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Massachusetts Broadband Institute Eligible for Federal Funds; Unveils Interactive Survey

NEW SALEM, MASS., May 26, 2009 – Governor Deval Patrick (D) on Tuesday designated the Massachusetts Broadband Institute as the “eligible entity” for receiving broadband data funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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NEW SALEM, MASS., May 26, 2009 – Governor Deval Patrick (D) on Tuesday designated the Massachusetts Broadband Institute as the “eligible entity” for receiving broadband data funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Patrick spoke with Massachusetts Broadband Institute Director Sharon Gillett, and with Rep. John Olver, D-Mass., at an event at which the institute unveiled a new interactive survey, built as a Google Maps mashup.

In addition to the institute, a non-profit entity, serving as the entity responsible for receiving broadband data funding from the federal government, the officials said that the institute would be responsible for aggregating Massachusett’s applications to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to “ensure a balanced portfolio of the state’s needs reaches the NTIA.”

In the interactive survey, Massachusetts residents and businesses are asked to provide information about the speed, price, availability of the broadband that they receive at their location. In addition, residents are invited to comment on their service.

Since January 2008, BroadbandCensus.com has been collecting data about what it calls the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The data about the the local Broadband SPARC is freely available on BroadbandCensus.com under a Creative Commons License.

For nearly two years, Massachusetts has taken a strongly data-centric approach to collecting and publishing broadband data. In June 2007, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative published a township-by-township map, with carrier-specific broadband information, highlighting unserved and underserved areas in the state.

Local governments within the western portion of the state recently updated the map [PDF], based  upon Verizon Communication’s announced upgrades to the digital subscriber line (DSL) service that it offers in portions of Berkshire County and the Pioneer Valley region.

Massachusetts appears to be taking a multi-pronged approach to data-collection. In addition to working with the state agency responsible for Geographic Information Systems – they are partnering on developing a block-level map of broadband infrastructure – Massachusetts is  also taking a bottom-up approach  to collecting broadband information from citizens.

Through the grass-roots efforts of broadband organizers in the western portion of the state, Berkshire Connect and Pioneer Valley collected nearly 5,000 survey responses about the quality of broadband service from residents. Among respondents that had broadband, 16 percent rated their service as “excellent,” with equal portions rated in “good,” “fair” or “poor.” Among those without broadband, 63 percent said it wasn’t available, while 12 percent it was too expensive. [PDF]

With the Tuesday announcement, Massachusetts continues its efforts at public collecting and releasing broadband data at an extremely fine level of granularity.

Highlighting the importance of the granular approach to data collection, Olver said, “It is critically important that decision-makers have a clear understanding of exactly where broadband is accessible and where it is not.”

Olver also noted that the majority of unserved and underserved citizens in the state of Massachusetts were “in his district.”

Statewide studies in Massachusetts have identified 25,000 businesses and 221,000 households that “lack adequate broadband” because their current access is either limited or unavailable.

-Drew Clark, Editor, BroadbandCensus.com, contributed to this article.

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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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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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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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