Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles written by BroadbandBreakfast.com staff summarizing each chapter of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. Chapter 4 summaries will appear in three separate articles due to the breadth of the chapter’s content.
WASHINGTON, April 1, 2010 – Section Four of the plan focuses on broadband competition and innovation policy. It’s one of the most far-reaching sections in the entire 360-page document. It starts by addressing various mobile and fixed networks and moves on to discuss specific devices, privacy and identity theft. It concludes with discussion about the need for innovating and changing the current network.
This second article summarizing Chapter 4 looks at the FCC’s 11 overall recommendations to enhance the nation’s broadband ecosystem.
The first recommendation is to increase the availability of spectrum. The next set of recommendations is directed at the lack of broadband data currently available to the FCC and consumers.
The plan recommends that the FCC and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics collect more data via surveys conducted by the Census Bureau and BLS. It also recommends that data currently collected by the FCC should be modified to include data on broadband availability, provider technology and offered speed.
In addition to collecting data directly from Internet service providers, the FCC also should utilize direct data collection from consumers through the use of speed tests. The FCC already has offered a speed test for users to test their current speeds on the FCC’s Web site. The FCC also should begin to collect information on advertised speeds and amounts paid by consumers to determine how bundles and differing geographic areas affect the price of broadband.
The plan also recommends that the FCC look at barrier costs for users such as contract length and early termination fees.
The plan suggests that the FCC should look at who is able to subscribe to broadband to determine if any group is being denied access based on geography or income. The BLS is also advised to continue tracking the subscriber rate and costs to consumers through its current population survey.
The next set of recommendations looks at making broadband advertising easier to understand for consumers.
The FCC seems to oppose the phrase “up to” used in advertising. It believes consumers are being misled and unable to figure out their actual speeds. The commission says consumers need more information on the range of speeds they will be able to obtain and the services that those speeds can support.
The agency also recommends that the National Institute of Standards and Technology should establish technical broadband measurement standards. These new measurements would be used by a broadband measurement advisory council, which would be created by the FCC and staffed by government and industry officials. This new advisory council is not primarily the idea of the FCC; the agency cites comments by Verizon, Time Warner Cable and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association. The following key statistics would be compiled by this organization:
Actual speeds and performance over the broadband service provider’s network and the end-to-end performance of the service;
Actual speeds and performance at peak use hours;
Actual speeds and performance achieved with a given probability (e.g., 95 percent) over a set time period (e.g., one hour) that includes peak use times; and
Actual speeds and performance tested against a given set of standard protocols and applications.
This data would be used to create a nutrition-information style label that all ISPs would have to provide consumers. This performance index would allow consumers to easily distinguish between different services by clearly displaying the maximum up speed, average up speed, average download speed, maximum download speed, and a general rating of services based on uptime and other variables.
Additionally, the FCC should publish an annual a “State of U.S. Broadband Performance” report enabling consumers to look at the top providers across the nation.
The FCC also plans to assist consumers and determine the level of broadband that is truly best for them. The agency plans to create an online decision tool for choosing broadband ISPs, which would allow consumers to input their online activities, budget and location. This tool would allow all those who are least knowledgeable to obtain the best level of service for the best price.
The plan suggests that the need for this tool is necessary since the ISPs claim different speeds are necessary for this same task across different advertisements. With regards to mobile broadband services, a self-testing application should be created that includes speeds, signal strength and overall coverage.
The rest of Chapter Four goes onto to discuss devices, applications, privacy issues and commerce issues regarding the Internet such as taxation. A third article on Chapter will be published.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Small ISP Organizations Push FCC for Flexibility on Broadband Label Compliance
Advocates say strict compliance requirements may economically harm small providers.
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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