Broadband.gov
Federal Communications Commission



Archive for March 2010

Consumer Broadband Test Update

March 17th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

Thanks to the over 150,000 unique users who have taken over 300,000 Consumer Broadband Tests, as well as the nearly 4,000 addresses submitted to the broadband Dead Zone Report. The popularity of the consumer tools has exceeded our expectations.We’ve made some text changes to the short “About” section found on a tab below the Consumer Broadband Test Tool. Some users have been confused by the differences between the two testing platforms presented by the FCC – Ookla and M-Lab – and this section explains the variability

Over the weekend, the FCC also updated both the Android and iPhone FCC Apps to improve the user experience.  The FCC App can be found by searching for “FCC” in either the Android or iPhone App store.

The FCC chose to use two testing applications for the Beta version of the Consumer Broadband Test.  The two applications are among the most popular on the Internet and the FCC hopes to make available additional testing platforms in the future. However, software based broadband testing is not an exact science and contains inherent variability, as described in the About section.  This is why the FCC will also be conducting a hardware based scientific study of broadband quality across the country.  See this recent blog post about this venture, and the RFQ here.  The FCC will use the results of this hardware study for analytical purposes. The results of the software bases testing (see data below) are interesting and show broad trends, but the FCC is not relying on the data for analytical purposes.

Here are the user experienced differences between the two testing platforms:

 

 
Metric
M-LAB
OOKLA
 Average Download Speed (mbps)
7.04
11.5
 Median Download Speed (mbps)
3.95
8.14
 Average Upload Speed (mbps)
2.74
2.09
 Median Upload Speed (mbps)
0.87
1.01
 
You will see that Ookla provides a higher overall average and median speed than M-Lab.  This is likely due to the different methodologies these testing applications use.  The difference comes from the fact that broadband speeds vary over time, even within a single second. Ookla measures peak performance and ignores short periods of slow speed, which it considers to be speed bumps in performance, while M-Lab takes many rapid speed measurements and averages them all. For more detail, see the Ookla and M-Lab methodology sections.  Additionally, Ookla and M-Lab each have testing servers geographically distributed across the country.  Individual’s proximity to these testing servers could also affect testing results.
 
Although software based testing cannot provide users with a 100% reliable measures of broadband quality, the FCC makes these tools available as they provide comparative and relative real-time performance information and helps the FCC collect broadband availability data.
 
Here are some interesting data and maps from the first six days of the Consumer Broadband Test. This data is derived from the results of both testing applications.
 
 
As you can see, 87% of test takers are home users, which is the FCC’s target audience with this application. Additionally, a clear trend is visible across business sizes, high bandwidth connectivity for community institutions, and lower bandwidth for mobile connections. Again, these results are non-scientific extrapolations from the Beta version of the Consumer Broadband test. Additionally, about 98% of user submitted addresses are geo-coding correctly, which is a very good rate.
 
Given that this is the Beta version, we want to hear from you about additional features we can add to this interface.  We already have some internal plans to rollout an updated version in the near future that provides greater context to users about the meaning of their testing results.  So please reply to this blog with your suggestions!

A Compelling Vision for the Future of Public Safety Communications

March 17th, 2010 by Jamie Barnett - Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Yesterday, the FCC released its National Broadband Plan, which lays out a comprehensive vision for the future of public safety communications. The Plan’s recommendations for advancing public safety and homeland security draw upon an extensive record and incorporate input from the public safety community, service providers, vendors and countless others. We truly appreciate the efforts of all who contributed to development of these recommendations, which we believe will revolutionize public safety communications and emergency response.

Our central recommendation is the creation of a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband wireless network through incentive-based partnerships between public safety agencies and the partner of their choice. The Plan asks Congress to commit a substantial amount of public funding—as much as $12-16 billion over 10 years—to support the build-out and operation of this network. It also recommends that the FCC create an Emergency Response Interoperability Center (ERIC) to ensure a baseline of operability and interoperability for the network nationwide.    Recommendations to enable roaming and priority access on commercial networks will also help ensure that public safety has access to a network when and where they need it.  Our recommendations will ensure that there truly is a nationwide network for the public safety community that is interoperable and provides them with the advanced communications capabilities they need.

