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AT&T Lobbyist Says Telecom Company to Alter High-Speed Advertising

July 22 – A senior AT&T lobbyist said that his company would alter the way that it advertises its high-speed internet tiers, and hinted that the telecommunication giant would soon move to usage-based billing.

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By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

July 22 – A senior AT&T lobbyist said that his company would alter the way that it advertises its high-speed internet tiers, and hinted that the telecommunication giant would soon move to usage-based billing.

Senior Vice President Robert Quinn made the comments on Monday at a Federal Communications Commission field hearing in Pittsburgh, Penn., during the second of two panels at a hearing on “The Broadband of Tomorrow.”

According to Quinn, beginning in October AT&T will no longer guarantee their Internet customers with speeds “up to” a subscribed amount. He said that AT&T cannot vouch for speeds over shared portions of the network beyond its control.

Quinn said AT&T “will take action either to bring the customer’s service within the ordered tier or give the customer an option to move to a different tier” if AT&T discovers it is “not providing service within the ordered speed tier.”

AT&T announced last month that the arrival of usage-based pricing is “inevitable.”

Quinn also said his company would “clearly identify” in customer contracts and disclosures “any limitations on the amount of usage that may apply to a customer’s service plan.”

After lamenting the cost of building internet pipes, Quinn stated that companies must be able to manage its network in order to lower the costs for end users.

Replying to a question from FCC Commissioner Michael Copps about network management, Quinn said that AT&T supports FCC policies, and that AT&T allows its customers to go anywhere and say anything on the Web.

Quinn ended his response to Copps by asking the FCC to give AT&T “all the tools in the toolbox” in order that the company may “stay ahead of the bandwidth curve.”

Scott Wallsten of Technology Policy Institute said that the figures of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on broadband incorrectly calculate the correct measure of broadband penetration because OECD ranks its connections on a per capita, rather than a per household basis.

Per capita rankings neglect the fact that households share a connection, said Wallsten. If the OECD were to alter its measurements to reflect connections per households, the U.S. would climb from 15th to somewhere between seventh and ninth, globally.

Wallsten also decried the OECD’s failure to count businesses using broadband in their rankings. According to Wallsten, the U.S. has the largest amount of uncounted businesses using broadband in the world.

Wallsten also cited a study by Nielsen to support his claim that the U.S. is not falling behind. That study found that U.S. citizens were the most “intense users of broadband,” out of 16 countries studied.

Wallsten did acknowledged that if Japan had been included in the study, the Japanese would likely have been ranked as more intense users than are Americans.

Wallsten urged U.S. broadband policy to focus on collecting more data, removing additional barriers of entry, focusing increased attention to the success and/or failure of state broadband programs, and extending broadband to low-income — rather than rural – areas.

After Commissioner Michael Copps reminded the audience that no one was “castigating” the methodology of the OECD in 2001 when the U.S. was ranked fourth, Wallsten replied that the FCC was “making policy on rankings and that’s it.”

Wallsten added that he believed more mapping and surveys would provide the FCC with data that could determine what policies are cost-efficient.

Warning of the potential dangers of the broadband “digital divide” were Rahul Tongia, senior systems scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, and Marge Krueger, administrative director for Communications Workers of America District 13.

Tongia said that while the cost of exclusion becomes increasingly higher, those that are among the “included,” or those that have broadband, attain an enormous competitive advantage.

The price of exclusion affects the individual as well as society as a whole, Tongia said. Just as insured Americans are adversely affected by the medical costs incurred by non-insured Americans, those with broadband will be harmed by those who continue to be without broadband.

Tongia said awareness, availability, accessibility, and affordability are the keys to expanding the deployment of broadband in America.

Krueger, meanwhile, appeared to back Wallsten’s statement that the FCC should focus on deployment of broadband to low-income citizens rather than rural areas when she noted that Americans with low-income are half as likely to be broadband subscribers.

Krueger also said average download speed in America is less than 2 megabytes, or 30 times slower than average speeds in Japan.

Rendall Harper, a board member of the organization Wireless Neighborhoods, also emphasized the need for low-income individuals to obtain broadband as a tool for better education. With better education and adequate training for post-secondary education, deaths, drug sales, addictions, and crimes shold fall in low-income areas, Harper said.

Rebecca Bagley, deputy secretary for technology investment of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, said the commonwealth hoped to deploy broadband in every part of the state by 2015. By the end of 2008, the majority of Pennsylvania should have broadband available, she said.

To other states and nations leery of investing money into broadband infrastructure because of the “who needs it” question, David Farber, an emeritus professor of Carnegie Mellon University, said that with broadband, if you build it people will come.

Farber also emphasized the importance of privacy protections, and said that peer-to-peer traffic is not inherently illegal. The amount of information that internet service providers can obtain about an individual through technologies known as “deep packet inspection” — and their sale to third parties – was “obscene,” he said.

