[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 112 (Friday, June 11, 2010)]
[Pages 33303-33305]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-14102]



[CG Docket No. 09-158; CG Docket No. 98-170; WC Docket No. 04-36; DA 

Comment Sought on Measurement of Mobile Broadband Network 
Performance and Coverage

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: In this document, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau 
(Bureau) seeks to gather additional information on the performance of 
mobile broadband services. The Bureau seeks comment on whether and how 
to pursue a measurement program for mobile broadband services given the 
growing significance of mobile internet access. Additionally, the 
Bureau seeks comment on how providers can improve voluntary self-
reporting of network performance and coverage.

DATES: Comments are due on or before July 1, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Interested parties may submit comments and reply comments 
identified by [CG Docket No. 09-158], by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the Commission's Electronic comment 
Filing System (ECFS), through the Commission's Web site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/, or the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Filers should follow the instructions provided on 
the Web site for submitting comments.
     For ECFS filers, in completing the transmittal screen, 
filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing 
address, and the applicable docket number, which in this instance is 
[CG Docket No. 09-158, CC Docket No. 98-170, WC Docket No. 04-36]. 
Parties may also submit an electronic comment by Internet e-mail. To 
get filing instructions, filers should send an e-mail to [email protected], 
and include the following words in the body of the message, ``get form 
.'' A sample form and directions will be sent in 
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and four copies of each filing. Filings can be sent by 
hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by 
first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although the 
Commission continues to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal 
Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St., SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours 
are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with 
rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before 
entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail should be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jordan Usdan, Spectrum & Competition 
Policy Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, at (202) 418-2035 
(Voice) or e-mail [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) Public Notice CG Docket No. 09-
158, CC Docket No. 98-170, WC Docket No.

[[Page 33304]]

04-36 and DA 10-988, released June 1, 2010. In the 2009 Consumer 
Information and Disclosure Notice of Inquiry (NOI), 24 FCC Rcd 14120 
(2009); the Commission sought comment on ways to protect and empower 
American consumers by ensuring sufficient access to relevant 
information about communications services. Subsequent to release of the 
2009 Consumer Information and Disclosure NOI, the Commission released 
the National Broadband Plan, which recommends that the Commission 
develop broadband performance standards for mobile services, maintain 
and expand on current initiatives to capture user-generated data on 
network performance and coverage, and continue to work with measurement 
companies, application designers, device manufacturers, and service 
providers to create an online database to help consumers make better 
choices for mobile broadband. Further, the Plan suggests that the 
Commission encourage industry to create more transparent and standard 
disclosure of network performance and coverage for mobile broadband.
    As part of the National Broadband Plan proceeding, the Commission 
issued Public Notice  24 to gather additional information on 
fixed residential and small business Internet broadband services. With 
that public notice, the Commission began its effort to measure and 
publish data on actual performance of fixed broadband services, as 
ultimately recommended in the National Broadband Plan. The Commission 
recently contracted with a third-party, SamKnows Limited, to embark on 
this initiative, and has released a public notice seeking comment on 
the proposed methodology.
    As detailed below, the Bureau now seeks comment on whether and how 
to pursue a similar measurement program for mobile broadband services 
given the growing significance of mobile internet access. Additionally, 
the Bureau seeks comment on how providers can improve voluntary self-
reporting of network performance and coverage.
    Because some of the questions below may be related to issues raised 
in the 2009 Consumer Information and Disclosure NOI, the Bureau 
encourages parties who have provided responses on related issues in 
other proceedings to respond to this Public Notice by citing previous 
filings and expanding on previous comments as appropriate, to ensure 
that all relevant information is included within the record we are 
    Measurement metrics for mobile broadband services: The Bureau seeks 
to understand the best metrics to measure the performance of mobile 
broadband services. Performance of mobile broadband networks is 
becoming more important as mobile broadband plays an increasingly 
important role in our lives and in our economy.
    1. What are the best measurement metrics for mobile broadband 
    a. What performance characteristics should be tracked for mobile 
broadband networks (e.g., typical data throughput, signal strength, 
accessibility, retainability, latency, other quality of service 
parameters)? At what level of temporal and geographic granularity?
    b. What parts of the network should be measured? What starting and 
ending points (e.g., radio access network, middle mile) are most useful 
and actionable for consumers, regulators and providers?
    c. Should measurement processes and standards for mobile broadband 
services be different than those for fixed broadband connections?
    User-generated and other data gathering methods: The Bureau seeks 
comment on methods to gather better data for mobile broadband network 
performance and coverage.
    2. What are the best methods for collecting data on mobile 
broadband performance and coverage for end-users?
    a. What are the best available tools in the market today for 
measuring mobile broadband performance and service coverage?
    b. Are there current data sets already available that could be 
useful for facilitating better consumer disclosures on mobile broadband 
performance and coverage?
    c. Are there existing technologies that can measure actual end-user 
experience on mobile broadband networks? If so where could the 
measurements take place (e.g., on the device, inside the network)?
    3. How can user generated data (i.e., `crowdsourcing') on mobile 
broadband network performance and coverage be utilized to assist in 
collecting data and improving transparency?
    a. What efforts and technologies currently exist that can enable 
device level data collection on performance and coverage of mobile 
broadband networks? What metrics could a device level software 
application collect that could measure mobile broadband performance and 
coverage (e.g., signal strength, data throughput rate)? What other data 
points would be valuable to collect in association with that data 
(e.g., location, tower ID, handset type)?
    b. For collecting device level data, what impact does the type of 
device (e.g., smartphone, feature phones, laptop, wireless modem) 
itself have on end-user experienced network performance? How, if at 
all, could a measurement methodology take variations resulting from 
device type into consideration?
    c. How could measurement methodology account for variations in 
performance due to the location (e.g., basement of house vs. above 
ground) or movement (e.g., user on a train) of the end-user? How can we 
account for differences in location determination methods (e.g., GPS) 
across handsets and providers, if any? How should buildings, 
topography, weather, continued network build-outs, and other service 
availability variables be accounted for in the methodology?
    d. Can a statistically robust sampling method correct for the 
variables described above, such as the impact on performance and 
coverage measurements of movement, device and location variability?
    e. How can the Commission measure performance with minimal impact 
on the network itself? For example, how can active measurement 
techniques that generate additional network traffic mitigate potential 
increases in congestion?
    4. What are the benefits and costs of measurement for providers, 
regulators, customers and others?
    a. What are the benefits (e.g., transparency, better data, network 
and international comparability, benefits for researchers, verification 
of National Broadband Map grantee data)?
    b. What are the costs (e.g., hardware costs, usage of the network, 
consumer hassle, accurate information already exists)?
    c. Are there any legal, security, privacy or data sensitivity 
issues with collecting device level data? If so, how can these issues 
be addressed?
    Publication and communication: The Bureau seeks comment on the best 
methods for publishing and communicating mobile broadband network 
performance metrics to consumers to help them make informed choices 
about mobile broadband services.
    5. How could information on mobile broadband performance and 
coverage be better communicated to consumers?
    a. What are the current best practices for displaying or 
communicating mobile broadband performance and coverage to consumers 
    b. Are consumers currently being provided with enough accurate and 
detailed information about performance and service coverage to make 