The Plan also makes recommendations on how to improve cybersecurity. These include the development of a cybersecurity roadmap, in which the FCC—in coordination with the Executive Branch—will identify the nation’s most pressing cybersecurity threats and develop a plan for confronting them. Other recommendations focus on voluntary programs to promote the implementation of cybersecurity best practices and improve the FCC’s situational awareness and information base regarding cyber attacks and IP-based communications networks.  The Plan also addresses how to preserve the reliability and resiliency of our critical communications infrastructure and ensure that broadband networks can support prioritization of critical traffic.

Also included are proposals to facilitate the deployment of Next Generation 911, which will incorporate broadband technologies to improve the emergency response capabilities of public safety answering points (PSAPs), first responders, and other professionals.  The Plan recommends that Congress grant the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration authority to prepare a report to identify costs and recommend congressional appropriations, and that this report inform the development of a federal regulatory framework for NG911 deployment.

Finally, the Plan calls for the FCC to explore how to develop a multiple platform, redundant, next-generation alert system—one which uses broadband capabilities to better support underserved communities and reach a wider audience.  The Plan also asks the President to clarify agency roles on the implementation and maintenance of a next-generation alert and warning system. This would be an important step toward improved, timely and coordinated federal implementation of next-generation alerting systems.

My staff and I look forward to working with you as we implement the Plan’s recommendations for advancing public safety and homeland security through broadband. The Plan sets forth a compelling vision for the future of public safety communications, and we are already working with our public safety, federal and other partners to make these recommendations a reality.

 

Growth, Prosperity, Broadband

March 16th, 2010 by Blog Admin

[By Jesse Lee, White House Blogger]

Moments ago the President issued a statement on the National Broadband Plan just released by the Federal Communications Commission:

America today is on the verge of a broadband-driven Internet era that will unleash innovation, create new jobs and industries, provide consumers with new powerful sources of information, enhance American safety and security, and connect communities in ways that strengthen our democracy.  Just as past generations of Americans met the great infrastructure challenges of the day, such as building the Transcontinental railroad and the Interstate highways, so too must we harness the potential of the Internet.  Expanding broadband across the nation will build a foundation of sustained economic growth and the widely shared prosperity we all seek.

I commend Chairman Julius Genachowski, the Commissioners, and the FCC staff for their hard work in developing the National Broadband Plan.

My Administration will build upon our efforts over the past year to make America's nationwide broadband infrastructure the world’s most powerful platform for economic growth and prosperity, including improving access to mobile broadband, maximizing technology innovation, and supporting a nationwide, interoperable public safety wireless broadband network.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has a post up on the broadband blog laying out the basics -- or if you prefer, here he is in video form:

 [Cross-Posted at The White House Blog]

The National Broadband Plan

March 16th, 2010 by Julius Genachowski - Chairman, Federal Communications Commission.

Today, the FCC delivered on one of the most important directives Congress and the President have ever given our agency:  A directive to prepare “a national broadband plan [that] shall seek to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability.” 

Why is this assignment so important? 

  • First, because broadband is essential to our global competitiveness – and our ability to create jobs and lead the world in innovation in the 21st century.
  • Second, because broadband is essential for opportunity in America – for all Americans, from all communities and backgrounds, living in rural towns, inner cities, or in between. 
  • And, third, because broadband is essential to solving so many of the challenges facing our nation --  including education, health care, energy and public safety.


We need a strategic plan for broadband in America, because, notwithstanding the many exciting things happening here around wired and wireless broadband, our country is not where it should be. 
   
The U.S. is lagging globally in broadband adoption and speeds; certain communities within the U.S. are lagging; and the costs of digital exclusion grow higher every day as vital services are increasingly moving online. 

