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If FCC Broadband Data is Wrong...
What would that say about America's broadband policy?
by Karl Bode 06:20PM Monday May 08 2006
The General Accounting Office has issued a report (pdf) on broadband deployment in the United States, that criticizes the FCC's determination of just how wired America is - and recommends improvements.

"For its zip-code level data, the FCC collects data based on where subscribers are served, not where providers have deployed broadband infrastructure," the report notes. "Although it is clear that the deployment of broadband networks is extensive, the data may not provide a highly accurate depiction of local broadband infrastructures for residential service, especially in rural areas."

This is what critics of FCC policy have been saying for some time. The FCC has taken a largely hands-off deregulatory approach to the industry, based on its own data suggesting everything is looking good. But if measurement of broadband coverage isn't accurate, obviously the question arises how effective policy can be.

In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, FCC chief Kevin Martin praised his policies, stating that America "leads the world in the total number of broadband connections with 38 million subscribers," and that we were "well on our way to accomplishing the president's goal of universal, affordable access to broadband by 2007."

But even fellow FCC Commissioners have found fault with the FCC's penetration methodology. "Finding one high-speed subscriber in a zip code and counting it as service available throughout is not a credible way to proceed," stated Commissioner Copps in 2003. He similarly has taken issue with the FCC's classification of anything over 200kbps as "broadband". Regardless, little in the FCC's data collection and reporting methodology has changed.

"All of the statistics in the FCC report are "up and to the right" and thus look good," recently complained the Technology Security Officer at Harvard University - and frequent critic - Scott Bradner. "It's too bad that it actually does not tell us all that much about Internet service - Maybe someday we will find out, but maybe not from the FCC."

These FCC reports were required as part of the 1996 Telecom act. If they show penetration issues (to say oh, rural America) the FCC is expected to "take immediate action to accelerate deployment of such capability." Unfortunately, critics lament, FCC policy in recent years has been driven by political think-tank idealism and a hatred of all regulation - not impartial technological need.

The only way to prove such criticism inaccurate is by reforming the FCC's data collection mechanism. Only then can the agency illuminate coverage gaps and implement effective policy.

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FFH5
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Tavistock NJ
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1 edit

FCC has access to dozens of independent studies

For whatever legal reasons the FCC is using the 1 person in a zip code as broadband standard, they also have access to dozens of other studies showing real broadband penetration. To say they have bad data to make decisions is wrong. They have all the data they need. They choose to follow the 1/zip info because it is probably backed by some regulations and protects their ass in court challenges.
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Karl Bode
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4 edits

1 recommendation

Re: FCC has access to dozens of independent studies

quote:
they also have access to dozens of other studies
Other than the OECD rankings, which I'd assume you'd lament as wildly inaccurate because they show us ranked twelfth in penetration, which independent rural broadband studies would those be? Dozens? Can you actually list "dozens" of studies that specifically study rural coverage gaps? Many independent studies rely in turn on the FCC data. Many others are based on inflated and unconfirmed incumbent data, intentionally buoyed to support deregulatory positions.

Groups like Leichtman?
quote:
Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) bases its findings off of nationwide consumer research studies conducted via telephone (to represent a representative cross-section of all US households). This data is also analyzed in conjunction with our database of provider-side research, as well as other sources - including the FCC.
Nobody is actually going into rural America and confirming anything.

kamm

join:2001-02-14
Brooklyn, NY

1 edit

1 recommendation

said by FFH5:

For whatever legal reasons the FCC is using the 1 person in a zip code as broadband standard, they also have access to dozens of other studies showing real broadband penetration. To say they have bad data to make decisions is wrong. They have all the data they need. They choose to follow the 1/zip info because it is probably backed by some regulations and protects their ass in court challenges.
List, please.
Without backing up your claims we have to think once again it's your well-known ties to the cable industry that makes you post these unproven claims.
PDXPLT

join:2003-12-04
Banks, OR
said by FFH5:

They choose to follow the 1/zip info because it is probably backed by some regulations and protects their ass in court challenges.
They choose to use this one because it is the most optimistic.

Under the 1996 Telecomm Act, if the FCC were to find that broadband deployment is not progressing well, that finding would trigger requirements for all sorts of action, regulatory actions that the present FCC is loathe to undertake. So they are damn careful to use a metric to make things look as rosy as possible.

