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FCC Chief Previews Spectrum Recommendations



Washington, February 26, 2010 – The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission this week previewed his agency’s spectrum recommendations in the FCC’s upcoming national broadband plan to be presented to Congress next month.

In Julius Genachowski’s statement titled “America’s 2020 Vision for Mobile Broadband,” he established that “no area of the broadband ecosystem holds more promise for transformational innovation than mobile.” He added that “without sufficient spectrum, we will starve mobile broadband of the nourishment it needs to thrive as a platform for innovation, job creation and economic growth.”

The chairman’s statement before the New America Foundation comes partially as a response to letters from hundreds of companies – including Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, Motorola and Verizon – warning that without more spectrum America’s global leadership in innovation and technology will be threatened.

To meet the goal of having the fastest, most robust and most extensive mobile broadband networks in the most innovative mobile broadband market in the world, Genachowski said the plan must: “Accelerate the broad deployment of mobile broadband by moving to recover and reallocate spectrum; update our 20th century spectrum policies to reflect 21st century technologies and opportunities; remove barriers to broadband buildout, lower the cost of deployment, and promote competition.”

The broadband plan will represent an important step in ensuring that the agency’s stewardship of the airwaves is future oriented and serves the goals of future innovation and investment. To accomplish this first step, the plan must seek to unleash more spectrum.

Genachowski then announced that through collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the national plan will set a goal of freeing up 500 megahertz of spectrum over the next decade. To achieve this goal, Genachowski wants to ensure that spectrum intended for the commercial marketplace flows to the uses the market values most.

The plan will propose a “Mobile Future Auction” that will permit existing spectrum licensees such as television broadcasters in spectrum starved markets, to voluntarily relinquish spectrum in exchange for a share of auction proceeds, or allow spectrum sharing and other efficiency measures.

“Now that I’ve mentioned broadcast spectrum” said Genachowski, “let me be clear: the recommendation is for a voluntary program.”

The chairman believes that the Mobile Future Auction will allow broadcasters to elect to participate in a mechanism that could save costs and effect a solution to one of the country most significant challenges. The plan targets broadcast spectrum because of the inherent value for mobile broadband locked in the broadcast TV bands (as much as $50 billion) and because this highly valuable spectrum allocated to broadcasters is not being used efficiently. Apparently this is true even after the digital transition. In the very largest cities only about 150 megahertz of every 300 allocated to broadcast television is being used.

The plan also aims to maximize the value of spectrum in bands such as the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) or Wireless Communications Service (WCS) by giving licensees the flexibility of using the spectrum for mobile broadband the option of voluntarily transferring the license to someone else who will.

“Vital elements of the commission’s charter are to ensure that, in exercising our responsibilities with respect to spectrum, we promote competition and ensure that spectrum use is in the public interest, and of course all spectrum policy decisions will be made with that in mind, “ stated Genachowski.

The National Broadband Plan additionally will encourage innovative uses of spectrum, including “opportunistic” uses to encourage the development of new technologies and new spectrum access models.

Genachowski remarked that “unlicensed spectrum for example, has been a proven test bed for emerging competition, injecting new investment and innovation into the marketplace and spawning new services and devices from Bluetooth to WiFi technology.”

He added: “New ideas such as databases that dynamically enable-or revoke- access to spectrum in particular times and places promise to change the way we think about spectrum.”

In pitching one of Commissioner Michael Copps’s ideas, the chairman added that the plan will include a recommendation to invest a sufficient amount into research and development to insure that the science behind spectrum access continues to advance.

In order to close the adoption gap, the plan proposes a creation of a Mobility Fund as part of broader Universal Service Reform.

Without increasing the size of the universal service fund, the plan will seek to provide one-time support for deployment of infrastructure enabling robust mobile broadband networks, to bring all states to a minimum level of mobile availability.

Finally, in order to improve mobile communications to first responders, the plan intends to develop the 700 MHz public safety broadband network to achieve interoperability. Genachowski assured that broadband plan will have a comprehensive public safety strategy of its own. The chairman mentioned that the goals of the plan will be achieved through public-private partnerships between public safety and commercial providers, including but not limited to 700MHz “D Block” commercial licensees. 

Throughout his statement, the chairman likened the National Broadband Plan to the Winter Olympics, where public servants spend months training and working, in an effort to win a gold medal for the United States by creating a plan to regain global leadership in broadband. He ended with the same comparison by saying that like the Olympics that only happen once every four years: “When you get your chance, you better make it count, because you don’t know when, or if, you’ll get another shot.”

CTIA – The Wireless Association President and CEO Steve Largent released a statement thanking Genachowski and his broadband team for their work on the National Broadband Plan and their recognition of the importance of wireless broadband.

“By proposing to free up 500 MHz of new spectrum for mobile broadband use, Chairman Genachowski has taken a tremendous step toward maintaining our worldwide mobile ecosystem leadership,” Largent said.

In his statement, the FCC chairman mentioned that “the costs of obtaining permits and leasing pole attachments and rights of way can amount to 20 percent of fiber deployment, which is necessary for wireless networks as well as wired networks. With our tower-sitting shot-clock order in November, the commission has already begun taking action to cut red tape, lower the costs of investment, and accelerate network deployments – but more needs to be done.”

Largent commended the chairman for his recognition of the importance of reducing such red tape and barriers to investment. He continued, “As we have said many times before, spectrum is our industry’s backbone that fuels the ‘virtuous cycle’ of innovation for consumers and other industries such as mHealth, smart grids, and mLearning.”

As Deputy Editor, Chris Naoum is curating expert opinions, and writing and editing articles on Broadband Breakfast issue areas. Chris served as Policy Counsel for Future of Music Coalition, Legal Research Fellow for the Benton Foundation and law clerk for a media company, and previously worked as a legal clerk in the office of Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. He received his B.A. from Emory University and his J.D. and M.A. in Television Radio and Film Policy from Syracuse University.

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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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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