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FCC Restricts Disclosure of 'Confidential' and 'Highly Confidential' Information

WASHINGTON, October 12, 2009 – The Federal Communication Commission last week issued an order allowing it to restrict the disclosure of information deemed proprietary or confidential in the creation of a national broadband plan.

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WASHINGTON, October 12, 2009 – The Federal Communication Commission last week issued an order allowing it to restrict the disclosure of information deemed proprietary or confidential in the creation of a national broadband plan.

Released on October 8, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has adopted this protective order, it said, to serve the public’s interest by “giv[ing] appropriate access to the public,” while at the same time, protecting the confidential information that has been submitted by the individual or the party.

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[private_Premium Content][private_Free Trial]With this, however, the Protective Order does not “constitute a resolution of the merits “of any information that is submitted.” This information, if properly requested, could be potentially release by the Federal Communications Commission under the Freedom of Information Act.

Of what is deemed as confidential, information that has been submitted is fit into two categories: confidential or highly confidential.

Confidential information is information that is submitted for protection, and which is not readily available from public sources, the order says. The FCC retains the right to declare, on its own authority, that such information is not confidential.

Highly confidential information is information that has been submitted under the protection of the FOIA, the FCC’s implement rules, and the Protective Order.  This level of information, which is also not publicly available, consists of “detailed or granular information regarding the location, type, or cost of last-mile infrastructure used by a submitting party to offer broadband service.”

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration recently declared that the identities of carriers offering broadband on a Census-block basis is not confidential, and will not be protected. It was unclear whether the FCC was adopting a similar approach to that of the NTIA in issuing the order.

If any person who wished to use confidential or highly confidential information, can only do so by using this information preparing and conducting the National Broadband Plan. Information that is used for this cannot be used for any other purpose, including “business or commercial purposes, or in other administrative, regulatory or judicial proceedings.”

Before any of the information can be released, a person requesting to obtain the information must go through a process including signing an acknowledgment statement and “file it with the Bureau via the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System.”

Once a person has gained the clearance to receive the confidential or highly confidential information, it will be loaded onto their computer and will be under password protection.  In the Protective Order, it is stressed that the information, if accessible to others may only be used for the “purpose of analysis in connection with this proceeding” pertaining to the National Broadband Plan.

Information is not available to those who have not signed the Acknowledgment Statement.  When this happens, the information will not be sent electronically.  It will be physically sent to the person who is requesting it.

If a person who has requested and properly obtained the confidential or highly confidential information violates any of the terms under the Protective Order, that person must inform the FCC and the submitting party immediately, also they would have to immediately begin taking the “necessary steps to remedy the improper disclosure.” The Commission from there has the authority to give the proper punishment for violating the Protective Order, including suspension of working before the FCC and denying the opportunity to access confidential or highly confidential information.

With the Protective Order, information that is deemed confidential or highly confidential pertaining to the proceeding of a National Broadband Plan, is under great restriction, only giving access to those who have the necessary clearance; A clearance that can only be given if the person who is requesting the information is using it in connection to the National Broadband Plan.

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An intern at the National Journalism Center and a student at American University’s Washington Semester Program, Christina is a Reporter-Researcher for BroadbandBreakfast.com. She is a student at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

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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