It is highly inaccurate, though. In the zip code I live in, only the town center, near the telco CO and the Cable trunk from the next town over, are supplied with broadband. But the vast majority of the Zip code is unserved. By the FCC metric, however, the whole zipcode is counted as served.

garagerock
Premium
join:2002-06-14
Louisville, KY
quote:
They choose to follow the 1/zip info because it is probably backed by some regulations and protects their ass in court challenges
Once again, can you cite one fact?

So, in your fairytale universe, where the free market has solved every world calamity, everyone probably has 100/100 MBPS connections, and everyone probably pays less than $30 per month, and probably has no long term commitment, or probably no fee to cancel, and they probably have no caps and an SLA.

And in other news, this obvious shill probably gets paid by the keystroke to invent this fairytale universe.

rawgerz
The hell was that?
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Grove City, PA

1 recommendation

About time

someone spoke up on how ridiculous that report was

Seph83
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Re: About time

I'll second that. I've heard that the one person per zip crap was what the FCC used for years, through the grapevine, but never really saw it in print. Knowing the FCC, that one person per zip probably means that even if one rich person who can afford a T1 or better, that it counts. I live in a very rural area, and I believe that neither ISPs nor the government care about the average man and woman here. My ISP, Alltel(about to officially be known as Windstream) have taken years to deploy ADSL in my area, and there is still a large hole, along a US Highway, where there are at least a few hundred prospective customers and businesses. All because some corporate jackass(es) who don't want to invest a few thousand dollars, that would be made back in less than six months. And it's not just Alltel either, about 15 miles away, in North Carolina, Verizon could care less about the people in the sticks too. A guy I know is stuck with 22k dial-up, in a place where the ground pedestals look like they were installed in the 60's, in ex-GTE territory, where VZ doesn't care. He has called requesting DSL a few times, and they told him that they have no plans at all for DSL in that area! It's not the most populated or wealthy area, that's a given, but there are enough people who would use DSL to make it worthwhile. Nothing but cheapskates and polichickens running the show... And the US may have the highest number of people with broadband in the world, but it's sure not the highest percent of people served!!
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AHomeBoy2000

join:2005-10-10
Hoffman Estates, IL

WiMax for All- Ok, for Some!

I've been saying this for a while now. If you live in a nice neighborhood or municipality, the odds are you can get SOME form of broadband (cabel or DSL). But a LARGE population of the US lives in small towns and rural areas. THe US and Telco/Cable need to get off their butts and make WiMax possible. I understand a company not wanting to invest tousands of dollars to run cabels to 4 houses per square mile. A single Wi-Max antena on a cell tower could serve tham all, and cheaply too!

rawgerz
The hell was that?
Premium
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Grove City, PA

2 edits

Re: WiMax for All- Ok, for Some!

You obviously haven't read up on wireless. Wimax is nothing but hopes and dreams and nothing factual, just like powerline broadband. You can't change the fundamentals of wireless.. After all can You imagine Any cell phone tower that serves a whole town?
Wireless can only do so much, 802.11B/G AP's can only do a max of 50 clients or so. Canopy systems can handle as many as 100 clients. Canopy systems start at about 20 grand..
Plus
$6000 tower, securing tower locations by buying/leasing land
Securing a backbone internet provider

Another thing is that EACH of those clients are going to have to have a equipment at their end.. and that's NOT a wireless NIC from wal-mart..
Besides all this, only 2.4/5.8GHz and 900Mhz are non licenced frequencies.. this means that something as simple as a cordless phone can cause enough noise to disrupt equipment in the area.

To make wireless Appealing to entrepreneurs the FCC needs to have a dedicated, licenced frequency to specialty WISP's so that they can work without noise. And with a training program, and even better some sort of grant to start them off.

Wireless is NOT a cheap way of doing things, which is what they ARE looking for.. nothing will beat a landline fiber optic system
Either the FCC needs to establish a company to provide BB to rual areas and have it funded by something such as local taxes, or Force telco's to wire them.
All and all this is a huge mess that's gone to shit creek
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POB
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Stepford, CA

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FCC Martin: FOS As Usual

Kevin Martin is full of shit and everyone who isn't a corporate stooge for the Bu$h junta knows it. In the matter of 38 Million Broadband Users in the U.S. fairy tale, Teletruth filed a Data Quality Act Complaint against the FCC's statistics, claiming that the FCC is politically driven to inflate the number of broadband connections in the United States, as well as presenting a distorted picture of broadband in the US.

