FCC Wants Input On Measuring Fixed Residential, Small Business Broadband

The FCC wants more input on measuring fixed residential and small business broadband service, including how to track speed of service and the effects of network management practices on the "customer experience." The questions are follow-ons to an earlier notice of inquiry.

As part of the national broadband plan, due to Congress in February, the FCC wants input on, among other things, what information broadband providers like cable and telcos should have to provide customers in ads, what kind of format it should take on TV and online, what "tools" companies should provide so customers can monitor their performance, what data should be reported, how frequently and much more.

One of the issues the FCC has been dealing with in relation to the plan is the difference between advertised and actual broadband speeds. The FCC  wants to know how it should measure that speed. including peak and throughput, upload and download speeds, and extent of network outages. "If actual speeds are tracked," asks the commission, "how should they be measured and reported?" The commission also wants to know how the effects of network management practices will be tracked.

In its network neutrality proposal, the commission said broadband networks would be allowed to manage their networks, but it will also be keeping an eye out for practices that violate the openness guidelines it plans to turn into rules.

In the public notice issued Tuesday, the FCC also said it wanted comment on what information it needed to collect on multi-unit dwellings, and whether networks providing service to libraries, community centers and other "Central points," would be required to communicate "performance metrics."

Libraries and community centers are among the anchor institutions that the FCC could make a prioirity for highest-speed service. Microsoft, for one, has argued that getting the fastest service to those insitutions should be a prioirity for the broadband plan.

Commenters have until Dec. 14 to weigh in.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.