Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yolo County's Draft Strategic Broadband Plan Released!

After much anticipation, Yolo County's draft plan is now available to the public.

Recommendations are made for each of the County's four cities and for the county itself. They include (see report for more specifics on each one):

  • Adopt General Plan policies that incorporate broadband as a public utility and create a policy framework to promote its deployment in public and private projects as appropriate
  • Continue to develop broadband infrastructure to reduce internal costs, expand capabilities and protect against future cost increases
  • Develop a GIS-based map that identifies each city's locations that should be interconnected including the each city’s current infrastructure
  • Install conduit with all public projects
  • Expand each city’s capability in negotiating agreements for private providers to utilize each city’s infrastructure for public benefit
  • Coordinate with other local public agencies as potential users of each city’s infrastructure
  • Coordinate with broadband providers on specific broadband infrastructure projects in communities described in the Critical Unserved and Underserved Communities in Yolo County’s Community Profile
There is also a compressed file now available for download.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mobile Testing Findings Presented to California Broadband Council

On Tuesday, November 18 in San Francisco, Ken Biba, CTO and Co-founder of Novarum, presented recent findings from the past five rounds of mobile field testing to the California Broadband Council. His six key themes were:

  • Mobile broadband continues to get much better VERY quickly (on average)
  • There is a wide variation in mobile broadband performance across California
  • Not all carriers are equal
  • Mobile broadband service is not just wireless access
  • Real and growing mobile digital divide
  • The bulk of California’s mobile network is still not yet VoIP ready
  • Measured service substantially less than advertised
Here's one of his graphs, showing estimated VoIP readiness:

Round 6 Testing Finished!

Our testers completed the sixth round of mobile field testing this week, well before the Thanksgiving holidays. A big thanks to everyone who made this possible: Tyler, David, Darren, YoungJoon, Jason, and the testers at CSU Chico and CSU Northridge. Also, a big thank you to the Computer Science and Information Technology Department at CSU Monterey Bay for the app and server support. Great job!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Our Testers Go To the End of the Earth


Stories from the desert

Odd Thing On The Way to a Testing Location...

From Steve Crews:
"Just up the road from location 2022 was the strangest thing I've come across so far this round, the Rice Shoe Tree, which apparently used to be a real tree that people did this to, until it was burned down by vandals:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Change! Data Card Testing --> Tablet Testing next Spring

Mobile field testing is staying current by transitioning from netbooks/data cards to tablets. The change will happen next Spring (2015), when we retire the trusty netbooks.

Other changes being considered are adding trace route to the field test software and CalSPEED in order to gather more data on backhaul networks.

Finally, we have re-started development for CalSPEED on the iPhone!

More on this later...

Round 6 Testing 25% Complete

We finished our second full week of Round 6 mobile field testing today. We are 1/4 of the way there. We did discover a problem wth UDP tests failing consistently on T-Mobile phones upgraded to Android 4.4. We tried rolling back to an earlier version of Android, but the phones don't allow us to do that. We are exploring a fix through our developers at CSU Monterey Bay and will be contacting T-Mobile as well.

photo by Steven Crews

CalSPEED update

We've been digging into analysis of the CalSPEED results, and to date, we've had over 6,000 tests performed. After removing tests not performed in California, we identified over 4,400 tests -- 44% of which were done on Verizon Wireless devices, 20% on Sprint, 16% on AT&T, and 15% on T-Mobile. The top devices used for testing were:

Samsung Galaxy S4 - 44% of tests
Samsung Galaxy S3 - 11%
Galaxy Tab 7.7 - 4%
Epic 4G - 3%

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Big Thank You to Our ARRA-funded broadband staff

Today, September 30, is the last day for our ARRA-funded staff here at the broadband group at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). We want to thank Christian, Mike, Stella, Bill, Russell, and Melanie for their excellent work in mobile field test analysis, GIS, administrative, and IT support. Their efforts helped us exceed our grant objectives. We will miss you, and we hope to be able to work with you in the very near future.

Despite the change in staff, the CPUC will be continuing mobile field testing and GIS activities as before, albeit with increased support from CSU Chico's Geographic Information Center. Round 6 testing, which began this week, will continue as planned for the next 5-6 weeks.