It was all covered here July 2005:
»www.newnetworks.com/TeletruthBro···rtin.htm
when Martin was trumpeting his deregulation of broadband is good mantra and people on this very same forum were telling him he was every bit as full of shit then as he is now.
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dadkins
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Definitions please.

"well on our way to accomplishing the president's goal of universal, affordable access to broadband by 2007"

Define "broadband".
Define "affordable".
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hobgoblin
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Orchard Park, NY
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Re: Definitions please.

said by dadkins:

"well on our way to accomplishing the president's goal of universal, affordable access to broadband by 2007"

Define "broadband".
Define "affordable".
You define it.....

Hob
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dadkins
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Re: Definitions please.

said by hobgoblin:

said by dadkins:

"well on our way to accomplishing the president's goal of universal, affordable access to broadband by 2007"

Define "broadband".
Define "affordable".
You define it.....

Hob
I'm not the one making claims...

Broadband - should be 2mbps symetrical minimum.

Affordable - $20.00 ~ $30.00?

How would you define them?
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cdru
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Fort Wayne, IN
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Re: Definitions please.

said by dadkins:

I'm not the one making claims...

Broadband - should be 2mbps symetrical minimum.
Affordable - $20.00 ~ $30.00?

How would you define them?
Not like that. 2mbits symetrical is overkill. In a technical sense, BROADband is just a transmission over a range of frequencies, so technically dialup is broadband. But in a more realistic world...

The FCC's definition is 200kbits/sec IIRC. While ~4x the speed of dialup, it's still pretty laughable. To me, broadband doesn't really start until 768kbits/sec. I'm not saying 768 is blazing fast, but for universal access I think that should be the initial level we should strive for, if not higher.

That connection should not have to be symetrical. If they are, great. But there is no need to HAVE to have them that way. There is no need for a symetrical connection for residential access. Sending reply ACKS doesn't take much and most residential customers never really use their outgoing connections except to send an e-mail or other relatively low bandwidth tasks.

As to cost, it should be affordable. It doesn't have to be so low that the crazy homeless guy that hangs out behind the 7-11 can afford it for his cardboard box. But it shouldn't cost much for the lowest tier. If the lowest tier was something like 768/128, then it shouldn't cost more then ~$20...$25 tops.

I like what Verizon has offered as it's most basic DSL tier. $15 for 768/128. It's widely available (although a lot of places still aren't serviced), it's cheap, and its good enough for most things. If you want faster, it's available, but it obviously going to cost more.
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dadkins
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Hercules, CA
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said by hobgoblin:

said by dadkins:

"well on our way to accomplishing the president's goal of universal, affordable access to broadband by 2007"

Define "broadband".
Define "affordable".
You define it.....

Hob
I'm not the one making claims...

Broadband - should be 2mbps symmetrical minimum.

Affordable - $20.00 ~ $30.00?

How would you define them?
--
Think outside the Fox... Opera

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY

1 recommendation

well isn't that strange

how surprising to see an agency headed by an appointee of the current Bush administration caught lying to support corporate interests. I'm shocked they would manipulate the American public.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

Re: well isn't that strange

Right... like no other politicians do this in any other administration you narrow sighted assclown.

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY

Re: well isn't that strange

I see you graduated 4th grade... good job,,

POB
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Stepford, CA

As Long As We're On the Subject of the FCC

Reach and touch the FCC on the subject of debt collection agencies calling your cell phone with auto-dialers...

ALERT: Tell the FCC to Stop Debt Collectors from Calling
Your Cell Phone
Note: Deadline is May 11

Debt collectors want permission to call your cell phone.
They want to use autodialers in order to reach as many
numbers as possible.

Unfortunately, being debt free may not help you avoid
these calls. Autodialers allow debt collectors to call
so many numbers that the accuracy of the phone number is
not assured. The person who had your phone number in the
past may be in debt, but you may get the call. Or the
collector might be calling the wrong John Smith. Another
possibility is that you, the victim of identity theft,
might be hounded by a debt collector calling your cell phone.

The law currently protects consumers from such calls to cell
phones, but the debt collectors want that to change. The
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) Rules say automatic dialing
systems cannot be used to call your cell phone, pager, or
other device when you are charged for the call. The only
exception is for emergencies or calls you approve in advance.

