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FCC Launches Consumer Tool to Test Broadband Connections

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2010 – The FCC launched its consumer broadband test today, enabling consumers to test the speed and other performance measurements of their broadband connections.

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WASHINGTON, March 11, 2010 – The FCC launched its consumer broadband test today, enabling consumers to test the speed and other performance measurements of their broadband connections.

Users will randomly be assigned to one of two speed and measurement test when they visit www.broadband.gov. One of the tests will utilize the open source Network Diagnostic Tool (NDT) developed by Internet2, a consortium of researchers. BroadbandCensus.com has been using the NDT speed test since February 2008.

The other test, uses Ookla, Inc.’s Speedtest.net, has been used by Communications Workers of America’s SpeedMatters.org web site since 2007.

“Transparency empowers consumers, promotes innovation and investment, and encourages competition,” said Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.

“The FCC’s new digital tools will arm users with real-time information about their broadband connection and the agency with useful data about service across the country,” he said. “By informing consumers about their broadband service quality, these tools help eliminate confusion and make the market work more effectively.”

The FCC also said that it did not endorse any specific testing application.

In addition to the “Consumer Broadband Test,” the FCC on Thursday also launched a mobile application — a first for the agency — that is available through the Apple and Android app stores.  Called the “Broadband Dead Zone Report,” the mobile tool enables Americans to submit the street address location of a broadband “Dead Zone” where broadband is unavailable for purchase.

On the Consumer Broadband Test, the FCC is asking users to submit their address for internal purposes. BroadbandCensus.com links NDT speed test data to self-reported data about consumers’ broadband carriers, their ZIP+4 code, and the consumers’ ratings of their provider’s perfomance.

The FCC said that it would utilize the NDT speed test as further developed by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative. Open Technology Initiative, together with Google and Princeton University’s PlanetLab Consortium, launched Measurement Lab, or M-Lab, in January 2009. M-Lab uses an open, distributed server infrastructure.

As with BroadbandCensus.com and the FCC, among M-Lab’s core goals is to advance network research by actively promoting openness and transparency: research tools on M-Lab must publicly publish their source code. Further, the NDT data collected is being made publicly available on the Measurement Lab Data Repository under a Creative Commons license.  More than 2.8 million NDT tests have already been run, and M-Lab publicly released the first 500 Gigabytes of data earlier this year.

BroadbandCensus.com also posts all the broadband data sets — the NDT results, as well as user-generated comments and ratings — under a Creative Commons license.

“The Network Diagnostic Tool released by the FCC will collect important information about the true state of broadband in the United States,” said Sascha Meinrath, Director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative.

“Through using M-Lab’s NDT tool, not only is the Commission empowering consumers with vital information regarding actual performance of their broadband connections versus unrealistic ‘up to’ speeds currently utilized by providers, but also contributing to research that is essential to informing good public policy,” said Benjamin Lennett, Policy Analyst for the Open Technology Initiative.

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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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