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Jonathan Chambers of the FCC Says Results of Rural Broadband Experiment Teach Incumbents a Lesson

AUSTIN, April 14, 2015 – The official from the Federal Communications Commission responsible for the agency’s unique “rural broadband experiment” on Monday said the experiment was less about learning than about teaching the rural telecom industry that it can do better.

Speaking on panel at the Broadband Communities Summit here, Jonathan Chambers, chief of the Office of Strategic Planning at the FCC, said: “I wanted to teach certain people in Washington that we could do better than 4 megabits per second (Mbps) down and 1 Mbps up [in broadband speeds.]” […]

Jonathan Chambers, Chief, Office of Strategic Planning, FCC

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AUSTIN, April 14, 2015 – The official from the Federal Communications Commission responsible for the agency’s unique “rural broadband experiment” on Monday said the experiment was less about learning than about teaching the rural telecom industry that it can do better.

Speaking on panel at the Broadband Communities Summit here, Jonathan Chambers, chief of the Office of Strategic Planning at the FCC, said: “I wanted to teach certain people in Washington that we could do better than 4 megabits per second (Mbps) down and 1 Mbps up [in broadband speeds.]”

Jonathan Chambers, Chief, Office of Strategic Planning, FCC

Jonathan Chambers, Chief, Office of Strategic Planning, FCC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I wanted to teach that there was an interest in deployment of broadband to [rural residents’] homes, and in their home communities,” Chambers continued.

Less that $100 million over a 10 year period is being made available through this rural broadband experiment. That $10 million a year, Chambers said, is two-tenth of one percent of the amount — $4.5 billion — that is annually made available to traditional rural telecom companies.

Chambers said he wanted to teach Washington that changes to the entrenched system of universal service could be done, and that significantly better broadband could be made widely available throughout rural America “because there are models that work differently in different places.”

In essence, Chambers said, the innovation of the rural broadband experiment was to explore the question: “What would happen if we made [funds] available to [entities] other than phone companies in rural America?”

In Chamber’s view, the response was impressive.

In an FCC blog post last December, Chambers wrote:

We received bids from telephone and electric co-ops, from mobile operators, from wireless internet service providers, from cable companies, from communities, and from a satellite provider. We received bids from start-ups and from companies that have been around for over 100 years. We received bids to provide broadband via copper, fiber, licensed and unlicensed spectrum. We received bids from national operators, but mostly the bids came from companies that were locally based, with more than an occasional effort to try new strategies to get broadband to unserved communities.

We received 575 bids from 181 different entities to cover homes and small businesses in over 75,000 census blocks in rural areas in every state in the country. The total amount requested far exceeded the budget, nearly nine times as much as was available to fund in the auction. And it appears that the auction succeeded in drawing bidders who believe they can provide service very economically. For example, when we compared the bids to the amount of support calculated by the FCC’s cost model, the total requested in the auction in the aggregate is less than half the model-based support for those census blocks. And the total from the group of lowest bidders is just ten percent of the model-based support for those particular blocks.

This incredible outpouring of interest was attributable to communities’ greater buy-in when they were able to have a stake — separate and apart from a rural telecom company — in their broadband future.

“There are places where a community will put stuff up, and we didn’t have to follow the model we have followed for years,” Chambers said.

He also noted with pleasure that the FCC had upped its definition of broadband to 25 Mbps, which he called “the basis for the rural broadband” experiment.

In noting that the bids obtained under the rural experiment were half as much as the agency pays for traditional “high-cost” universal service support, Chambers said Monday that most of the proposals were “fiber to the home, which would deliver far greater speeds, less latency, and more reliable service than the FCC has sought in past years.”

The panel on which Chambers spoke, “Federal Loans, Grants and Universal Service Fund Support,” was a last minute addition to the program. Also on the program was Sandeep Taxali, senior policy analyst at the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and Laurel Leverrier, operations branch chief policy for the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service.

Both Taxali and Leverrier spoke about their agency’s broadband programs, including the Broadband Advisory Council of federal government entities recently announced by President Obama.

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Kirton McConkie, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, which enhances clients’ ability to construct and operate high-speed broadband networks in public-private partnerships. You can find him on LinkedINGoogle+ and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com  and affiliated social media are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors. Clark brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband: job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, energy, transportation and eGovernment. 

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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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