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Ten Years After the Beginning of Broadband Data Collection Efforts, M-Lab Gathers to Celebrate



WASHINGTON, August 8, 2018 – Experts in broadband data analysis on Tuesday criticized internet service providers for overstating coverage in federal broadband data collection efforts, and for resisting cooperation that could increase network security.

At an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of Measurement Lab, or “M-Lab,” held at the New America Foundation, experts spoke about the millions of broadband speed tests collected through the open source Network Diagnostic Tool.

M-Lab, a collaborative project of researchers, industry specialists, and public-interest partners, including Google, provides a global measurement platform for broadband data. The test can be run through a one-click box on Google. M-Lab boasted as being “the largest open internet performance dataset on the planet”, providing all of the data open source to the public for use, and creating visualizations and analysis of the data sets., an early data open source broadband data collection service (and a sister company to, launched its version of the NDT speed test in February 2018.

Balancing broadband data collection efforts and user privacy

Vint Cerf, recognized as one of the “fathers of the internet,” acknowledged the importance of balancing data collection methods with user privacy.

“I would like to find a way to more naturally capture the data. Right now, it has to be voluntary,” Cerf said.  He advocated for a way to collect extensive data “so that people’s privacy could be satisfactory and protected,” yet valuable data surrounding broadband access speeds could be more readily available in a quantified manner.

Regarding the role of ISPs in the internet, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast, Cerf said that ISP leading providers are large investors, but poor at working with those they are serving.

“Regardless of your experience in ISPs, you have to admit that they are investing a boatload of money in infrastructure,” he said. “I think, however, that the notion of customer service is kind of lost on many of them.”

Could broadband cooperation help combat cyber security threats?

Cybersecurity has become increasingly important as fears of Russian cyberattacks and interference moving towards the 2018 midterm elections. Cerf advocated for greater cooperation between the larger ISPs on cybersecurity issues regarding networks.

“It is not as secure a system as we would like to think. We need more cooperation among the parties providing the underlying infrastructure,” he said, pushing for ISPs to work together to make measures to increase internet security and protect against attacks.

Robert Ballance, an expert on broadband mapping, developed a new tool called the I3 Connectivity Explorer. While not yet available to the public, it is an effort to visualize and display broadband data in a more comprehensive way than current government efforts, such as the National Broadband Map.

The National Broadband Map overstates broadband availability and broadband speeds

Ballance criticized the National Broadband Map and other efforts by the government to collect and utilize broadband availability data.

“The data is notorious – it overstates it case,” Ballance said, advocating for Gigabit internet rather than the minimum stated by the government. “They’re overstating the case for a speed that’s too slow.”

The new tool adds in census data on top of FCC data and other data sets. Ballance said he is still looking for better ways to visualize the data.

“The providers like to overstate coverage,” he said. A lot of the providers are reporting “where they either provide service or they could provide service without an undue expense,” Ballance said, which results in the problem of overstated coverage.

When questioned about the disconnect between political conversation and what data to use to back policies, Ballance criticized politicians for lacking the desire to push for providing the necessary data.

“It’s feedback loop. There’s a political reason we don’t have that good data, which is that people involved in those arguments don’t really want to provide it,” Ballance said.

(Photo of Vint Cert from May 2016 by Nordiske Mediedagerused with permission.)


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Broadband Data

Many Data Points Required for Broadband Planning, Event Hears

An assortment of data will be useful in all phases of the broadband planning process.



Photo of Kristin Lardy of CORI

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2023 – Providers must invest in data collection for physical location, existing network infrastructure, and community needs and interests, advised the Center on Rural Innovation at a panel discussion Thursday.  

Physical location data includes a map of all buildings, identification of which buildings are eligible for or need broadband service, what services are provided, and fiber drop distances. Providers will need this information to understand how to utilize federal investment money from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program, which award amounts are set to be announced later this month. 

Not only will providers need information on poles, towers, hubs, and fiber infrastructure ownership but they will also need insight on community needs and interests, said presenters. These include barriers to access and customer interest in a new internet provider. 

This assortment of data will be useful in all phases of the planning process, said Kirstin Lardy, broadband consultant at CORI, such as the market analysis phase for penetration assumptions, network design for projected costs, and financial modeling for forecast of costs and revenues.  

Data can be collected from federal resources like the Federal Communication Commission’s national broadband and funding map, which can be used to determine what areas are covered by federal subsidy and where communities should focus their efforts.  

Further data is also available at the municipal level which often hosts information about location of structures, types of structures, vacant lots, addresses, pole data, power distribution paths and rights of way.  

Engaging with community anchor institutions is essential to building comprehensive and useful data sets, added Kristen Corra, policy counsel at the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition. She urged providers to work with localities to gather information. 

States may also collect data directly from providers and users through speed tests, surveys, and censuses. 

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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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