Federal Communications Commission

FCC Releases Fourth "Measuring Broadband America" Report

The Federal Communications Commission released the results of its ongoing nationwide performance study of residential broadband service in its fourth “Measuring Broadband America” report.

The report continues the Commission’s efforts towards bringing greater clarity and competition to the home broadband services marketplace. The 2014 report reveals that most broadband providers continue to improve service performance by delivering actual speeds that meet or exceed advertised speeds, but some providers showed significant room for improvement, particularly with respect to consistency of speeds. This report highlights five evolving trends:

  • Internet service providers (ISPs) continue to deliver the combined upload/download speeds they advertise, but a new metric in 2014 -- consistency of speeds -- shows there’s still work to be done.
  • Download speeds performance varies by service tier, with some ISPs delivering less than 80 percent of advertised speeds.
  • Fiber and Cable technologies continue to evolve to higher speed offerings, but DSL is beginning to lag behind.
  • Consumers continue to migrate to higher speed tier.
  • Upload speeds vary sharply.

Network congestion study:
The study uncovered network congestion at certain interconnection points during the report’s reporting period. Although that data is not included in the findings of the report, the FCC will make this data fully available with the report for the public to review and analyze. The FCC is also taking steps to better understand the issues that presented themselves, including by analyzing network impact on video service providers such as YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix and others and requesting more information from ISPs and video providers about peering issues. We are working to develop tools that measure and validate how these types of congestion issues affect the consumer experience. We expect to have instituted additional testing methodologies providing more information on network congestion and peering by winter 2014.

Media Bureau Announces the Effective Date of the Television Joint Sales Agreement Attribution Rule

On April 15, 2014, the Commission released a Report and Order in the 2014 Quadrennial Regulatory Review -- Review of the Commission’s Broadcast Ownership Rules and Other Rules Adopted Pursuant to Section 202 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In the Report and Order, the Commission adopted an attribution rule for television joint sales agreements (JSAs), establishing that same-market television JSAs for more than 15 percent of the weekly advertising time for the brokered station are to be counted toward the brokering station’s ownership totals, just as the Commission has long done with respect to radio stations. To avoid disruption of current business arrangements, the Report and Order provided a two-year compliance period -- from the effective date of the Report and Order -- for parties to same-market JSAs in existence as of the release date whose attribution results in a violation of the broadcast ownership limits to come into compliance with the broadcast ownership rules. The effective date of the Report and Order is 30 days after it was published in the Federal Register on May 20, 2014; thus, the effective date of the television JSA attribution rule is June 19, 2014, and the two-year compliance period will end on June 19, 2016.

Wireline Competition Bureau Releases Connect America Cost Model Illustrative Results Using Higher Speed Benchmark

The Federal Communications Commission Wireline Competition Bureau has released number of locations that would be eligible for the offer of model-based Connect America Phase II support if the proposed speed benchmark of 10 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream (10 Mbps/1 Mbps) is used to determine the presence of an unsubsidized competitor.

Because the Connect America Phase II budget remains the same under either scenario, the extremely high-cost threshold would decrease from $207.81 to $172.51 if the 10 Mbps downstream speed benchmark were used. Approximately 824,000 price cap carrier locations have an average cost above this $172.51 extremely high-cost threshold, whereas approximately 577,000 price cap carrier locations are above $207.81.

The results have been produced using the adopted Connect America Cost Model (CAM v4.1.1), with a new solution set to reflect 10 Mbps/768 kbps coverage. The Bureau also is releasing a list of census blocks comparing the census blocks and number of locations that would be eligible for the offer of model-based support using 3 Mbps/768 kbps to determine broadband coverage versus using 10 Mbps/768 kbps.

Managing E-Rate to Maximize Benefits for Schools & Libraries

What does good management have to do with quality education? When it comes to the E-rate program, quite a bit. In recent months, we have been improving management of E-rate to speed approval of broadband expansion projects sought by schools and libraries across the country.

And it’s working: E-rate funding will reach the $1 billion milestone for funding year 2014, twice as fast as any previous year in E-Rate history.

These early commitments will enable schools and libraries to put E-rate dollars to work sooner for students and patrons. For example, E-rate supported broadband connections will help the Baltimore County Public School System continue its roll-out of a one-to-one personalized digital learning environment to the district’s 100,000 students.

We’ve made a particular effort to speed larger applications, including state and regional consortia. Included in the $1 billion of commitments to date are state-level consortium applications in Iowa, Maine, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Statewide and consortium applications can simplify processes for applicants, increase access in rural areas, and drive down costs for consortium members and for E-rate. For example, the Mississippi state consortium recently negotiated new, low, flat-rate pricing for high speed connectivity across most of the state, driving down prices for all districts, and helping rural districts get connected without special construction charges.

The program administrator -- USAC -- and the FCC have dramatically accelerated the processing of state-level consortium applications.

