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Panelists at FCC Workshop Debate Agency’s Role in Funding Broadband Research

WASHINGTON, November 25, 2009 – In a workshop held Monday at the Federal Communications Commission, academics and industry leaders outlined their concerns and suggestions about the upcoming national broadband plan. The workshop, organized by the FCC’s national broadband taskforce, sought answers to specific questions about how research funding can propel technology innovation.

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WASHINGTON, November 25, 2009 – In a workshop held Monday at the Federal Communications Commission, academics and industry leaders outlined their concerns and suggestions about the upcoming national broadband plan. The workshop, organized by the FCC’s national broadband taskforce, sought answers to specific questions about how research funding can propel technology innovation.

“You asked about the state of research funding for broadband related research,” commented David Clark, senior research scientist at MIT. “Overall, I believe the level of funding for network research… has been inadequate to meet the needs of the nation and certainly the research community.”

Clark continued that “I see bright students, receiving Ph.D.s in the field, choosing not to go into academia because they see the job of a junior faculty member, even at a prestigious university, as difficult and unrewarding.”

“It makes most sense for industry to invest in research when it can appropriate the results of that work. Enhancements that might advance the state of the world as a whole, but not the player that funded the research, are hard to justify in an industrial lab.”

Therefore, he said, “federally-funded research is more likely to result… in socially beneficial outcomes.”

Federal funding would allow people to focus on research instead of lobbying for grants. An additional benefit is increased impartiality by researchers. Privately-funded research will inherently favor the interests of the benefactor, suggests Clark, while federal funding would help resolve this problem.

At this point in time, however, it is unclear what kind of role the FCC will be allowed to play in promoting and funding research.

“The FCC does not have in its charter any kind of grant-making responsibility?” questioned Clark. “If the FCC wanted to be in the grant-making business, then the question is, would Congress go along with that?”

Other panelists also felt that collaborative research and increased understanding are essential to the future success of the United States in broadband technologies.

“I just think that at the end of the day we need to make very sure that we understand that technology races ahead, people struggle to catch up, and policy is somewhere back here,” said Mike Nelson of the Communications Culture and Technology Program of Georgetown University.

“If we have the world’s best technology, and we don’t have any understanding of how the policy, and the psychology, and the economics affect the employment, then we haven’t done our job,” continued Nelson.

“It’s really great to talk about how we collaborate between the great research that you [the specialists] do and the mainstream,” said Erik Garr, on the FCC’s national broadband taskforce.

Garr said that increasing the availability of broadband network is a key way to increase communication and overall effectiveness of the high-speed internet ecosystem.

Marcus Weldon of Bell Labs reminded the group that to achieve these aims, “grand challenge” ideas must be focused on. These overarching ideals might help provide a driving force idea as the National Broadband Plan develops. The plan is due for release on February 17, 2010.

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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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