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‘Broadband Census for America’ United Scholars and State Officials

WASHINGTON – September 29, 2009 – From the beginning, BroadbandCensus.com has aimed at providing academics, consumers, government officials and industry with the high-quality data needed about the state of broadband throughout the country.

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WASHINGTON – September 29, 2009 – From the beginning, BroadbandCensus.com has aimed at providing academics, consumers, government officials and industry with the high-quality data needed about the state of broadband throughout the country.

We believe in public and transparent broadband data. Without public and transparent broadband data, each of these constituents are lacking in what they need.

It is heartening that the highest levels of the Obama administration see and espouse the virtues of transparency and of a data-driven approach to broadband policy. Again today, it came clear that the FCC now seeks to do that which BroadbandCensus.com has been doing since February 2008 – comparing actual speeds with advertised speeds – on an even more finely grained basis.

Now comes the hard part: translating the rhetoric and positive feelings about public and open broadband data into concrete decisions that will drive better-quality broadband data.

Last week I began this five-part series during One Web Week. I focused on the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain broadband data in 2006, and on the founding of BroadbandCensus.com in the fall of 2007.

Much has happened on broadband data in the past week: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced a new Network Neutrality principle embodying “transparency” in broadband data. The U.S. Broadband Coalition released its report calling for a National  Broadband Data Warehouse. Over the weekend, at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference, one key topics of discussion was the centrality of public and transparent broadband data

Today, I’d like to highlight BroadbandCensus.com’s role in helping the build the emerging consensus behind broadband data disclosure. I’ll speak particularly about our major conference, “Broadband Census for America,” one year ago, on September 26, 2008. I’ll also speak about the work we’ve done on covering broadband policy and deployment through our reporting, and in the comments that we’ve filed at the FCC in support of public and transparent broadband data.

‘Broadband Census for America’ Conference

BroadbandCensus.com  began with some modest seed funding from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and from the Benton Foundation. We’ve also been blessed by wonderful collaborators of technical and outreach matters: Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program, Internet2, the Network Policy Council of EDUCAUSE, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, and others.

Many of these organizations believe, with us, that disclosure – including disclosure of carriers offering broadband service within a particular geography – is necessary in order to understand the true state of broadband availability throughout the country.

On August 7, 2008, BroadbandCensus.com and our academic partners, including Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Texas at Austin and Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program, announced our conference, “Broadband Census for America.” We sought to assemble state, local and federal officials engaged in gathering and mapping information about broadband speeds, prices, availability, reliability and competition. Academic researchers lent their perspective on the importance of universal broadband data. Among the noteworthy individuals to attend that gathering included James Baller, of the Baller Herbst Law Group, who went on to lead the U.S. Broadband Coalition. Susan Crawford, then a University of Michigan Law Professor and now a White house official on science and technology policy.

The keynotes for the event included Commissioner Rachelle Chong, of the California Public Utilities Commission, and Eamonn Confrey, first secretary of Information and Communications Policy of the Embassy of Ireland. Confrey spoke about the Irish experience in public broadband mapping. The full agenda for the program is available at http://broadbandcensus.com/conference. By friend and colleague Drew Bennett, who served as a special correspondent and special assistant at BroadbandCensus.com during the last half of 2008, was instrumental to making the conference a success.

The program included a panel on “Does America Need a Broadband Census”, with a wide diversity of speakers, including Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge, Debbie Goldman of the Communications Workers of America, Mark McElroy, chief operating officer of Connected Nation, and myself. The second panel, on “How Should America Conduct a Broadband Census,” including Jeffrey Campbell of Cisco Systems, William Lehr of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jane Smith Patterson of the North Carolina e-NC Authority, and others.

The program committee for the event included Professors Kenneth Flamm of University of Texas, John Peha of CMU (and current chief technologist at the FCC), Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation,Scott Wallsten of the Technology Policy Institute, and others. Full details are available at http://broadbandcensus.com/conference

Reporting on Broadband Policy in Washington and the States

In addition to our Broadband Census for America Conference, BroadbandCensus.com launched its reporting – in Washington and in the states, beginning in May 2008. We’ve subsequently posted more than 450 news stories, blog entries, press releases and commentary on broadband.

Today, on the news side of our operations, most of our coverage focuses on the broadband stimulus, the national broadband plan, and wireless broadband. We’ve also had a special eye toward the battles over broadband data, and the state struggles over the deployment of broadband data. That’s what we began in the summer of 2008: a series of state-by-state articles profiling the broadband policies, broadband build-out and broadband data in each of the United States and its territories. The complete list is available at http://broadbandcensus.com/broadband-census-in-the-states.

As we have strengthened our knowledge of and ties to individual states, we began to tap into a whole new sources of broadband information for our data operations. For example, because of the greater detail available from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we’ve been able to identify each of the carriers offering service at the ZIP-code level in that state.

Broadband Census.com has also weighed into the deliberations of the FCC on the issue of obtaining better broadband data. Both in July 2008, at http://broadbandcensus.com/2008/07/comments-of-broadbandcensuscom-in-fcc-rulemaking-on-broadband-data/, and in June 2009, when we urged a “Public Broadband Map with SPARC Scores” – for the Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition of broadband connectivity, at http://broadbandcensus.com/2009/06/broadbandcensuscom-urges-public-broadband-map-with-sparc-scores/. In the latter filing, BroadbandCensus.com reiterated its view that the public should have access to basic broadband SPARC information. It also highlighting the existence of tangible ways in which the federal government could, even in the absence of cooperation from the broadband carriers, could still obtain the all-important Census-block-by Census block data.

The Series:

  • Part 1: The debate begins with the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in 2006.
  • Part 2, on One Web Day: The founding of BroadbandCensus.com in the fall of 2007.
  • Part 3: The Broadband Census for America Conference in September 2008, and our work with the academic community to foster public and transparent broadband data-collection efforts.
  • Part 4: BroadbandCensus.com’s involvement with the National Broadband Plan in 2009.
  • The Final Part: The role BroadbandCensus.com and broadband users have to play in the creation of a robust and reliable National Broadband Data Warehouse.

About BroadbandCensus.com

BroadbandCensus.com was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on BroadbandCensus.com is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of BroadbandCensus.com. Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, BroadbandCensus.com released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About BroadbandCensus.com.

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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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