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BroadbandCensus.com Urges Public Broadband Map with SPARC Scores

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2009 – In comments filed before the Federal Communications Commission, BroadbandCensus.com said that basic broadband data — information about the speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition of local service — is not proprietary and should be part of a public and transparent national broadband database.

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In Federal Communications Commission Filing, BroadbandCensus.com Urges Transparency in Identifying Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition in Broadband Marketplace

‘A National Broadband Plan Must be Accompanied by a National Broadband Mashup’

Press Release

WASHINGTON, June 11, 2009 – In comments filed before the Federal Communications Commission, BroadbandCensus.com said that basic broadband data — information about the speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition of local service — is not proprietary and should be part of a public and transparent national broadband database.

The comment, filed by BroadbandCensus.com Executive Director Drew Clark, said that the FCC should take a two-fold approach to broadband data as part of its national broadband strategy. First, the FCC should publicly release the basic broadband data collected from broadband carriers by the agency. This basic data should include the carriers that operate within each Census Block, together with the speeds and technologies that they offer.

Second, whether or not the FCC releases this basic, public data, the agency should take a consumer-focused approach to broadband data by encouraging efforts to independently collect broadband data from consumers, rather than merely relying on broadband providers. This latter approach will allow internet users to independently verify carrier data.

The resulting publicly-available repository of broadband data will include many layers of data: consumer data, government data, data from carriers who choose to “opt-in” and have their broadband information included in the repository. The repository would form the basis for the national interactive broadband map that is called for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. On it, each of these layers can either checked be or unchecked in a particular interactive display.

“BroadbandCensus.com believes that carrier-supplied data must be cross-checked against a multiplicity of sources that are independent of broadband carriers,” according to the comments. “Hence the need for granularity, for carrier specificity, and for public and freely available datasets. A National Broadband Plan must be accompanied by a National Broadband Mashup.”

BroadbandCensus.com is one entity that is taking an independent and “crowdsourcing” approach to broadband data. BroadbandCensus.com calls this approach the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition.

As BroadbandCensus.com explains within its comments:

In addition to collecting data about speed, price and competition, the public and transparent crowdsourcing approach to collecting broadband data enjoys several additional benefits. The BroadbandCensus SPARC Score is a metric evaluating the Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition within any particular geography. The Broadband SPARC Score becomes a tool for comparing broadband deployment between states, between counties, between cities, between ZIP codes, or between even finer degrees of geography. The Broadband SPARC Score allows public and private entities seeking to utilize federal broadband stimulus funds to compare the state of their geographies – and the impact that their stimulus-funded efforts have on broadband. Does a particular Census Block, Census Block Group, or Census Tract have a low Broadband SPARC Score before stimulus funding? Measuring the SPARC Score after the deployment of new stimulus funding – either for broadband networks (“supply side”) or for broadband applications and education campaigns (“demand side”) – would provide tangible, quantitative evidence of an impact for the government’s broadband investments.

[…]

The advantage of the consumer-focused approach to collecting and publishing broadband data is that it allows the consumer information from the Broadband Census to be incorporated into a publicly available repository of information – into which carrier information may also be added. The interactive map generated by the publicly-available data will be layered in all of its dimensions: Speed (including broadband technology, like DSL, cable, wireless), Price, Availability, Reliability, Competition (including individual carriers). Consumers will be able to click on and click off those variables most pertinent to their situation. Equally significant is that carriers will have the opportunity to “opt-in” to the public display of data about the areas in which they provide broadband service, as well as to their promised speeds and prices. Because the consumer data on BroadbandCensus.com is constantly being updated through individual broadband census entries and through individual speed tests, the “map” generated by the underlying data will likewise be constantly refreshed.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com is an independent provider of news, information and events about broadband technology and internet policy. A for-profit company, BroadbandCensus.com is dedicated to providing independent reporting and insightful analysis about the role and status of broadband in the economy and in society, and is at the forefront of understanding and explaining the implementation of the $7.2 billion broadband stimulus package on the federal, state and local level.

As a news organization, BroadbandCensus.com takes no position on substantive telecommunications policy controversies, such as network neutrality, universal service, video franchising, or media and spectrum concentration. BroadbandCensus.com does, however, firmly believe in the value of transparency, both as a means to oversee the government, and to provide consumers with recourse vis-à-vis their broadband carriers.

A copy of the comments is available on the FCC website or on BroadbandCensus.com.

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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