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Freedom to Connect in Washington: ‘Let’s Hope This Isn’t the Golden Age of the Internet’

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SILVER SPRING, Maryland, March 15, 2013 – A somber tone was set last week during the opening day of the 2013 Freedom to Connect conference here. Opening remarks by conference organizer David Isenberg were peppered with references to Wikileaks mastermind Julian Assange, Pvt. Bradley Manning currently under military trial for releasing classified State documents, and the late Aaron Swartz.

Swartz, the 26-year-old computer programming whiz and activist who played a major role in the demise of the Stop Online Piracy Act, had taken his life just two months previously. Swartz, who gave a  keynote address at the 2012 Freedom to Connect conference, was being prosecuted for alleged computer trespass crimes.

His 2012 F2C speech dwelt on the campaign – begun in part by Swartz – to defeat the Hollywood-promoted Stop Online Piracy Act. That legislative proposal was defeated in January 2012.

The somber tone continued with remarks by Darcy Burner, who remembered the passing of her friend. She asked the audience to question who their enemies were and why. Quoting Swartz, she said, “when there’s a problem you shouldn’t get angry with the gears – you should fix the machine.”

Dan Gillmor, director of Arizona State University’s journalism school, asked the audience to question what the world could do as a collective body going forward. Gillmor, expressed his belief that “governments aren’t taking liberties away,” and that it is the people who are in fact giving their liberties away. Gillmor also expressed the need to embrace and research alternative operating systems, noting the efficiency of programs like Linux or Ubuntu. Gillmor hoped that the future of the internet can be one that fuses freedom and convenience online back together.

Later in the day, Christopher Mitchell, of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and its Community Broadband Networks web site, hoped aloud that “this is not the golden age of the internet.”

Mitchell said he hoped that the world has yet to know the capabilities of the web. Mitchell compared the essential role of the internet in current society to the importance of bridges and roads. He would also sing the praises of smaller, local networks. These networks keep more money and jobs in smaller communities, he said. Mitchell also expressed his hope that major cable companies would one day cease being “the gate keepers of the internet.”

Following Mitchell, Trevor Timm of the newly formed Freedom of the Press Foundation spoke of his groups hopes and goals moving forward. The foundation, figure-headed by actor John Cusack, has begun to navigate the legal waters of funding Wikileaks and Julian Assange. They provide the opportunity to donate money to their society that would be used to publish more Wikileaks documents.

In a panel discuss on money, corruption and telecommunications politics. Moderator Tim Karr spoke of how the influence industry at hand corrupts telecommunications policy. Panelist Catherine Rice said that the government would work to redefine what is “a comparable upload speed.” Rice believed that a 3 Migabits per second threshold used by many is not an accurate reflection of what is necessary for a robust internet connection.

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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