March 11, 2021 – Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has changed her stance on the timeline for updating the FCC’s broadband mapping data, and several House and Senate Republicans are wondering why.
“On March 10, 2020, you testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government that the FCC could ‘radically improve’ its broadband maps ‘within three-to-six months,’” read the letter, sent Monday to Rosenworcel from the GOP delegation.
“You repeated that statement the next day, testifying before the House Appropriations Committee’s FSGG Subcommittee that the agency could fix its maps in ‘just a few months.’”
“You can imagine our surprise and disappointment when the FCC recently suggested the new maps would not be ready until 2022,” the letter read, referring to the FCC’s open meeting on February 17, 2021.
“The United States faces a persistent digital divide. The pandemic has made connectivity more important than ever, yet millions of Americans continue to live without high-speed broadband. Any delay in creating new maps would delay funding opportunities for unserved households,” the letter read.
The letter requests Rosenworcel’s response by March 22, 2021, including why she changed the timeline, details on the timeline for developing new maps, how the FCC plans to spend the $98 million funding provided for this updated mapping as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act that passed in December 2020, among other stipulations.
Digital Opportunity Data Collection order spells out rules for mapping
On January 19, 2021, as the final order before FCC Chairman Ajit Pai left his position, the FCC announced new rules for mobile and fixed broadband providers to submit data.
The agency began collecting data from service providers in 1996 with the Telecommunications Act, and at that time considered broadband connection speed to be at least 200 kilobits per second (Kbps).
While internet speeds have greatly improved since then, the January 19 order still uses the 200 Kbps speed as at least one benchmark measurement 25 years later.
The fact that many Americans still lack access to modern, high-speed broadband has become increasingly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many children lack a consistent connection to the internet for remote learning.
Improving broadband mapping has been a major obstacle for the FCC for several years. Since the Telecommunications Act became law and the commission began gathering data on their Form 477, further legislation has been passed to improve that data, including the National Broadband Plan and National Broadband Map in 2010 and 2011, but many say that the maps still need considerable work.
In August 2019 the FCC launched this new mapping initiative, dubbed “Digital Opportunity Data Collection.” It shifts how the agency gather data from service providers using Form 477. Now, they will be required to provide more granular information.
Then, in March 2020 Congress passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act into law. It further improves the way the FCC much collects broadband mapping data. It wasn’t until the consolidated appropriations bill in December that Congress appropriated funds for the mapping effort.
New order returns to August 2019 principles
Under the new order, fixed broadband providers must submit data for services offered, specifying if they are for residents and/or businesses.
The order states: “This represents a change from the Commission’s proposal in the Second Order and Third Further Notice to collect data separately on residential and on business-and-residential offerings. We find that the approach we adopt will provide us with a more complete picture of the state of broadband deployment.”
Data for non-mass market services do not need to be filed, because the FCC says it does not fall within the scope of the Broadband DATA Act. Data services that will not need to be collected include those purchased by hospitals, schools, libraries, government entities, and other enterprise customers.
The order requires providers to report connection speeds for broadband internet access. The FCC considers a download speed faster than 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and an upload speed faster than 3 Mbps as “advanced telecommunications technology.” That also matches the speed threshold on Form 477, at least since 2015.
Companies must report the maximum advertised speeds in the geographic area if they’re higher than 25/3 Mbps. Although the median fixed broadband speed is much higher than that across America, as reported by Ookla for the fourth quarter of 2020, millions of Americans still lack quality access to the internet.
When providers report their speeds to the FCC under the new order, they must specify in two tiers the connection speed if it falls below the 25/3 Mbps threshold. The first tier is for speeds between 200 kbps and 10/1 Mbps, and the second tier falls between 10/1 Mbps and 25/3 Mbps.
With the new order, fixed wireless providers that submit propagation maps are now required to also submit geographic coordinates—latitude and longitude—for their base stations that provide broadband to their consumers.
Previously, providers were required to submit data only on the spectrum used, height of the base station and type of radio technology. The order details that also verifying the geographic coordinates of base stations will allow for more accurate mapping. Due to the sensitive nature that geographic coordinates may have “for business or national security reasons,” the FCC will consider this new data presumptively confidential.
