a m e r i c a ’ s P l a n c H a P t e r 1 7 17.2 BenchMarKInG tant, it is equally important to know how broadband affects the-While these fundamental broadband indicators are impor very core of the economy: innovation, productivity and the way Measuring the effects of a broadband plan over time is a critical people live and work. Measures like broadband availability and challenge. This plan recommends that the FCC track and re- adoption, while enormously important, cannot provide that port several important broadband indicators: how many people kind of information. and businesses have access to broadband, how many subscribe, The problem is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to know what speeds they get, how much they pay and what they do how new technologies, like broadband, will ultimately integrate with it.18 themselves into the economy. Measurement bias against new In the same spirit as these recommendations, other coun- technologies by conventional indices makes this even more tries have expanded their broadband data compilation and challenging.24 Nobel Laureate Robert Solow famously quipped dissemination efforts to provide more information to policy- more than a decade ago that “you can see the computer age makers and consumers. These efforts include collecting and everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”25 Indeed, it was publishing richer information about the extent of broadband not until well after companies began using computers that it deployment, utilization and pricing through broadband map- was possible to statistically attribute any productivity effects to ping,19 usage surveys,20 pricing portals21 and broadband quality computers or information technology. of service measurements.22 If this broadband plan is effective, we will see rapid prog- In preparing the National Broadband Plan, the FCC used ress in terms of increased adoption, especially by currently existing resources such as data from Broadband Deployment disadvantaged groups; faster speeds; transitions to electronic Form 477, which was recently updated to include census tract- medical health records and Smart Grids; and better incorpora- level data. The FCC created a broadband deployment model, tion of broadband into education and government. But none of conducted surveys of residential and business broadband con- those are ends in themselves. Broadband access by more people sumers and performed a detailed consumer preference analysis opens up new opportunities for them, helping them to unleash of consumers’ willingness to pay for broadband services. The their potential. Faster broadband speeds and better broadband FCC has also developed tools and mobile applications to collect quality improve incentives for entrepreneurs to innovate. And address level and location-based data on actual delivered speed savings realized by incorporating broadband into existing areas over fixed and mobile broadband networks. like education and health care represent resources that can be Nevertheless, as recommended in Chapter 4, the FCC needs newly invested elsewhere. to collect more detailed and accurate data on actual broadband Thus, if we succeed, not only will the indicators that we cur- availability, penetration, pricing and network performance in rently measure improve, but we will also see improvement in order to accurately benchmark progress toward plan goals.23 other areas of the economy and will need to derive new indica- Only with these data inputs can the FCC publish a Broadband tors to measure changes in industries and activities that do not Performance Dashboard. yet exist. ReCoMMeNDaTioN 17.3: the Fcc should publish a broad- band Performance dashboard with metrics designed to track broadband plan goals. The FCC should publish a Broadband Performance Dashboard to supplement the improved data collection process recommended in the plan. This dashboard should display key progress indicators aligned with plan goals, enable the pub- lic to understand important broadband performance metrics and clearly communicate plan progress and effectiveness. The dashboard should be updated regularly and provide data metrics that, track the broadband performance goals detailed in Chapter 2. The sample dashboard (see Exhibit 17-A) details the metrics that the FCC should collect and analyze in order to track progress towards plan goals. F e d e r a l c o m m u n i c a t i o n s c o m m i s s i o n | n a t i o n a l b r o a d b a n d P l a n 3 3 5
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