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BroadbandCensus.com: Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2009 – Over the summer, BroadbandCensus.com split our operations between the news and events that we host, and the Creative Commons database with the local broadband SPARC: the Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition in the local broadband marketplace. As we’ve now entered the fourth year of this saga in which BroadbandCensus.com has been leading the charge for public and transparent broadband data, much has changed about the opportunity that we face, and our country faces, in bringing better broadband data to consumers, and to policy-makers. In previous versions of this series of blog posts taking stock, I’ve highlighted our efforts to start the ball rolling on crowdsourcing broadband data, and on uniting scholars and state officials through the “Broadband Census for America” conference that we hosted on the eve of the passage of the Broadband Data Improvement Act. Today, I’d like to speak about some of the major changes that 2009 has brought to BroadbandCensus.com – particularly as both our news and our data side have helped to set the table for the national broadband plan currently under development. In the final series of these blog posts, next week, I plan to unveil some of the major changes in store as we relaunch BroadbandCensus.com.

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WASHINGTON, October 30, 2009 – Over the summer, BroadbandCensus.com split our operations between the news and events that we host, and the Creative Commons database with the local broadband SPARC: the Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition in the local broadband marketplace.

As we’ve now entered the fourth year of this saga in which BroadbandCensus.com has been leading the charge for public and transparent broadband data, much has changed about the opportunity that we face, and our country faces, in bringing better broadband data to consumers, and to policy-makers.

In previous versions of this series of blog posts taking stock, I’ve highlighted our efforts to start the ball rolling on crowdsourcing broadband data, and on uniting scholars and state officials through the “Broadband Census for America” conference that we hosted  on the eve of the passage of the Broadband Data Improvement Act.

Today, I’d like to speak about some of the major changes that 2009 has brought to BroadbandCensus.com – particularly as both our news and our data side have helped to set the table for the national broadband plan currently under development. In the final series of these blog posts, I plan to unveil some of the major changes in store as we relaunch BroadbandCensus.com.

Broadband Census Data LLC and the Richland County Map

Later today, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will host NTIA will host a public meeting, the Broadband Data Transparency Workshop, “regarding data related to broadband Internet access that the agency collects, data needs of researchers, and future broadband research.” It’s impossible not to be struck by the way in which policy officials are now focused on this vital principle: broadband data should be publicly available. At BroadbandCensus.com, we’ve always viewed transparency about the carriers that provide broadband service as central to building a consumer-friendly database that serves the needs of multiple constituencies.

Because BroadbandCensus.com has also become a prominent news organization in the field of broadband reporting, over the summer our parent entity, Broadband Census LLC split our operations into two separate entities: Broadband Census Data LLC, and Broadband Census News LLC. The data side of our operations on BroadbandCensus.com has been super-active in promoting the need for what we’ve called the National Broadband Mashup, and in proving that a public and transparent broadband map can be done.

One of the key marking points in this activity was the creation of our broadband map for Richland County, South Carolina. Working with Benedict College, an historically black college in Columbia, S.C., and the South Carolina Broadband Coalition, BroadbandCensus.com built a beta map of the 8,078 Census blocks in the county. For each Census block, our team identified the presence or absence of broadband, the type of technology through which broadband was provided, the speeds at which broadband speeds are advertised, and the names of the carriers that offer the service.

We did this in a matter of weeks, and extremely tight budget. The results are visible for all to see at http://BroadbandCensusMaps.com. (Please note: the rendering capacity only works with the Firefox and Safari web browsers. Buildout to Internet Explorer and Chrome await the next phase of the project.) Because the speeds listed in the database that accompanies the broadband map are promised, and not actual speeds, we are working to incorporate the speed test data that we’ve been collecting – at our Take the Broadband Census page – for nearly two years now.

Pushing for Better and More Robust Public Data

Broadband Census Data is also an applicant for federal broadband stimulus funds, under the Public Computing Center portion of the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program. Together with our long-time partners at Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program, BroadbandCensus.com submitted a joint application whose objective is “to develop national-level user-generated data about broadband, focused on public anchor institutions (libraries, schools, colleges, public buildings, civic centers, transportation hubs) by creating a national network of speed test servers; engaging in outreach to public computer centers; [and] building a friendly web interface to collect and publicly release broadband data.” We look forward to review of our application by the NTIA.

Through our Broadband Census Data subsidiary, BroadbandCensus.com has also been extremely involved in private-sector efforts to promote national standard for the collection of public and transparent broadband data. I was very happy to participate as Co-Chair of the Metrics Working Group of the U.S. Broadband Coalition with Rob Atkinson, President of the Information Technology and Information Administration. Rob and I led a diverse group to seek common ground in crafting a series of six policy options that will promote – going forward – a much more robust and united approach to collecting and publishing broadband data.

BroadbandCensus.com continued to seek input and collaborate with the top telecommunications researchers and policy analysts. Last month, the Benton Foundation, BroadbandCensus.com, and the New America Foundation hosted a session – we dubbed it “Beer and Broadband Mapping” at the at the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference.

Setting the Table with the Broadband Breakfast Club

Even as our data side has had an extremely busy series of months, the news operations of BroadbandCensus.com have also expanded and grown. More than 16 individuals have written for our news side since we began covering broadband technology and internet policy in early 2008 – and posted more than 620 stories on BroadbandCensus.com. Among the reporters and writers who have written for us include Andrew Bennett, Stephen Bone, Winter Casey, Jennifer Clark, Cassandre Durocher, Andrew Feinberg, Rahul Gaitonde, Mercy Gakii, Christina Kirchner, William Korver, Jesse Masai, Tina Nguyen, Douglas Streeks, Cody Williams, Ryan Womack, and Alex Tcherkassky. As I mentioned previously, big changes are in store in the near future, and I look forward to announcing them soon.

Our news side is focused on three coverage areas: the national broadband plan, the broadband stimulus, and wireless broadband policy. I would like to highlight one of our ongoing reporting projects – our coverage of the FCC’s workshops in developing a national broadband plan. As we did with the NTIA’s workshops on crafting the broadband stimulus, and in analyzing comments that parties made in the lead-up to the Notices of Funds Availability, we’ve been sending reporters to cover these events since mid-August, and have assembled a growing collection of these reports, which are available for FREE on our website.

BroadbandCensus.com also hosts Premium Content for our subscribers, which provides analysis and insight into the key areas that we cover.

Perhaps the most visible facet of our news and events operation, however, is the Broadband Breakfast Club. We’ve been hosting this open discussion forum, now held at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, on the Second Tuesday of each month since October 2008. With a wide range of speakers – including House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., the Broadband Breakfast Club’s has become a key destination point for top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy.

Currently, we’re in the midst of a series, “Setting the Table for the National Broadband Plan,” which will run until February 9, 2010, one week before the FCC’s plan is due to Congress. The Broadband Breakfast Club is sponsored by International Broadband Electric Communications, Inc., the Benton Foundation, and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

In September, we considered the FCC’s summer broadband workshops. Earlier this month, we hosted an event on “Health Care and Telemedicine,” with four top doctors who see broadband as a key ingredient to health care reform. Video of the October 13 event is available here, for FREE.

Our forthcoming Broadband Breakfast Club, on broadband and the environment, energy conservation and telecommuting, is taking place on Tuesday, November 10, with panelists including: Jennifer Alcott, Telework!VA Program Manager, Commonwealth of Virginia; Kevin Moss, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, BT Americas; and Steven Ruth, Professor, George Mason University School of Public Policy. Registration is available at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com

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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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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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.

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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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Broadband Data

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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