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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.



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.


  • 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 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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Broadband's Impact

FCC Inspector General Suspects Providers of Improperly Taking Subsidies

The agency’s Office of the Inspector General said providers were still paid for un-enrolled subscribers.



Photo of the FCC's headquarters at 45 L Street NE from the Smith Group.

WASHINGTON, October 2, 2023 – Dozens of mobile broadband providers are likely not complying with federal subsidy rules, the Federal Communications Commission inspector general said in a report on Friday.

The Affordable Connectivity Program provides about 20 million low-income households a $30 monthly internet discount. That money is paid by the government to providers giving those households broadband service.

When customers receiving ACP discounts stop using a provider’s broadband service, the provider is required to report that to the FCC so money is only disbursed for active users. Typically, anywhere from a third to one half of an ACP provider’s subscribers will be de-enrolled each month, according to the report from the Office of the Inspector General.

But the OIG said that it found “dozens” of providers report few, if any, of these lost customers, making it likely the providers are taking government subsidies for broadband service they are not providing. It did not name the providers.

“We strongly suspect [the unnamed providers] are not complying with program usage and related de-enrollment rules,” the OIG wrote.

One company repaid the commission almost $50 million after being approached by the OIG. That’s one third of all ACP subsidies the provider received from June 2021 to July 2022.

The OIG released data from five of the suspect providers showing they failed to de-enroll more than three percent of their monthly subscribers, making them and similar providers outliers among ACP providers. One provider had over 1 million subscribers.

The office said in its report that it has gathered additional evidence of the same providers taking ACP money for subscribers who are not using their service. Those investigations are ongoing.

In 2021, the OIG found similar abuses in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, a predecessor to the ACP. The office again found dozens of providers reporting more households with dependent children than existed in several school districts.

In response to the report, the FCC released a public notice directing the Universal Service Administrative Company, the arm of the agency responsible for administering the ACP and other broadband subsidy programs, to strengthen its monitoring around de-enrollment and other requirements.

The ACP, a $14 billion fund set aside by the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, is set to dry up in April 2024. There have been repeated calls for Congress to renew the program.

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Broadband's Impact

Mississippi Nonprofit is Looking to Fill Gaps in Affordable Connectivity

The nonprofit Connect and Literacy Fund is planning to increase ACP adoption in Mississippi.



Screenshot of the event on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON, September 28, 2023 – A Mississippi nonprofit is setting up a fund to support connectivity and digital literacy in the state.

The Mississippi Broadband Association is looking to raise $10 million to start the fund, which MSBA Executive Director Quinn Jordan said is intended to ensure newly built broadband infrastructure stays affordable in the state.

“We can build these networks,” he said, speaking at a Fiber Broadband Association webinar on Wednesday, “But if we don’t get people connected, if they don’t have the literacy or capability to do so, what have we really done?”

The initiative, called the Connect and Literacy Fund, is planning to increase ACP adoption in Mississippi. Over 18 percent of the state lives below the poverty line, making them eligible for the $30 monthly internet discount, but less than half that number participate. The MSBA is planning to make ACP sign-up part of the registration process to participate in the fund’s programming.

That programming will focus on teaching people how to use internet services like telehealth and streaming and provide large discounts for tables and PCs. The ACP provides a $100 device subsidy, but this is rarely enough for low-income households to make a purchase, Jordan said.

Difficulty accessing affordable devices is contributing to the digital divide in Mississippi, according to Jordan. He pointed to the fact that over 40% of Mississippians do not have access to a tablet or computer.

“That is a huge number. And it’s a barrier to entry,” Jordan said. “The Connect and Literacy Fund is hopefully going to address that.”

Jordan said the $2.75 billion Digital Equity program, part of the Biden Administration’s Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, will be beneficial, but MSBA’s Connect and Literacy Fund will have a role to play in ensuring the state builds on the gains it makes with the federal funds.

“That money is going to run out,” he said. “What we’re doing is ongoing.”

The ACP might also be short-lived. The $14 billion allocation from the Infrastructure Act is set to dry up in April of next year.

MSBA has spent the last two months developing its programing and is looking to start coordinating events with local anchor institutions in the coming months, Jordan said. 

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Broadband's Impact

Tech Trade Group Report Argues for USF Funding from Broadband Companies

Consulting firm Brattle Group said in a report the move would be economically sound.



Screenshot of Chip Pickering, INCOMPAS CEO

WASHINGTON, September 19, 2023 – Tech company trade group INCOMPAS and consulting firm Brattle Group released on Tuesday a report arguing for adding broadband providers as contributors to the Universal Service Fund.

The USF spends roughly $8 billion each year to support four programs that provide internet subsidies to low-income households, health care providers, schools, and libraries. The money comes from a tax on voice service providers, causing lawmakers to look for alternative sources of funding as more Americans switch from phone lines to broadband services.

The Federal Communications Commission administers the fund through the Universal Service Administration Company, but has left it to Congress to make changes to the contribution pool.

The report argues that broadband providers should be one of those sources. It cites the fact that USF funds are largely used for broadband rather than voice services and that broadband adoption is increasing as phone line use decreases.

“The USF contribution base needs to change to account for the fact that connectivity implies not just voice telephone services, but predominantly broadband internet access,” the report says.

It also rebuts arguments for adding tech companies like INCOMPAS members Google and Amazon to the contribution pool, saying they represent a less stable source of income for the program and that added fees for services like streaming could affect . 

The report is the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between tech companies and broadband providers over who should support the USF in the future, with broadband companies arguing big tech should be tapped for funding as they run businesses on the networks supported by the fund.

Sens. Ben Lujan, D-N.M., and John Thune, R-S.D. established in May a senate working group to explore potential reforms to the program. The group heard comments in August  from associations of tech and broadband companies, each outlining arguments for including the other industry in the USF contribution base.

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