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Proprietary Data Cited as Challenge for Broadband Mapping

WASHINGTON, September 26 – State and federal government programs to develop maps of broadband service availability at a granular level must overcome objections by carriers to revealing what they view as proprietary information, although carriers may actually find the resulting maps beneficial, panelists at the Broadband Census for America Conference said today.

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Editor’s Note: The following story was published in TR Daily on September 26, 2008, and is reprinted with the permission of Telecommunications Reports International, Inc. This article is and remains Copyright 2008 Telecommunications Reports International, Inc.

By Lynn Stanton, TR Daily

State and federal government programs to develop maps of broadband service availability at a granular level must overcome objections by carriers to revealing what they view as proprietary information, although carriers may actually find the resulting maps beneficial, panelists at the Broadband Census for America Conference said today.

Speaking at the conference held at the Washington office of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Art Brodsky, director-communications at Public Knowledge, criticized the carriers’ objections to broadband mapping projects by questioning the proprietary and competitive value of information on where carriers have already deployed broadband services. He noted that carriers are not being asked about future deployment plans, which would more clearly involve competitive concerns.

Drew Clark, executive director of BroadbandCensus.com, which was one of the sponsors of the conference, noted that the FCC and carriers have objected to attempts to obtain underlying carrier data on broadband deployment submitted to the FCC, arguing that disclosure causes competitive harm by permitting new entrants to better target those areas lacking broadband competition. Because the data submitted to the FCC has not been made publicly available, BroadbandCensus.com and others, including the Communication Workers of America’s Speed Matters program, have resorted to obtaining information directly from consumers, a process Mr. Clark termed “crowd-sourcing.” By submitting information on their own service at a particular location, and taking download and upload speed tests, individual users can participate in the development of broadband maps or databases.

Mr. Clark said the three purposes of BroadbandCensus.com are to aid the process of competition, serve policy-makers, and aid consumers.

Mark McElroy, chief operating officer of Connected Nation, said that a mapping program will be beneficial if it’s relevant to consumers, in that the map can tell them if they can get broadband at home; if it’s relevant to providers, in that it can let them know where and why they should extend their networks; and if it’s relevant to increased digital literacy, in that it can be used in conjunction with an effective demand stimulation effort.

Debbie Goldman, coordinator of the CWA’s Speed Matters, said that in developing broadband mapping and deployment policies, “the states are the laboratories because unfortunately we don’t have a national policy.”

Kenneth Flamm, a professor of public affairs the University of Texas-Austin, said that collecting information on broadband use “is a job actually for the federal government and the federal statistical agencies,” but that they lack adequate funding and don’t do a good job of keeping up with relatively new services. “There shouldn’t be an argument about whether the government going out to try to measure the state of the market is somehow infringing [on private companies] . . . There’s no private-public conflict here,” he added.

A member of the audience suggested the Internal Revenue Service and private online tax-filing companies could capture information on broadband connection rates with an “opt-in” speed-test at the time of filing. Mr. Flamm said that was a “clever idea.”

Speaking during the closing keynote, Eamonn Confrey, first secretary-information and communications policy at the Irish Embassy in Washington, explained his country’s broadband initiatives, which include its broadband.gov.ie website. The overall purpose of the site is to help consumers and small business, he said. While customers cannot order broadband service on the site, it does include links to broadband providers in their area. It also has a tool to check if digital subscriber line (DSL) service – the principal nonmobile broadband technology in Ireland – is available at the user’s fixed-line phone number.

The website also allows consumers “to register their demand for broadband,” so providers can see where there is demand.

“Initially, there was a lot of resistance from larger providers” to listing their services on the website, which is a voluntary process for providers, Mr. Confrey said. Eventually, however, they came to see it as a competitive disadvantage not to be listed there. The website “has proved to be a win-win for provider and consumer alike,” he added.

The government also recently launched a national broadband scheme to reach the remaining 10% of the population that does not have broadband service available, Mr. Confrey said. The government provides funding to induce broadband in those areas while setting requirements to ensure that “the winning company won’t be able to cherry-pick” within the contracted area.

Mr. Confrey emphasized that the Irish government views broadband deployment as “an economic competitiveness issue for us,” as the country seeks to retain employers like Yahoo, Inc., and Google, Inc., that are attracted by an English-speaking, “fairly well educated” workforce in Europe. “You simply won’t retain that kind of investment without the infrastructure,” he added.

– Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskluwer.com

TR Daily, September 26, 2008

Copyright © 2008, Telecommunications Reports International, Inc.

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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Broadband Data

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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