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



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.

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Broadband Data

Many Data Points Required for Broadband Planning, Event Hears

An assortment of data will be useful in all phases of the broadband planning process.



Photo of Kristin Lardy of CORI

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2023 – Providers must invest in data collection for physical location, existing network infrastructure, and community needs and interests, advised the Center on Rural Innovation at a panel discussion Thursday.  

Physical location data includes a map of all buildings, identification of which buildings are eligible for or need broadband service, what services are provided, and fiber drop distances. Providers will need this information to understand how to utilize federal investment money from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program, which award amounts are set to be announced later this month. 

Not only will providers need information on poles, towers, hubs, and fiber infrastructure ownership but they will also need insight on community needs and interests, said presenters. These include barriers to access and customer interest in a new internet provider. 

This assortment of data will be useful in all phases of the planning process, said Kirstin Lardy, broadband consultant at CORI, such as the market analysis phase for penetration assumptions, network design for projected costs, and financial modeling for forecast of costs and revenues.  

Data can be collected from federal resources like the Federal Communication Commission’s national broadband and funding map, which can be used to determine what areas are covered by federal subsidy and where communities should focus their efforts.  

Further data is also available at the municipal level which often hosts information about location of structures, types of structures, vacant lots, addresses, pole data, power distribution paths and rights of way.  

Engaging with community anchor institutions is essential to building comprehensive and useful data sets, added Kristen Corra, policy counsel at the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition. She urged providers to work with localities to gather information. 

States may also collect data directly from providers and users through speed tests, surveys, and censuses. 

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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.



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.



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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