Ajit Pai's Rosy Broadband Deployment Claim May Be Based On Gigantic Error

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Pai’s claim
was questionable from the beginning, as we detailed last month. The
Federal Communications Commission data cited by Chairman Pai merely
showed that deployment continued at about the same rate seen during
the Obama administration. Despite that, Pai claimed that new
broadband deployed in 2017 was made possible by the FCC “removing
barriers to infrastructure investment.” But even the modest gains
cited by Pai rely partly on the implausible claims of one ISP that
apparently submitted false broadband coverage data to the FCC,
advocacy group Free Press told the FCC in a filing this week. The
FCC data is based on Form 477 filings made by ISPs from around the
country. A new Form 477 filer called Barrier Communications
Corporation, doing business as BarrierFree, suddenly “claimed
deployment of fiber-to-the-home and fixed wireless services (each
at downstream/upstream speeds of 940mbps/880mbps) to census blocks
containing nearly 62 million persons,” Free Press Research Director
Derek Turner wrote. “This claimed level of deployment stood out to
us for numerous reasons, including the impossibility of a new
entrant going from serving zero census blocks as of June 30, 2017,
to serving nearly 1.5 million blocks containing nearly 20 percent
of the U.S. population in just six months time,” Turner wrote. “We
further examined the underlying Form 477 data and discovered that
BarrierFree appears to have simply submitted as its coverage area a
list of every single census block in each of eight states in which
it claimed service: CT, DC, MD, NJ, NY, PA, RI, and VA.” In
reality, BarrierFree’s website doesn’t market any fiber-to-the-home
service, and it advertises wireless home Internet speeds of up to
just 25mbps, Free Press noted. BarrierFree appears to have ignored
the FCC’s instructions to report service only in census blocks in
which an ISP currently offers service and instead simply “listed
every single census block located in eight of the states in which
it’s registered as a CLEC [competitive local exchange carrier].” As
a result of BarrierFree’s claimed level of deployment, it skewed
the FCC’s overall data significantly. “Pai claimed that the number
of Americans lacking access to fixed broadband with speeds of at
least 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up ‘has dropped by over 25 percent,
from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 19.4 million at
the end of 2017,'” reports Ars. “With BarrierFree’s erroneous
filing removed, ‘the number of Americans lacking access to a fixed
broadband connection at the 25Mbps/3Mbps threshold declined to 21.3
million, not 19.4 million,’ Free Press wrote.”


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Source: *FS – All – Science News 2 Net
Ajit Pai's Rosy Broadband Deployment Claim May Be Based On Gigantic Error