Debt collectors and their trade association, ACA International, are now asking the FCC to say that the law does not apply to them. ACA has filed a petition asking the FCC to allow autodialed collection calls to cellular phones.

ACA has over 5,800 member collection companies and hundreds of debt collectors have filed comments in favor of autodialing. Some consumers have commented as well, but the FCC has not heard from nearly enough consumers.

To read the ACA's Petition, go to:
»privacyupdate.c.topica.com/maaeM···b7GqXtb/

To read a sampling of what debt collectors say and comments
from other consumers, go to:
»gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi and put
in “02-278” under “Proceeding.”

We think autodialers should not be used to call cell phones. First of all, the law doesn’t allow it. Second, you are charged for incoming cell phone calls. Collection calls also result in many consumer complaints about abusive language, calls at odd hours, calls to employers and others.

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act prohibits abusive collector calls, but still many people experience these problems. For more on debt collection, see PRC Fact Sheet 27: Debt Collection Practices: When Hardball Tactics Go Too Far, »www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs27-debtcoll.htm

Debt collectors do not currently bother to ensure that the person they are calling is truly the debtor, and there is no evidence that they will be more cautious when calling cell phones. This disregard for accuracy is unacceptable when you must pay for every minute of cell phone use. Don'tlet the debt collectors bully the FCC into saying debt collectors are above the law.

If you want to voice your opinion or tell the FCC about an
experience you've had, you can easily file an electronic comment. »gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/upload_v2.cgi
Be sure to include the Proceedings Number 02-278. Enter your name or the word "consumer" in box 3 "Name of Applicant/Petitioner." Comments are public record, so if you do not want your name in a public filing, use the word "consumer."

Your comment does not have to be long. At the bottom of
the electronic comment web page, you will find a place to file a brief comment.

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GhostDoggy

join:2005-05-11
Duluth, GA

Who cares?

If you live in an area where the technology isn't to be had and there are few around you then maybe you should move.

If you live in an area where the technology isn't to be had and there are many around you then maybe you should look at this as an opportunity to deploy technology yourself.

Sometimes its hard for a mountain to move in the direction you want it to.
frnkblk0

join:2002-08-25
Sioux Center, IA

How do we measure, then?

I agree that the one sub/ZIP is not a very good measurement, but I'm challenged to come up with a way that cable, telco, and wireless providers can send data back in a meaningful way to the FCC for processing.

If only the ILECs had to respond they could estimate the number of homes passed where they could provide broadband, and since ILECs have non-overlapping territory it's pretty easy to obtain an accurate picture. But what about when you add wireless and cable over top, how do you remove the duplicating coverage areas? Perhaps it will require some kind of GIS or sampling.

Frank

marigolds
Gainfully employed, finally
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Saint Louis, MO
kudos:2

Re: How do we measure, then?

Use the census defined TIGER/lines as a baseline for coverage. Throw on top of that the block household densities.
Have the providers supply data as address and number of subscribers. Geocode the addresses and match to TIGER lines.

Sum up the block densities assigned to each TIGER line segment and create a weighted penetration for each TIGER line based on the number of assigned subscribers then sum across the network. Or, alternatively, create a trend surface off percentage penetration and weighted by population density

Bingo. Number of subscribers per household, either by road network or by area. Areas with zero subscriber densities are areas likely to be unserved.
You can create a separate coverage network for each type of service, or sum subscribers across service if you want overall coverage by industry or for all broadband.
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frnkblk0

join:2002-08-25
Sioux Center, IA

Re: How do we measure, then?

Sounds like there is a way, we just needed geographer as opposed to a technologist to pipe in. I'm sure that service providers don't have TIGER-based groupings in their systems, but you're saying that all that needs to be done is supply an address?

Is it a reasonable reporting requirement to ask service providers (of any type) to supply address data? Perhaps I ask too quickly -- it's probably being done all the time by marketing/advertisers anyways. =)

Frank

marigolds
Gainfully employed, finally
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join:2002-05-13
Saint Louis, MO
kudos:2

Re: How do we measure, then?

E-911 compliant addresses fit into TIGER groupings (which are basically street segments with a to and from range of addresses on each side of the street plus an encoding of whether the range is odd, even, or both).
The geocoding process itself actually masks the data so that individual address information cannot be derived.
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