WASHINGTON, February 20, 2013 – Policy-makers and consumers alike are struggling to grapple with a rising-tide of data usage from wireless devices, according to the chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s wireless bureau and panelists speaking at the Broadband Breakfast Club on Tuesday at Clyde’s of Gallery Place. Panelists noted the challenges that data caps have on younger and inexperienced internet users.
The FCC has been grappling with rising smartphone penetration rates, with the number of mobile subscribers rising every quarter since 2009; subscription rates have gone from 21 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 55 percent in the second quarter of 2012. Over that same time period, recent acquirers of smartphones went from 30 percent to 67 percent. In other words, two thirds of recently-acquired devices are smartphones.
And to Ruth Milkman, Chief of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, this demonstrates an increase for demand which in turn necessitates access to more radio-frequencies for broadband transmissions.
Throughout her keynote address, Milkman discussed the FCC’s desire to keep up with the demand driven by today’s tech culture. She believes that demand can only be facilitated by an increase in spectrum availability. More than four years ago, the FCC had predicted a dramatic 1200 percent increase in mobile data traffic between 2009 and 2012. The actual number was even higher: 1275 percent.
In addition to the amount of wireless broadband capacity, the number of mobile providers is also important to the FCC, said Milkman, whether that be to “small town in rural West Virginia or to public works in Washington.” More than 50 percent of non-rural U.S road miles are covered by 5 or more broadband providers, while the same is true of only 4 percent of rural roads.
During the panel portion of the event, entitled “Data Caps, the Spectrum Crunch and the Wireless Home,” panelists discussed the limitations, from the consumer’s point of view, of tiered data plans. Nick Feamster, associate professor in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech, discussed his own personal tests on data cap usage. Feaster noted differences in the capacity of a home router and a mobile router, and argued that some people may know how much data it takes to process emails on their phone, would be in the dark about data consumed in watching Netflix on a computer.
Applications and data interfaces need to become more user-friendly, so that customers are fully aware of what they are doing with their devices. Without it, consumers don’t know when they hit a data cap.
Young people are often unaware of how much data they process, said panelist Roger Entner, founder of Recon Analytics. “The highest users of data are young adults who use their smartphones as if they were desk-top computers,” he said, although he noted that carriers are improving the capacity of their networks. Entner agreed with Feamster that most users do not know how much data they transmit. In fact, said Feamster, individuals often download a free application on their phone, unaware that it will use more data, and could end up costing them more than pay applications.
Patrick Lucey, a policy researcher at the Open Technology Institute of the New America Foundation, used his own enjoyment of personal gaming as foil for something that consumes data – but is very unclear of how much data is transmitted. Lucey also discussed a recent development by video game companies to eliminate hard copies of gaming discs. This, in turn, leads to exclusive downloading of software from gaming companies.
Added Serena Viswanathan, staff attorney at the Federal Trade Commission: broadband carriers need to be more up-front about what the user is getting out of an application and plan, and what sort of limitations may be in place. Questions about data consumption are no longer exclusively the province of tech-savvy users, she said. For example, both of her parents use Apple’s iPad, but neither are adept to how data is processed or transmitted.
Editor’s Note: To see video excerpts from the February Broadband Breakfast Club, please visit https://broadbandbreakfast.com/2013/02/video-excerpts-from-februarys-broadband-breakfast-club-on-data-caps/.
Federal Communications Commission Approves New Provider Transparency Requirements
Broadband providers must now create “broadband nutrition labels” which list pricing and speed information.
WASHINGTON, January 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to require that broadband providers create “broadband nutrition labels” that list information on the pricing and speed of internet service they provide.
The labels mimic food nutrition labels in format and aim to increase transparency of providers in their marketing to consumers.
With their approval at the commission’s monthly open meeting Thursday, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said the new rules are crucial to consumers being able to find the best deals on broadband service for their personal needs.
Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel praised the label format, saying that it allows consumers to “easily compare” information and that it is “black and white, simple to read, and easy to understand.”
The long-simmering idea was enacted by Congress in the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by the president on November 15. It directed the FCC to revive the project by one year from the law’s passage.
On Thursday, Joshua Stager, New America’s deputy director for broadband and competition policy at its Open Technology Institute, called the vote “a welcome step forward and a win for consumers.” The think tank began promoting the idea last decade, and it had been endorsed by the Obama administration before being canned by the Trump administration.
Industry group Wireless Internet Service Providers Association said the transparency afforded by the new policy “provides consumers with important tools to make informed choices.”
Additionally in Thursday’s meeting, when the agency tentatively revoked telecom operator China Unicom Americas’ operating authority in the United States, the agency said they had reached out to the Department of Justice for assistance in responding to what they say are potential threats from the China-based company. This inter-agency review is routinely part of determinations involving foreign-owned telecommunications companies.
The agency also updated its definition of “library” to make clear that Tribal libraries are eligible to receive funds under the Universal Service Fund’s E-rate program.
Starks emphasized that the commission’s action represented progress on digital inclusion efforts, but that unfamiliarity of Tribal libraries with the E-rate program remains a problem.
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.
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.
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.
Broadband Breakfast on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 — A ‘Consumer Confidence’ Survey for Broadband
BroadbandNow launches a “consumer confidence” survey.
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
- “Access and Impacts: Exploring how internet access and home and online training shape people’s online behavior and perspectives about their lives,” by John Horrigan
- For BroadbandNow’s open data set on availability, affordability and speed: https://github.com/broadbandnow
- To contribute or to ask questions about the BroadbandNow survey, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
- Broadband Breakfast Interview with Tyler Cooper and Jenna Tanberk about Open Data Set from Broadband Now, November 20, 2020
- Broadband Breakfast Interview with BroadbandNow about Gigabit Coverage and Unreliable FCC Data, December 27, 2020
- Broadband Breakfast Interview with BroadbandNow about Lower Costs and Lower Latency, February 25, 2021
- Broadband Breakfast Interview with John Busby of BroadbandNow About FCC Data Errors, July 1, 2021
As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.
- Federal Appeals Court Upholds California’s Net Neutrality Rules
- FCC Announces New RDOF Accountability and Transparency Measures, Additional Funding
- Commerce Vote on Sohn Wednesday, Facebook Abandoning its Crypto Technology, Low EBB Awareness
- Former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Says Biden is Inappropriately Exhorting the Agency
- Federal Communications Commission Approves New Provider Transparency Requirements
- Facebook is Failing Iranians, and Iran’s Leaders Are About to Launch a Censored Internet
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