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A Live Test of Wireless Download and Upload Speeds, and Latency, During Barack Obama’s Inauguration Ceremony

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WASHINGTON, January 24, 2013 – Whenever a large gathering commences, chances are that, in addition to cramped quarters and long lines, the influx will also mean a major increase in the number of cell phones, laptops and other Wi-Fi dependent devices. As when on January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term as 44th President of the United States, and an estimated crowd of 800,000 people swarmed the National Mall for a glimpse of the President.

Recent studies have shown that around 83 percent of Americans have cell phones. Using that as a rough guide, and assuming that these individuals brought their phones with them, roughly 664,000 cell phones were crammed into the roughly three miles between the Capitol steps and Reflecting Pool.

Using the Federal Communications Commission Speed Test application on my AT&T 3G iPhone, I was able to take readings on several important measures related to the quality of wireless service at various points throughout the city on Inauguration day. The FCC application measures, for any given area, the device’s download and upload speeds and latency. The download and upload speeds are reflective of the ability to transmit and receive information, such as reloading Twitter, accessing a web site, or sending a text message. Latency represents the amount of “lag time” that will commence before connectivity. The lower the latency, the easier it is to use applications like voice over internet protocol (VoIP).

Data points:
8:22 a.m.
7th & D St. (Inaugural Entrance Gate)
D 1.29 Megabits per second (Mbps)
U 0.51 Mbps
L 5227

8:34 a.m.
7th and D St.
D 1.00 Mbps
U 0.07 Mbps
L 5005

8:50 a.m.
7th & D St.
D 0.65 Mbps
U 0.03 Mbps
L Unreadable

These indicators appear to demonstrate that, over a period of 28 minutes, as the large crowds gathered and grew impatient at the gate, a direct correlation was discovered with plummeting download and upload times, as well as increased latency.

11:15 a.m.
4th and F St.
Judiciary Square Metro. (Inaugural Entrance Gate)
D 0.14 Mbps
U 0.05 Mbps
L Unreadable.

As crowds gathered in the thousands, my device’s download speed continued to plummet, while upload speed and latency became generally inoperable.

11:54 a.m.
United States Capitol
D Unreadable
U Unreadable
L Unreadable

As the hundred thousands crammed in to hear President Obama begin his address, the available WIFI in the area was so reduced that the FCC Test was rendered inoperable. (The day after the inauguration at the very same spot, the download speed had climbed to 1.40 Mbps, the upload speed to 0.62 and the latency at 5339.)

12:32 p.m.
1st and Indiana
D 0.82 Mbps
U 0.04 Mbps
L Unreadable

While many began repositioning themselves along the parade route, the general area saw an increase in download speed. However, uploading capabilities and latency remained inefficient. Judging by the amount of people taking photos and videos during the Inauguration, perhaps the upload speed lagged as thousands attempted to share their photos on Facebook all at once.

Follow Broadband Breakfast’s coverage of the broadband economy at http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. Sign up for our February 19th Broadband Breakfast Club event Data Caps for Wireless Broadband, the Spectrum Crunch and the Wireless Home at http://broadbandbreakfast.eventbrite.com

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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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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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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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