Latency and signal strength information now required
The new order requires fixed broadband access providers to submit information on latency in their semiannual Digital Opportunity Data Collection filing. The information must detail whether the network round-trip latency for the maximum speed offered in a geographic area is at or below 100 miliseconds.
The agency used the 100 milisecond threshold because it aligns with the requirement for the Connect America Fund Phase II program, which subsidizes companies that provide broadband access in unavailable areas.
Mobile broadband providers are now required to submit signal-strength “heat maps” showing reference signal received power and received signal strength indicator. Both of these metrics are ways of measuring 4G LTE and 5G mobile signal strength.
Covering only outdoor strength, the maps must include data for both pedestrians and drivers. Mobile providers must also submit 3G maps for areas without access to 4G or 5G connections. Due to various factors that affect signal strength, the FCC has not set a floor for minimum signal strength.
Additionally, all mobile and fixed broadband providers must certify each submission by a qualified engineer for accuracy, in addition to the corporate officer certification. The engineer must be employed by the service provider and is directly responsible for or has knowledge of the submitted maps.
FCC verification processes, and the deployment of a broadband fabric
The order permits the FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to request additional information from mobile service providers to verify all necessary information that details either infrastructure information or on-the-ground test data for the area where coverage is provided. The companies must do so within 60 days of the request.
The order also directs OEA to verify mobile on-the-ground data submitted by state, local, and Tribal government entities that are responsible for mapping broadband service coverage. It also permits OEA to similarly verify data from third parties if that data is in the public interest for developing the coverage maps or to verify other data as submitted by providers.
The order also adopted a previous suggestion to implement systems for consumers, governmental or other entities to challenge coverage maps for both fixed broadband and mobile connections, disputing the data submitted by providers.
US Telecom and WISPA, trade association representing telecom and wireless providers in the United States, has been working with CostQuest Associates on a “fabric” mapping system for years. The CostQuest system touts considerable improvement over the FCC’s current broadband mapping. The Fabric is based on granular address-level data.
In this new order, the FCC took the first steps to implementing such a system by adopting the definition of a “location” as a residential or business location at which fixed broadband access service is or can be installed, using geographic coordinates.
The commission declined to use street address data until at least they are able “to determine the types of data and functionality that will be available through the procurement process.”
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.
- Lack of People Opting Into Emergency Alerts Poses Problems for Natural Disaster Scenarios
- Big Tech Reforms Need Review of Cybersecurity to Ensure Capabilities Will Not Be Diminished, Event Hears
- Former FCC Chair Joins Company Board, Twitter to Pay $150 million in Privacy Case, Telehealth Prescriptions
- Broadband Breakfast on June 1, 2022 — Broadband Mapping and Data
- Supply Chain Transparency Legislation Important for Timely Broadband Bills
- Education Executives Tout Artificial Intelligence Benefits for Classroom Learning
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Broadband Roundup4 months ago
Microsoft App Store Rules, California Defers on Sprint 3G Phase-Out, Samsung’s New IoT Guy
Broadband Roundup4 months ago
‘Buy American’ Waiver Request, AT&T Cuts Dividend for Builds, Jamestown Municipal Broadband Program
Broadband Roundup4 months ago
More From Emergency Connectivity Fund, Rootmetrics Says AT&T Leads, Applause for House Passing Chips Act
WISP4 months ago
Wireless Internet Service Providers Association CEO Claude Aiken to Step Down in April 2022
Big Tech3 months ago
‘Cartel’ is ‘Most Absurd Term Ever’ for Media Allowed Revenue Share With Tech Platforms: NMA
Broadband Roundup3 months ago
Rosenworcel’s Proposal for 9-1-1, Harris to Talk Broadband, AT&T Joins Ericsson Startup 5G Program
Broadband Roundup2 weeks ago
Google Facing App Store Suit, Shareholder Suit Against Twitter Buy, Fiber Optic Technician Training Nationwide
Blockchain4 months ago
NFTs May Be Central to the Emerging ‘Internet of Value,’ Say Experts at Pulver VON3