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Net Neutrality Big Focus of House Oversight Subcommittee Hearing, With Stark Partisanship



WASHINGTON, July 26, 2017 – The official topic of Tuesday’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing was reauthorization of the Federal Communications Commission, but the big focus was on net neutrality.

“The Commission’s decision in 2015 to reclassify the internet as a public utility was a power grab laced with the irony of suffocating the most innovative part of our economy with a 1930s era law,” said Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee. “This gave new meaning to the term ‘progressive.’”

The regulation has slowed investment from internet providers by 5.6 percent, she said, asserting that it would also lead to rate regulation, she said.

Republicans versus Democrats on telecom

That was the Republican view. Democrats had a different take.

Since Ajit Pai became FCC Chairman during the first week of the Trump administration, the FCC agenda has been anti-small business and anti-consumer, said ranking member Michael Doyle, D-Pennsylvania.

He highlighted the 12.3 million comments in the net neutrality docket at the FCC. Even Netflix has said that eliminating the rules would pose a threat to its business, Doyle said.

This FCC path will hurt people, small businesses and innovative sectors of the economy, he said.

Ditto, added Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey. The FCC’s actions have ignored the needs of consumers, whereas an open internet allows small businesses to flourish.

“If the FCC moves ahead with its Net Neutrality plan, the consequences will be severe,” said Pallone. “Their plan will have a chilling influence on our democracy, cut away at our connections with each other and limit economic opportunities for the future.”

Doyle also said the Republicans surprised the Democrats with a reauthorization bill that will slash the FCC budget by $18 million.

Pai plugs robocall action and reauth bill

In his testimony at the hearing, Pai said the FCC has been targeting robocalls. He also applauded the reauthorization bill, and said that the FCC has seen a negative impact from the 2015 net neutrality regulations put in place by the Obama-era FCC.

FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn touted her recent travels to Ohio to talk with people facing poor connectivity.  If the FCC can put small businesses and consumers first, then the FCC can really say it is serving the public interest, Clyburn said.

Contra Pai, Clyburn wants to preserve the 2015 rules. Without making use of Title II of the Communications Act – the provision governing common carriers –it will be hard for the FCC to put such policies into place. She added that $80 to $100 a month is too much for struggling Americans to pay for broadband service.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly focused his remarks on removing what he characterized as obstacles by state and local governments blocking broadband, including broadband in rural areas.

How valuable are comments on net neutrality?

When asked about the 12.3 million comments on Net Neutrality, O’Rielly said many of the comments are empty of any value.

Although opposed to the rules put in place by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Pai said he did support a free and open internet. O’Rielly agreed.

Clyburn said she that small businesses shouldn’t have to worry about their websites being throttled. The rules need to be clear, and they won’t without Title II protections, she said.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-California, said she doesn’t see how Pai can say he supports net neutrality when he wants to unravel it. In other words, Pai’s statements on the subject are not credible, she said.

Full committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Oregon, announced a committee hearing titled “Ground Rules for the Internet Ecosystem” for September 7, at which Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon, Netflix, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon will testify.

It is time for everyone to share their opinions before Congress, Walden said.

On other matters, Pai said it is important for the U.S. to win the race to 5G wireless technology. He also highlighted FCC work on broadband mapping to accurately reflect broadband data coverage. Clyburn added that the challenge remains getting providers to provide the data necessary.

(Photo by Casey Ryan.)


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.



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.



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.



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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