Ookla Discloses Broadband Gaps Our $300 Million Map Won't
- Ookla Discloses Broadband Gaps Our $300 Million Map Won'tLike The Fact Wealthy Suburbs Get The Best Deal Per MbpsAs we explored last week in great detail, Uncle Sam has released a new $300 million broadband map that tracks connectivity by speed, type and ISP. As we (and most of our users) noted last week this early expensive beta isn't particularly accurate, listing phantom ISPs that don't do business in certain markets, too few ISPs, and/or inaccurate speeds. Part of this is because the map is just getting started, but part of this is because ISPs fought tooth and nail to prevent the disclosure of both price and real-world speed information. Such information would provide insight into competitive and deployment shortcomings, which could then potentially result in someone trying to fix said shortcomings.
U.S. broadband carriers have enjoyed more than a decade of policy discussions that used artificially rosy broadband data to justify regulatory apathy toward a lack of competition in a significant number of U.S. markets. That's very slowly coming to an end, though where our broadband mapping project fails, data from private broadband collection companies like Ookla is picking up the slack.
American University's Investigative Reporting Workshop last week dug into 4,294 records provided by Ookla and found that wealthier, suburban markets pay less per Mbps but more per month. Surveys from around DC indicated that the cost per Mbps in the poorer ZIP codes was $31.17, while the cost per Mbps in the wealthier ZIP codes was $9.58. The median number in poorer areas was $10.42 per Mbps, while the median figure in the wealthier areas was $3.66 per Mbps. Rural residents stuck on aging DSL lines made out the worst of all, paying $30.28 per Mbps.
Note the research only measured standalone broadband, the price of which is jacked up to punish consumers for not bundling additional services, or "doesn't include the value savings provided by additional services," -- as our friends in the ISP business will most certainly state.
Also note the data doesn't necessarily mirror deployment discrimination as clearly as it will be suggested (though rural users forced to use HughesNet or folks in Baltimore will certainly acknowledge such practices exist). While some discrimination based on returns on investment for next-gen services is obviously playing a role, initial deployments of services like FiOS weren't aimed at multi-tenant housing in part due to fiber and hardware issues that have since been overcome. Verizon's belatedly pushing FiOS through DC, NYC and Philly.
In addition to the steep poor urban/wealthy suburban divide, the study found cable users get more bang for the per MB buck given a high number of unupgraded telco copper networks. The study specifically studied the disparity between Comcast and Verizon services, and found Verizon charged $12.34 per Mbps more than twice as much as Comcast. The findings annoyed Verizon, who notes the study did not differentiate between FiOS and DSL. Then again, it was Verizon's choice to freeze FiOS deployment in many areas, and they don't get to have their cake and eat it too.
None of these findings should be particularly surprising, though it does illustrate the kind of price, deployment and real-world speed analysis carriers have spent much of the last decade trying to prevent. It also highlights how price and quality disparities are things our national map was intentionally designed not to disclose after intense lobbying from lobbyists weakened the NTIA's resolve. Perhaps Ookla should have gotten our $300 million?
- From Institute of Museum and Library Services
I've attached the executive summary. Full report at link above...
"The Institute of Museum and Library Services believes that communities need to work together so that everyone can access the information and technology they need to succeed. Digital inclusion is the ability of individuals and groups to access and use information and communication technologies.
We are interested in getting feedback on tools we are creating to help communities raise awareness about digital inclusion and take action to reduce barriers that prevent people from accessing and using broadband.
To participate in this survey you will need to review the Proposed Framework for Digitally Inclusive Communities, which is organized around eleven principles and associated goals. The brochure, Building Digitally Inclusive Communities, outlines these principles.
If you are particularly interested in this subject we ask that you also read the Final Report, which provides more detail about the framework and the context in which it was developed. The Final Report describes the eleven principles, their associated goals and strategies, and provides a detailed section called “Getting Started on Digital Inclusion.”
These tools are intended to help communities come together to discuss barriers to digital inclusion in their communities and to develop plans to take action so that everyone in the community can benefit from the economic, civic and educational opportunities made possible by broadband technologies.
The survey is completely voluntary and results will not be disseminated to the public. The survey should take 10 minutes to complete."