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Broadband's Impact

Consumers Should Be Better Informed on Factors Throttling Download Speeds

Consumers should know what they are purchasing and what they are getting with internet speeds.

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WASHINGTON, April 27, 2022 – As the Federal Communications Commission embarks on crafting labels that clearly outline internet speeds consumers purchase, experts at a Broadband Breakfast event said last week that consumers should get to know the difference between advertised and actual download speeds.

“I think speed tests are part of the problem in this area because we have set the bar really, really high,” said Luke Deryckx, chief technology officer at data analytics company Ookla, a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast. “When you get a gigabit connection, if you take a speed test and you don’t see 900+ gigabits you think ‘what’s wrong?’ That’s not the right answer. The right answer is to look at all the things you can do with that connection.”

The internet speeds that consumers purchase won’t always be what they get. Those theoretical speeds – say that gigabit connection – may be throttled by a number of variables, including the number of devices sharing the network and whether the devices are using either a wireless connection (Wi-Fi) – which may experience signal loss as it must penetrate walls – or a hard-wired connection, which provides speeds closest to what the consumer purchased.

Consumers who have trouble with their internet connection, therefore, are potentially looking at an in-home network problem, according to panelists at the event.

“I think the distinction is important here because router-based speed tests are misleading at best and don’t reflect the consumer experience using devices connected wirelessly,” said Jeff Gavlinski, global vice president of telecom and wireless associations at Plume, a software company.

“We should really think about this from the perspective that there are two distinctly different networks serving a premise,” Gavlinski said. “One to the outside of the premise or router and then one wireless network inside the premise. Perception of the overall quality for both networks, however, is based on the in-premise wireless network.”

The conversation surrounding the problems of in-premise wireless connections comes at a time when the Federal Communications Commission is implementing “broadband nutrition labels” that list information on the pricing and speeds of internet service that internet service providers provide. People within the industry have argued that these labels must be kept simple for consumers, as many don’t understand the intricacies of Wi-Fi connections.

“I’m not sure a lot of consumers today actually want to take the time to understand this [Wi-Fi],” Gavlinski said. “We all do because we’re in the industry. Furthermore, the generation that’s coming up now only cares about whether they do or don’t have a good connection,” said Gavlinski.

At an event earlier this year, Vint Cerf, an early developer of the internet architecture, said episodic measurements of speed using speed tests often yield “skewed data” because people only really run it when they get poor performance. He posited whether there can be a way to “distinguish between poor performance as a consequence of badly configured Wi-Fi versus a poorly performing internet access point or internet access to the ISP.”

This photo was taken at the event.

At a separate FCC consumer advisory meeting on Tuesday, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said, “I believe that transparency is the best disinfectant. And so, we need to make sure that consumers have the information they need to be making informed choices.”

Carr added, however, that the labels made by the FCC need to balance how much information is provided to consumers.  “I think within that statutory structure, [we should] focus as much as possible on information that is going to benefit people – not be irrelevant, not be distracting – to find ways that people can quickly and efficiently get the information they need to make that beneficial, informed choice.”

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event and REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Broadband Mapping and Data: In-Home Connections

Even with massive improvements to broadband infrastructure, many customers continue to face trouble transmitting internet signals within their homes. How much of consumers’ complaints about low bandwidth performance can be attributed to poor Wi-Fi transmission or slow computing speeds within the home? And equally important, how will actual speeds factor into the Federal Communications Commission’s and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s updated broadband maps and data? Join us for a continuation of the Broadband Breakfast’s ongoing series about Broadband Mapping and Data.

Panelists:

  • Jeff Gavlinski, Global Vice President of Telecom & Wireless Associations, Plume
  • Luke Deryckx, Chief Technology Officer, Ookla
  • Robert Ballance, Founder, The Center for Internet as Infrastructure, LLC
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

Jeffrey Gavlinski is currently Global Vice President of Telecom & Wireless Associations at Plume Design.  He is responsible for the strategic alignment of Plume’s industry Association partnerships globally.  He is also the owner and CEO of Mountain Connect LLC, a company facilitating a broadband development conference that services the U.S. and is hosted in Colorado since 2011.

Luke Deryckx has focused his career on creating, improving, and measuring broadband connectivity of all kinds. He has over two decades of telecommunications and technology industry experience, including time spent with major national service providers, local and regional ISPs, and broadband measurement and analytics technology. In addition to Luke’s work as the Chief Technology Officer for Ookla, he serves on the FCC’s precision agriculture task force in a working group focused on measuring and mapping connectivity in rural and agricultural lands.

