FCC Should be Required to More Accurately Count Broadband Users

Senator Decides Maybe The FCC Should Be Required To More Accurately Count Broadband Users (From the what-a-concept dept)

For years and years, plenty of people (including the Government Accountability Office) have been pointing out why the FCC's numbers on broadband penetration are wildly misleading. Remember, they simply count by zip code. That is, if a single house has connectivity from a single provider in that zip code, the FCC says that provider can reach every house in that zip code. That's obviously not true at all. Yet the FCC keeps using that data, no matter how many times they're told its wrong. Now, Senator Daniel Inouye is proposing new rules that would require the FCC count things a bit more accurately.

First, it would ask the GAO to come up with its own metrics that don't just look at "broadband" but also consider cost and capability in determining what's really available. Then, it would look to redefine broadband based on different speed levels, rather than just consider anything over 200k as broadband. Finally, it would push for classifications based not on the 5 digit zip code, but the 9 digit zip codes which further segment regions. It would certainly be a step in the right direction, though still not perfect.

Meanwhile, the group The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has put out its own recommendations that sound quite similar to the Senator's, with one addition: setting up a user-generated mapping tool. The idea would be to set up a broadband speed test offer (similar to what Broadband Reports offers today), and then use location information to get a pretty detailed picture of what kinds of broadband speeds are available where. This seems like such a sensible approach to the issue that we're almost positive it'll never be implemented.

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Senator Daniel Inouye, Press R
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