Wednesday, June 1, 2016

CPUC to FCC: Mobile Coverage Reporting Misleading, Rural Service Worse Than Urban


Yesterday, the CPUC filed comments with the FCC for their 19th Report on the State of Competition in Mobile Wireless. Here are the conclusions:

  • Relying on minimum advertised speeds which the FCC requires from the wireless providers in their Form 477 submissions does not yield an accurate evaluation of mobile broadband availability and quality, or of competition.
  • As we measure advanced mobile services, such as two-way interactive video, service availability decreases significantly when users are in rural areas.

Form 477
The CPUC estimates that based on Verizon Wireless’ most recent Form 477 filing for December 2015, 99.6% of California households have mobile broadband service available at mean speeds of at least 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps upstream. By contrast, relying on field testing data from Fall 2015, staff lowered the mean 2 standard deviations to take reliability into account, and found that only 9% of California households have access to a combined 6 Mbps down and 1.5 Mbps up or greater.  For all four major mobile providers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon), only 16% of California households can expect access to mobile broadband at those levels (about 98% of the time). 

Advanced Mobile Services
One-way streaming video service substantially degrades when the user moves from urban to rural areas. This degradation is characterized not only by a decrease in video quality, but also by a dramatic increase in locations with no video capability at all. For two-way interactive video, the effects of rural versus urban location, combined with the distance to the called party, are additive.  A rural user attempting a two-way video session would be less likely to have HD or SD quality, and even less likely if the distance to the called party were large.

§  Reference: Wireless Streaming Video in California: Spring 2015

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