Broadband Census

With better research data in hand, perhaps the FCC could craft more meaningful broadband policies

Michael Harris

November 15, 2007

2 Min Read
Broadband Census

While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is busy beating on cable, the U.S. Congress is flogging the Commission for its broadband service availability data collection methodology. On Nov. 13 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3919, the "Broadband Census of America Act of 2007."

"Today's Broadband Census of America Act reflects the growing consensus -- if not unanimity --around the fact that current data collection methods used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are inadequate and highly flawed," noted Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), one of the bill's sponsors.

To the point, the FCC's method for measuring broadband deployment used a low-bar metric: a U.S. ZIP code was considered served by broadband if one customer had a connection of at least 200 kbit/s. Sounds like a strategy crafted by the Ministry of Silly Surveys.

If signed into law, the new Broadband Census act would require the FCC to:

  1. Define "high-speed" Internet access as 2 Mbit/s for downloading and 1 Mbit/s for uploading. Currently, the FCC defines high-speed as 200 kbit/s.

  2. Discontinue the FCC practice of claiming an entire U.S. ZIP code has broadband access if just one resident in that ZIP code has access.

  3. Require the FCC to compare broadband deployment with that of other nations.

  4. Requite the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) (NTIA) to provide a comprehensive nationwide inventory of existing broadband service and infrastructure.

  5. Allow the NTIA to make grants to states and local governments to assist it in collecting the data needed for the broadband availability map.

  6. Direct the FCC to conduct surveys on the prices, advertised and actual speeds, and availability of broadband services.

Perhaps with better research data in hand, the FCC might craft better broadband policies.

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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