Money

Despite problems with the wider U.S. economy, demand for broadband and consumer take rates for increasing speeds has not slowed. In a recent round of comments that will inform an FCC broadband report, industry organizations urged policies that will encourage continued investment in broadband networks to improve the competitive environment.

The comments came in response to a request from the FCC in preparation for a report it must file to Congress on the state of competition in the overall “communications marketplace,” including voice services, broadcast and broadband video/audio services, and data transmission. In an April Public Notice, the Commission asked a long list of questions about the current state of competition and how to manage the future.

“At a time when inflation has become the norm, broadband is an outlier—prices continue to decline as speeds increase. More Americans are gaining access to broadband every day,” said USTelecom in its response to the FCC’s request for comments.

“This growth can be further facilitated through policies that sustain the Universal Service Fund with an expanded contributions base, streamline or eliminate legacy obligations as appropriate, and encourage maximum participation by proven providers in broadband funding programs.”

The comments echo those made in a recent blog post from USTelecom recommending expansion of the USF contribution base.

FCC Broadband Report

The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) said that a competitive analysis should start with the premise that fiber optic networks are the leading technology for fixed broadband services.

“As such, the key question for the Commission and other policymakers is how to accelerate its growth, such that all Americans can access fiber by the end of this decade and multiple providers providing fiber access can compete,” it said in its comments.

FBA marks the beginning of fiber construction at the year 2005 and claims that it took just 15 years for fiber to reach 50% of American homes. By comparison, it estimated 28 years for coaxial cable (starting in 1957) and 60 years for copper (starting in 1882) to reach the same level of penetration.

The quality of the data used to measure the speed, latency, and other performance of individual broadband providers seems like a basic need when analyzing the state of broadband competition. NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association said the FCC should put emphasis on refining its Broadband Data Collection (BDC) and making improvements in the National Broadband Map.

While many agree that BDC is a significant improvement over the method the FCC has used to gather broadband data for decades, NTCA believes the Commission relies too heavily on advertised speeds and other marketing claims.

“Bad advertising-driven data results in ‘false positives’ that treat given locations or entire areas as served [and thus deemed subject to competition and/or ineligible for funding] when the reality on the ground is very different based upon actual network capabilities and performance,” NTCA said.

The FCC is required to file the report on the state of the communications marketplace in even years.

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