The good news is that we can change course, and the National Broadband Plan points the way.

The plan sets ambitious, but achievable goals, including 1-gigabit connections to every community; affordable, 100 megabits broadband to 100 million households; and raising adoption from 65% to 90% adoption, heading to 100%.

Billions of dollars in private investment will be required to achieving these goals.

At the same time, government has a crucial, but restrained, role to play. The Plan includes recommendations to:

  • Finally transform the FCC’s Universal Service Fund from yesterday’s communications to tomorrow’s;
  • Recover and unleash licensed and unlicensed spectrum so that we can lead the world in mobile;
  • Cut red tape, lowering the cost of private investment, and accelerating network deployment;
  • Promote competition and empower consumers; and
  • Tackle vital inclusion challenges, so that everyone, everywhere can enjoy the benefits of broadband.


In these challenging economic times, a focus on job creation, investment, and fiscal responsibility is also mandatory, and I’m pleased that the Plan proposes actions that are revenue neutral, even before looking at the benefits from job creation and new investment.

We now pivot from planning to action. The FCC will focus with laser-like precision on efficient and effective ways to implement the plan’s recommendations.
We’ll be doing this through a process that’s open, participatory, fact-based, and analytically rigorous. 

The broader the participation, the better the results will be.  I urge everyone to visit broadband.gov and get engaged.

Working together, we can unleash on behalf of all America’s people the power of a technology with the greatest potential to advance our economic and social well-being since the advent of electricity. 

Live Blogging The National Broadband Plan Presentation

March 16th, 2010 by George Krebs

Read Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan. Today’s meeting is being live streamed. We’ll be live blogging the meeting below. During the meeting we will be releasing a distilled version of the plan on Twitter. Join the conversation about The Plan, and all the activity accompanying today’s release, by including #BBplan.

10:36am ET
 
It is a proud day in America. Today we lay out our vision for a connected future. Today we announce that America has a National Broadband Plan. Technological achievement and national progress go hand in hand. President Lincoln’s vision for a transcontinental railroad united a vast nation. Edison’s ability to harness electricity transformed innovation. President Eisenhower’s National Highway System unlocked America to all those who inhabit it. With this report the Broadband Team has set in motion the next great engine of America’s global leadership. This is a day where, with high speed Internet as our guide, we mark our way forward into the twenty-first century.
 
From spectrum to public safety, goals to implementation, these recommendations contain a common thread. Each proposal will lead to instrumental change in the public landscape, connecting America.
 
This morning’s meeting will not go through the document cover to cover. We will not recite all the recommendations in exhaustive detail. There’s no need. It’s all there in The Plan. We encourage you to read the plan itself. If there is a particular area that interests you – such as availability or health care – read that chapter. If you’re up for it, peruse the whole thing. There are engaging anecdotes and informative diagrams along the way.
 
We will discuss, broadly, what we have done and how we will pursue implementation. Of all the recommendations we can provide, action is the most important.
 
10:42am ET
 
Chairman Genachowski opens. “Good morning on this big day… Our own version of March Madness. Everyone is eager to get to the plan. So let’s do it.”
 
There is only one item on the agenda, “A presentation of a national broadband plan for our future.”
 
As a preface the chairman cites many of the transparency and openness measures taken by The Team and how these have affected the process of the plan.
 
10:48am ET
 
Broadband Plan Executive Director Blair Levin begins. “In every era, America connects itself anew… If successful we will transform our country, and as America does when it transforms itself, transform the world.”
 
Mr. Levin puts the plan in historical perspective. “This document, in many ways, speaks for itself,” he says, and notes that it can be found online.
 
 
10:51am ET
 
Carlos Krijner discusses the levers of government that will be used to foster the broadband ecosystem. “A real broadband plan has to consider networks, devices and applications,” he says. The government is an important player for this ecosystem.
 
