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The Cost of Connectivity: An Analysis of the Open Technology Institute Report Cited by the White House

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WASHINGTON, January 14, 2015 — The White House’s recent report on “Community-Based Broadband Solutions” relies heavily on an Open Technology Institute report from the fall that compared the quality and cost of U.S. broadband Internet with the rest of the world.

The third annual Cost of Connectivity report from OTI, the technology program of the public policy institute New America Foundation, compared the prices, speeds, data caps and other fees of both home and mobile broadband in 24 cities from around the world.

“Our findings remain consistent: the majority of U.S. cities included in our report lag behind their international peers,” according to the report.

The report is consumer-facing, focusing on what consumers would actually pay for the advertised speeds in the respective cities. Other broadband reports analyze market trends, differences in economic and political systems, levels of federal and private investment, and compare advertised speeds to actual speeds. The findings of this report simply show the current state of broadband in cities across the globe.

As Business Insider quickly pointed out, OTI’s reported showed that San Francisco has the slowest speeds of any major U.S. city, coming in 20th out of the 24 cities. Yet the ISP Webpass offers a plan with 200 Mbps symmetrical connection (equal download and upload speeds) for $30 a month. The cost of that plan makes San Francisco the most affordable city in the U.S. for fast broadband for under $40.

Vice used the report to generalize about the poor state of broadband nationwide after it first compared Los Angeles and Seoul, saying “the internet in Los Angeles is half the speed of the internet in Seoul, and yet we pay ten times as much for it. The only cities in America that can even hold a candle to places like Seoul are Kansas City and Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the internet is fast but still twice as expensive.”

These reactions are understandable, as the findings of the report seem to be in line in line with the general sentiment that Americans have been reading about for months, even years: that U.S. broadband is not only slower than its international peers, but the cost to connect is also much higher in the U.S. However, Kehl made it clear that the report findings should not be generalized to a nationwide level.

“We make it clear that it is a city comparison,” Danielle Kehl, one of the experts behind every Cost of Connectivity report told Broadband Breakfast. “It tends to get covered much more as the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world and a country comparison. We are very conscious of the fact that it is a city comparison and that its not U.S. versus Germany, but Washington, D.C. versus Berlin.”

The report also notes why a city-to-city comparison was used. “We compare specific cities in an attempt to address population density challenges that often skew comparative assessments of broadband in the U.S. vs. other European and Asian countries.” The significance of population density is tantamount, as it is an “important variable that helps dictate broadband speeds and prices.”

 

Rank

City

Continent

Population (City)

Land Area (mi sqaured)

Pop Density of City (people per mi squared)

1

Paris

Europe

2,249,975.00

40.7

55,281.94

2

Seoul

Asia

10,442,426

233.67

44,688.77

3

New York City

North America

8,175,133

302.60

27,016.30

4

Taipei

Asia

2,693,672.00

104.94

25,668.08

5

Delhi

Asia

11,007,835.00

431.09

25,534.89

6

Bucharest

Europe

1,883,425.00

88

21,402.56

7

Mumbai

Asia

12,478,447.00

603

20,693.94

8

Sao Paulo

North America

11,895,893.00

591.78

20,104.00

9

Jerusalem

Middle East

890,428.00

48.32

18,426.59

10

Hong Kong

Asia

7,234,800

407

17,775.92

11

Copenhagen

Europe

579,513.00

33.28

17,413.25

12

San Francisco

North America

805,235

46.69

17,246.41

13

London (Inner London)

