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Larry Strickling Cites Public Safety FirstNet As New, Post-Stimulus Broadband Opportunity

ARLINGTON, Va., May 25, 2012 – The new national wireless communications network to serve police, firefighters and other “first responders” may provide a new opportunity to extend broadband stimulus-related activity, a top Commerce Department official said Wednesday.

Dubbed FirstNet, this new public safety wireless network was mandated in February by Congress. Lawmakers allocated up to $7 billion that will be dispensed to state entities under the coordination of a new, independent organization at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

States should act fast to develop plans to utilize funding, said Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling, who administers the NTIA. “One of the issues [in FirstNet] is how does coverage from this network get into rural areas?”

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ARLINGTON, Va., May 25, 2012 – The new national wireless communications network to serve police, firefighters and other “first responders” may provide a new opportunity to extend broadband stimulus-related activity, a top Commerce Department official said Wednesday.

Dubbed FirstNet, this new public safety wireless network was mandated in February by Congress. Lawmakers allocated up to $7 billion that will be dispensed to state entities under the coordination of a new, independent organization at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

States should act fast to develop plans to utilize funding, said Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling, who administers the NTIA. “One of the issues [in FirstNet] is how does coverage from this network get into rural areas?”

Strickling said that the new network provided the opportunity for public safety officials, particularly in rural areas that are unserved or underserved by broadband, to help bring high-speed internet connectivity to more remote parts of the country.

“In addition to reform of the Universal Service Fund of the Federal Communications Commission, and [additional funding from] the Rural Utilities Service, [FirstNet] is another tool in our toolkit” to ensure the continued viability of broadband stimulus-funded projects, said Strickling.

Strickling was the keynote speaker at a conference here co-hosted by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition and his agency. The conference brought together broadband experts together with awardees from stimulus projects, including telecommunications infrastructure projects, mapping projects and projects designed to promote widespread computer adoption and digital literacy.

One focus of the conference was the issue of sustainability: NTIA-funded broadband infrastructure and adoption projects will come to an end by next year. Some stimulus awardees – including projects of interest to schools, hospitals and libraries – are concerned about their future viability.

Under the legislation passed by Congress, FirstNet funding will be dispensed by the NTIA. A governing board for the new entity is still in formation, and rules for the dispensing of the $7 billion by NTIA are currently under consideration, but must be in place by late August 2012.

Because of the landmark nature of the FirstNet legislation in February 2012, Strickling said that NTIA took the unusual act of suspending seven previously-awarded public safety-related grants under its Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program. Those programs totaled $382 million.

“The new legislation in February [changed] the assumption on which we are going to move forward,” he said, referring to a more decentralized series of public safety networks that had been the working assumption prior to February 2012.

“We really need to take the time and pause now” to consider how public safety broadband dollars should be spent, he said. “It is not my money, or your money, it is the taxpayer’s money, and we want it to be used in a way that the project, as it is built, will get incorporated into the FirstNet network.”

Those seven public safety projects will be granted extension on the time to finish their projects – although he insisted that no other awardees would be granted extensions. “Keep pushing on your projects,” he said.

Strickling’s agency was responsible for dispensing the lion’s share of the $7 billion broadband stimulus funds mandated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Additional funding under the Recovery Act was dispensed by Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture.

Keynoting the conference on Thursday was RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein, who praised broadband stimulus awardees as “the best and the brightest” in building broadband in rural areas.

“We know you can complete it to the end. We are counting on you, and your communities are counting on your success,” said Adelstein.

Referring to role of broadband programs within the USDA, Adelstein said, “We are betting the farm on broadband – and it is a safe bet.”

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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