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NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative and the Illinois Broadband Map

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, May 4, 2011 – Later today, at 2 p.m. CT, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois will kick off our “Wednesday Webinar” series, beginning with a discussion about the Illinois Broadband Map. Registration for this event is free.

PCI feels so passionately about the Illinois Broadband Map because data and information should be central to helping promote sound policies, and because evidence suggests that broadband is a key driver of job creation and economic activity.

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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, May 4, 2011 – Later today, at 2 p.m. CT, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois will kick off our “Wednesday Webinar” series, beginning with a discussion about the Illinois Broadband Map. Registration for this event is free.

PCI feels so passionately about the Illinois Broadband Map because data and information should be central to helping promote sound policies, and because evidence suggests that broadband is a key driver of job creation and economic activity.

In both of these beliefs, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois shares the enthusiasm for broadband — and for data — of President Barack Obama. As stated by his first director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag, in a speech to the National Academies:

The president has made it very clear that policy decisions should be driven by evidence—accentuating the role of federal statistics as a resource for policymakers. Robust, unbiased data are the first step toward addressing our long-term economic needs and key policy priorities. ((PDF)http://www.amstat.org/outreach/pdfs/SP_ANJul09.pdf)

As the designated entity for broadband in Illinois, PCI participates in the State Broadband Initiative (SBI). This initiative has the promise of becoming a major driver for data-driven processes and improvements in our information economy. And last Thursday and Friday, entities from every state, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia gathered in Dallas to share the experiences that each of us have had with broadband data and mapping.

Organizational Structure of PCI: Data, Access and Impact

The structure for State Broadband initiative was first put in place by the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA), which passed Congress in October 2008. BDIA created a structure whereby state governmental and non-profit entities could be selected to receive federal funds for broadband data collection, mapping and other “planning” functions pertaining to high-speed access. Illinois was ahead of its time in passing similar legislation in 2007.

The BDIA didn’t provide any federal funding. But with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinventment Act (ARRA) four months later – in February 2009 – Congress provided up to $350 million funds to be spent on broadband statistics, mapping, information collection, and planning grants. This was awarded through the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Think of this sum — roughly five percent of the $7 billion that was allocated to broadband investment across the nation — as a key means of data-gathering and analysis. It was to drive and improve broadband  investment nation-wide.

The Partnership for a Connected Illinois was eager to participate in the SBI conference program in Dallas, Texas, where we shared stories and experiences with other awardees from around the nation.  In particular, we found that our structure — as an independent non-profit organization, funded by the federal government, the State, and by private foundations (Organization chart for PCI) — may provide a model for others in the nation.

In particular, PCI doesn’t isolate or segregate any of our three core missions: (a) to collect and publish broadband data; (b) to drive enhanced high-speed access throughout Illinois; and (c) to ensure that the impact of broadband network are maximized and well-used such that they enhance job creation and economic growth.

Strengthening the Broadband Map By Leveraging Relationships With Broadband Providers

In meeting with officials at other SBI-funded entities throughout the country, PCI learned about the diversity of agencies and entities that house broadband information-collection and planning. Sometimes this function is lodged with a public utility commission, or in state information technology departments, or with economic development agencies, or at a university. In many cases, “mapping” is housed in one place and “planning” is governed by another entity or sub-awardee.

Each of these approaches has advantages. But as an independent, State-wide non-profit, PCI enjoys the opportunity to fully integrate our data-collection into the promotion of broadband access and efforts to maximize its impact.

In today’s webinar, PCI will address and showcase how — through the National Broadband Map that was first published on February 17, 2011 — users in Illinois can access PCI data about Illinois broadband providers. We’ll also discuss the process that PCI has employed in collecting broadband data from the providers in our State.

But the real power comes in what happens next: leveraging data and maps to promote broadband access and to maximize its use. Therefore, being able to look at and understanding the data that PCI has, and the data that PCI doesn’t yet have, is crucial. As we look at the National Broadband Map today, for example, PCI will demonstrate various ways to look at and view broadband availability information within Illinois itself.

How the State Broadband Initiative Can Help Promote Economic Development

Soon, we’ll see even greater impacts as PCI begins to fully implement its eTeams, or our regional efforts to support technology and economic development planning activities. At today’s webinar, in addition to discussing the National Broadband Map, and the data-collection processes that led up to it, PCI will discuss the current Illinois Broadband Map, at http://broadbandillinois.org. This features data collected by PCI, and is displayed in a fashion easy for consumers to access, to follow — and to verify.

Indeed, many individuals have noted that the data in a national or state broadband map is only as valuable as it is correct. That’s why we’re working to increase the ability for everyday users, and for eTeams, to assist in this verification process.

Today’s demonstration will showcase the basic broadband map on our web site, at broadbandillinois.org. It will also highlight a separate map, dubbed BroadbandStat, built for PCI by ESRI. PCI staff will lead webinar participants through both mapping tools, and invite user engagement and feedback on our next steps.

PCI has always recognized that data about broadband availability is only a tool in ensuring that local communities are able to advance broadband access and use. Just as Illinois has been successful in leveraging federal dollars under the U.S. Commerce Department’s Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP), and the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP), PCI aims to help the State — and its regions, counties and towns — to find ways to make broadband investments more feasible, and to help accelerate the impacts that come from its increased adoption and use.

This Expert Opinion originally appeared on Broadband Illinois, at http://broadbandillinois.org/news/27. “On Broadband” is the column written by Drew Clark, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois.

 

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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