the funding that will be made available through this auction, the Commission recently provided 186 companies in 43 states $65.7 million in additional annual funding to upgrade broadband speeds in rural communities, and offered incentives for over 500 rural carriers to provide faster broadband to over 1 million rural homes and businesses.
Pai also announced his intention to create the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which will provide $20.4 billion over the next decade to connect approximately four million rural homes and businesses to high-speed broadband, representing the FCC’s single biggest step yet to close the digital divide.
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