FCC Seeks Data on Status of U.S. Broadband Deployment

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The FCC has released a Notice of Inquiry which seeks comment on the availability of fixed and mobile broadband service across the nation as part of its annual assessment of U.S. broadband deployment.  This FCC fact-gathering effort will be used to draft the 2017 Broadband Progress Report. The FCC’s annual data-gathering effort is primarily designed to see whether Americans can access fixed broadband — defined as 25 Mpbs down and 3 Mbps up — in a reasonable and timely fashion.  The most recent FCC annual broadband status report, released in January 2016, revealed that 10 percent of Americans have zero access to fixed “broadband” where they live, and that number increases to 39 percent in rural markets.  The Notice of Inquiry seeks comment on various items, most notably the relatively new national “benchmark” of what qualifies as “broadband” service.  The FCC’s benchmark of 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds for fixed advanced telecommunications capability was first announced in the 2014 annual broadband report.  Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should establish a mobile speed benchmark as well as benchmarks for non-speed performance metrics such as service consistency and latency.  Comment is also sought on ways to measure broadband deployment and availability to schools and classrooms.  Finally, the FCC seeks comment on the various data sources used by the Commission to create the annual broadband progress reports and whether additional or alternative sources of data are available to inform its analysis under Section 706(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Broadband Data Improvement Act (the Act).  Interested parties have until Tuesday, September 6, 2016 to file comments, and Wednesday, September 21, 2016 to file reply comments.

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