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White House Aide Says Broadband Is and Remains Obama Priority

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 – One of President Obama’s top technology and economic policy officials said Thursday that broadband infrastructure is and must remain a key priority of the Obama administration.

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Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story had a typographical error in the second paragraph, which has been fixed.

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2009 – One of President Obama’s top technology and economic policy officials said Thursday that broadband infrastructure is and must remain a key priority of the Obama administration.

“Broadband is the new essential infrastructure,” said National Economic Council official Susan Crawford. “Access to broadband does not guarantee” success, but “lack of access to broadband will guarantee economic decline.”

Crawford, speaking at a summit on “Changing Media,” highlighted the importance of broadband technology not only to economic development, but also to education, health care, social needs, and the future of journalism.

She said that Obama was very enthusiastic about the creation of a national broadband plan – a charge that was tasked to the Federal Communications Commission by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that passed in February.

“The president mentions broadband all the time,” Crawford said.

As with others at the summit, which was sponsored by the non-profit advocacy group Free Press, Crawford highlighted the dire state of journalism, particularly print journalism.

Noting that Obama addressed the future of journalism at last week’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner, and in his radio address last Saturday, she also said Obama “is also mentioning newspapers all the time, these days.”

For Crawford, the fate of broadband will acutely influence the fate of the newspaper industry. “These two futures go together. There is light at the end of the tunnel for this.”

For example, Crawford highlighted the growth in Twitter, from 5 million visitors in February, to 9.3 million visitors in March, to 19.4 million in April.

“The average Twitter user is two to three times more likely to go to online news sources than the average Joe Online.”

In the future she said, “Newspapers won’t hit our doorsteps. There will be tremendous consolidation. But there will be new [roles for journalists] in aggregation and curation” of online content.

“Many more people will be involved in its creation,” she said.

Precisely because all journalism will ultimately rely on broadband, Crawford said that the national broadband strategy was vital.

Crawford also highlighted the role that solid data about the speeds and prices of broadband connections will be necessary to executing the plan.

She said that data collected as part of the national broadband plan may lead policy-makers to conclude that there is a minimum speed that everyone should have access to. That might mean that everyone should have basic wireless access, she said.

At the same time, depending upon the application to be used by particular individuals or constituents, broadband data collected as part of a national plan might indicate that it made more sense to invest in higher-bandwidth pipes of the sort that are available through fiber-optic networks.

Speeds of broadband connections “really may matter for this news generation.”

In doctors offices, at least 100 Megabits per second (Mbps), or even 1 Gigabit per second, might be necessary. And, she argued, 100 Mbps “is not functionally equivalent” to a 3 Mbps connection.

Introducing Susan Crawford, Columbia University law professor Tim Wu noted that “We are at the end of the era of deregulation.”

“We are into something new: we just don’t know what,” said Wu, who coined the term “Net neutrality” and is chairman of the board of Free Press.

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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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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