Broadband Data

Ookla Has Verizon as Fastest Q1 Fixed Provider, T-Mobile Takes Top Spot for Mobile

T-Mobile was also named the most consistent mobile operator and topped 5G download speeds.

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Image of Speedtest from May 2017 by Daniel Aleksandersen used with permission

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2022 – A market report released Friday by performance metrics web service Ookla named Verizon the fastest fixed broadband provider in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2022, and T-Mobile as the fastest mobile operator during the same period.

Verizon had a median download speed of 184.36 Mbps, edging out Comcast Xfinity’s speed of 179.12 Mbps. T-Mobile’s median mobile speed was 117.83 Mbps.

Verizon had the lowest latency of all providers, according to Ookla, well ahead of Xfinity’s fourth place ranking, yet sat at third for consistency behind both Xfinity and Spectrum.

T-Mobile was also the most consistent mobile operator during the first quarter, achieving an Ookla consistency score of 88.3 percent, which along with median download speed represented an increase from the fourth quarter of 2021.

The company also achieved the fastest median 5G download speed, coming in at 191.12 Mbps.

Verizon also notably increased its 5G download speed from its Q4 metric, attributed in part to the turning on of new C-band spectrum in January following deployment delays and protest from airlines. For mobile speeds, it stood in second behind T-Mobile, bumping AT&T to a standing of third. These rankings were the same for mobile measures of latency and consistency.

Yet on 5G availability, AT&T remains ahead of Verizon.

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra came in as the fastest popular device in the country, running at 116.33 Mbps.

Ookla is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

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Broadband Data

FCC’s Rosenworcel: Broadband Nutrition Labels Will Create New Generation of Informed Buyers

The FCC hopes companies will make it easier for consumers to choose a broadband plan that fits their needs.

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Photo of Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel speaking at the Mobile World Conference 2022 in Barcelona

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission’s broadband nutrition labels will usher in a new era where buyers have simple information about what they’re buying, agency Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said Friday.

Consumers should know what they’re signing up for when they spend hundreds “or even thousands” of dollars per year for internet service. She was speaking at Friday’s commission hearing on its so-called broadband nutrition label initiative.

The hearing comes on top of a public comment period on the initiative. Many providers are pushing for more flexible regulations on compliance.

When consumers choose a broadband provider for their household, Rosenworcel said may people make decisions with “sometimes incomplete and inaccurate information.”

“The problem for broadband consumers isn’t a total lack of information, but there’s loads of fine print,” Rosenworcel said. “It can be difficult to know exactly what we are paying for and these disclosures are not consistent from carrier to carrier,” which makes comparing prices and services harder and more time-consuming for consumers.

The comments built on other recent speeches by Rosenworcel promoting the initiative, encouraging state attorneys general’s ability to enforce companies’ commitments through their states’ consumer protection statutes.

The FCC began a plan in 2015 for broadband labels that was voluntary. The new initiative directed by last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law makes this effort mandatory for broadband providers.

Matt Sayre, managing director of cross sector economic development firm Onward Eugene, said residents in rural Oregon would benefit from simple information when considering broadband providers. During a time where dial-up and satellite-based offerings were primarily available, Sayre said his neighbors “never used terms like latency or packet loss.”

“These are important aspects of good internet service, but not easily understood by most people,” Sayre said. “Citizens understood they needed better service but were uncertain about what tier of service they needed. This is where broadband labels can be very helpful.”

The hearing was the agency’s first on the initiative.

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Small ISP Organizations Push FCC for Flexibility on Broadband Label Compliance

Advocates say strict compliance requirements may economically harm small providers.

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Photo of outgoing WISPA CEO of Claude Aiken from April 2018 by New America used with permission

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2022 ­­– In comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday, organizations representing small internet providers are pushing for flexible regulations on compliance with a measure that requires clear reporting of broadband service aspects to consumers.

The measure was adopted at a late January meeting by the commission, mandating that providers list their pricing and speed information about services in the format of a “broadband nutrition label” that mimics a food nutrition label. Congress’ bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted in the fall required that the FCC adopt such policy.

The organizations that submitted comments Wednesday say that strict compliance requirements for the new measure may economically harm small providers.

Among those leading the charge are trade associations Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and America’s Communications Association as well as provider Lumen Technologies.

In comments, limited resources of smaller providers were cited as factors which could disadvantage them in terms of complying with the measure to the FCC’s standards and several organizations asked for small providers to be given extra time to comply.

In separate comments, internet provider Lumen said that the FCC must make multiple changes to its approach if it is to “avoid imposing new obligations that arbitrarily impose excessive costs on providers and undermine other policy goals.”

Last month, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that she looks forward to increased coordination between the FCC and state attorneys general for the enforcement of the measure.

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