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U.S. Broadband Ranking Needs Qualification, Experts Agree

WASHINGTON, June 5, 2009 – With Broadband being a keystone aspect of President Obama’s economic policies, it is important to understand where America’s broadband deployment and adoption rates stand internationally, a panel of experts agreed on Friday.

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WASHINGTON, June 5, 2009 – With Broadband being a keystone aspect of President Obama’s economic policies, it is important to understand where America’s broadband deployment and adoption rates stand internationally, a panel of experts agreed on Friday.

Although rankings of the global status of broadband deployment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have been maligned by some, policy makers can still draw some valuable lessons from the data.

Former Ambassador David A. Gross, now a partner at the law firm of Wiley Rein, said that OECD’s broadband statistics are flawed, since they do not take wireless hotspots, and facility sharing, such as college dorms and single access points for large buildings, into account. “To their credit,” however, “they are working on correcting it,” he said.

Gross was speaking at a panel of telecommunications experts at an event, sponsored by the Free State Foundation, entitled “Broadband Nation: Where Does the U.S. Really Stand in the World Rankings?”

The “most fundamental flaw” in the way broadband statistics are interpreted is the assumption that “the winner ranks higher and the loser ranks lower,” as if it were a zero sum game, he said. Because broadband benefits all, that zero-sum approach is not appropriate.

Gross should that the United States should not seek to limit broadband competition from other countries for fear they will benefit at our expense.

When more people in the world have broadband, everyone benefits, he said. Rather, policy-makers should continue to focus on what is best for broadband development in the U.S., regardless of what is happening in other countries. Although it is a good idea to look at other countries as examples, policy-makers should not look to them entirely as models, because “they have different situations,” he said.

Competition is another important factor in the development of broadband technology, said Gross. In looking at the effect of state intervention in broadband, the European Union found that when there are two or more broadband providers competing, state intervention is not beneficial, and likely harms competition.

In the question and answer session, Anna Snow, a representative from the United Nations, noted that this recommendation was in the draft stages, and had not been finalized.

Another important factor in the deployment of broadband, in addition to competition, are the adoption rates, said Link Hoewing, vice president of internet and technology issues for Verizon Communications. Consumer demand is what drives companies to invest in new and improved technologies.

Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said that lack of personal computer ownership played a role in broadband adoption.

The United States, said Atkinson, currently ranks number 10 in broadband deployment and number 11 in PC ownership. Atkinson pointed to the example of Sweden, where the government gives free computers to low-income families with children who perform well in school. Coupled with additional state support for broadband networks, this policy enables Sweden to rank so highly in OECD ranking.

If the U.S. spent the same amount, proportionally, that Sweden has spent, “we would have invested $30 billion” into broadband, he said.

One practical step Atkinson recommended to increase PC ownership in the U.S. is catalyzing “a large share of community efforts.” Atkinson proposed that old, donated computers be refurbished and donated to low-income households. First, however, the recipients would be required to take four weeks of digital training before receiving the computers. These initiatives would be “locally based, but nationally supported,” he said.

The adoption of broadband beyond PCs must also be considered, said Christopher Guttman-McCabe, vice president of regulatory affairs at CTIA – The Wireless Association. Broadband is available on a variety of handheld electronic devices – a fact that is often left out of the equation.

Broadband to the home is being overtaken by broadband to the person, and this is going “to force policy makers to reconsider the definition of broadband adoption,” he said.

The price of broadband deployment in rural areas, said Hoewing, is “more than it needs to be.” The price of broadband in rural areas can easily be lowered through support for middle mile deployment, he said.

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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