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Form 477 Data Inadequate for Broadband Planning, Commissioners Told

WASHINGTON, September 29, 2009 – Current broadband mapping data is not specific enough in detail to help the Federal Communications Commission produce a national broadband plan, despite recent revisions to agency data-collection practices, staff members said Tuesday.

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WASHINGTON, September 29, 2009 – Current broadband mapping data is not specific enough in detail to help the Federal Communications Commission produce a national broadband plan, despite recent revisions to agency data-collection practices,  staff members said Tuesday.

That assessment came during presentations at the agency’s marathon open meeting, which lasted more than three hours and included presentations from many members of the broadband task force, which is responsible for crafting a strategy by February 2010. The workshoprepresented an opportunity for a “mid-course correction” after numerous open workshops and public meetings – an open process that chairman Julius Genachowski (D) called “unparalleled in FCC history.”

The most important part of the process is starting by examining the facts already in the record, said Omnibus Broadband Initiative Managing Director Eric Garr. But while Garr welcomed the numerous participants in the process so far, he asked for more information and less rhetoric.

“Bring opinions, but also bring your data,” he said.

Outside data is especially important to the process because the commission lacks needed information, said broadband task force head Blair Levin. “The task we are being asked to do cannot be done with the resources we have,” he said.

The commission’s lack of resources is especially evident in the inadequacy of broadband availability data, staff members told the commissioners during group presentations.

Despite revisions to the FCC’s Form 477 in June 2008 to collect broadband service availability at the Census tract level – instead of the ZIP code level – the commission still lacks enough information to determine where service is available and where it is not.

Data must be collected at a more granular level to properly assess broadband availability, staffers said. While the revised Form 477 collects data by Census tract, a proper analysis can only be conducted at the Census block level, they said.

To give a sense of the orders of magnitude, there are approximately 31,000 geographic-based ZIP codes, an estimated 61,000 Census tracks, approximately 200,000 Census block groups, and about 8,000,000 Census blocks.

Availability data must also be collected separate from demand. Data collected on households that subscribe to service by speed is inadequate for the purposes of a national plan when the commission needs to know service availability regardless of “take rate,” they said.

Further complicating matters is that there is no single data set of “all relevant broadband infrastructure” in existence. An appropriate data set would gather information both on pricing and provide the commission with a baseline from which the cost of building new infrastructure could be calculated.

And infrastructure capability is inadequately represented in current data, the staff reported. While carriers report on their advertised speed, the commission must collect information on actual throughput delivered to consumers independently from advertised rates.

The staff reports on the inadequacy of the revised Form 477 came only days after the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners filed a petition for declaratory ruling which would assert the States’ right to collect data at a more granular level than the commission currently does as part of the states’ obligations under the Broadband Data Improvement Act and the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

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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