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NTIA Details Contacts With Legislators, States, Mapping Companies and Others

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2009 – Officials at the agency responsible for crafting the federal government’s broadband stimulus policies held 36 meetings meeting over the past two months – 17 with federal legislators, 11 with private companies and non-profit groups, and eight with state and city officials.

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WASHINGTON, April 27, 2009 – Officials at the agency responsible for crafting the federal government’s broadband stimulus policies held 36 meetings meeting over the past two months – 17 with federal legislators, 11 with private companies and non-profit groups, and eight with state and city officials.

In the two months since the National Telecommunications and Information Administration opened  its doors to these private meetings, the focus of the 36 meetings appears to have been three-fold: explaining and discussing the program with legislators; NTIA-solicited input from geographic companies; and obtaining advice from states with programs for broadband incentives.

The record of the meetings was released by the NTIA, an agency of the Commerce Department, on their web site over the past two weeks. It was updated late last week to include the meetings with federal legislators. http://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/exparte.html

The degree of detail about the content of the meetings varied widely. In some cases, elaborate Power Point presentations were included in the record. In other cases, only brief and cryptic summaries of the points made by the various parties were posted.

In general, the earlier meetings in March included much more detailed information. The descriptions of the meetings in April tended to be more general and lacking in specificity.

The first meeting by NTIA broadband officials was with the Republican staff to the Senate Commerce Committee, on February 24. It was closely followed by the staff for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the Republican staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

According to the brief summary, aides to all three members of legislative officers were interested in the general contours of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program at NTIA, as well as coordination between the NTIA and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service.

The first non-governmental entity to obtain a meeting with the NTIA staff, according to these ex parte summaries, was Connected Nation, on March 4.

According to the summary on the NTIA web site, NTIA officials “initiated” the meeting with Connected Nation CEO Brian Mefford, and Phillip Brown.

In the meeting, Connected Nation said that mapping “availability and adoption of broadband services” was crucial to meeting the goals of the BTOP program. Mefford and Brown also said that “non-disclosure agreements are important to legally protect confidential and proprietary information.”

Companies in the geographic analysis and spatial mapping field holding meetings with NTIA over the past two months include Apex CoVantage (on March 12 and April 8), CostQuest (on March 11), and Space Data Corp. (on March 20).

Like Connected Nation, CostQuest said that “Non-disclosure agreements would be needed to encourage provider participation” in a system of mapping broadband data a fine level of granularity.

Apex CoVantage, by contrast, highlighted the role of transparency in broadband mapping. According to the summary of its meeting, FCC broadband data “masks unserved areas and is too aggregated to provide the needed level of accuracy.”

Apex CoVantage used maps of Charlotte County, Va., to demonstrate that the finer the level of granularity, the more inadequate FCC data becomes.

Officials with the ConnectArkansas, which is affiliated to the non-profit organization Connected Nation, also met with the NTIA, on April 7, together with five officials from the Federal Communications Commission.

Those same five FCC officials also joined a meeting, one hour later, with Karen Jackson of the Center for Innovative Technology in Virginia. The description of both meetings was generic.

Among state agencies and representatives meeting with the NTIA staff, the first in line was the California Public Utilities Commission, which discussed their early effort at state-wide broadband mapping, on March 18.

Massachusetts Department of Telecom and Cable Commissioner Sharon Gillett met briefly with the NTIA’s Ed Smith on March 23, 2009, immediately prior to the beginning of a public workshop at the Commerce Department at 10 a.m. that day.

In the supplemental material posted on the NTIA website, Gillett released a detailed map with the names of the carriers, and their technology type, offering broadband services within each of the Massachusetts’ townships.

Other companies obtaining meetings with NTIA officials included Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco, both of whom argued against including requirements that only American products be included in projects funded by broad grants.

“Cisco [does] not believe that broadband grants under BTOP constitute a ‘public work’ which would subject them to the ‘Buy America’ requirement,” said Jeffrey Campbell, senior director of global policy for the router manufacturer.

Alcatel-Lucent agreed. “BTOP projects do not fit within ‘public work’ or should be exempt,” said the company’s Michael McMenamin. “In any event the vast majority of stimulus dollars for broadband projects will be devoted to the labor costs of deployment, not ICT equipment.”

Other non-profit groups that had meetings with NTIA include the Pew Internet & American Life Project, and the Minority Media Telecommunications Council.

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark is a nationally respected U.S. telecommunications attorney. An early advocate of better broadband, better lives, he founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for better broadband data in 2008. That effort became the Broadband Breakfast media community. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over news coverage focused on digital infrastructure investment, broadband’s impact, and Big Tech. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Clark served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative. Now, in light of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, attorney Clark helps fiber-based and wireless clients secure funding, identify markets, broker infrastructure and operate in the public right of way. He also helps fixed wireless providers obtain spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission. 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.

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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