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Regulators, Officials Debate Need for National Broadband Policy, Fund

WASHINGTON, September 26 – A national broadband infrastructure fund should include the involvement of state regulators and focus not only on the extension of broadband service into unserved areas, but also on the adoption rate of broadband service by consumers, according to California Public Utilities Commissioner Rachelle Chong.

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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 Carrie DeLeon, Telecommunications Reports

A national broadband infrastructure fund should include the involvement of state regulators and focus not only on the extension of broadband service into unserved areas, but also on the adoption rate of broadband service by consumers, according to California Public Utilities Commissioner Rachelle Chong.

During a keynote address this morning at the Broadband Census for America Conference in Washington, Commissioner Chong advocated for the implementation of a national broadband infrastructure fund, and suggested that the Universal Service Fund be reformed to shift the focus from traditional wireline to advanced services.

“More assertive national leadership on broadband policy is not only necessary, but critical,” Commissioner Chong said.

In addition, the former FCC regulator said that while some states, including California, have been successful in their efforts to map broadband data, a national mapping of broadband data could be helpful to states by enabling them to compare their broadband efforts with other states.

Other participants in the conference, which was held at the Washington office of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, also saw the need for national leadership in some aspects of broadband policy, but said that ultimately states are responsible for broadband deployment.

Jane Smith Patterson, executive director, e-NC Authority, asserted that states are the most qualified to collect broadband data. “Assistance from the federal government is great, but ultimately the states are responsible for their own economic development,” Ms. Patterson said.

Similarly, Larry Landis, a member of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, pointed out that states have an “imperative to develop broadband that does not exist at the national level.”

On the other hand, William Lehr, an economist and researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that certain data needs to be collected at the federal level in order to validate the states’ efforts. The federal government is also more equipped to assist with resources and information sharing, “so a leadership role from the federal government is necessary,” he said.

In shifting the discussion to what a national or state broadband mapping project should look like, Commissioner Chong said it is very important to analyze the “take rate.” She said that if the take rate in certain areas is low, then policymakers need to determine what factors are causing that low adoption rate and think of solutions to address the problem.

“Getting broadband access is really just the first step,” Commissioner Chong said. “The affordability of that broadband access is the next big factor.” Jeffrey Campbell, senior director at Cisco Systems and a member of the California Broadband Task Force, agreed. “It doesn’t do any good to have broadband if no one is using it,” he said.

Mr. Campbell also stressed the importance of gathering broadband data at the household level. “It’s the kind of level of data we just have to have. You wouldn’t say 98% of people have electricity. Two percent do not … guess where they are,” Mr. Campbell said.

Several of the speakers during the conference discussed the need for a leader – whether it be the state legislature, the governor, or a community group on the local level – to champion for broadband and mapping. Commissioner Chong said that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R.) “really put the spotlight on broadband” by forming a broadband task force and initiating the state broadband mapping project.

According to Commissioner Chong, it’s important to convince government leaders and lawmakers that broadband is a necessary part of the infrastructure. “If you don’t have broadband you’re not going to have a state-of-the-art business economy,” Commissioner Chong said. “We firmly believe that broadband is infrastructure, just like schools or levees are part of the infrastructure. So is broadband.”

“The leadership of the governor is very important. I also had to lobby the legislature,” Commissioner Chong said. “Lawmakers told me, ‘I think the Internet is a luxury so why should I tax consumers’ phone bills,’ and I had to convince them otherwise.”

The other huge challenge for state regulators is that they don’t regulate the Internet, Commissioner Chong pointed out. “So all I can do is encourage them to build out and try to provide incentives,” she added.

– Carrie DeLeon, carrie.deleon@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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