Europe

3,335,438.00

198.40

16,811.89

14

Tokyo

Asia

13,185,502

844.66

15,610.43

15

Mexico City

North America

8,851,080.00

573.00

15,446.91

16

Madrid

Europe

3,236,344.00

233.89

13,837.03

17

Boston

North America

645,966

48.42

13,340.89

18

Amsterdam

Europe

813,562.00

64

12,711.91

19

Dublin

Europe

527,612.00

44.40

11,883.15

20

Chicago

North America

2,695,598

227.2

11,864.43

21

Zurich

Europe

383,708.00

33.93

11,308.81

22

Toronto

North America

2,615,060.00

240.00

10,896.08

23

Washington, DC

North America

646,449

61.40

10,528.49

24

Berlin

Europe

3,517,424.00

344.35

10,214.68

25

Shanghai

Asia

24,150,000.00

2,448.10

9,864.79

26

Los Angeles

North America

3,884,307

503.00

8,282.00

27

Prague

Europe

1,243,201.00

192

6,475.01

28

Riga

Europe

701,977.00

117

5,999.80

29

Lafayette, LA

North America

120,687.00

49.1

2,457.98

30

Kansas City, MO

North America

459,787.00

314.95

1,459.87

31

Bristol, VA

North America

17,835.00

13.2

1,351.14

32

Chattanooga, TN

North America

173,366.00

135.2

1,282.29

33

Kansas City, KS

North America

145,786.00

124.811

1,168.05

Cities in regular fonts were used in the original report, bold and italic cities were added for comparison

Using this logic, the best comparisons are between or among cities with comparable densities. Seoul’s population density is so much greater than any other city in the report that it is an outlier. A better comparison would be between Los Angeles and Berlin, or among Amsterdam, Zurich, Los Angeles, Berlin, Dublin and Prague.

Best Home Broadband Deals Under $40

 

City

Provider

Monthly Broadband Price

Download

(Mbps)

Upload

(Mbps)

Density

Berlin TeleColumbus

$37.18

64

3

10,214.68

Dublin UPC

$36.59

60

6

11,883.15

Toronto Teksavvy

$36.25

30

5

10,896.08

Los Angeles Sonic.net

$39.95

20

2.5

8,282.00

Zurich UPC

$32.37

20

2

11,308.81

Prague O2

$37.41

20

2

6,475.01

Los Angeles seems to be holding up just fine against the cities with comparable densities. It should be noted that the data used for Los Angeles and New York in this comparison is not the same as used in the official report. Two simple Google search revealed that Sonic.net and RCN provided faster speeds than what was used in the chart. For the most part, cities with comparable densities have similar speeds and prices.

City to City Data

While the Cost of Connectivity helps to fill in the gaps left by other more technical reports, the report does not include mobile phone data plans, only home broadband and mobile broadband from USB dongles and Wi-Fi hotspots. The cost of those plans frequently include non-broadband related services like voice and text.

“There is a lot value in that research and we’d love to do it or see someone else do it,” Kehl told Broadband Breakfast. “In terms of the scope of this report, we decided to focus it on [accessing the Internet on a personal computer or tablet].”

While the Open Technology Institute report did not include mobile phone plans in their comparison, it did include the connection prices and speeds of mobile broadband of portable Wi-Fi hotspots and USB dongles. Examining the available dataset shows that 3 of the 4 US carriers lack any upload and download speeds. OTI told Broadband Breakfast that the data for the speeds was not publicly available. While the websites of AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint do not display speeds, a live chat with a customer support representative quickly provided some missing details.

Missing data was not limited to U.S. carriers. Data on Canada’s Bell mobile broadband network can be found on their website Two out of the five Hong Kong carriers lacked data on speeds, and three of five Dublin carriers lacked that information.

American Trends

The report surveys relatively few cities with the highest tier of broadband. Other incumbent ISPs, regional ISPs and municipal ISPs nationwide have been building out fiber and increasing the speeds. CenturyLink announced seven new cities in which it will offer 1 Gbps upload and download speeds to residents in addition to the three cities — Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Omaha — where it already provides the service.

New entrants like Google Fiber have sparked the competition to provide faster and cheaper broadband speeds. When Google announced it was bringing its fiber service to Austin, Texas, incumbent AT&T announced GigaPower service, which will increase the top home broadband speeds from 300 Mbps to 1 Gbps, to match Google’s speeds.

While not many U.S. cities can boast 1 Gbps up and down for around $40 or less like Hong Kong and Seoul, the U.S. is a substantially larger any other country surveyed in the report. In addition, many smaller cities and rural areas are getting the gigabit treatment. Residents of Brentwood, CA, which is right outside of San Francisco, are getting 1Gbps + voice for $40 a month from ISP Sonic.net, and will be expanding to San Francisco in the future. Verizon Communication’s Fiber Optic Service recently announced its move to provide symmetrical upload and download speeds on all of its plans.

