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Two Municipal Broadband Groups Criticize Data and Analysis in U. Penn Paper

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WASHINGTON, June 7, 2017 – Two organizations supportive of municipal broadband advocacy efforts last week issued differing reports critical of a May 24 report by a University of Pennsylvania professor.

The report, by Christopher Yoo and Timothy Pfenninger, was titled “Municipal Fiber in the United States: An Empirical Assessment of Financial Performance,” and it concluded that 11 out of 20 municipal broadband projects generated negative cash flow between 2010 and 2014.

Pushback about the reports elicited a mea culpa from the authors, who issued press release two days after the report was published, and which said: “The case-study portion of the report erroneously stated that the bonds used to finance the projects in Chattanooga, TN; Lafayette, LA; and Wilson, NC; call for balloon payments toward the end of their bond terms.”

The two critics, the the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (together with Next Century Cities) and the Coalition for Local Internet Choice, highlighted that statement.

ILSR also mentioned that the report erred on the dates the networks began connecting subscribers.

“The listed ‘start of project’ appeared inconsistent and often significantly predated when the network began connecting customers,” ILSR said in its response.

CLIC’s criticism focused on the report’s prediction that it would take Chattanooga 412 years to turn positive profits post-2014. But Chattanooga has seen sales soar since 2014. CLIC replied that the city has actually already paid off its debt for the fiber utilities.

Bento Lobo, a professor of finance at the University of Tennessee, said in the CLIC response said the city’s fiber network has added between 2,800 and 5,200 jobs to the city, and that the fiber network added additional economic and social benefits to the city of at least $865 million.

Both ILSR and CLIC pointed out problems with the 20 municipal broadband projects the report used.

CLIC said that the report didn’t have sufficient data for seven of the 20 projects – and that the report used estimates from the other 13 for the seven without enough data. ILSR said that while creating the report, the authors picked the only 20 out of 88 projects that could fit the frame for the analysis that Pennsylvania purported to conduct.

Both organizations also said the 2010-2014 timeframe chosen by the Pennsylvania report’s authors was not representative because the economy was still recovering from the great recession of 2008-2009.

ILSR Response: https://muninetworks.org/sites/www.muninetworks.org/files/fiber-fallacy-upenn-yoo.pdf

CLIC Response: http://www.localnetchoice.org/connections/professor-yoos-flawed-study-flunks-test-on-municipal-broadband/

(Image of Chattanooga by Imilious used by permission.) 

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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