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Consumer And Governmental Affairs Category

More on Speed: Just How Satisfied Are Customers?

June 2nd, 2010 by Joel Gurin - Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

Our survey report on broadband speed yesterday attracted national attention and some additional questions. We've been asked for more detail on our findings about customer satisfaction with broadband speed. As we reported, 91 percent of fixed broadband customers are "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with that service, compared to 71 percent who are satisfied with the speed of mobile broadband. A closer look gives a fuller picture.

For fixed broadband, 50 percent of customers were very satisfied with the service overall, 41 percent were somewhat satisfied, 6 percent were "not too" satisfied, and 3 percent were not satisfied at all.

For mobile broadband, we asked specifically about satisfaction with speed, a slightly different question. Here, the numbers were lower: 33 percent very satisfied, 38 percent somewhat satisfied, 8 percent not too satisfied, and 5 percent not satisfied at all. (The other 14 percent said they didn't know.)

What to make of these numbers? A few things.

First, consumers are fairly well satisfied with the speed of the broadband they get at home. Having 50 percent say they are "very satisfied" is a strong showing, although it still leaves room for improvement. Even if people are satisfied with their home broadband speed, however, they may be paying hundreds of dollars a year more than they need to. Consumers still need better information to know what speed they need for the applications they run. And given the split between "very" and "somewhat" satisfied customers, more information on broadband speed would also help consumers choose between different providers.

For mobile broadband, the lower numbers show that this service still has a way to go to improve customer satisfaction - which is especially important as more people turn to mobile for their primary Internet connection. It's technologically harder to deliver high speeds by mobile, so the satisfaction gap between fixed and mobile broadband is understandable. But consider that satisfaction with mobile service overall - not broadband speed specifically - is quite high, with 59 percent very satisfied and 33 percent somewhat so. A decade ago, that satisfaction rate might have been hard to imagine. The wireless industry has made tremendous strides in innovation and service quality overall, and we can expect improvements in mobile broadband speed as well.

Accurate measurements of mobile broadband speed can be a boost to innovation. These measures can help wireless carriers learn more about where their networks function best and where they may fall short. Most consumers now have a choice of mobile broadband providers, and will be able to use these new measures to choose the providers who will serve them best.  Consumer choice, in turn, can increase competition, innovation, and ultimately help lead to better broadband service for all.

[Cross-posted from the Official FCC Blog]

Broadband Speed: When Ignorance is Costly

June 1st, 2010 by Joel Gurin - Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

For several months, the FCC has been working to help consumers get more information about the communications services they buy. Our Notice of Inquiry last August asked how we can help consumers make more informed choices about phone, television, and broadband services. That Notice brought out a lot of good ideas from public interest groups, the communications industries, and consumers themselves.

This year, we’ve followed up with a number of consumer initiatives coordinated by the FCC’s Consumer Task Force. We’ve written letters to wireless carriers about their early termination fees, taken on the problem of bill shock, and started to look at broadband speed.

Today, we’re releasing the results of a national survey that shows just how large the information gap is when it comes to broadband. According to this survey, fully 80 percent of Americans with broadband at home don’t know what speed they’re getting. This survey was done through a major firm and drew on a national sample of three thousand consumers.

This ignorance can be costly: The difference between a low-cost, slower broadband plan and a high-speed, more expensive one can be hundreds of dollars a year. In order to get the best service at the best value, consumers first need to understand what broadband speed they need for the applications they want to run. In addition, broadband service providers need to advertise their speeds in clear terms, and consumers need to be assured that the speeds they actually receive match what’s advertised. While broadband providers now advertise “blazing fast” internet service at “up to” a certain speed, that’s not specific enough to help consumers make informed choices.

Today, we’re taking two steps to help both consumers and service providers learn more about how broadband speed is being delivered:


It will take the FCC, public interest groups, and broadband service providers working together to help consumers understand their “need for speed.” The Cable Television Association, and several other broadband service providers, have already supported the FCC’s efforts to develop scientific tests of home broadband speed. We’re confident that we can all work together in the months ahead to turn consumer ignorance into consumer information.