Friday, September 26, 2014

6th Round Testing Begins Today

Round 6 mobile testing begins today in Northern California. The rest of the testers will begin on Monday. In case you missed the recent comments we filed with the FCC regarding mobile broadband, you may download them from the California Broadband Council's web site at:

The analysis in the appendix derives from two papers by Ken Biba, CTO and co-founder of Novarum.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FCC Now Open to Regulating Mobile Broadband

As more and more smart phones proliferate causing more and more to use mobile networks as their gateway to the Internet, should net neutrality would applied to cellular networks? As recently as last spring, the FCC thought no, but in response to a growing chorus of protest, the FCC is reexamining their position. The FCC is changing their perspective in response to comments from Internet companies like Google and cable companies like Comcast. With LTE networks in place, mobile networks are quickly becoming a substitute for internet users who are either on the go and would rather not allocate money for fixed broadband services. In this sort of environment, why should be mobile be exempt from regulation? This week the FCC held a roundtable discussion addressing net neutrality should apply to mobile broadband.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Sixth Round of Mobile Testing will begin at the end of September

The sixth round of the CPUC's mobile testing program will start at the end of September and will continue over the next six weeks, finishing before Thanksgiving and winter snow. Like rounds four and five, the project will test 1,990 points up and down the state, rather than the 1,200 points which were tested in the first three rounds of testing. Like the previous rounds, the sixth round will test speed and latency for four providers; T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon and AT&T. We will test each provider by both netbook and phone. It is good thing that Sprint dropped its bid to purchase T-Mobile, then we would only have three providers to test. The first five rounds have shown marked improvement by all the providers. Will the sixth round continue this trend? We shall see.

Monday, August 25, 2014

CPUC's New Way of Measuring Mobile Performance Shrinks Providers' Coverage on Tribal Lands from 80 percent to 20 percent

While previously the CPUC relied on mobile providers' coverage claims, which resulted in 80% of California's native population having served mobile broadband coverage, the new method based on our mobile speed testing program minus one standard deviation, to account for mobile broadband's inherent unreliability, now shows only 23 percent of the population covered by 6 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up. These results raise questions about whether tribes, who do not have wireline broadband service, can use mobile broadband as a substitute.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Thank You California; CalSPEED users run 6,000 Tests

The tests from the CPUC's CalSPEED mobile app for testing broadband speeds keep rolling in. Including last week's results, users have run 6,000 tests on this android phones app and those test results are being used to feed the CalSPEED layer on the California Interactive Broadband Map. We have encouraged California Advanced Services Fund applicants to run the app to see if their community is served by mobile broadband. The app is free to download and is available at Google Play. We encourage California residents to download the app today and start testing in your community.

The points on the above map show exactly where CalSPEED has been tested. The legend below indicates the type of speed each colored dot represents.

Friday, July 25, 2014

CalSPEED wireline speed test now in beta

Below are some screen shots from the CalSPEED for wireline speed test. We hope to have a test version available for the public to try out by mid-September.

Test is running:

Test results displayed below:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Should Net Neutrality Apply to Mobile Broadband?

While the FCC is trying to defend its net neutrality rules to preserve an open internet, mobile broadband has been left alone. There are no current net neutrality rules for cellular providers and none are proposed for the future. Comcast, the cable internet provider, has been protesting that fact. In their submission to the FCC regarding net neutrality, Comcast had this to say about mobile broadband and net neutrality,

'“Unlike the broad no-blocking and nondiscrimination rules applicable to fixed services, the [2010] no-blocking rule for mobile services applied only to websites and to applications that ‘compete with the provider’s voice or video telephony services,’ and there was no non-discrimination rule at all for mobile services,” Comcast wrote. “While such regulatory distinctions might have been defensible in 2010, the NPRM’s [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking's] recognition of the ‘significant changes since 2010 in the mobile marketplace’—including ‘how mobile providers manage their networks, the increased use of Wi-Fi, and the increased use of mobile devices and applications‘—supports at least a refreshed examination of that approach. There is no question that wireless is increasingly becoming a closer substitute for wireline broadband for many uses and for many Americans.”

In addition, the lobbying arm of major Internet companies like Google and Facebook, the Internet Association, is making the same argument as Comcast the regarding regulation of cellular networks. They also argue more and more people are accessing the Internet via their mobile phones.

Is wireless becoming a substitute for wireline and if so, why is wireless exempt from net neutrality rules?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It is not all Good News for T-Mobile in the Fifth Round

Latency in milliseconds by Provider and Census Area
Here are the T-Mobile phone's average Latency numbers for the Fifth Round of Testing. Latency is measured in milliseconds and it measures delay. 200 milliseconds is considered the acceptable threshold for conversation and internet connectivity. As we see in the chart, T-Mobile has a real problem with their latency in rural areas and the locations included in this chart are in their coverage area.