“Now the hard work starts. The work of implementing the recommendations. To create jobs, drive productivity and increase the standard of living."
 
10:55am ET
 
Erik Garr says about broadband, “Much of the value comes down to how we use this technology.” His primary interest is in the National Purposes portion. Healthcare, using broadband in clinics; education, using online content in the classroom; “public safety may benefit the most,” with recommendations for a long overdue, much needed public safety interoperable wireless broadband network to facilitate communication.
 
He notes that it is being tweeted in real time so you can gather the essence of the plan.
 
“In closing, we should all recognize that this plan is America’s plan. We should consider where we are and move forward.”
 
11:00am ET
 
Phoebe Yang talks about “how we get there.” More than half of The Plan’s recommendations are aimed at the FCC. Though we’ve taken steps to implement many of these (expanding school and library E-rate, wireless tower-citing regulations), there is still much more to be done.
 
Consumer tools were launched last week to allow a gathering of data. In first five days the public has run almost 300,000 tests. This enables the Commission to use new data to embed in the National Broadband Map, due out next year.
 
Tomorrow we will launch a “beta release” of the Spectrum Dashboard. The  public can use the dashboard to browse spectrum bands, search licenses and export data.
 
The other half is aimed at the Executive Branch and their agencies. There is a host of work to be done throughout government to put The Plan in motion. The FCC should serve as a resource to these agencies as we integrate the recommendations into their work. “Finally, we have kept our requests to congress limited,” she says. “The Plan should be revenue neutral. Spectrum auctions are expected to generate billions.”
 
11:03 am ET
 
Almost as soon is it began, Blair closes the presentation. “This band of brothers took on a plan with extraordinary challenges. They have exceeded expectations.” He commends each of The Team leaders at the table.
 
“This is my eighth and last appearance at this table… My final thoughts are not to suggest that you adopt them all without change. Precisely the opposite. This plan is in beta and always will be. Like the Internet itself, this plan should change.
 
“The value of this plan should be judged by what comes of it. You have a Plan. Now is your time to act.”
 
 
11:08am ET
 
Each of the Commissioners will now give a statement, speaking to their thoughts on the plan.
 
11:09am ET
 
Commissioner Copps begins. It is a great time for the Commission he says. After many years of a government that “looked the other way,” this plan is a bold step forward. Digital inclusion is of great import to the commissioner. The levels of non-adoption among the low-income community, minorities, those with disabilities, and others, is unacceptable. “We’ve made some progress. There is so much still to do.”
 
“America’s future town square will be paved with broadband bricks. It must be accessible to all.” He bemoans the decline of the journalism industry. We’re on “a starvation diet when it comes to nourishing our democratic dialogue.” If we don’t tread carefully we will have fat filled chatter but not as much of the protein of fact. “I’m pleased The National Broadband Plan has chosen to address [these issues]. It is an area where public policy needs to be proactive.”
 
The commissioner is enthusiastic about The Plan, ticking off his praise of the many areas it addresses.
 
11:40am ET
 
Commissioner McDowell is next. “If you hear nothing else I say this morning,” he says, “hear this: ‘Thank you all.’” He uses a March Madness allegory to convey his opinion about The Plan. “Today marks the beginning of a long process.” Taking a different tact than Commissioner Copps, Commissioner McDowell cites the progress America has made in getting the country connected. In many ways we’re leading the way, he says. “Today the Net operates in a marketplace where innovation and investment is thriving…As the Commission and Congress consider the recommendations offered up we should first ‘do no harm.’” In addition to our attempt to release more spectrum, we should try to use more efficiently the spectrum already available.
 
Ideas that give him some concern: The Plan portrays the current Internet as being outmoded when it's not. The focus should be on assisting the private sector and preventing scaring away private investment. Ending on an upbeat note he says, “Now it is time to get to work on this important endeavor.”
 