A New Hope

Demand for faster, more reliable broadband is not only growing in the U.S., but it will be necessary in order to take advantage of newer, broadband-dependent technologies in the realms of education, health and business. This demand has drawn both private and government investment in laying fiber and building the infrastructure necessary for future-proofing American broadband. Coalitions such as the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition have been formed to advocate for more federal funds, to help bring together ISPs and communities and to overall help the expansion of next generation networks. In rural and suburban communities where competition seems to be lacking, municipalities have worked to create affordable alternatives.

These efforts have not been in vain, as the Federal Communications Commission has made changes in the agency’s plan to increase the E-rate fund for schools and libraries. Now, President Obama’s push to support community-led Gigabit Networks could open up new super-fast options for cities in the United States.

 

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Broadband's Impact

Reason 4 to Attend Broadband Mapping Masterclass: Measuring Actual Speeds

The 4th of 5 reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on 9/27 at 12 Noon ET

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WASHINGTON, September 26, 2022 – The fourth reason to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on September 27, 2022, is to understand the role that speed tests are playing in the discussion about actual speeds versus available speeds – and its importance for federal and state efforts to distribute broadband infrastructure funds.

Broadband Breakfast is hosting the 2-hour Broadband Mapping Masterclass to help Internet Service Providers, mapping and GIS consultants, and people in everyday communities concerned about broadband mapping.

This 2-hour Masterclass, available for only $99, will help you navigate the treacherous waters around broadband mapping. The live Broadband Mapping Masterclass is being recorded, and those who make a one-time $99 payment will obtain a guaranteed place during the live session.

ENROLL TODAY for our Zoom Webinar through PayPal.

Registrants will also receive unlimited on-demand access to the Masterclass recording. And they will receive Broadband Breakfast’s premium research report on broadband mapping.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

We’re presenting five additional reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass.

Additional reason number 4 to attend the Masterclass

The last time that the federal government initiated a significant effort to fund broadband, in 2009, the United States lacked a basic map of what we at Broadband Breakfast have for years called the Broadband SPARC: Measuring Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition by high-speed internet access providers.

The National Broadband Map was a first effort to measure availability and competition by displaying the individual providers that offered broadband on a Census block level. But it lacked any measure of broadband speeds, prices or the reliability of such information.

Over the past 13 years, we now have a great variety of robust sources of speed test data – as well as significant datasets with information about pricing and reliability of broadband. The Broadband Mapping Masterclass will explore ways in which actual speed data has and can be used to crosscheck the quality of broadband availability data released by the Federal Communications Commission.

By attending the Broadband Mapping Masterclass, you’ll learn what you need to know in order assess the quality of broadband data as made availability by federal and state agencies, and private companies and organizations.

ENROLL TODAY  to find out what happens next.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

Read more about the reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

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Broadband's Impact

Dianne Crocker: Recession Fears Have Real Estate Market Forecasters Hitting the Reset Button

Growing fears of recession trigger pullback on previous rosy forecasts.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Dianne Crocker, Principal Analyst for LightBox

The lyrics to “Same As It Ever Was” by the Talking Heads certainly don’t apply to how 2022 is playing out in the commercial real estate market. Two quarters of negative economic growth has put a damper on market sentiment and triggered fears that the U.S. economy is heading for a recession. By midyear, market analysts were taking a good, hard look at their rosy forecasts from the start of the New Year and redrawing the lines.

Once upon a time…

At the start of 2022, forecasters were bullishly predicting that commercial real estate investment and lending levels would be nearly as good as 2021. This was significant, considering that 2021 set new records for deal-making and lending volume as the debt and equity capital amassed during the pandemic while looking for a home in U.S. commercial real estate.

What a difference a few quarters have made. Virtually, all the predictions that started the New Year were obsolete by mid-summer. The abrupt shift in market conditions is palpable and surprised just about everyone. Now, markets are reaching an inflection point that is in sharp contrast with the strong rebound of last year.

The two I’s: Inflation and interest rates

At the core of the recent upset in market sentiment is the persistence of high inflation, which seems to be ignoring all attempts by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and bring prices down. Higher inflation is having a ripple effect throughout the economy, pushing up the costs of construction materials, energy, and consumer goods. Among the notable economic indicators showing stress at mid-year was the GDP, which fell for the second consecutive quarter, and the Consumer Price Index, which jumped 9.1% year-over-year in June – the highest increase in about four decades.

In July, the CPI fell to 8.5%, an encouraging sign that inflation was beginning to stabilize. By the latest August report from LightBox, however, hopes were dashed when the CPI showed little improvement, holding firm at a still high of 8.3%.

