Windstream says FCC's mobile broadband testing should mirror wireline broadband

As a provider of wholesale services to the largest wireless operators, Windstream isn't down on mobile broadband, but the telco would like to see the FCC develop a standard method to test mobile broadband speeds.

The service provider said in an FCC filing that only after the regulator develops a testing program can it advocate the idea that mobile broadband is either complementary or a substitute for wireline broadband services.

"Only after the Commission has established such a testing program and examined usage patterns and the extent to which consumers use cellular service versus Wi-Fi can it come to informed conclusions regarding whether mobile broadband is a complement or a substitute to fixed service," Windstream said.  "Moreover, the Commission should refrain from imposing additional criteria and benchmarks for analyzing the availability of fixed broadband until it has developed the ability to test for such criteria with regard to mobile service and can apply benchmarks in a competitively neutral manner."

Although the FCC has been raising "concerns about the quality and reliability" of mobile and satellite-based data services, Windstream said that the regulator has "only come up with a mobile testing regime that does not produce reliable data or enable providers to make accurate disclosures regarding network performance."

Windstream added that one of the problems with the FCC's Measuring Broadband America program for mobile broadband is it collects only crowdsourced data, which the Commission notes "comes from a self-selected group of users, and there often is little control for most tests regarding such parameters as when people implement the test, whether the test is performed indoors or outdoors, the geographic location of the tester, and the vintage of the consumer's device."

Due to these issues, Windstream suggested that the FCC should not impose any additional criteria and benchmarks to review the availability of wireline broadband until can test criteria on mobile services and apply benchmarks in what it says is a "competitively neutral manner."

This is not the first time Windstream has raised concerns about measuring mobile and wireline broadband data services. It also advocated that the FCC's proposed rules to realign the Lifeline program should not favor wireline or wireless service over another.

Windstream has also supported the FCC's proposal to permit low-income consumers to use the current subsidy toward a standalone broadband service. The telco currently offers its own standalone service called "Solo" in all of the states where it operates except Nebraska, whose PUC would not approve it. However, Windstream added that the FCC should permit consumers to "continue to use their subsidies toward voice offerings."

For more:
- see this FCC filing (PDF)

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