A group of 35 mayors and city officials from various states have sent a letter to the FCC asking the regulator to create a uniform and accessible reporting structure on service provider broadband performance.
Coordinated by industry advocacy group Next Century Cities, the letter was prompted by the findings of a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, BROADBAND PERFORMANCE: Additional Actions Could Help FCC Evaluate its Efforts to Inform Consumers.
Participating cities include a wide diversity of major metro areas such as Boston; Kansas City, Kan. and Seattle, as well as smaller communities such as Mount Vernon, Wash.; Salisbury, N.C. and Yellow Springs, Ohio.
All of the officials signing onto the letter are members of Next Century Cities, a city-to-city initiative founded to support communities and their elected leaders as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.
One of the key findings of the GAO report was that current FCC requirements on network performance do not require service providers to use standard measurements, while existing FCC reports on network performance are written in technical language that makes it hard to understand for consumers.
"While your commission requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to report their broadband performance, the GAO report found that ISPs are not required to report this information in a standardized way," wrote the officials in a letter to the FCC. "This means that consumers trying to compare internet speed information are too often unable to make accurate comparisons. Compounding this issue, the technical language used in FCC reports makes this material tricky for consumers to understand."
GAO made two suggestions to the FCC to improve broadband service reporting: a universal standard for ISPs to measure broadband network speed and reliability incorporating readily-available information from sources such as consumer research; and providing accessible reports and resources on network performance from the FCC, directed at general readership.
Next Century Cities has become another advocate to enhance accessibility to affordable broadband services. The group emerged in September with the initial mission of encouraging service providers to expand the availabilty of 1 Gbps fiber-based broadband services.
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