11:52am ET
 
Commissioner Clyburn, keynote speaker at last week’s Digital Inclusion Summit and constant champion of the initiative since the beginning, says “now is the time to be bold and seize the moment before us. It is impressive work and is the impressive result of unprecedented openness and transparency.”
 
Initiatives that require immediate attention: we need to focus on non-adoptors; "change the Universal Service Fund, where we can bring broadband to people no matter where they live, how much money they make, and no matter what language they speak.” We need to expand the base of contribution, to acquire fees from broadband services.
 
The Plan provides “concrete steps,” she says. The Public Safety recommendations in particular are crucial. “We can no longer delay and risk the lives of our public safety first responders.” As for spectrum: “The demands for spectrum are, and will continue to be, great.” We should facilitate uses of licensed and unlicensed spectrum. She wants to develop a “long term solution” for media.
 
Clyburn emphasizes competition as the ultimate driver for innovation. We should be very concerned about the competitive aspect of broadband providers. With rigorous competition we will have lower prices, expanded application uses, and empowered consumers.
 
12:06pm ET
 
Commissioner Baker begins with a “heartfelt thanks” for “inspiring public service.” We should continue a “light touch regulatory regime” begun during the Clinton and Bush administrations, she argues. We have worked in a bipartisan fashion, going from dial-up to high speed broadband.
 
Like the other commissioners, she is an active proponent of increased spectrum for mobile use. She cites Europe and Asia’s initiatives to provide expanded spectrum. The U.S. “must act similarly to lay the foundation for the next generation of mobile.” The U.S. should remain a global leader in mobile and broadband.
 
While funding to subsidize broadband service for communities that lack connectivity is important, “Our efforts to modernize the Universal Service Fund should not overgrow the size of this fund, should not overburden the market, or break the bank.” On regulation, Baker clarifies, “Government should not be in the business of predicting technologies or mandating how consumers use those technologies."
 
 
12:22pm ET
 
Chairman Genachowski rounds out the group. Beginning boldly he says, “Today we deliver on one of the most important directives congress and the president has ever given the FCC. This is important for three reasons: because “broadband is essential to our global competitiveness”; it is essential for our communities; and “essential for solving so many of the challenges facing our nation.”
 
“Congress was right, we need a national broadband plan,” he says. “If we don’t act” we put many national interests at risk. “The stakes are high. We must act, and we will act, with an urgency that meets the moment.” This is our moon-shot. The goals: “increasing speed to 100 mbps, adoption from 65% to 90% on our way to 100% in a third of the time it took telephone,” among others.
 
“The Plan is idealistic but not ideological. I appreciate it for the tough decisions The Team made for what to put in The Plan and not.” He lauds the process of The Plan, the collective staff across the agency that have contributed and notes the widespread praise The Plan has received. “The group has been an all-star team,” he says, while expressing his admiration for each set of staff members, especially its leader, Blair Levin. He asks each team member to stand while all applause.
 
12:27pm ET
 
Sharon Gillett, Wireline Competition Bureau Chief, reads the “Joint Statement on Broadband” to be adopted by the Commission. Excerpted below, read it in full here:
 
Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan is delivered in response to this statutory requirement. The Plan provides recommendations on a variety of issues, which the Commission will actively consider through proceedings that provide notice and ample opportunity for comment, allowing the agency to generate robust records. Although each of us may have differing opinions on some of the specific recommendations set forth in the Plan, we all share the following common beliefs:
 
· Every American should have a meaningful opportunity to benefit from the broadband communications era—regardless of geography, race, economic status, disability, residence on tribal land, or degree of digital literacy.
 
· Continuous private sector investment in wired and wireless networks and technologies, and competition among providers, are critical to ensure vitality and innovation in the broadband ecosystem and to encourage new products and services that benefit American consumers and businesses of every size.
 
· Strategic and prudent policies toward public resources like spectrum will benefit all Americans, by meeting current and future needs and by promoting continued innovation, investment, and competition.
 
