Sunday, February 4, 2007

Got Broadband?

While the recent FCC broadband report -- ranking Ohio 28th out of 50 states for connectivity -- and the testimony shared at the One Ohio gathering may paint a discouraging picture, it is not the full story

Recently, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) filed a little reported lawsuit against the FCC to force it to release data from the Form 477 filings that telecom companies provide detailing where their service lines are deployed. The CPI requested the data under FOIA in late August. When the agency did not respond, the CPI filed suit.

The CPI wants to take a close look at how the FCC comes up with its broadband data. As I learned doing a local broadband survey with the Center for American Progress in 2005-6, a telco is given credit for serving a community even if there is only one connection within that zip code. So are there really 1.4 million households connected in Ohio?

According to CPI's statement:
Knowing the identities of the companies would also allow the public to better gauge the reliability of the FCC's own database. In a report released in May 2006, the Government Accountability Office discussed "information [received from the FCC] on the companies providing broadband service in ZIP codes throughout the United States." The GAO's analysis of Form 477 data allowed it to conclude that the median number of broadband providers within a ZIP code was two, rather than eight, as the FCC's analysis of the data found.
Additionally, the FCC sets a very low standard for broadband: 200kbps. With bandwidth ceiling this low it is near impossible to access many media files. And while you may have purchased a plan promising a fast connection you are unlikely ever to receive that top speed. Why? Because that bandwidth capacity was sold to you and 49 of your neighbors. If the majority of you are surfing YouTube your speed will drop precipitously.

Want to know your connection speed? Try this tool from Speakeasy:
Speakeasy Speed Test

Speakeasy measures both download and upload capacity. Upload capacity is vitally important if we are to use our computers as communications devices and not just as interactive televisions.

Other testing sites include Bandwidth Place and Windows User Group Network which has a nice graphical interface that measures upload and download speed.

Are you getting what you a paid for? Tell your story in the comments.

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Bill Callahan said...

Sunday morning in Cleveland, AT&T DSL over a wireless router: 3 mbps down, 400 kbps up, as advertised.

Rich James said...

I had the same Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon at 4:30, however, I was getting 215kbps download and 73kbps upload.