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Broadband Mapping & Data

Comments on Digital Opportunity Data Collection Largely Supportive of FCC’s New Mapping Initiative

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Photo of FCC Open Meeting on August 1, 2019, by Emily McPhie

WASHINGTON, September 26, 2019 – Comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s latest effort to improve broadband data collection were due on Monday, and responses to the FCC’s Digital Opportunity Data Collection were largely positive.

The order would shift data reporting from the FCC’s 477 form, requiring broadband service providers to submit granular maps of the areas with broadband-capable networks. The DODC would incorporate mobile voice and improvement of satellite broadband reporting. Additionally, the FCC will adopt crowdsourcing to collect public input on the accuracy of broadband availability data.

Several major telecom organizations have also filed remarks on the Commission’s notice.

USTelecom also supported the FCC’s decision and provided recommendations as to how the Commission can successfully implement the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric into DODC.

Some of the outlined suggestions included using granular mapping to expand past the limits of the current “one-served all-served” methodology and eliminate inconsistent commercial geocoded data as well as clarifying the Commission’s definition of “location” across Universal Service Fund proceedings.

Verizon agreed with promoting initial shapefile polygon reporting and the development of highly accurate location fabric. The company encouraged the Commission to ensure it maximizes the value of its revised collection. Therefore, the Commission should allow providers to use existing systems and network design in broadband mapping and not impose latency reporting requirements.

AT&T applauded the Commission’s decision and has consistently worked to help ensure accurate broadband mapping. Not only is the company an ongoing supporter of USTelecom’s Fabric project, but it played a role in determining eligible areas in the Mobility Fund Phase II Auction.

AT&T proposed that the Commission require greater disclosure of filer propagation mapping processes. The answer is not to prescribe how providers should create their maps, but rather to clearly define what the map must represent.

By requiring more transparency, AT&T believes that the mapping process will become more simplified and the Commission can easier identify shortcomings.

Microsoft commended the Commission for adopting the new DODC, in the hopes that it can produce more accurate granular data. Particularly, Microsoft agreed with the Commission’s decisions to require the submission of coverage polygons, sharpen the definition of fixed broadband service availability and facilitate public input in order to hold data carriers accountable.

But Microsoft also urged reconsideration of the Commission’s decision not to immediately amend Form 477 to include the new DODC provisions. Their concern is that if it were to take two years to implement the new policy, then the company would have to file four more Form 477 filings during that time.

Below are links to many of the comments in the proceeding:

Comments on digital data opportunity collection, with links and hosting provided by NECA.org:

ACA Connects
ACT/The App Association
Alaska Communications
AT&T
CCA
City of New York
Commpliance Group
Connected Nation
CTIA
Deere & Company
Free Press
Geolinks
Microsoft (Petition for reconsideratiom)
Mississippi PSC
NCTA
New America’s OTI
Next Century Cities, et al.
Rural Carriers for the Protection of E-rate Funds
US Cellular
USTelecom, ITTA and WISPA
Verizon
West Virginia Broadband Enhancement Council
WISPA
WTA

 

Broadband Data

Federal Communications Commission Approves New Provider Transparency Requirements

Broadband providers must now create “broadband nutrition labels” which list pricing and speed information.

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Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel from January 2015 by the Internet Education Foundation used with permission

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to require that broadband providers create “broadband nutrition labels” that list information on the pricing and speed of internet service they provide.

The labels mimic food nutrition labels in format and aim to increase transparency of providers in their marketing to consumers.

With their approval at the commission’s monthly open meeting Thursday, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said the new rules are crucial to consumers being able to find the best deals on broadband service for their personal needs.

Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel praised the label format, saying that it allows consumers to “easily compare” information and that it is “black and white, simple to read, and easy to understand.”

The long-simmering idea was enacted by Congress in the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by the president on November 15. It directed the FCC to revive the project by one year from the law’s passage.

On Thursday, Joshua Stager, New America’s deputy director for broadband and competition policy at its Open Technology Institute, called the vote “a welcome step forward and a win for consumers.” The think tank began promoting the idea last decade, and it had been endorsed by the Obama administration before being canned by the Trump administration.

Industry group Wireless Internet Service Providers Association said the transparency afforded by the new policy “provides consumers with important tools to make informed choices.”

Additionally in Thursday’s meeting, when the agency tentatively revoked telecom operator China Unicom Americas’ operating authority in the United States, the agency said they had reached out to the Department of Justice for assistance in responding to what they say are potential threats from the China-based company. This inter-agency review is routinely part of determinations involving foreign-owned telecommunications companies.

The agency also updated its definition of “library” to make clear that Tribal libraries are eligible to receive funds under the Universal Service Fund’s E-rate program.

Starks emphasized that the commission’s action represented progress on digital inclusion efforts, but that unfamiliarity of Tribal libraries with the E-rate program remains a problem.

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Broadband Mapping & Data

Ookla Fourth Quarter Report Puts T-Mobile as Fastest, Most Consistent Wireless Provider

T-Mobile ranks fastest mobile provider, improving on third quarter performance.

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T-Mobile president Mike Sievert

WASHINGTON, January 18, 2022 — Metrics company Ookla reported Tuesday that speed test data from the fourth quarter of last year show that T-Mobile was the fastest and most consistent mobile operator, the Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max is the top device in terms of popularity and download speeds, and Google is the top manufacturer when it comes to download and upload speeds.

The latest report, for the months of October, November and December, showed T-Mobile’s median download speed was 90.65 Megabits per second, while runner-up AT&T had a median download speed of 49.25 Mbps and Verizon came in at 44.67 Mbps. The District of Columbia had the fastest median mobile download speeds in the United States with 100.38 Mbps, with T-Mobile being the fastest mobile provider in 42 states.

T-Mobile also had a significant jump in terms of 5G performance, said the Tuesday report. In the third quarter, T-Mobile’s median 5G download speed was 135.27 Mbps, while Tuesday’s report shows their median 5G download speed was 187.12. Verizon came second with a median speed of 78.2 Mbps and AT&T was third with a median speed of 68.82 Mbps.

In the United States, the fastest popular device manufacturer was Google. Google’s median download speed was 60.82 Mbps, Samsung’s was 52.80, and Apple’s was 52.76.

However, the iPhone 13 Pro Max was the most popular and fastest device overall, with a median download speed of 90.58 Mbps and the iPhone 13 Pro following closely behind at 89.61 Mbps.

In the report, only Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile were mentioned as internet providers, and Apple, Google, and Samsung were the only device manufacturers included.

Each month, Ookla collects data from Speedtest users to report the internet speed at their location, and the data from those tests are used to generate their quarterly reports.

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Broadband Mapping

NTIA National Broadband Availability Map Expands to New States and Territories

Nevada, Louisiana, American Samoa and Puerto Rico will join.

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WASHINGTON, December 29, 2021 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Tuesday it will expand its National Broadband Availability Map to include Nevada, Louisiana, American Samoa and Puerto Rico.

The NBAM, which now includes 38 states and two U.S. territories, is a geographic information system platform that allows for visualization and analysis of federal, state and commercially available data on broadband availability.

It is designed to better inform administrators’ broadband projects and funding decisions in their states.

Additionally, it includes five federal agencies: the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

In June, the NTIA also released to the public a digital map that includes key indicators of broadband needs across the U.S. This “Indicators of Broadband Need” tool “is the first interactive, public map designed to bring multiple third-party data sources together to help” public understanding of the digital divide and broadband affordability issues, the NTIA said.

The map shows overall great need for broadband access in the rural western U.S. compared to areas of the country such as the northeast and many parts of the Midwest.

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