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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.

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for BroadbandBreakfast.com since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

Broadband Data

TPRC Conference to Discuss Definition of Section 230, Broadband, Spectrum and China

Broadband Breakfast briefly breaks down the topics to be discussed at the TPRC conference.

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Photo collage of experts from TPRC

WASHINGTON, September 17, 2021 – The TPRC research conference on communication, information, and internet policy is right around the corner and it is set to address some of the most pressing issues facing Big Tech, the telecom industry, and society at large. We cover some topics you can expect to see covered during the conference on September 22 to 24.

If the recent election cycle and the Covid-19 pandemic have taught us anything, it is that the threat of misinformation and disinformation pose a greater threat than most people could have imagined. Many social media platforms have attempted to provide their own unique content moderation solutions to combat such efforts, but thus far, none of these attempts have satisfied consumers or legislators.

While the left criticizes these companies for not going far enough to curtail harmful speech, the right argues the opposite— that social media has gone too far and censored conservative voices.

All this dissent has landed Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996—once a staple in the digital landscape—in the crosshairs of both Democrats and Republicans, as companies still scramble to strike a compromise to placate both sides of the aisle.

Definition of broadband

The future of broadband classifications is another topic that will also be touched on during the conference. This topic quickly became relevant at the outset of the pandemic, as people around the country began to attend school and work virtually.

It became immediately clear that for many Americans, our infrastructure was simply insufficient to handle such stresses. Suddenly, legislators were rushing to reclassify broadband. Efforts in Washington, championed primarily by Democrats, called for broadband standards to be raised.

The Federal Communications Commission’s standing definition of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload appeared to become unpopular overnight, as calls for symmetrical service, like 100 x 100 Mbps speeds, and even gigabit speeds became a part of the conversation.

Many experts were quick to strike back, particularly those operating in the wireless community, arguing that the average consumer does not need 100 Mbps symmetrical speeds, let alone one gigabit, and such efforts only amounted to fearmongering that would hurt the deployment of broadband infrastructure to unserved communities.

These experts contend that shifting the standards would diminish the utility and viability of any technology other than fiber, as well as delaying when unserved communities (as they are currently defined) can expect to be served. Broader topics surrounding rural broadband and tech-equity will also be prominently featured—addressing many of the questions raised by Covid-19 across the last year and a half.

Future of spectrum

Finally, the quest for spectrum will be discussed at the conference.

As ubiquitous 5G technology continues to be promised by many companies in the near future, the hunt is on to secure more bandwidth to allow their devices and services to function. Of course, spectrum is a finite resource, so finding room is not always easy.

Indeed, spectrum sharing efforts have been underway for years, where incumbent users either incentivized or are compelled to make room for others in their band—just like we saw the military in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service band, and more recently between the Department of Defense and Ligado in the L band.

Even though these efforts are ongoing, there is still disagreement in the community about how, if at all, sharing spectrum will impact users in the band. While some argue that spectrum can be shared with little, if any, interference to incumbent services, others firmly reject this stance, maintaining that sharing bandwidth would be catastrophic to the services they provide.

On China

China is also going to be a significant topic at the conference. Due to the competitive nature of the U.S.-China relationship, many regard the race to 5G as a zero-sum game, whereby China’s success is our failure.

Furthermore, security and competition concerns have led the U.S. government to institute a “rip and replace” policy across the country, through which Chinese components—particularly those from companies such as Huawei—are torn out of existing infrastructure and substituted with components from the U.S. or countries we have closer economic ties with. The conference will feature several sessions discussing these topics and more.

Register for TPRC 2021

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Broadband Breakfast on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 — A ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

BroadbandNow launches a “consumer confidence” survey.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place every Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the September 15, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 12 Noon ET — BroadbandNow Presents a ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband

As part of its efforts to provide the latest research on the social, economic and political issues contributing to the digital impact and the impact of broadband on everyday life, BroadbandNow is launching a new survey among broadband leaders enthusiasts. Think of this as a “consumer confidence” survey for broadband.

