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Public-Private Partnerships, Local Involvement Central to Colorado Broadband Success

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WASHINGTON, July 9, 2018 – Colorado broadband officials stressed the importance of public-private partnerships in extending broadband access to unserved Americans in rural areas, and expressed doubts that the so-called fifth-generation wireless standard dubbed 5G will be the answer to closing the digital divide.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband Coalition, the Colorado officials addressed the State Broadband Initiative of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department. The SBI program was kicked off by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s broadband stimulus funding.

This program facilitated economic and business efforts for broadband development at local and state levels. The June 27 webinar discussed how Colorado created effective public-private partnerships and extended broadband into rural areas.

Local community involvement is crucial

Anthony Neal-Graves, executive director of the Colorado Broadband Office, stressed the importance of local community involvement in broadband development efforts. “The local communities have to have a stake in this. At the end of the day we want to work with industry,” Neal-Graves said, stressing the importance of both private industry and local commitment in closing the digital divide.

According to the Colorado broadband officials, only 77 percent of rural households had access to broadband in April 2018. The goal of the program is to expand access to 85 percent by the end of 2018, and to 99 percent by 2020.

5G won’t be a panacea for broadband deployment

Despite talk of 5G development as the new future for broadband connection, Neal-Graves expressed doubt that it would help those who suffer from insufficient broadband access today.

“5G is a great tech great promise,” he said, “but it’s not going to solve the problem in rural areas of the state with population density issues and huge distances to cover.”

5G, which is projected to utilize high-band wireless spectrum frequencies, will require the building of huge amounts of “small cells” and fiber to connect the cells, in order to build a network.

High-band spectrum is high speed, and can carry large amounts of data, but is limited to transmission over an extremely short distance, unlike traditionally utilized low and mid-band spectrum which can cover larger distances and are therefore are perhaps more convenient for rural areas than 5G.

Colorado directly funds ISPs to build broadband infrastructure

Colorado Broadband Deployment Director Jordan Beezley advocated for the effectiveness of Colorado’s Broadband program’s focuses on providing funding to private enterprises and creating a public-private partnership.  According to Beezley, the program provides money directly to ISPs to build out the infrastructure, and ensure it is a “business model that is sustainable.”

The state’s Broadband Deployment Board, established in 2014, has awarded more than $11,500,000 in funding to applicants. The grants are, with a few exceptions, provided exclusively to for-profit enterprises, and can cover up to 75 percent of infrastructure costs.

The goal is to incentivize private industry to build broadband networks in unserved areas that have remained unserved due to the lack of a good business case. Furthermore, grants are provided only to projects outside of municipal areas, or to areas with population fewer than 5,000 residents.

Both Beezley and Neal-Graces expressed the difficulty of getting funds for the broadband program.

 

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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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