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NTIA, FCC Release National Broadband Map and Digital Nation Report

WASHINGTON February 17, 2011- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission unveiled the National Broadband Map along with an update to the Digital Nation report this morning. The map is available at http://www.broadbandmap.gov/.

The map is the result of over 2 years of work and $350 million government funding. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and 5 territories provided the NTIA with data. The map brings together 25 million pieces of data to provide consumers, policy makers and business with an accurate picture of broadband deployment and availability. Over 1600 unique internet service providers were identified.

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Editor’s Note: The following story has been corrected; see below.

WASHINGTON February 17, 2011- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration in conjunction with the Federal Communications Commission unveiled the National Broadband Map along with an update to the Digital Nation report this morning. The map is available at http://www.broadbandmap.gov/.

The map is the result of over 2 years of work. Of the $350 million over five years allocated by the federal government for broadband mapping and planning, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling estimated that approximately $200 million was being spent on broadband mapping. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and 5 territories provided the NTIA with data. The map brings together 25 million pieces of data to provide consumers, policy makers and business with an accurate picture of broadband deployment and availability. Over 1600 unique internet service providers were identified.

“The National Broadband Map shows there are still too many people and community institutions lacking the level of broadband service needed to fully participate in the Internet economy.” said NTIA Administrator Lawrence Strickling. “Through NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, digital literacy activities, and other initiatives, including the tools we are releasing today, the Obama Administration is working to address these challenges.”

Acting Commerce Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank echoed the Obama administration’s commitment to broadband, saying, “Access to broadband has been a priority since the beginning. President Obama even mentioned it in his inauguration addresses and again during the most recent State of the Union.”

Preliminary findings from the data collected during the mapping show that 5 – 10 percent of Americans do not have access to the speeds necessary to use basic applications such as photo sharing, online video or web surfing.

NTIA also found that only 36 percent of Americans have access to mobile broadband of 6 mbps or greater – the current base speed of 4G. In comparison, 95 percent have access to 3G but the speeds on that service frequently dip below 1Mbps.

The map will allow users to search the data using a variety of parameters including speed, technology, and location.

The location data presented is not only the state and county level but also at the census block and metropolitan statistical area, making this the most detailed map ever released by the government.

The speed metric used by the map comes from the advertised speeds that the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provided. The FCC has collected data on actual speeds, but NTIA choose not to integrate this with the map.  According to Anne Neville, Director of NTIA State Broadband Data and Development Program, the data that the FCC collected was not expansive enough to add to the map, but she hoped to be able to add actual speed data to the map in the future, as more information is collected.

Pricing data is another one of the pieces missing from the map.

“We were unable to include price data due to its changing nature,” said Strickling during a press conference hours before the map’s release Thursday afternoon.  “ISPs often offer promotional pricing along with bundled pricing which makes it difficult to determine the actual price of just the broadband offering.  Since the site is only updated twice a year it would not be able to reflect the current price of services and this could confuse consumers so we felt it best not to include it.”

The map does, however, provide consumers with direct links to ISPs to find pricing along with the ability to sign up for service.

States will receive $176 million in additional funding to validate and update the data over the next five years. The map will also be updated twice a year with information received by the states and from public input. Users are able to comment directly on the site to ensure the accuracy of the information.

The website also includes analysis tools that allow users to rank data based upon their choice of inputs in addition to basic mapping functionality.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski highlighted that the map was created using open-source software and that its data will be available to all users. The use of open-source software will allow the NTIA and FCC to update the information quickly and allow for the integration of new tools more easily.

“We hope that using open standards and API’s software makers will use the data to create new applications to help consumers and business,” Genachowski said. “Broadband is going to be as transformative as electricity was in the 20th century”

The Digital Nation report uses data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in October 2010 using the Current Population Survey (CPS). The most promising finding from the report was that home broadband access grew to 68 percent of households. Last year only 63.5 percent had access.

“Even though the nation has had a tough economic year it was gratifying to see the increase in home adoption of broadband,” Strickling noted.

The report continues to show that though the digital divide is still present, it is shrinking. The divide amongst rural and urban has decreased; currently 70 percent of urban households have access while only 60 percent of rural household have access.

Nationwide the largest deterrence to adoption continues to be a perceived lack of need.  Nearly half of respondents to the CPS claimed that they did not need broadband, while 25 percent claimed it was too expensive. In rural areas, lack of availability is still a major factor.

A previous version of the reporting that the map was the result of $350 million in government funding, and did not note Strickling’s estimate of $200 million, over five years, for mapping.

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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