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Measuring Broadband Use and Adoption is the Next Frontier in Internet Data Collection

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, August 9, 2011 – It’s very easy to take broadband for granted. People want to go online to look up answers on Wikipedia, to watch movies on Netflix, to hang out on Facebook, or to Skype cousins across the globe — or across town.

None of this can be done without broadband. Higher and higher speeds of internet connectivity are necessary to satisfy everyone’s demand to do all of these things at once.

That’s where the Partnership for a Connected Illinois comes into play.

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SPRINGFIELD, Illinois, August 9, 2011 – It’s very easy to take broadband for granted. People want to go online to look up answers on Wikipedia, to watch movies on Netflix, to hang out on Facebook, or to Skype cousins across the globe — or across town.

None of this can be done without broadband. Higher and higher speeds of internet connectivity are necessary to satisfy everyone’s demand to do all of these things at once.

That’s where the Partnership for a Connected Illinois comes into play.

We are a resource and a key piece in the puzzle about how the broadband landscape in Illinois is changing for the better.

We work with broadband providers of all stripes – fiber, cable, copper and wireless – to help raise awareness of the fact that Better Broadband leads to Better Lives.

We work with State entities like Gov. Pat Quinn’s Broadband Deployment Council, and with local governments and “anchor institutions” that are crucial hubs in connecting up to internet spokes.

And we work with consumers. These include everyday residents of rural Illinois, of Chicago, and of everything in between. Equally important are the business customers. Powered by broadband in Illinois, these business customers need better broadband to stoke job creation and economic growth.

Getting a Handle on Broadband Needs and Demands

Our Broadband Illinois web site reflects our mission to collect and publish broadband data, to promote high-capacity infrastructure and access, and to maximize the impact and use of broadband.

Data and research provides the benchmark for measuring the health and growth of Illinois’ broadband networks. Under the U.S. Department of Commerce’s State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois has been collecting and publishing broadband data. We make it easy for consumers to find out more about their broadband connectivity, and about the “anchor institutions,” or community broadband hubs, nearby.

And our Broadband Illinois web site has been publishing information about broadband providers’ service areas and offerings, together with the speeds at which they advertise those services.

We’ve had higher ambitions. The Partnership for a Connected Illinois is about to take a key step toward the next frontier in internet data collection.

That frontier is studying broadband use and adoption.

Figuring out where broadband providers offer service, and the speeds and quality of that service, are only the first stage. Now it’s time to rigorously evaluate what drives adoption, what powers higher-demand connection, and how broadband can create top-performing businesses, hospitals, schools, cities and county governments.

We know that broadband is a big piece of the puzzle. But quantifying how big it is, and understanding its dimensions and parameters, requires careful preparation.

That’s why I’m so pleased that John Horrigan, perhaps the nation’s premier expert in research on broadband adoption and demand, has agreed to advise us on the right way to study broadband use and adoption. For more than a decade, John conducted broadband adoption survey research for the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Additionally, he was responsible for conducting a comprehensive survey that was part of the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan.

Wednesday Webinars, and Today’s Bidder’s Conference Webinar

Beginning three months ago, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois initiated a series of four Wednesday webinars.

These webinars were on the topics of The Illinois Broadband Map ((PDF)PDF), Developing Statewide Baseline Data for Research ((PDF)PDF), Community Anchor Institutions and Broadband ((PDF)PDF), and the our eTeams and Broadband Research ((PDF)PDF).

Through each of these webinars, we have systematically explained the operations of our Data and Research Team. We explained the data-collection processes that we undertook to collect, clean, process and submit data from Illinois providers to the National Broadband Map.

We’ve also laid out the need for, and invited feedback on, the survey research methodology for collecting statewide baseline data. We’ve also zeroed in on our Community Anchor Institution data-set, and the work we are doing, through eTeams, to partner with institutions and individuals who have deep roots in particular regions of the State.

All of this work has set the stage for the Request for Proposals, issued on July 15, 2011, by the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. (We’ve also received many questions on the RFP, and have replied to them on this page.

Applications for this RFP are due on Friday, August 26, 2011. We are encouraged by the interest and energy generated thus far by our RFP.

In order to address any questions or receive additional feedback on a level playing field, we’ve established a Bidder’s Conference Webinar today, on Tuesday, August 11, at 2 p.m. CT.

John Horrigan will be the lead participant in Bidder’s Conference Webinar today, at 2 p.m. CT, together with the staff of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois responsible for this statewide baseline inventory of broadband use and adoption. If you are interested, please register to attend.

Piecing Together Broadband Supply and Broadband Demand

In addition to the data-collection activities, our Wednesday Webinar series, and the RFP described above, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois is putting the finishing touches on an important new study, “Scoping Broadband Access in Illinois.”

This study examines the broadband data collected and processed by our data team, comparing it to multiple additional data sources, including speed tests provided to us by the FCC. PCI plan to release this study later in the week, and which we hope will be a valuable resource to partners and other organizations in Illinois, and throughout the county, who are interested in diving deeper into broadband data.

One of the most exciting pieces about the study, “Scoping Broadband Access in Illinois,” is its county-by-county comparisons of broadband speeds and coverage from multiple data sets.

And in the future, as PCI receives proposals responding to our RFP for baseline broadband demand, we expect to be able to refine the measures of broadband readiness — and to help counties and regions get the greatest impact from broadband investments.

After all, broadband should be taken for granted. Think of that the next time you get ready to Skype your cousin or post a status update on Facebook.

This Expert Opinion originally appeared on Broadband Illinois, at http://broadbandillinois.org/news/46. “On Broadband” is the column written by Drew Clark, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois.

 

Drew Clark is the Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, or broadbandillinois.org, which is the designated entity under the State Broadband Data and Development grant program based in Springfield, Illinois. Through convening stakeholders, the creation of local eTeams, and other activities, broadbandillinois.org has the mission to build a statewide effort to make the case that Better Broadband Leads to Better Lives. Additionally, Drew is the founder of BroadbandCensus.com and BroadbandBreakfast.com.

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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