The West Virginia Optimist

FCC Finally Updates Broadband tracking policy
March 20, 2008, 5:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized


Here’s the skinny. In the past, ISPs had it easy. For tracking broadband deployment in the US, IPSs could report any ZIP as Broadband if one person that ZIP code had broadband. Essentially, if you were on the outside edge of your ZIP code, neighboring to a highly developed ZIP code, and you had Internet service above 200kbps(HA!), your ENTIRE ZIP code was considered to be broadband. This of course is absurd and in places like West Virginia, it highly skewed the statistics.

The report (PDF), which covers the first half of 2007, concluded that “broadband services are currently being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.”

High-speed lines–meaning, mind you, capable of 200Kbps or greater data transfer speeds–grew from 82 million to 100 million lines during that time, the FCC said. Its report also found that an Internet service provider reported having at least one connection in 99 percent of the country’s ZIP codes, and that 99 percent of the American population lives in those ZIP codes.

Copps, for one, called the ZIP code methodology “stunningly meaningless.”


The FCC has added a few rules when reporting broadband deployment and the beefed up the criteria on what qualifies as such.

a) ‘Basic Broadband’ now requires that your service be rated at 768kbps at the low end, 1.5mbps on the high end. Before 200kbps was the criteria, which was a complete joke, but then again we were using old rules. Very much has changed in terms of broadband speeds in the last 10 years.

b) ISPs must report download AND upload speeds. This makes me happy since cable companies have been increasing the download speeds and leaving uploads alone (thats YOU Suddenlink. 256kbps up is inexcusable)

c) Broadband must be reported more specifically. For example: 1) 200Kbps to 768Kbps (“first generation data”); 2) 768Kbps to 1.5Mbps (“basic broadband”); 3) 1.5Mbps to 3Mbps; 4) 3Mbps to 6Mbps; and 5) 6Mbps and above.

d) ISPs will be required to count subscribers based upon ACTUAL numbers in addition to breaking it down by ZIP and speed tiers. This makes me very happy and should have happened years ago.

e) ISPs will not be required to report rates… yet. Democratic commissioners and consumer advocacy groups fought for this requirement as it would help subscribers understand just how much they are paying for their speed tier in relation to others in the country. In my opinion, this would force providers to reduce rates and open access for lower income subscribers…which is usually who needs help getting broadband in the first place.

This is a step in the right direction. Not allowing ISPs to get by with only pushing services to highly dense populations is very important if we’re going to compete in the global marketplace. Broadband in 2008 is a requirement to use the Internet effectively.


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