· The nearly $9 billion Universal Service Fund (USF) and the intercarrier compensation (ICC) system should be comprehensively reformed to increase accountability and efficiency, encourage targeted investment in broadband infrastructure, and emphasize the importance of broadband to the future of these programs.
 
· Our Nation should harness the tools of modern communications technology to protect all Americans, including by enabling the development of a nation-wide, wireless, interoperable broadband network for the Nation’s first responders.
 
· Ubiquitous and affordable broadband can unlock vast new opportunities for Americans, in communities large and small, with respect to consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, community development, health care delivery, energy independence and efficiency, education, worker training, private sector investment, entrepreneurial activity, job creation and economic growth, and other national purpose
 
The Chairman takes a vote and with all commissioners saying “aye” the mission statement is adopted. The meeting is adjourned. This portion of America’s Broadband Plan is in the books. The work of seeing the recommendations through begins.

9/11 Commissioners: Broadband Plan Can Help Keep Nation's Promise to First Responders

March 15th, 2010 by Jennifer Manner - Deputy Bureau Chief, Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau

Over six years ago, the 9/11 Commission highlighted the importance of achieving effective nationwide interoperable communications for public safety.  While some improvements have been made, true nationwide interoperability does not yet exist.  The National Broadband Plan’s recommendation on creating a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband wireless network will achieve this vision and enable public safety to take advantage of advanced broadband technology. 

Today, two former members of the 9/11 Commission released this statement in support of the Plan’s recommendation.

Statement of Former 9/11 Commissioners Jamie Gorelick and Slade Gorton
on the Federal Communication Commission's Approach to
Interoperable Communications Capabilities for Public Safety

"The 9/11 Commission on which we served concluded that the absence of interoperable communications capabilities among public safety organizations at the local, state, and federal levels was a problem of the highest order.  Unfortunately, we have made little progress in solving this problem until now.  The Commission's proposed plan offers a clear roadmap for finally reaching that goal.  It will provide public safety users throughout the country with access to wireless broadband capabilities that will enable them to communicate effectively across departments and jurisdictions, while encouraging public safety to partner with commercial providers and leverage the investments they already have made.  It also calls for the public funding that is needed to help build, operate, and maintain the public safety network.  To be sure, there are still some issues that need to be worked out, such as whether the 10 MHz of spectrum currently dedicated to public safety is sufficient to meet its needs.  But the FCC's plan offers a realistic framework to move forward, and we hope that all stakeholders will work with the Commission to refine the plan as needed and make it a reality."

A Fortunate Plan

March 15th, 2010 by Andrew Nesi - Special Assistant

Over the course of the last 7 months, we’ve ordered from our friends at Jenny’s Asian Fusion at least once or twice a week. Now, when I call, Jenny herself answers and, recognizing my phone number, yells “ANDREW!” and asks how things are going over at 445 12th St. SW. 

Our team’s first blog post discussed fortune cookies we had gotten at the first of these dinners.  So I hoped to have this post, just before the plan is delivered, to lead with a fortune, too. 

Unfortunately, last night’s fortune read “You love sports, horses and gambling but not to excess.”  This was accurate enough, particularly around bracket time, but isn’t particularly relevant to the task at hand.

My boss opened one, too, which told him, “You will have no problems in your home.” This seemed unlikely, given the number of hours he’s spent at work since Thanksgiving.

So I ate another.  “Good things are being said about you,” it said.

Finally, it works.

Today, we got a letter signed by major technology companies that commended my teammates “for the extraordinary public process implemented to develop this plan. Your team has worked countless hours, solicited unprecedented volumes of feedback from all stakeholders, and determined that data, not ideology, should guide their analysis. This process has demonstrated that there are still significant policy obstacles that could stifle innovation and investment in the future.”  It urged the FCC “and others in government to move quickly to implement its most essential recommendations.”

Another letter, last week, came from a series of telecom companies.  It discussed a number a number of prominent issues, and commended our efforts to “lay a spectrum foundation” and “revitalize the Universal Service program.”

