Columbia Institute For Tele-Info Tapped by FCC For Broadband Vetting

Will fact check deployment capital expenditure claims of telecom companies
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The FCC has tapped the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI) at Columbia's Business School in New York, to fact-check the broadband deployment capital expenditure claims of telecom companies.

The FCC three weeks ago announced that Harvard's Berkman Center would vet worldwide broadband deployment data to help the FCC get a better handle on that data.

"CITI will provide an analysis of the public statements of companies as to their future plans to deploy and upgrade broadband networks," said the FCC, "as well as an historical evaluation of the relationship between previous such announcements and actual deployment."

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the FCC will use the data in crafting its broadband rollout plan, due to Congress next February.

"A comprehensive assessment of these plans will be enormously helpful given our short timetable," said broadband plan czar Blair Levin, also in a statement released by the FCC. "It is essential that the National Broadband Plan consider not just the networks in place today, but the networks likely to be in place in the near future."

Levin and Genachowski have both said they did not get sufficiently helpful data from industry or the public in the first round of comments on the national broadband plan.

The public, service providers and others are invited to send in info on broadband deployment plans to CITI-broadband@gsb.columbia.edu.

One company already weighing in with new data, though not in an e-mail, was the nation's largest cable operator, Comcast.

In its earnings call Thursday, according to a spokeswoman, the company said it had upgraded its estimates of the speed of rollout of its Docsis 3.0, which boosts broadband speeds up to 50 mbps. The company says it now plans to upgrade 80% of its homes passed to the higher-speed service by year's end, up from its earlier projection of 65%.

Comcast says that currently more than 50% of the 50 million homes passed (or upwards of 25 million homes) have access to DOCSIS 3.0.

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