Throughout his career, Bob Ballance has helped people and organizations to integrate, optimize, and deploy rapidly-evolving computing systems and new technologies. Bob served as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow (1/2016-4/2017) when he worked with the BroadbandUSA program at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  Prior to his assignment in Washington DC, he was a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

Photo of a router from Ctrl blog

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See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

Broadband's Impact

Reason 4 to Attend Broadband Mapping Masterclass: Measuring Actual Speeds

The 4th of 5 reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on 9/27 at 12 Noon ET

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WASHINGTON, September 26, 2022 – The fourth reason to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on September 27, 2022, is to understand the role that speed tests are playing in the discussion about actual speeds versus available speeds – and its importance for federal and state efforts to distribute broadband infrastructure funds.

Broadband Breakfast is hosting the 2-hour Broadband Mapping Masterclass to help Internet Service Providers, mapping and GIS consultants, and people in everyday communities concerned about broadband mapping.

This 2-hour Masterclass, available for only $99, will help you navigate the treacherous waters around broadband mapping. The live Broadband Mapping Masterclass is being recorded, and those who make a one-time $99 payment will obtain a guaranteed place during the live session.

ENROLL TODAY for our Zoom Webinar through PayPal.

Registrants will also receive unlimited on-demand access to the Masterclass recording. And they will receive Broadband Breakfast’s premium research report on broadband mapping.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

We’re presenting five additional reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass.

Additional reason number 4 to attend the Masterclass

The last time that the federal government initiated a significant effort to fund broadband, in 2009, the United States lacked a basic map of what we at Broadband Breakfast have for years called the Broadband SPARC: Measuring Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition by high-speed internet access providers.

The National Broadband Map was a first effort to measure availability and competition by displaying the individual providers that offered broadband on a Census block level. But it lacked any measure of broadband speeds, prices or the reliability of such information.

Over the past 13 years, we now have a great variety of robust sources of speed test data – as well as significant datasets with information about pricing and reliability of broadband. The Broadband Mapping Masterclass will explore ways in which actual speed data has and can be used to crosscheck the quality of broadband availability data released by the Federal Communications Commission.

By attending the Broadband Mapping Masterclass, you’ll learn what you need to know in order assess the quality of broadband data as made availability by federal and state agencies, and private companies and organizations.

ENROLL TODAY  to find out what happens next.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

Read more about the reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

ENROLL TODAY

 

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Broadband's Impact

Dianne Crocker: Recession Fears Have Real Estate Market Forecasters Hitting the Reset Button

Growing fears of recession trigger pullback on previous rosy forecasts.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Dianne Crocker, Principal Analyst for LightBox

The lyrics to “Same As It Ever Was” by the Talking Heads certainly don’t apply to how 2022 is playing out in the commercial real estate market. Two quarters of negative economic growth has put a damper on market sentiment and triggered fears that the U.S. economy is heading for a recession. By midyear, market analysts were taking a good, hard look at their rosy forecasts from the start of the New Year and redrawing the lines.

Once upon a time…

At the start of 2022, forecasters were bullishly predicting that commercial real estate investment and lending levels would be nearly as good as 2021. This was significant, considering that 2021 set new records for deal-making and lending volume as the debt and equity capital amassed during the pandemic while looking for a home in U.S. commercial real estate.

What a difference a few quarters have made. Virtually, all the predictions that started the New Year were obsolete by mid-summer. The abrupt shift in market conditions is palpable and surprised just about everyone. Now, markets are reaching an inflection point that is in sharp contrast with the strong rebound of last year.

The two I’s: Inflation and interest rates

At the core of the recent upset in market sentiment is the persistence of high inflation, which seems to be ignoring all attempts by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and bring prices down. Higher inflation is having a ripple effect throughout the economy, pushing up the costs of construction materials, energy, and consumer goods. Among the notable economic indicators showing stress at mid-year was the GDP, which fell for the second consecutive quarter, and the Consumer Price Index, which jumped 9.1% year-over-year in June – the highest increase in about four decades.

In July, the CPI fell to 8.5%, an encouraging sign that inflation was beginning to stabilize. By the latest August report from LightBox, however, hopes were dashed when the CPI showed little improvement, holding firm at a still high of 8.3%.

