The divide between rural and urban internet access has “narrowed substantially,” according to an annual report recently released by the FCC. However, The Verge reported that several experts are debating the accuracy of this data.
The report is based on data provided from service providers, which may overstate availability or be otherwise incorrect. One minor carrier inaccurately reported serving over 60 million people, creating a major overstatement of coverage.
After the FCC corrected the error, Chairman Ajit Pai said, “fortunately, the new data doesn’t change the report’s fundamental conclusion: We are closing the digital divide, which means we’re delivering on the FCC’s top priority.”
Even without errors, overstatement is “baked into the system,” according to Free Press Vice President Matt Wood. The numbers are based whether a provided can offer service within a particular census block. That show the entire area as covered when only one customer in the block is potentially served.
Newsday reported that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. was one of many critics who cited a recent Microsoft study claiming that 162 million Americans lack access to high-speed broadband, a significantly higher figure than the FCC’s estimate of 21.3 million.
According to Schumer, the FCC needs to find a way to verify the self-reported data from internet service providers and to “account for the massive disparity in reported speeds.”
“The cable and phone companies have routinely deceived the public when it comes to the broadband speeds they promise and what they deliver,” said Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu. “And unfortunately, the FCC has been complicit in this deception for many years.”
However, some take a more optimistic view of the report. “More Americans have broadband connectivity today than a year ago,” said US Telecom CEO Jonathan Spalter, according to Multichannel. “This is another proof point that the multiyear commitment of broadband innovators to infrastructure investment is expanding both the availability and speed of wired broadband service and reaching consumers in the hardest to wire parts of the country.”
(Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Small ISP Organizations Push FCC for Flexibility on Broadband Label Compliance
Advocates say strict compliance requirements may economically harm small providers.
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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