Teletruth and the FCC

FCC Chairman Martin’s glowingly optimistic US broadband penetration letter to the Wall Street Journal has upset a number of people including Bruce Kushnick, Chairman, Teletruth Executive Director, New Networks Institute. Bruce has been an irritant to the FCC and LECs for years and if you read the following complaint you can see why. Whether you agree with this or not it is certainly food for thought. When will Bruce be happy in my opinion? When we have three ore more providers competing to give 95% of the US population access to affordable 100 Mbps connections. OK I put words in Bruce’s mouth. That is when I will be happy.

Teletruth News Alert

On the web (and PDF) at:

38 Million "Broadband Users" in the US? America Leads the Globe in "Broadband Connections" Teletruth Files Against FCC’s Data – Tell the Truth About Broadband!  Get Rid of "Garbage Pail Statistics". Speed Matters.

*     Did you know that America is currently 16th in the world in broadband
according to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) or 12th, according to the OCED (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). America is behind such countries as Korea, Japan, Canada and Iceland, among others.
*     Speed Matters: Did you know that the definition of "broadband" went
from 45mps in both directions in 1992, to 200K in one direction in 2005? -225 times slower.
*     Did you know that America‘s phone customers spent an estimated $120
billion for fiber optic networks they never received? The FCC never investigated "customer-funding" and yet plans on giving the phone companies more "investment incentives".
*     Municipalities throughout the US are in a ‘broadband uprising’, having
to do work-arounds for the broadband networks that were never delivered.

Teletruth today filed a Data Quality Act Complaint against the FCC’s statistics, claiming that the FCC is politically driven to inflate the number of broadband connections in the United States, as well as presenting a distorted picture of broadband in the US.

Point 1: The FCC should redo its recent broadband release and retract the FCC Chairman’s statements on broadband because the FCC’s methodology gives an inflated picture of "broadband".

In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by FCC Chairman Martin, "United States of Broadband", July 7, 2005, the Chairman claims America is number one in the world with 38 million broadband subscribers.

"First, the U.S. leads the world in the total number of broadband connections with 38 million subscribers."

This statement is being used to support President Bush’s promise for Universal broadband by 2007.

"The dramatic growth in broadband services depicted in this report proves that we are well on our way to accomplishing the president’s goal of universal, affordable access to broadband by 2007." (July 7, 2005)

Link to Op -Ed:

What Chairman Martin does not say is that the FCC’s definition of broadband includes anything over 200K (Kilobytes-per-second), and in only one direction. This, of course, inflates the broadband number to make America appear to be number one in broadband.

Chairman Martin quotes the information supplied in a recent FCC press release dated July 7, 2005.

"Federal Communications Commission Releases Data On High-Speed Services For Internet Access" – "High-Speed Connections to the Internet Increased 34% During 2004 for a Total of 38 Million Lines in Service"

The 38 million "high-speed connections", which again is 200K in one direction, are now "broadband" connections.

Link to FCC Press Release:

Bell Definition of Broadband in 1992- 45MPS and Capable of High Quality Video.

The irony is that 13 years ago, the definition of "broadband" as used by Verizon (Bell Atlantic, NYNEX and GTE), SBC, (Pacific Bell, Southwestern Bell, SNET and Ameritech) BellSouth, and Qwest (formerly US West) was a service capable of 45mps (megabits per-second) or faster and could deliver high-quality video in both directions – and that was in 1992!
By calling one-directional 200K services "broadband", the FCC has essentially inflated the number of connections, but at the detriment of America‘s economy. We can now claim we have more connections than the rest of the world, but the truth is embarrassing. We’re technologically behind on every front that would prove to be important – speed matters.

Violations of the Data Quality Act

As we will discuss, the FCC’s data is biased and politically driven, and therefore fails three basic Data Quality Act tenets – to be "objective", "reliable" and "accurate". Teletruth and our members, as well as the entire economy are being harmed by this misrepresentation pertaining to America‘s broadband deployments and our place in the world.

To see more about the Data Quality Act:

Since 1999, the FCC, in order to keep face and to make it look like America was on the right path, published numerous biased reports. The FCC redefined "advanced" broadband as 200K in both directions, and "high speed" as 200K in one direction.