The market is responding to a higher cost of capital as lenders tap the brakes. As the cost of capital rises with each interest rate hike and concerns of a recession intensify, many large U.S. financial institutions are pulling back on their loan originations for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. This change in tenor is a significant shift, given that 2021 was a record-breaking year for commercial real estate lending. Many lenders have already shifted to a more defensive underwriting position as they look to mitigate risks.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, which had previously predicted that lending levels in 2022 would break the $1 trillion mark for the first time revised their forecast downward in mid-July. By year-end, the MBA now expects volume to be a significant 18% below 2021 levels—and one-third lower than the bullish forecast made in February. Now, investment activity is cooling as higher borrowing costs drive some buyers from the market.

In the investment world, transactions were down by 29% at midyear due to a thinning buyer pool as higher rates impact access to debt capital. Market volatility is causing investors, lenders, and owners to rethink strategies, reconsider assumptions, and prepare for possible disruption.

Looking ahead to year-end and 2023

The rapid and diverse shifts in the market make for an uncertain forecast and certainly a more cautious investment environment. The battle between inflation and interest rates will continue over the near term. As LightBox’s investor, lender, valuation, and environmental due diligence clients move toward the 4th quarter—typically the busiest quarter of the year–unprecedented volatility is driving them to recalibrate and reforecast given recent market developments.

Continued softness in transaction volume is likely to continue as rates and valuations establish a new equilibrium. If property prices begin to level out, there will be more pressure on buyers to consider how to improve a property to get their return on investment. The next chapter of the commercial real estate market will be defined by how long inflation sticks around, how high interest rates go, and whether the economy slips into a recession (and how deeply). The greatest areas of opportunity will be found in asset classes like office and retail that are evolving away from traditional uses and morphing to meet the needs of today’s market. Until barometers stabilize, it’s important to rethink assumptions, watch developments, and recalibrate as necessary.

Dianne Crocker is the Principal Analyst for LightBox, delivering strategic analytics, best practices in risk management, market intelligence reports, educational seminars, and customized research for stakeholders in commercial real estate deals. She is a highly respected expert on commercial real estate market trends. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Broadband's Impact

Reason 3 to Attend Broadband Mapping Masterclass: State Maps vs. Federal Maps

The 3rd of 5 reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on 9/27 at 12 Noon ET

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WASHINGTON, September 23, 2022 – The third reason to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass with Drew Clark on September 27, 2022, is to get a handle on what state broadband officers have and are doing with broadband maps.

While much of the action has been at the Federal Communications Commission, after state allocations have been made, funding decisions will ultimately come from state broadband officers.

Broadband Breakfast is hosting the 2-hour Broadband Mapping Masterclass to help Internet Service Providers, mapping and GIS consultants, and people in everyday communities concerned about broadband mapping.

This 2-hour Masterclass, available for only $99, will help you navigate the treacherous waters around broadband mapping. The live Broadband Mapping Masterclass is being recorded, and those who make a one-time $99 payment will obtain a guaranteed place during the live session.

ENROLL TODAY for our Zoom Webinar through PayPal.

Registrants will also receive unlimited on-demand access to the Masterclass recording. And they will receive Broadband Breakfast’s premium research report on broadband mapping.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

We’re presenting five additional reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass.

Additional reason number 3 to attend the Masterclass

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocates $42.5 billion for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. Every state will receive at least $100 million in funding, but the remaining more-than $37 billion will be allocated among states based upon a formula that is primarily determined by their percentage of the unserved population. (According to IIJA, a location is “unserved” if it lacks access to broadband at 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. An area is “underserved” if it lacks 100 Mbps * 20 Mbps broadband.)

That’s where the FCC’s updated broadband map come in: Once challenges to the map are concluded, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will allocate that $37 billion pool according to the “denominator” that the NTIA reads out from the FCC map.

But state and their broadband offices have a trump card: They can and are developing their own maps to check, verify and challenge the FCC map. Furthermore, they are under no obligation to award funds according to the actual places that the FCC says are unserved or underserved.

In the Broadband Mapping Masterclass, you’ll learn what you need to know in order to tap into these efforts by state broadband offices.

ENROLL TODAY  to find out what happens next.

Learn More about Why You Should Participate in the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

Read more about the reasons to attend the Broadband Mapping Masterclass

ENROLL TODAY

 

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