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Top Obama Administration Officials Discuss Transparency and Broadband Data

ARLINGTON, Va., September 28, 2009 – Top telecom officials from the Obama administration said that better broadband data, and greater transparency about the operations of government, were two of the key technology policy priorities factoring into the FCC’s, and the government’s, approach to technology.



From Weekly Report

ARLINGTON, Va., September 28, 2009 – Top telecom officials from the Obama administration said that better broadband data, and greater transparency about the operations of government, were two of the key technology policy priorities factoring into the FCC’s, and the government’s, approach to technology.

Speaking at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference on Friday, these officials – including the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the leader of the broadband task force at the Federal Communications Commission, and the deputy chief technology officer – highlighted the need for better data on an ongoing basis.

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[private_Premium Content][private_Free Trial]“It is really hard to answer certain basic questions about broadband; it is kind of a challenge,” said Blair Levin, executive director of the omnibus broadband initiative at the FCC. “Let’s not bemoan us, we should fix it – the only caveat is, do not believe that the collection of data is free.”

Levin said that the need to monitor and track broadband superseded the demands of the federal government’s $7.2 broadband stimulus program in that collecting and analyzing data could “really inform policy” going forward. “The broadband plan does not end, but is the beginning of a process.”

Building on the point about broadband data, Deputy CTO Beth Noveck said: “one of the reasons that getting the data out there and putting it up online [is so that the government] can slice it and dice it” in new and unique ways.

Noveck discussed a multiplicity of ways in which the Obama administration was attempting to use Web 2.0 methods – including a Health and Human Services “code-a-thon” as a way to stimulate ideas on the interoperability of medical records.

White House Special Assistant for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Susan Crawford also addressed the need for better research, including research into the results from the broadband stimulus grants, in responding to a question from the audience.

“We are putting all of this money into wiring the country, but two years from now,” asked one TPRC attendee, researchers are going to want to know: “did it work?”

“We have to have more research,” replied Crawford, underscoring the President Obama’s commitment to devote three percent of the Gross Domestic Product to scientific research. “There is a commitment to the basic research” within the administration, she said.

Crawford and Levin encouraged the audience, a wonky crowd gathered at the 37th Annual TPRC at George Mason University School of Law here, to provide concerted feedback into the broadband policy process.

“You are going to file something collectively in November, saying, ‘this is the research agenda’ and ‘here is the data you need to do it’,” Levin predicted. “If we think it is good, and in the broadband plan, we adopt that and we collect the data,” then the FCC will need to know the concrete purpose for which the data and the research is necessary.

NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling, who also serves as assistant secretary of the Commerce Department, added that funding for broadband research needed to come out of the $7.2 billion allocated to NTIA and the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service.

With regard to broadband data and mapping from telecommunications providers, he said, “there absolutely will be disclosure of certain amounts of the information,” including information at the Census block level. “We will be working with the FCC to find ways to merge that information today in a display.”

As to the funds allocated for broadband data and mapping, he said that the agency was not obligated to spend the entire $350 million allocated for that purpose. “If there is $200 million left over, it could [transferred] into another broadband program,” he said.[/private_Premium Content][/private_Free Trial]

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Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark is a nationally respected U.S. telecommunications attorney. An early advocate of better broadband, better lives, he founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for better broadband data in 2008. That effort became the Broadband Breakfast media community. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over news coverage focused on digital infrastructure investment, broadband’s impact, and Big Tech. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Clark served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative. Now, in light of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, attorney Clark helps fiber-based and wireless clients secure funding, identify markets, broker infrastructure and operate in the public right of way. He also helps fixed wireless providers obtain spectrum licenses from the Federal Communications Commission. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

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.



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.



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.



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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