FCC Admits It Sucks At Measuring Broadband Competition

from the yeah,-we-need-to-work-on-that dept

For years, plenty of folks (including the Government Accountability Office) have been pointing out that the way the FCC measures broadband competition is very flawed. It simply assumes that if a single household in a zip code is offered broadband by provider A, then every household in that zip code can get broadband from provider A. In an extreme version of this, say provider A offers broadband to a single household, and provider B offers broadband to a different household and everyone else has no broadband at all. Under the current FCC measurements, that’s an area that has full broadband competition. See the problem? For some reason, the FCC hasn’t done much about this measuring problem, but it appears that the Commission is finally recognizing it has a problem and saying it needs to change the way it measures things. Commissioner Michael Copps points out: “Our statistical methodology seems almost calculated to obscure just how far our country is falling behind many other industrialized nations in broadband availability, adoption, speed and price.” Of course, who knows if what comes next will be any better, but at least admitting you have a problem is the first step…


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Comments on “FCC Admits It Sucks At Measuring Broadband Competition”

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17 Comments
Sanguine Dream says:

Re: Re:


Our statistical methodology seems almost calculated to obscure just how far our country is falling behind many other industrialized nations in broadband availability, adoption, speed and price.”

almost? He says that like obscurity wasn’t the main point behind such an obviously wrong method to start with.


How do these people get these jobs?

That’s simple. No matter what coprorate america tells you the phrase, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” is still extremely true. A few games of golf, a couple of nice dinners, a vacation or two, and (the most important ingredient) a few large “donations” can get you damn near any job you want.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How do these people get these jobs?

a passing score on the civil service exam, which any idiot can pass, and a high school diploma. that’s how.

if you are mediocre, probably a minority woman (not intended to be racist or feminist), and have no desire other than to collect a paycheck for 30 years without any effort or expectations on you, then our government is your employer of choice. everyone else that is worth a hoot, gets a real job.

Matthew says:

Re: Re: Pro-Republican Bigotry

How do these people get these jobs?

a passing score on the civil service exam, which any idiot can pass, and a high school diploma. that’s how.

if you are mediocre, probably a minority woman (not intended to be racist or feminist), and have no desire other than to collect a paycheck for 30 years without any effort or expectations on you, then our government is your employer of choice. everyone else that is worth a hoot, gets a real job.
First, you are a racist and sexist, despite your weak denial.

Second, these policies and methodologies are specified by the Republican FCC, whose policymakers aren’t civil servants, but rather political appointees. The Democratic controlled FCC in the 1990s was much better, though it had its own problems.

But for some reason, it’s minority women’s fault that Kevin Martin, a White Republican man, has run a BS agency screwing Americans. Among the worst screwed: minority women.

Thanks for proving that Republican politicians aren’t the only thing wrong with America’s government. It’s also the 50M American citizens who voted Republican every chance they got for decades, insisting they’re not racist or sexist, while institutionalizing exactly that. Disgusting.

Sirwoogie says:

Truth, Lies, and Statistics!

and if such statistics showed a problem in these areas, it would equire the FCC to take actions to correct the problem ASAP. This is a requirement of the 1996 Telcomm Act.

Since that requires more work on the FCC as well an exposure that their current methodology is seriously not working… why on earth would it be in their best interest to have proper statistics?

Long gone are the days that management and direction of the FCC is to protect the public best interest. It’s a shame as I’m sure there are plenty of good hard working people at the FCC that want to do the right thing. The management of the FCC is a low hanging dark cloud over most aspects of that administration.

Shaggs says:

Some problem

I see the issue as being a little more problematic.

The only way to do a detailed statistical analysis is to take everyones home address, and paint that with their service provider. Let alone assure everyone that somehow this database will be safe.

I don’t understand how many people would opt in to any level of detail, is they were asked.

And if too few opted in, your back to the zip-code thing.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Some problem

The only way to do a detailed statistical analysis is to take everyones home address, and paint that with their service provider

someone has to pay property taxes on every property owned in a given municipality. the information is already collected and publicly available.

in the US, there are pretty much only two ways to get broadband, if it’s available: from the cable company, or from the phone company. most of the time, you need either basic cable service or basic phone service in order to get broadband.

guess how the cable and telephone companies identify their customers? by either a telephone number or by address.

you don’t need names to do the analysis… just addresses. those are already public records thanks to the property tax system.

the FCC can get the address information from the local governements, and the providers themselves can produce the subscriber info by address, not by name.

to determine competition, it’s just a matter of seeing what percentage of addresses in a given ZIP have more than one choice for broadband internet access.

the problem isn’t with getting the data… the problem is with ensuring that the data is accurate since the cable and telephone providers will lie to protect their monopolies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Some problem

to determine competition, it’s just a matter of seeing what percentage of addresses in a given ZIP have more than one choice for broadband internet access.

No, you have to be a bit more granular than that. Take it to the street level, and you’re good. But an entire zip code is FAR too broad an area.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Some problem

Why would someone have to opt-in? Or to put it another why would the FCC need a name to go along with the address?

The address of a building is pretty much public info. Just walk by and look at it. The Post Office, UPS, FedEx, Dominos and et al don’t seem to have many problems finding an address.

The FCC needs to collect infrastructure info from the cable companies and telcos to know whether an address has broadband service available or not.

And on the competition side of things this will make it more difficult for telcos and cable companies to retain exclusive access to an area by not allowing competitors to use the infrastructure.

Matthew says:

Re: What about other countries

They complain about how our stats are wrong. What about other countries. If we can’t trust our own countries stats, we sure the H*LL can’t trust others.

What kind of tautology logic is that?

For example, Iraq terrorists own propaganda is more reliable than Pentagon propaganda. The US has been taken down the toilet by the Bush regime that also installed this lying FCC. It’s a long way back up, and your jingoistic ignorance is keeping us down.

theo says:

it's cronyism

The BS starts at the top. The career civil servants just do what they’re told to do.

The chairman of the FCC when these rules were formulated was Michael Powell, who has a long and undistinguished history of being Colin Powell’s son.

Kevin Martin, the current chief, is a Republican crony lawyer. He’s not a complete idiot, but he knows who butters his bread (large telecoms).

Laura Unger says:

FCC wrong on many things

Not only is their methodology on zip codes flawed but their whole definition of what is “high speed” is way off. The FCC needs to update its definition. The minimum high speed should be is 2 MPPS upstream and 1 MBPS downstream. For other countries that would still be slow but we need to start somewhere. Even when we pay for higher speeds there is no consumer protection that requires providers to give you what you pay for. The only way for these issues to be addressed is a serious public policy encouraging real high speed broadband, affordable for every American. It is not going to happen by itself. Other countries (like Japan) have 100 MBPS for the same as we are paying. We need to take steps now. There is some good information on the state of American broadband and proposals for change on http://www.speedmatters.org.

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