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Let Consumers See Clearwire’s Network: They’ve Got a Map For That

By now, the omnipresent television commercials have drummed Verizon’s 3G message into all our heads: big red map good, splotchy blue map bad. But nascent national WiMAX provider Clearwire has taken the “maps” battle to a whole new level, in a way that potential wireless users might find more useful than anything offered by Verizon or AT&T: How about coverage maps that use real network data to show actual expected performance on a block-by-block level?



By now, the omnipresent television commercials have drummed Verizon’s 3G message into all our heads: big red map good, splotchy blue map bad. But nascent national WiMAX provider Clearwire has taken the “maps” battle to a whole new level, in a way that potential wireless users might find more useful than anything offered by Verizon or AT&T: How about coverage maps that use real network data to show actual expected performance on a block-by-block level?

The new maps are live on the website, and they marry Clearwire engineering network-performance graphs on top of a Google Map, giving you a much more detailed and granular look at Clearwire’s WiMAX deployments in each of its live markets, warts and all. Unlike the big telcos, whose “coverage” maps are somewhat akin to abstract works of art, Clearwire’s new coverage maps show not just well-covered areas but also spots where Clearwire doesn’t yet have towers in place. Honesty from a service provider? Hey Verizon, you got a map like that?

While Clearwire has nowhere near the national buildout of the 3G networks from the big providers, its willingness to expose where exactly is has coverage and where it doesn’t could go a long way toward winning the trust of potential customers who have been historically conditioned to get exactly zero help on predicting wireless coverage strength. “We’re striving to provide more clarity to customers so they know what to expect with our coverage,” said Susan Johnston, Clearwire’s vice president for communications, in an email reply to our question about the maps.

Because you can use the normal Google Maps function to drill way down to street level, it’s easy to see (especially on the outside fringes of Clearwire coverage areas) the telltale three-clover “bloom” of an isolated cell site, leading to a new Google Map game of “find the Clearwire tower.” It didn’t take more than a couple minutes for us to go from Clearwire map to Google Street view to find this lonely Clearwire tower in the far-north (albeit quite tony) Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, Ill.

(Clearwire map showing single-tower “bloom” of coverage using three channels)

(Google Map street view of Lake Forest, Ill., with Clearwire tower in the middle)

AT&T and Verizon, meanwhile, do let you drill down with interactive maps, but all you get when you do so is a deeper shade of the color used to convey “coverage” — and in AT&T’s case, its wondrous all-blue status for 3G service in downtown San Francisco might draw some different opinions from folks who suffer trying to use their iPhones there. Verizon’s map of Lake Forest is offered as a comparison to Clearwire’s — which would you, as a potential wireless broadband user, find more helpful?

(AT&T 3G coverage map for San Francisco… insert iPhone dropped-call joke here)

(Verizon 3G coverage map for Lake Forest, Ill… included to compare and contrast with Clearwire’s)

If you follow telecom politics at all, you know that coverage maps are a big deal of late, with greater transparency being a key part of the proposed national broadband plan. Instead of waiting for Congress to require such transparency (which may take awhile given various senatorial agendas), we’ve been waiting to see whether or not some of the service provider upstarts, like Clearwire, would use such clarity as a marketing tool since it stands in such rich contrast to the insulting “trust us” maps that passed for coverage guides from traditional providers. Looks like that is starting to happen, which is only good news for broadband consumers. Let the real map games begin!

Editor’s Note: Reprinted with permission from Sidecut Reports.

Broadband Data

Many Data Points Required for Broadband Planning, Event Hears

An assortment of data will be useful in all phases of the broadband planning process.



Photo of Kristin Lardy of CORI

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2023 – Providers must invest in data collection for physical location, existing network infrastructure, and community needs and interests, advised the Center on Rural Innovation at a panel discussion Thursday.  

Physical location data includes a map of all buildings, identification of which buildings are eligible for or need broadband service, what services are provided, and fiber drop distances. Providers will need this information to understand how to utilize federal investment money from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program, which award amounts are set to be announced later this month. 

Not only will providers need information on poles, towers, hubs, and fiber infrastructure ownership but they will also need insight on community needs and interests, said presenters. These include barriers to access and customer interest in a new internet provider. 

This assortment of data will be useful in all phases of the planning process, said Kirstin Lardy, broadband consultant at CORI, such as the market analysis phase for penetration assumptions, network design for projected costs, and financial modeling for forecast of costs and revenues.  

Data can be collected from federal resources like the Federal Communication Commission’s national broadband and funding map, which can be used to determine what areas are covered by federal subsidy and where communities should focus their efforts.  

Further data is also available at the municipal level which often hosts information about location of structures, types of structures, vacant lots, addresses, pole data, power distribution paths and rights of way.  

Engaging with community anchor institutions is essential to building comprehensive and useful data sets, added Kristen Corra, policy counsel at the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition. She urged providers to work with localities to gather information. 

States may also collect data directly from providers and users through speed tests, surveys, and censuses. 

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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.



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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