[Wilkins is FCC Acting Managing Director]

Commission Announces Inmate Calling Services Data Due Date

On September 26, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) released the Inmate Calling Services Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

As part of that order, the Commission adopted a mandatory data collection requirement “to enable [it] to take further action to reform rates.”

The Commission announces that notice of the requisite Paperwork Reduction Act approval from the Office of Management and Budget and information collection effective date have been published in the Federal Register. This allows the Commission to collect from all ICS providers data related to the costs of providing ICS. The required data are due July 17, 2014. The Commission requires ICS provider data to be filed electronically.

Introducing the Internet to the FCC’s Contest Rule

[Commentary] Have you ever listened to your car radio while you were stuck in traffic and heard a super-fast talker rattle off the rules that apply to a contest for a trip to some sunny destination?

Maybe should consider updating the Contest Rule to allow broadcasters to substitute their current, on-air contest notifications with simple instructions to visit a specific website for more information. Posting such material online would allow viewers the opportunity to actually read and digest the contest rules (i.e., available 24 hours a day) and determine how best to participate.

Internet publication also allows broadcasters to provide a more complete description of the contest, update it as necessary, and significantly reduce the instances that could lead to FCC enforcement actions. Moreover, this change would better effectuate the original intent of the Contest Rule, which was designed to “require licensees who conduct broadcast contests to take certain steps to assure that they are promoted and conducted properly.”

LPFM Update

Media Bureau, Audio Division, on June 13, 2014 has set a low-powered FM order. There are 6350 pending translator tech box applications to date. After delay, the window for application for translatorswill be opened October 17 – November 15. 2826 applications have been filed, out of those, 2805 are new station applications.

Statement Of Commissioner Ajit Pai On The Media Bureau’s Presentation On The Status Of The LPFM Proceeding

In my home state of Kansas, for instance, no fewer than five new Spanish-language LPFM stations have already been approved during this window. These stations will serve communities big and small, from Topeka, the state capital, to Ulysses, a small town of about 6,000 people in southwest Kansas named after our nation’s 18th President.

A new Chinese-language LPFM station has also been approved to serve Lawrence, Kansas. These unique offerings are exactly what Congress intended when it passed the Local Community Radio Act in 2010. Given the static facing the AM band, we can’t afford to delay. Let’s set the end of October as the deadline for action and prioritize opening an FM translator window for AM broadcasters.

Statement by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Broadband Consumers and Internet Congestion

For some time now we have been talking about protecting Internet consumers. At the heart of this is whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that provide connectivity in the final mile to the home can advantage or disadvantage content providers, and therefore advantage or disadvantage consumers.

What we call the Open Internet rule on which we are currently seeking comment is one component of this. If adopted, the new rule would prohibit bad acts such as blocking content or degrading access to content.

This kind of activity within an ISP’s network has traditionally been the focus of net neutrality. But there is another area of Internet access, and that is the exchange of traffic between ISPs and other networks and services.

The recent disputes between Netflix and ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon have highlighted this issue. We don’t know the answers and we are not suggesting that any company is at fault. But what is going on and what can the FCC do on behalf of consumers? Consumers pay their ISP and they pay content providers like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon. Then when they don’t get good service they wonder what is going on. Consumers must get what they pay for. As the consumer’s representative we need to know what is going on.

I have therefore directed the Commission staff to obtain the information we need to understand precisely what is happening in order to understand whether consumers are being harmed.

Remarks of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler American Enterprise Institute

We believe there is a new regulatory paradigm where the Commission relies on industry and the market first while preserving other options if that approach is unsuccessful.

For all the ways the Internet has already transformed our lives, today’s network revolution is constantly creating enormous new opportunities to grow our economy, to enhance US competitiveness, and to improve the lives of the American people. Yet, these changes also raise new security challenges -- challenges that must be addressed if we hope to seize the opportunities.

So what, exactly, is the FCC’s role in this shared endeavor? The challenge of the FCC is to deliver on the national security and public safety effects mandate as the networks that enable those effects evolve from analog to digital. Foremost, the FCC must build upon past Federal and private sector work in cybersecurity. This new paradigm must be based on private sector innovation, and the alignment of private interests in profit and return on investment with public interests like public safety and national security. We will be guided by a top notch team, led by the Chief of our Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Admiral Dave Simpson.

Our work on cybersecurity in the communications sector will be guided by a set of principles:

  • First and foremost is a commitment to preserving the qualities that have made the Internet an unprecedented platform for innovation and free expression. That means we cannot sacrifice the freedom and openness of the Internet in the name of enhanced security.
  • Second is our commitment to privacy, which is essential to consumer confidence in the Internet. We believe that when done right, cybersecurity enables digital privacy -- personal control of one’s own data and networks.
  • Third is a commitment to cross-sector coordination. Particularly among regulatory agencies, we must coordinate our activities and our engagement with our sector stakeholders.
  • Fourth, we continue support the multi-stakeholder approach to global Internet governance that has successfully guided its evolution, and we will oppose any efforts by international groups to impose Internet regulations that could restrict the free flow of information in the name of security.