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National Broadband Plan: A Look at Chapter 3

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2010 – The third chapter in the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan focuses on the current state of the broadband ecosystem. It sets out to show that the actual state of the broadband network is not about availability and the physical network but also consumer choice and usage.



Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles written by staff summarizing each chapter of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2010 – The third chapter in the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan focuses on the current state of the broadband ecosystem. It sets out to show that the actual state of the broadband network is not just about availability and the physical network but also consumer choice and usage.

The current state of the internet is the result of a decreasing cost of fiber and the expansion of fiber optic networks. The innovation fueled by this expansion allowed for new companies and products to be created thanks to this network and the overall adoption of these new technologies by consumers.

A recent Nielsen study shows that home broadband use has increased from one hour per month in 1995, to more than 15 hours per month in 2000, to almost 29 hours per month today. While the overall usage of the internet has expanded greatly, the amount of data that an individual uses varies greatly. In another study, the FCC shows that investment in information and communications technologies accounted for almost two-thirds of all economic growth attributed to capital investment between 1995 and 2005.

In regards to availability, the FCC cites U.S. Census data showing that 95 percent of the U.S. population has access to fixed broadband that is capable of speeds of up to 4 megabits per second. The largest gap in availability occurs in the middle part of the country while the coasts and high population areas have over 80 percent access. However, there are gaps in availability – most notably for rural health clinics and schools.

In the next section, the FCC tackles an issue which many consumer groups have been talking about for years – differences in actual vs. advertised network speeds. The FCC has found a large gap between the average speeds consumers actually receive and the advertised speeds. Internet service providers generally claim that their speeds grow by 20 percent annually.

The average download speed most Americans currently can get ranges from 6.7-9.6 mbps with an average of about 8 mbps; upload speeds however are around 1 mbps. However, looking at the actual download speeds, most Americans can only get about 3.1 megabits per second, which is 40 percent to 50 percent lower than the advertised speeds. The same holds true for upload speeds, with the actual being closer to 0.5 mbps.

This disparity however depends on the type of technology. Cable seems to have a better ratio of actual vs. advertised of digital subscriber line (DSL) and satellite has slightly higher differences. This problem is not unique to the United States. In the United Kingdom, studies found that actual speeds were typically about 57 percent of the advertised speeds.

The next section of the plan goes into mobile broadband availability. Many studies have shown that mobile broadband has become the predominant way for minorities and low-income individuals to connect, but the FCC chooses to focus on terrestrial-based connectivity since it provides the highest speeds.

Citing data from American Roamer, it looks like 60 percent of the U.S. land mass has 3G service. This constitutes about 77 percent of all the U.S. population. Twelve percent live in an area served by two providers while 9 percent live in an area served by one.

The expansion of 3G services soon will be ending as most mobile phone providers are looking to move to the faster 4G services such as long-term evolution (LTE technology) or WiMax.

Verizon Communications plans to cover over 285 million people with 4G by the end of 2013 while Sprint plans to use OneMax through its subsidiary company ClearWire. AT&T, along with Metro PCS, also plans to adopt LTE technology and start deployment in 2011, when LTE users will be able to more easily switch between networks.

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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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.



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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