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Biden Makes Official Broadband Stimulus Announcement

WASHINGTON, December 17, 2009 – Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that $2 billion will be made available on a rolling basis over the next 75 days to increase broadband penetration across the country. The money is part of the $7.2 billion Congress allocated in January for national broadband investments.

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WASHINGTON, December 17, 2009 – Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that $2 billion will be made available on a rolling basis over the next 75 days to increase broadband penetration across the country. The money is part of the $7.2 billion Congress allocated in January for national broadband investments.

“New broadband access means more capacity and better reliability in rural areas and underserved urban communities around the country. Businesses will be able to improve their customer service and better compete around the world,” said Vice President Biden during an event at Impulse Manufacturing in Dawsonville, Georgia, with Governor Sonny Perdue, R-Ga.

“This is what the Recovery Act is all about – sparking new growth, tapping into the ingenuity of the American people and giving folks the tools they need to help build a new economy in the 21st-century,” he said. 

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has been charged with distributing $4.7 billion and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service with $2.5 to encourage broadband adoption. “The awards are designed to help underserved – and often hard-hit – communities overcome the distance and technology barrier by expanding connectivity between educational institutions, enabling remote medical consultations and attracting new businesses – as well as the jobs that come with them,” said the NTIA.

While Biden spoke in Georgia, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled to Bangor, Maine, to announce $25.4 million in grants to build broadband infrastructure in rural and disadvantaged parts of the state. On Tuesday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack plans to travel to Ohio to discuss a $2.4 million broadband award and the role it could play in connecting the community to the smart energy grid.

The federal government Thursday announced it was allocating the following funding amounts: $121.6 million to improve connections to communities lacking sufficient broadband access; $51.4 million to connect end users like homes, hospitals and schools to their community’s broadband infrastructure; $7.3 million to expand computer center capacity for public use such as in libraries; and $2.4 million to fund innovative projects that promote broadband demand in population groups where the technology has traditionally been underutilized. 

Grants awards are being given to the following entities: North Georgia Network Cooperative, Inc., Biddeford Internet Corp. ION Hold Co., South Dakota Network, LLC, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, City of Boston, Regents of the University of Minnesota, The Inland Northwest Community Access Network, New Mexico State Library, Rivada Sea Lion, Big Island Broadband/Aloha Broadband, Peetz Cooperative Telephone Co., The Chatham Telephone Company, The Bretton Woods Telephone Company, Slic Network Solutions, North Central Ohio Rural Fiber Optic Network, and The Pine Telephone Company.

Senators John Kerry and Paul Kirk, and Congressmen Edward Markey, Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch, gathered with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino Thursday to discuss the $1,906,439 broadband grant being awarded to the City of Boston. “This new investment will fund a coordinated project among three community anchors to provide upgraded and expanded hardware, software, and public computing training in 26 public libraries, 11 public housing developments, and 16 Centers for Youth and Families in Boston,” according to a statement from Kerry’s office.

 “In Boston, 80 percent of public school kids have no broadband service at home in large part because their parents cannot afford it, and that’s why we pushed like hell to invest in broadband deployment through the stimulus bill,” said Kerry in a statement. “While we will continue to push for the agencies to move the money quickly and give all Massachusetts applicants a fair hearing, I am extremely pleased to see that stimulus funds are now flowing.” 

“This is one way of reducing the much higher unemployment rate among minority and underserved communities,” added Lynch.

Dan Hays, director of the telecommunications practice at PRTM, a management consulting firm, was less enthusiastic about today’s announcement. He said that with just 18 projects of the 2200 applications receiving funding, and less than 2 percent of the appropriated monies being released, the first wave of awards is a real disappointment. “Despite the high level of interest expressed by applicants, and many intriguing projects submitted, it’s a real let down that more have not been approved even after a delay in the award date,” said Hays.

NTIA and RUS initially planned to announce the first round of awards in November but were overloaded with applications and subsequently delayed.

NTIA has posted more BTOP project information here:

http://www.ntia.doc.gov/

http://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/index.html

Winter covered technology policy issues for five-and-a-half years as a reporter for the National Journal Group. She has worked for USA Today, the Washington Times, the Magazine Group, the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She also taught English at a university in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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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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