Recently, there have been many changes regarding broadband at the federal, state, local and industry levels. BroadbandNow and Broadband Breakfast aim to launch the survey at a presentation during Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021, a mini-conference at the Broadband Community Summit in Houston, Texas, from September 27-30, 2021.

Join us on September 15, 2021, for this special Broadband Breakfast Live Online preview of the survey with John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow, and Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast.

Panelists for the event:

  • John Busby, Managing Director of BroadbandNow
  • John B. Horrigan, Senior Fellow, Benton Institute on Broadband & Society
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

  • John Busby is the Managing Director of BroadbandNow.com, where millions of consumers find and compare local internet options and independent research is published about the digital divide. Prior to BroadbandNow, John held senior leadership positions at Amazon and Marchex. John holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University.
  • John B. Horrigan, Ph.D., is Senior Fellow at the Benton Institute on Broadband & Society, with a focus on technology adoption and digital inclusion. Horrigan has served as an Associate Director for Research at the Pew Research Center and Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute. During the Obama Administration, Horrigan was part the leadership team at the Federal Communications Commission for the development of the National Broadband Plan (NBP).
  • Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. As a journalist, Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband, and – building off his work with Broadband Census – was appointed Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois under Gov. Pat Quinn. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

BroadbandNow is a data aggregation company helping millions of consumers find and compare local internet options. BroadbandNow’s database of providers, the largest in the U.S., delivers the highest-value guides consisting of comprehensive plans, prices and ratings for thousands of internet service providers. BroadbandNow relentlessly collects and analyzes internet providers’ coverage and availability to provide the most accurate zip code search for consumers.

See also:

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Broadband Data

New Broadband Mapping Fabric Will Help Unify Geocoding Across the Broadband Industry, Experts Say

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Photo of Lynn Follansbee from October 2019 by Drew Clark

March 11, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission’s new “fabric” for mapping broadband service across America will not only help collect more accurate data, but also unify geocoding across the broadband industry, industry experts said during a Federal Communications Bar Association webinar Thursday.

Broadband service providers are not geocoding experts, said Lynn Follansbee of US Telecom, and they don’t know where all the people are.

The new fabric dataset is going to be very useful to get a granular look at what is and what is not served and to harmonize geocoding, she said.

AT&T’s Mary Henze agreed. “We’re a broadband provider, we’re not a GIS company,” she said. Unified geocode across the whole field will help a lot to find missing spots in our service area, she said.

The new Digital Opportunity Data Collection fabric is a major shift from the current Form 477 data that the FCC collects, which has been notoriously inaccurate for years. The effort to improve broadband mapping has been ongoing for years, and in 2019 US Telecom in partnership with CostQuest and other industry partners created the fabric pilot program.

That has been instrumental in lead to the new FCC system, panelists said. It is called a “fabric” dataset because it is made up of other datasets that interlace like fabric, Follansbee explained.

The fabric brings new challenges, especially for mobile providers, said Chris Wieczorek of T-Mobile. With a whole new set of reporting criteria to fill out the fabric, it will lead to confusion for consumers, and lots of work for the new task force, he said.

Henze said that without the fabric, closing the digital divide between those with broadband internet and those without has been impossible.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection expected to help better map rural areas

The new mapping can help in rural areas where the current geolocation for a resident may be a mailbox that is several hundred feet or farther away from the actual house that needs service, Follansbee said.

Rural areas aren’t the only places that will benefit, though. It can also help in dense urban areas where vertical location in a residential building is important to getting a good connection, said Wieczorek.

The fabric will also help from a financial perspective, because of the large amount of funding going around, said Charter Communications’ Christine Sanquist. The improved mapping can help identify where best to spend that funding for federal agencies, providers, and local governments, she said.

There is now more than $10 billion in new federal funding for broadband-related projects, with the recent $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020 and the new $7.6 Emergency Connectivity Fund part of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday.

The new FCC task force for implementing the new mapping system was created in February 2021, and is being led by , led by Jean Kiddoo at the FCC. No specific dates have been set yet for getting the system operational.

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