[[Page 33305]]

choices between different mobile broadband network providers?
    Current mobile broadband network performance and coverage 
disclosures: Existing voluntary disclosures related to mobile broadband 
performance and coverage have proven valuable for consumers. Providers 
of mobile broadband services usually provide coverage maps and `up-to' 
or `typical' data throughput rates. Third-parties also provide and 
compile coverage maps for providers (American Roamer) and consumers 
(Root Wireless). While existing data on mobile broadband services are 
helpful, gaps remain. For example, the currently provided `up-to' or 
`typical' data throughput rates are rough estimations of actual 
performance and some coverage maps provide a binary `yes' or `no' 
reading without accounting for signal strength at particular locations, 
whereas other maps provide more layered readings (such as indoor/
outdoor or `good'/`better'/`best'). Additional voluntary performance 
measurements and standards could provide better information enabling 
consumers to make informed choices about mobile broadband services.
    6. What measurements are typically performed by service providers 
today to track mobile broadband network performance and service 
    a. What tools are currently available for consumers to check 
coverage and performance at a specific geographic location by mobile 
broadband network (e.g., coverage maps), and how accurate are the data 
for typical outdoor and indoor consumer use?
    b. How are data for coverage and service area maps collected, 
verified and displayed (how compiled, how accurate, how granular)? How 
are data on mobile broadband performance (i.e., data throughput rates) 
measured and displayed?
    c. What technologies are used to collect such data (e.g., RF 
modeled coverage, drive tests, network reporting, handset data 
    d. Are there any voluntary industry standards that are being used 
in disclosing mobile broadband network performance and coverage to 
consumers? How could these be improved (e.g., signal strength or 
throughput bands to map different levels of service quality)?
    In addition to written responses, the Bureau encourages submission 
of any data, charts or proposed plans that can be entered into the 
public record for purposes of building a record on this subject. All 
parties with knowledge and interest are encouraged to file.

Federal Communications Commission.
Mark Stone,
Deputy Bureau Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.
[FR Doc. 2010-14102 Filed 6-10-10; 8:45 am]