The market is responding to a higher cost of capital as lenders tap the brakes. As the cost of capital rises with each interest rate hike and concerns of a recession intensify, many large U.S. financial institutions are pulling back on their loan originations for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. This change in tenor is a significant shift, given that 2021 was a record-breaking year for commercial real estate lending. Many lenders have already shifted to a more defensive underwriting position as they look to mitigate risks.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, which had previously predicted that lending levels in 2022 would break the $1 trillion mark for the first time revised their forecast downward in mid-July. By year-end, the MBA now expects volume to be a significant 18% below 2021 levels—and one-third lower than the bullish forecast made in February. Now, investment activity is cooling as higher borrowing costs drive some buyers from the market.

In the investment world, transactions were down by 29% at midyear due to a thinning buyer pool as higher rates impact access to debt capital. Market volatility is causing investors, lenders, and owners to rethink strategies, reconsider assumptions, and prepare for possible disruption.

Looking ahead to year-end and 2023

The rapid and diverse shifts in the market make for an uncertain forecast and certainly a more cautious investment environment. The battle between inflation and interest rates will continue over the near term. As LightBox’s investor, lender, valuation, and environmental due diligence clients move toward the 4th quarter—typically the busiest quarter of the year–unprecedented volatility is driving them to recalibrate and reforecast given recent market developments.

Continued softness in transaction volume is likely to continue as rates and valuations establish a new equilibrium. If property prices begin to level out, there will be more pressure on buyers to consider how to improve a property to get their return on investment. The next chapter of the commercial real estate market will be defined by how long inflation sticks around, how high interest rates go, and whether the economy slips into a recession (and how deeply). The greatest areas of opportunity will be found in asset classes like office and retail that are evolving away from traditional uses and morphing to meet the needs of today’s market. Until barometers stabilize, it’s important to rethink assumptions, watch developments, and recalibrate as necessary.

Dianne Crocker is the Principal Analyst for LightBox, delivering strategic analytics, best practices in risk management, market intelligence reports, educational seminars, and customized research for stakeholders in commercial real estate deals. She is a highly respected expert on commercial real estate market trends. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Broadband's Impact

Reason 3 to Attend Broadband Mapping Masterclass: State Maps vs. Federal Maps

The 3rd of 5 reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on 9/27 at 12 Noon ET

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WASHINGTON, September 23, 2022 – The third reason to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on September 27, 2022, is to get a handle on what state broadband officers have and are doing with broadband maps.

While much of the action has been at the Federal Communications Commission, after state allocations have been made, funding decisions will ultimately come from state broadband officers.

Broadband Breakfast is hosting the 2-hour Broadband Mapping Masterclass to help Internet Service Providers, mapping and GIS consultants, and people in everyday communities concerned about broadband mapping.

This 2-hour Masterclass, available for only $99, will help you navigate the treacherous waters around broadband mapping. The live Broadband Mapping Masterclass is being recorded, and those who make a one-time $99 payment will obtain a guaranteed place during the live session.

ENROLL TODAY for our Zoom Webinar through PayPal.

Registrants will also receive unlimited on-demand access to the Masterclass recording. And they will receive Broadband Breakfast’s premium research report on broadband mapping.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

We’re presenting five additional reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass.

Additional reason number 3 to attend the Masterclass

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $42.5 billion for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. Every state will receive at least $100 million in funding, but the remaining more-than $37 billion will be allocated among states based upon a formula that is primarily determined by their percentage of the unserved population. (According to IIJA, a location is “unserved” if it lacks access to broadband at 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. An area is “underserved” if it lacks 100 Mbps * 20 Mbps broadband.)

That’s where the FCC’s updated broadband map come in: Once challenges to the map are concluded, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will allocate that $37 billion pool according to the “denominator” that the NTIA reads out from the FCC map.

But state and their broadband offices have a trump card: They can and are developing their own maps to check, verify and challenge the FCC map. Furthermore, they are under no obligation to award funds according to the actual places that the FCC says are unserved or underserved.

In the Broadband Mapping Masterclass, you’ll learn what you need to know in order to tap into these efforts by state broadband offices.

ENROLL TODAY  to find out what happens next.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

Read more about the reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

ENROLL TODAY

 

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