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Get Out of the Business of Regulating Copper Wires, Say FCC Critics at Internet Protocol Event

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WASHINGTON, February 8, 2013 – The Federal Communications Commission is not able to flexibly adapt to changed  circumstances in the communications world, according to officials participating in a January 30 panel on here the transition to internet protocol networks.

With the topic in hand of the “retirement” of traditional copper wiress, and the regulatory paradigm that has governed them, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President James W. Cicconi called on the FCC to re-asses existing regulations concerning existing networks – as well as rules governing wireless frequencies.

As the world we live in grows increasingly reliant on broadband and internet communications, the public switched telephone network – also know as the PSTN — is slowly becoming obsolete, Cicconi said. However, the FCC still requires the regulation of major telephone companies  like AT&T.

In December 2012, the FCC established the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force, whose stated goal was to “best ensure that our nation’s communications policies continue to drive a virtuous cycle of innovation and investment, promote competition, and protect consumers.” Some believe that it is vital for the FCC and this task force to set an immediate date to complete the transition to internet-protocol networks.

Cicconi said, for example, that only 30 percent of AT&T customers currently used wired lines. (The rest have flocked to wireless communications ) Yet FCC regulations require providers to invest in wired technology. It’s gotten to the point that many citizens are now choosing to use the wireless line as their primary telephone while saving money to cut the cord on their wired telephone.

Another FCC critic was the Institute for Policy Innovation. In a January letter to the FCC, the think tank chastised the FCC: “it borders on the absurd to require that companies like AT&T maintain two parallel networks, a forward looking one that is desired by consumers and businesses and that facilitates new products and services using the latest technology; but also an expensive legacy network that is necessary only to comply with outdated regulations.”

“It is vital for the FCC, for its own future relevance, to tackle this, tackle it today, and re-asses the basis on which it regulates,” said Cicconi to the crowd gathered by the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University’s Center for Business and Public Policy.

John Mayo, executive director of the center, echoed Cicconi’s statements. Mayo compared the FCC’s forcing of telecommunications divisions to invest in old technology to requiring of making modern auto makers invest in “buggy whips.”

By pointing out the FCC’s inability to adapt to a wireless world, Cicconi criticized the commission and governing bodies for attempting to re-word old rules and regulations into a new world. He stated that “they have struggled with how to figure out how to preserve rules and transport them into a new environment.” The next step is to “take all these rules and design them for an world,” said Cicconi.

Blair Levin of the Aspen Institute stated similarly that “there is no need to wait” and that the transition to IP is an inevitable reality. Levin said that by waiting on completely embracing a wireless transition, potential jobs could be lost. Jennifer Fritzsche, a managing director for Wells Fargo, cited a recent company survey that expressed the inancial hesitance of bankers to invest in the changing regularly climate. According to this survey, 86 percent of those asked on Wall Street believe that the Obama administration was more regulatory in regard to business than was prior administrations.

Cicconi echoed the need for “new rules” concerning how the private sectors are to invest and operate the space. Cicconi backed up his companies desire to abandon what he called “legacy rules” by noting that “five years ago we [AT&T] were selling minutes, now we are selling bits.”

Ciconni later wondered aloud to the crowd, “how many other companies as large as ours, have fundamentally changed, in only five years, the core product they sell and how they sell it, this is the a pace of change and how we grasp it.” Without embracing that need for change, the majority of the panel concluded, that the FCC could become irrelevant as the world continues to embrace wireless and broadband technologies.

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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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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