[Cross-posted on the Official FCC Blog]

Ongoing Workshops, Field Events, and Facilitated Dialogues

May 27th, 2010 by Gregory Hlibok

This is the fourth and final (at least for now!) in a series of blog posts seeking public input on the establishment of an Accessibility and Innovation Forum ("A&I Forum" or "Forum").  The first post sought input on clearinghouses and the second one sought input on the Chairman's Award. The third one sought input on a new accessibility blog.

The Accessibility and Innovation Forum will have ongoing workshops and field events.  In this post, we seek your input on what kinds of workshops, field events, and facilitated dialogues would best promote innovative accessibility solutions.  We seek your comment on how often the Commission should sponsor these events.  Should the Commission co-host the workshops and field hearings with other public and private entities, and if so, which ones?

To what extent should the workshops and field events focus on "big picture" technology issues?  For example, should we sponsor a session on the potential of cloud computing and other emerging platforms to address accessibility barriers and promote accessible technologies? 

To what extent should workshops and field events focus on best practices in the public and private sector or in academia? Which best practices should we highlight? Should our field events take place in centers of innovation? Could these events be an opportunity to engage innovators with diverse backgrounds and training in accessibility problem-solving?

To what extent should our workshops and field events focus on key issues discussed in the National Broadband Plan, including digital literacy for people with disabilities, telemedicine, distance learning, employment, civic participation, and public safety? 

To what extent should our workshops be used to support and build upon our rulemaking efforts?  For example, should we have sessions on the captioning of internet programming or on a standard for the use of real time text anytime VoIP is supported?  Should the Forum sponsor a series of facilitated dialogues to work through key issues?

We welcome any suggestions or models that you may recommend. You can respond directly to this post, file a comment in docket CG10-100, or e-mail comments and suggestions to Elizabeth.Lyle@fcc.gov AND Pam.Gregory@fcc.gov.  We would appreciate feedback as soon as possible but ask that you file any comments no later than Thursday, June 10. 

You can also sign up to receive periodic e-mails about the Forum's activities and other Commission accessibility issues by sending an e-mail to AccessInfo@fcc.gov.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Help Us Launch the Accessibility and Innovation Forum

May 17th, 2010 by Karen Peltz Strauss

To address the barriers that people with disabilities face in accessing technology, the National Broadband Plan (“NBP”) recommends, among other things, that the Commission establish an ongoing Accessibility and Innovation Forum (“A&I Forum” or “Forum”).  At the March 10 event rolling out the NBP’s accessibility recommendations, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Chief Joel Gurin announced that the Commission would launch the A&I Forum in July.

The Forum will be an ongoing collaborative problem-solving effort with diverse stakeholders to promote innovative solutions to broadband and other communications technology barriers.  The Forum will allow the Commission to use new tools and tap into new sources of ideas and innovation to address accessibility problems, using ongoing online efforts, workshops, field events, and facilitated dialogues.

In July, we plan to (1) launch a clearinghouse; (2) announce guidelines for the Chairman’s Award for Accessibility and Innovation; (3) expand blog coverage of ongoing accessibility efforts in the public and private sector; and (4) announce future workshops and field events.  Over the next 12-18 months, we will expand these efforts and add new initiatives.

We will be seeking input on each of these aspects of the new A&I Forum in a series of blog posts over the next two weeks.  This post seeks input on an online clearinghouse. 

Online Clearinghouse

One problem that consumers with disabilities face is that they are unable to find accessible communications technologies and assistive technologies, even if they currently exist.  In addition, consumers often do not have the training and support they need to use these products.  We would like to create an online space where consumers could find links to accessible products and product information that have been recommended by other consumers and/or provided by companies and vendors themselves.

We would like your thoughts on the best way for us to structure this on-line space.  What guidelines should we have for inclusion of accessible products and information?  Should we design the space so consumers can comment on the products and support information? What categories of products and services should we include? How should we ensure that the information in our clearinghouse stays current? 

We welcome any suggestions or models that you may recommend. You can respond directly to this post, file a comment in docket CG10-100, or e-mail comments and suggestions to Elizabeth.Lyle@fcc.gov AND Pam.Gregory@fcc.gov.  We would appreciate feedback as soon as possible but ask that you file any comments no later than Thursday, June 10. 

You can also sign up to receive periodic e-mails about the Forum’s activities and other Commission accessibility issues by sending an e-mail to AccessInfo@fcc.gov.  We look forward to hearing from you!



Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones