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Phoenix Center Urges Broadband Rankings to Include Demand-Side Data

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2009 – The Phoenix Center on Wednesday released a report today that aims to further debunk the frequently-cited Organization for Economic Cooperation Development’s report ranking the United States at 15 in broadband penetration among OECD members.

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WASHINGTON, July 16, 2009 – The Phoenix Center on Wednesday released a report today that aims to further debunk the frequently-cited Organization for Economic Cooperation Development’s report ranking the United States at 15 in broadband penetration among OECD members.

“If you live by the metrics, you die by the metrics,” said Phoenix Center Chief Economist George Ford.

Ford referred to the OECD’s report that ranks countries’ broadband on a system that leans upon population size to the number of possible connection points. The Phoenix Center report said that the OECD reports do not qualify for residential households and their respective sizes nor the number of business connections and the potential and actual number of people gaining broadband by these connections.

Phoenix Center President Lawrence Spiwak said that “the problem is our focus on ranks.”

Even if all the current funds are dumped into broadband nationwide and actual coverage increases, he said, it really will not help the U.S. ranking in OECD reports because “they do not really account for demand-side broadband.”

Newly reinstated to his second term as a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, Robert McDowell said that even “if America was 100 percent broadband saturated, they would still fall to 20 under OECD standards.”

McDowell went on to say that if proper information isn’t collected, bad information or decisions strictly based on rankings “could be misleading and be used to justify potentially harmful policy.”

McDowell touted the regulations released July 1 by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration regarding the Broadband Development Information Act. The law, as implemented by the federal stimulus legislation, requires the creation of a national broadband data map by February 2011.

McDowell said that gave the FCC what the proper time to make good policy.

Spiwak said that the aim of the Phoenix Center was “to to refocus this analysis to: what is our goal?”

Ford’s report argued that the proper relationship for any sorting of broadband ranking needs to be the “actual” broadband available divided by that of the “targeted” broadband, a value that need to be arrived at differently by each country’s broadband goals.

One of the other countries that have been upset with the OECD rankings is Portugal, a country that has been pouring money into educational technology and other broadband tools, said Ford. “These guys were making policy the right way and probably being punished for it.”

Ford said that America is also exceptional in the relationship between our fixed and wireless providers, categories not accounted for properly in the OECD report. “You can’t just add fixed and mobile.” He said that numerical weights must be placed on the quantity of each of those variables.

Ford said that data that needed to be collected included: what is purchased, how much is paid, what is the demographics of broadband buyers, and data about broadband costs, by modality.

In the plenary session of the event, University of California at Berkeley Professor Michael Katz said that the U.S. “need[ed] to develop measures of individuals’ access and use of modern telecommunications” as a part of gauging value.

Katz said this may come by collecting more demand-side data, and possibly adding questions to government surveys.

Katz said that this was a stronger measure than simply compiling household user data or ranking on a per-capita basis. The plenary session agreed that useful broadband data was currently lacking. Many expressed the hope that the BDIA would be an agent in gathering this information in order to make proper comparisons.

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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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