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BroadbandCensus.com’s Experience Using the Network Diagnostic Tool as a Beta Speed Test

LINCOLN, NEBRASKA, July 21 – The higher-education networking consortium Internet2 released a case study about BroadbandCensus.com and its use of the Network Diagnostic Tool (NDT) speed test. This “case study” was distributed at the Joint Techs Workshops: an international conference of networking engineers, taking place here from July 19-24.

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Experience with NDT Featured in Presentation at Joint Techs Conference in Lincoln, Neb.

Case Study

Editor’s Note: Since the launch of our beta speed test on February 21, 2008, BroadbandCensus.com has been using the Network Diagnostic Tool (NDT) speed test developed by the educational consortium Internet2. The following is a “case study” prepared by Internet2, with the assistance of BroadbandCensus.com. It was distributed at the Joint Techs Workshops: an international conference of networking engineers, taking place in Lincoln, Neb., from July 19-24, 2008. Further information is available in the links below.

-Drew Clark, Editor, BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com is a new Web service that provides the public with free information on local broadband availability, competition, speeds and service. By participating in an anonymous online census questionnaire, users can greatly contribute to the knowledge and understanding about the state of the nation’s broadband competition and services – particularly as federal lawmakers consider issues in the development of a national broadband policy.

The Challenge

A crucial component of the Broadband Census service is its beta speed test. It allows consumers all across the country to test their residential high-speed Internet connections to determine whether broadband providers are delivering the promised services.

The Solution

In order to provide this service, BroadbandCensus.com has deployed 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. NDT is under active development by the Internet2 community.

When BroadbandCensus.com began developing its Web service in the fall of 2007, various alternative speed tests were explored. The company selected the NDT for two principal reasons. First, NDT is a well-designed, easy to use, open-source solution that is made freely available by Internet2, an organization with goals and purposes broadly congruent with those of BroadbandCensus.com – namely, the advancement of knowledge about the Internet. In addition, NDT has been successfully used by other broadband mapping endeavors, including the eCorridors Program at Virginia Tech, an Internet2 member, which is working to collect data of residential and small business broadband trends throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The implementation process for the beta speed test began in early 2008, after BroadbandCensus.com launched the first version of its site in January. Through close collaboration with both Internet2 staff and Virginia Tech colleagues, deployment of the NDT speed test was seamless and enabled the release of a beta version of the speed test weeks earlier than anticipated.

The Results

Today, BroadbandCensus.com utilizes four available NDT servers: Argonne National Laboratory, the University of California at Santa Cruz, Stanford University, and Virginia Tech. BroadbandCensus.com routes the Internet user to the closest NDT server based upon the stated ZIP code of the user. The company is looking to expand the reach to eight servers in the coming months.

Additionally, Broadbandcensus.com aims to implement an automatic “failover” feature that checks whether a particular NDT server is busy with another test. In doing so, the service could automatically switch the user to the next-closest server rather than requiring them to resubmit the test. Both of these features – additional servers, and the “failover” capability – will provide the necessary scalability as traffic grows on the site, putting more demand for more speed tests.

So far, BroadbandCensus.com has assembled thousands of speed tests, census entries and comments from everyday Internet uses. All of these are freely accessible at BroadbandCensus.com under its Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License. The company is now working to compile its first comprehensive assessment of the speed test data obtained through the NDT tests as part of its contract, with the Pew Internet & American Life Project, to track actual and promised broadband speeds across the country.

“We are gratified that the availability of NDT has allowed us to make a robust speed test available on short notice and with a limited budget. “By shedding light on Internet speeds, we believe the service will play an important role in helping U.S. Internet users and policy makers understand the shortcomings of existing broadband services that can provide a more solid basis for making better decisions about future broadband services and policies.”

Documents and Web Sites Referenced in this Case Study:

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney at The CommLaw Group. He has closely tracked the trends in and mechanics of digital infrastructure for 20 years, and has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers navigate coverage, identify markets, broker infrastructure, and operate in the public right of way. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

FCC

FCC Delays Auction of Citizens Broadband Radio Service Frequences in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic from Coronavirus

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Seal of the Federal Communications Commission

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.

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Press Releases

Tech Freedom and Other Advocacy Groups Push Back Against Growing Pressure to Modify Section 230

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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

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FCC

Federal Communications Commission Announces $169 Million in Rural Broadband Funding

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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.

(Photo by Jim Bradley used with permission.)

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