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House Chairman Rick Boucher: Private Companies Should Embrace Broadband Stimulus Funds

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2009 – The chairman of a House Communications Subcommittee on Tuesday warned against too narrowly defining eligibility limits for grants in dispensing $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus money authorized by Congress.



By Ira Teinowitz, Special Correspondent,

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2009 – The chairman of a House Communications Subcommittee on Tuesday warned against too narrowly defining eligibility limits for grants in dispensing $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus money authorized by Congress.

Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, said at the Broadband Breakfast Club that the need to quickly stimulate the economy and have the greatest effect should trump longer-term goals like net neutrality – at least for the broadband stimulus.

Boucher said he believed that the “openness and unfettered” access of the Internet had spurred its growth. But trying to use stimulus grants to impose limits on what private industry could do might have the unfortunate result of making some private companies not seek grants.

“It’s critically important that the private sector apply” for stimulus program grants, he said. “The private sector has the expertise to do this quickly.”

“We don’t want through an overly rigid interpretation to discourage private sector applications.”

Boucher also said the anticipated expansion of a tiny Rural Utilities Service program to bring high-speed internet service to rural communities into a major economic program also allows the definition of communities that were “unserved” and “underserved” to be flexible. He didn’t offer any specific definition of those terms, however.

While praising the RUS program, Community Connect, he said its “unserved” definition – any community where no household could get high speed internet – sometimes prevented some mostly-unserved communities getting aid simply because a single house on the fringe of a neighborhood could get broadband.

The stimulus plan includes money for both “unserved” areas and “underserved” areas. Boucher called defining “underserved” one of the legislation’s “highest challenges.”

That definition needs to be some combination of the absence of competition for high speed, high pricing and the unavailability of higher speeds at reasonable rates, he said. The definition should be flexible.

“We think a broader view of what is underserved is better,” he said.

Boucher offered a preview of the grant process for the stimulus money.

He said that the money would be dispensed in three cycles and the hope was that all would be spent within a year and that both public and private agencies could apply. He also said that while the immediate focus is using the stimulus money to increase broadband availability, he anticipates a rewrite of the universal service phone service law –a law that provides money to ensure rural communities get reasonably priced phone service –will make clear the money can be used to provide broadband too.

In a follow up panel discussion, Derek Turner, research director for the non-profit advocacy group Free Press, said that determining which areas do and don’t qualify for grants is going to be difficult. This is so because the level of data available from the Federal Communications Commission and others on broadband availability, while improving, still has a long way to go before being thorough.”

“In the context of the stimulus program, we are going to be up against the clock,” he said.

James Bradford Ramsey, general counsel of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissions, urged that federal agencies check with state regulators before making broadband grant determinations. Whether the states yet have a map of unserved areas, they are the one hearing residents complaints, he said.

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark has led the Broadband Breakfast community since 2008. An early proponent of better broadband, better lives, he initially founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for broadband data. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over the leading media company advocating for higher-capacity internet everywhere through topical, timely and intelligent coverage. Clark also served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative.

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.



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.



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.



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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