Now, my mom always told me not to care what others think. And the plan itself should be judged by what it does for the country, not what people say about it.

But the letter is a testament to the extraordinary product we’ll release tomorrow. It’s a testament to the work my teammates have done in the past months. It’s a testament to the contributions we’ve gotten from Americans in every corner of the country, from D.C. to Alaska, Charleston to Austin.

Of course, we’re not so na├»ve so as to believe every person will agree with every recommendation in the plan. 

But the plan is a document of which we’re all proud.  We’re excited to share it with our now-distant family and friends, our counterparts in industry and elsewhere in government, and most importantly, with people around the country.

And, of course, Jenny gets a copy.

Our Middle Name Should Come First

March 15th, 2010 by Sharon Gillett

The Wireline Competition Bureau has had a key role in crafting the National Broadband Plan – and we will be even busier after the Plan comes out tomorrow. In fact, the middle name of our bureau – Competition – will be one of the important issues the plan addresses.  The Plan recognizes that our broadband competition rules should be comprehensively reviewed to develop a sound framework to ensure effective competition and consumer choice in broadband services provided to both small and large businesses, rural ISPs, and to mobile providers.  What the Plan also recognizes is that the timeline for completing this review of our competition framework is critical to the full development of broadband deployment and competition.

The Wireline Competition Bureau has already started some of this work.  In particular, last November, the Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking concrete suggestions on the appropriate analytic framework for determining whether our current rules are working for Special Access connections – the dedicated circuits used to connect businesses to their broadband providers, and broadband providers to the Internet. Comments and reply comments have now come in, and we’re in the process of analyzing the various economic frameworks that have been submitted.  With more competition policy recommendations on the way in the Plan, I’m glad we got a head start

More on Transparency and Competition

March 15th, 2010 by Peter Bowen - Applications Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

On Friday, the FCC asked for bids on a contract to measure broadband performance in roughly 10,000 homes to scientifically understand broadband performance across America. (Read the Request for Quotation).  The contract would likely involve installation of a measurement device in the homes of volunteers, using a representative set of connections to help identify how different networks and technologies perform at different times of day, across different parts of the network, under different conditions and using different testing methods. The test will focus on how speeds (maximums, averages and other) and performance characteristics (latency, availability, etc.) change and vary in these circumstances. The end goal is to provide better insight into the metrics that consumers and network designers care about most.

And the best part? Once aggregated with sufficient privacy protections, the FCC will make this data available online and in a published report, to allow others to see and use the results as they like.

This is just one of the many steps the FCC is taking to increase transparency for consumers on broadband speeds and performance. As the National Broadband Plan rolls out, we look forward to continued input from all interested parties on how we can continuously refine our approach. Last week, the FCC launched two new helpful tools for broadband mapping and performance testing, which received many comments. What do these tools do? They allow users to access a point in time view of their speeds to a server on the network. They also allow the FCC to collect data on where broadband is available. Already over 250,000 fixed speed tests have been run by Americans, which means we have been able to gather privacy-protected data on 250,000 locations throughout the country for understanding broadband availability.

And we recognize what this test does not do. (See the “About” section). It is a user-sourced, point-in-time test that helps educate consumers to a point. Unlike the RFQ described above, this test can be impacted by many things, such as consumers with slow computers or Wi-Fi networks, by long distances to testing servers and by general internet congestion that is beyond any one group’s control. It also cannot account for what a user might experience on an ongoing basis, such as while watching a video or conducting a videoconference. So it is not the full solution, but rather one small part of it.

Going forward, we encourage interested parties to continue feedback on our consumer transparency and mapping initiatives. We expect to roll-out additional initiatives with a focus on disclosure obligations that give consumers the right information at the right time to make the right decisions (for them). Transparency and consumer information are critical inputs to helping spur competition in our networks and enriching our broadband ecosystem.