*     Advanced networks are 200K in both directions.
*     High-speed networks are 200K in one direction.

Over 13 years ago, in 1992, ALL of the phone companies filed with various state commissions to remove the old, inferior copper wiring and replace it with fiber optics. The argument was that the old wiring could not handle "broadband".
In 1992, testimony given by Verizon (then New Jersey Bell),
in order to receive financial incentives to rewire the state, claimed that broadband was 45mps services (or higher) that was capable of "high definition video" in both directions.

"Broadband Digital Service – Switching Capabilities matched with transportation capabilities supporting data rates up to 45,000,000 bits per second (45mps) and higher, which enables services, for example, that will allow residential and business customers to receive high definition video and to send and receive interactive (i.e., two way) video signals."

By 2005 over 75% of New Jersey should have been rewired. None of it exists today.

In fact, from 1992 through 1995 America was promised a fiber-optic future, where the phone companies received massive financial incentives to roll out statewide fiber-optic services to home and offices, schools and libraries – in order to deliver 45mps or faster broadband.

200K was Not Broadband. And Why 45mps?

And why 45mps? Broadband was defined as being able to deliver high-definition, 2 way video.
Take Texas and Southwestern Bell (SBC). In September 1995, the state passed a law that required SBC to be able to deliver 45mps or faster, in 2 directions. By the year 2000, all schools, libraries, and hospitals throughout the state should have been offered these services.

"On customer request, the electing company shall provide broadband digital service that is capable of providing transmission speeds of up to 45 megabits per second or better for customer applications."

And the law made concessions in bandwidth requirements if the service could deliver video TV broadcast quality.

"…or at lower bandwidths if evolving technology permits the delivery of video signal at quality levels comparable to a television broadcast signal, by January 1, 2000."

200K can not handle video.

More importantly, the Telecom Act of 1996 required broadband to handle "high-quality" video services. The definition of "Advanced capability"
includes "broadband" with a capability of high-quality voice, data, graphics and video telecommunications. Section 706(c)(1) defines "advanced telecommunications capability" as follows:

"The term "advanced telecommunications capability" is defined, without regard to any transmission media or technology, as high- speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capability that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics and video telecommunications using any technology."

200K does not deliver high-quality video. Using 200K as a standard was wrong. Also, there is no series of distinctions that would allow 200K to even be "high-speed" as broadband based on the Telecom Act’s definition.

The outcome? We lost a generation of technology and this new FCC is perpetuating the problem. Teletruth has argued that setting the speed at such a low threshold ‘dummied-down’ the country’s true broadband expectations, thus making us 12th-16th in the world in broadband, not number one.

NOTE: We need to note that the FCC was more cautious in previous announcements, such as its 3rd report on "advanced capability", February 07, 2002.

"FCC Releases Report On The Availability Of High-Speed And Advanced Telecommunications Capability — Report on High-Speed and Advanced Telecommunications Services Shows Nearly Ten Million Subscribers".


Notice that "broadband connections" is NOT mentioned, because the FCC was complying with the Telecom Act’s definition of "advanced" capability. The current FCC doesn’t seem to understand this distinction and why it is critical.

We need to note that we are not the only group that has noticed that the FCC ‘s broadband reports are giving a deceptive view of broadband in America.
Network World Newsletter: Gibbs & Bradner, 07/19/05, has an article titled "Today’s focus: Continuing deceptions". The writer also makes the point that the FCC is inflating their numbers and using "high-speed" in exchange for "broadband".


"Maybe because it became clear that few observers agreed with its use of the term broadband to mean such a slow service, and maybe because the numbers were not going to be all that impressive, the FCC has now dropped the term and substituted "high-speed," which it defines as at least 200K bit/sec, but it only has to be in one direction -thereby halving its already low requirement. This is misleading at best.

"It seems like the FCC has been able to confuse (deceive?) some in the press who touted the growth in broadband usage based on the FCC report. It also seems to have confused the FCC chairman, who published an editorial in the July 7, Wall Street Journal touting the growth of broadband deployment in the U.S."

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