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OECD Broadband Ranking System Needs Restructuring, Says Think Tank

WASHINGTON, July 29 – Basing telecommunications policy around the faulty ranking system of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development would lead to an “ill-defined national broadband strategy,” officials from the Phoenix Center think tank said Monday.

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By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com

WASHINGTON, July 29 – Basing telecommunications policy around the faulty ranking system of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development would lead to an “ill-defined national broadband strategy,” officials from the Phoenix Center think tank said Monday.

Decrying the widespread assumption that America has fallen behind the rest of the world in broadband penetration, George Ford and Lawrence Spiwak criticized the OECD’s ranking system at a luncheon in the Rayburn House Office Building.

The current OECD system ranks measures broadband penetration on a per capita, and not a per household basis, which has led to countries with smaller household sizes moving up in the chart since 2001.

People do not buy broadband connections, Ford said; rather, households and businesses buy broadband conections.

Moreover, said Ford and Spiwak, countries that have risen in recent rankings – Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands – are small and do not have large rural areas where broadband deployment remains a challenge.

Additionally, many countries that were near the top in broadband rankings in 2001 have since fallen, said Ford. “Miracle” Japan has dropped in the OECD ratings, for example. In spite of having 100 Megabit per second-capable broadband networks, Japan ranked behind the U.S. in the December 2007 OECD ratings.

If areas in the U.S. that do not have broadband access were reached, the country would only climb to eleventh in the world – assuming that none of the counties directly before and behind the U.S. make similar adjustments, he said.

Politics and the poor data collection abilities of nearly all governmental agencies in OECD countries are also to blame for the current unreliability of OECD rankings, he said.

Ford said that the existence of two competing broadband networks in the U.S. – cable modem and digital subscriber line – put America way ahead of where it should have been in 2001.

Ford said if one factors in price, per capita Gross Domestic Product, education, the percentage of senior citizens, population density, urbanicity, population per household, population per business establishment, and the length of time one is measuring, one should get a fairly accurate depiction of why the U.S. has fallen in OECD broadband rankings.

Hence the U.S. is pretty close to where it needs to be at fifteenth in the world, he said. The countries that should be worried are Luxembourg, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the Slovak Republic, and Greece: each are underperforming based on the Phoenix Center’s “Broadband Efficiency Index,” said Ford.

Under this “efficiency index,” the U.S. ranks 13th.

The decline in the United States’ OECD ranking does not mean that a change in government broadband policy is necessary, said Ford.

If the government desires to eradicate broadband unavailability in the U.S., Ford suggested that federal and state governments eliminate taxes on wireless services, stop local governments from extracting “rents” from telecommunications providers seeking to offer video services, and increasing the number of broadband education programs and computers in schools.

Additionally, the government should allow tiered pricing and network management. Together, these actions could increase broadband deployment, he said. After all, Ford said, “it is [the company’s] freaking money.”

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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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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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