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Broadband Data Collection Must Be Thorough and Transparent, Say Experts

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2009 – Broadband data collection needs to be more thorough and more transparent than currently existing models, a range of academic experts, builders of telecommunications infrastructure, and a key senator said last week.

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WASHINGTON, May 10, 2009 – Broadband data collection needs to be more thorough and more transparent than currently existing models, a range of academic experts, builders of telecommunications infrastructure, and a key senator said last week.

Speaking at conference hosted last Thursday by the Benton Foundation, and at a technology and communications gathering on Wednesday, these officials highlighted the importance of fine granularity, of including robust measures of broadband speeds and technologies, and greater comprehensiveness than has been typical within this field.

At the Computer and Communications Industry Association’s annual gathering with legislators, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said: “We have to make sure that broadband [calculation] is done in a comprehensive and systematic manner that hasn’t been done in the past.”

At the Benton Foundation event, “Urban and Rural Examples of the ‘Best in Breed’: Setting a High Standard for Broadband Stimulus Funding,” a range of city technology officials and private sector officials also addressed the key ingredient of broadband data.

“A major part of this discussion is, what is unserved and what is underserved,” said Bill Schrier, chief technology officer of the city of Seattle.

Understanding what is and isn’t service can only be done with solid analytical capabilities, and Schrier demonstrated a map in which Seattle demographic capabilities were mapped against particular broadband applications.

“Telework does not work now because we do not have true, symmetric, high-speed video,” he said.

Schrier spoke highly about the city’s role in offering fiber-optic technologies and was skeptical about what he called cable modems’ lack of reliability. Most of all, he insisted that speed was an essential component of broadband mapping.

By “counting” individuals who have low-speed digital subscriber line (DSL) or cable modem coverage as “served,” such maps are missing the forest for the trees, he said. Instead, Schrier said, it would be better to point to a map of the entire United States and declare that – for the most part – it was “unserved” because 97 percent of home lack fiber-optic connections.

Keeping broadband data in the public realm was vital to broadband research, said Kate Williams, a University of Illinois researcher on broadband.

Williams and her team at the University of Illinois has systematically mapped out 606 grants awarded by the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) from the mid-1990s to 2004.

Williams has begun matching up geographic resources emerging from the Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program – the broadband grants created by the fiscal stimulus legislation – with her TOPs data. She has begun to map out the cities in which individuals filed comments. See the BroadbandCensus.com List of NTIA Comments here.

Doing this geocoding has created a map – literally – of “which communities are already full-steam ahead.” As result, it has revealed the home that will serve as models of “best practices” for the NTIA to reward and replicate.

At the same time, ECFiber Chairman Tim Nulty, who is building a fiber-optic network in rural Vermont, criticized some aspects of the push toward broadband mapping.

“I see an awful lot of this stuff as semi-cynical excuses to postpone action” on building super-high-speed fiber optical networks, he said.

“If you define broadband as 200 kilobits per second, and then do a survey that says that any central office, with any DSL equipment, [means that a particular area] is being deemed as serviced,” you’ll get overly optimistic projections of broadband’s availability, said Nulty.

“It is a phony, it is a fake; it is an excuse to postpone action. You name something that you deem to call broadband, and you hire a bunch of captive think tanks, and a lot of people seem to have broadband,” he said. “I don’t happen to think that a lot of this mapping and survey [work] is on the level.”

To see more complete coverage of the Benton Foundation event, Urban and Rural Examples of the ‘Best in Breed’: Setting a High Standard for Broadband Stimulus Funding,” please see the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report of May 11, 2009. Trial subscriptions to the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available here.

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BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report is produced every Monday by BroadbandCensus.com, a premium provider of news, information and events about broadband technology and internet policy. Subscriptions to BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available at the introductory offer of $95.00/month, or $950.00/year. Included within the purchase price is one year of complementary access to each monthly webcast of the Broadband Breakfast Club (a $40.00/month value). The webcasts are produced in partnership with TV Mainstream. Trial subscriptions to the BroadbandCensus.com Weekly Report are available here.

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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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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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