The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
The FCC released the 2014 “Measuring Broadband America” report. The report shows that most broadband providers continue to improve service performance by delivering actual speeds that meet or exceed advertised speeds. However, some providers showed significant room for improvement, particularly with respect to consistency of speeds. The report highlights five evolving trends: (1) ISPs continue to deliver the combined upload/download speeds they advertise, but a new metric, consistency of speeds, shows there’s still work to be done; (2) download speeds performance varies by service tier, with some ISPs delivering less than 80% of advertised speeds; (3) fiber and cable technologies continue to evolve to higher speed offerings, but DSL is beginning to lag behind; (4) consumers continue to migrate to higher speed tiers; and (5) upload speeds vary sharply.
The FCC said its study also uncovered network congestion at certain interconnection points. Although that data is not included in the findings of the report, the FCC said it will make the raw data available for public review and analysis. The FCC noted it is already taking steps to better understand these issues, 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. See the Regulatory Mix dated June 16, 2014. The FCC said it was “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.” The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology also posted a blog on this subject.
Connect America Fund
The FCC released illustrative results showing the 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) was used to determine the presence of an unsubsidized competitor. (The FCC currently has an open proceeding seeking comment on increasing the minimum broadband speeds for recipients of high-cost support to 10 Mbps downstream.) The FCC previously released model results using the current speed benchmark of 4 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream (4 Mbps/1Mbps). See the Regulatory Mix dated April 28, 2014. Using the current speed benchmark, 4.25 million locations would be eligible for the Connect America Phase II offer of model-based support, of which 2.7 million are unserved by 3Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream (3 Mbps/768 kbps). Using the proposed speed benchmark, 4.7 million locations would be eligible for the offer of model-based support, of which 3.6 million are unserved by 10 Mbps/768 kbps.
Because the Connect America Phase II budget remains the same under either scenario, the FCC said 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 FCC also released 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.