In the News

March 15th, 2010 by George Krebs

A steady stream of media coverage has foreshadowed Tuesday’s release of The National Broadband Plan. We’ve compiled some of that coverage, including an op-ed penned by Chairman Genachowski, below:

From Chairman Genachowski’s Op-Ed in the Washington Post:
 
The Internet has transformed America with its power to generate innovation and opportunity and by its ability to connect, inform and entertain us like no technology in history.
 
…Our nation is at a high-tech crossroads: Either we commit to creating world-leading broadband networks to make sure that the next waves of innovation and business growth occur here, or we stand pat and watch inventions and jobs migrate to those parts of the world with better, faster and cheaper communications infrastructures.
 
This, of course, is not a choice -- which is why, this week, at the behest of Congress and the president, the Federal Communications Commission is delivering the first National Broadband Plan: a comprehensive strategy for dramatically improving our broadband networks and extending their benefits to all Americans.
 
If we adopt these and other good ideas, we can harness the power of a technology with the greatest potential to advance our economic and social welfare since the advent of electricity.
 
….History teaches us that nations that lead technological revolutions reap enormous rewards. We can lead the revolution in wired and wireless broadband. But the moment to act is now.
 
From the New York Times:
 
The Federal Communications Commission is proposing an ambitious 10-year plan that will reimagine the nation’s media and technology priorities by establishing high-speed Internet as the country’s dominant communication network.
 
…The blueprint reflects the government’s view that broadband Internet is becoming the common medium of the United States, gradually displacing the telephone and broadcast television industries.
 
…For much of the last year, Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman and the plan’s chief salesman, has laid the groundwork for the Congressionally mandated plan by asserting that the United States is lagging far behind other countries in broadband adoption and speed. About a third of Americans have no access to high-speed Internet service, cannot afford it or choose not to have it.
 
In a speech last month, Mr. Genachowski observed that the country could build state-of-the-art computers and applications, but without equivalent broadband wiring, “it would be like having the technology for great electric cars, but terrible roads.”
 
The plan envisions a fully Web-connected world with split-second access to health care information and online classrooms, delivered through wireless devices yet to be dreamed up in Silicon Valley.
 
…In a move that could affect policy decisions years from now, the F.C.C. will begin assessing the speeds and costs of consumer broadband service. Until then, consumers can take matters into their own hands with a new suite of online and mobile phone applications released by the F.C.C. that will allow them to test the speed of their home Internet and see if they’re paying for data speeds as advertised.
 
From News Hour’s the.News
 
From Reuters:
 
U.S. regulators will announce a major Internet policy this week to revolutionize how Americans communicate and play, proposing a dramatic increase in broadband speeds that could let people download a high-definition film in minutes instead of hours.
 
Dramatically increasing Internet speeds to 25 times the current average is one of the myriad goals to be unveiled in the National Broadband Plan by the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday.
 
The highly anticipated plan will make a series of recommendations to Congress and is aimed at spurring the ever-changing communications industry to bring more and faster online services to Americans as they increasingly turn to the Internet to communicate, pay monthly bills, make travel plans and be entertained by movies and music.
 
…“We've developed a plan that is a real win-win for everyone involved and we have every expectation that it will work,” Genachowski said in an interview with Reuters. …“It is both aspiration and achievable.”
 
From the Boston Globe:
 
Fourteen years after the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission will release a National Broadband Plan next week that seeks to foster the power of so-called broadband networks. This goal is admirable, because broadband is widely viewed as the economic lifeline of tomorrow, with the power to improve an array of financial and employment activity in health care, education, homeland security, job training, even energy independence.
 
… When it comes to the National Broadband Plan, the FCC has it right in one important regard. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first reform of the communications policy in over 60 years. Today, technology evolves at a much faster rate than policy. A new national agenda is needed to provide direction for Congress to enact laws that reflect today’s technology landscape. This necessary foundation for our economic future requires broadband access for all Americans.

 



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