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Experts Express Concerns Over Broadband Plan to Small Business Committee

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2010 – Small businesses must have better access to broadband technology to flourish, propel the nation’s economic growth and to better be able to compete on a global level, said experts at a Senate hearing last week. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who chairs the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, held a hearing on federal efforts to expand small business internet access through vehicles such as the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan.

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WASHINGTON, May 4, 2010 – Small businesses must have better access to broadband technology to flourish, propel the nation’s economic growth and to better be able to compete on a global level, said experts at a Senate hearing last week.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who chairs the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, held a hearing on federal efforts to expand small business internet access through vehicles such as the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan.

“While we must expand access to these services, at the same time, we must ensure broadband is affordable for these entrepreneurs,” Landrieu said. “If our goal is to allow these small firms to grow, we cannot limit their growth by over-charging for services. Business could instead use this capital to hire new workers or upgrade older equipment.”

According to reports from the FCC, businesses with 25 employees or less pay two times more per employee for broadband than those with more than 25 employees.

Jonathan Adelstein, administrator of the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service, testified before the committee and noted that approximately 181 applications requesting  $2.9 billion from Agriculture’s Broadband Initiatives Program came from small businesses, minority owned firms, Indian tribes and native Alaskan and native Hawaiian entities in the program’s first funding round.

“Broadband can diminish the geographic challenges of time and distance to help rural  areas compete in the global marketplace,” he said. “For example, livestock auctions, which used to require ranchers to travel long distances to bid, are now widely conducted over the internet. Broadband connections to the ranch are often necessary for full market participation. Not only does broadband permit ranchers to follow the market more closely from remote locations, but the Internet can bring in those who otherwise could not participate to create a more robust and competitive marketplace.”

Susan Walthall, acting chief counsel for the Office of Advocacy at the Small Business  Administration, touted the importance of broadband to small firms, but also to small broadband providers.

“While the national plan focuses on the provision of broadband to small business  customers, it is critical that the commission also recognize the unique barriers that exist for small broadband providers,” she said. “Many of these small providers…support Congress’ goals set forth in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by offering competitive services and pricing. Second, they fulfill the national plan’s focus on expanding service to unserved and underserved areas.  Finally, their presence in local communities has a value in and of itself, providing high tech jobs and strengthening local economies.”

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, Sean Greene, associate administrator for investment at the SBA, and Larry Strickling with the Commerce Department also spoke on the panel.

In a second panel, National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith discussed the importance of implementing portions of the National Broadband Plan on small broadcasters, highlighting that the majority of broadcast stations are small businesses and saying that his group has “serious concerns” with portions of the plan.

He expressed concern with portions of the plan that seek to reduce the amount of spectrum allocated for broadcast television.

Broadcasters have been approached by small start-up entities that want to use portions of the digital capacity on current broadcast channels to provide service to the public, he said.  For example, small company SEZMI has negotiated arrangements with some local broadcasters to lease and aggregate spectrum to deliver high-demand video content to customers.

SEZMI presents itself as a direct competitor to multi- channel services such as cable and satellite.6 Another small business, the CTB Group, seeks a partnership with broadcasters that would provide mobile video and data services along with digital broadcast signals.

Significantly reducing the amount of spectrum allocated for broadcast television, as the current plan suggests, could stifle opportunities for new entrepreneurs like these to develop innovative services for the public,” Smith said.

Other panelists were American Cable Association President Steve Friedman, Executive Vice Chairman Tom Gerke of CenturyLink, Louisiana Utilities Services Director Terry Huval and CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent.

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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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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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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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