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Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Broadband? How is it different than dial-up?

Broadband is high-speed Internet.  At its most basic, it refers to speeds faster than dial-up (a connection over a phone line that is under 56kbps).  And, unlike dial-up, a broadband connection is always on.  Broadband can be delivered at a range of speeds, and by a range of technologies.  Currently, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) defines broadband as Internet with download speeds of 3Mbps and upload speeds of 768kbps.

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Other government agencies define broadband as 4 mbps download/1 mbps upload. Why does MoBroadbandNow use a different standard?

MoBroadbandNow is currently collecting broadband data as a part of the NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative (SBI).  In order to make combining Missouri’s  broadband data with the broadband data collected by other SBI grantees as  easy as possible, MoBroadbandNow has chosen to continue to report broadband speeds using the speed tiers set by the NTIA.  Because of the way that NTIA has framed its speed tiers, it is not currently possible to re-categorize the broadband speed data to match the FCC’s 4 mbps down/1 mbps up threshold.

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What do the speeds advertised by Internet Service Providers mean?

Generally, your Internet Service Provider will list a Maximum Advertised Speed.  This is the maximum speed they can offer, which is why you often see it advertised as “up to.”  The user experience may differ from the advertised speed – Federal Communications Commission (FCC) studies have shown that most providers and technologies perform near or above their advertised speeds.

Your ISP may also advertise both a download speed and an upload speed (up to 10mbps/5mbps).  Most users consume more content than they create, and providers provide more downstream service than upstream service.  You may notice this disparity when trying to upload large files to the cloud (it takes half the time to download a file of the same size!).

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What speed do I need?

Broadband speeds can be defined in terms of applications.  Currently, NTIA defines broadband as 3Mbps downstream and 768kbps upstream.  At this speed, applications include basic email and web-browsing, streaming music, standard definition video, and many telecommuting platforms.  For more information on what speeds are needed for various applications, visit the MoBroadbandNow Broadband Speeds page.

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How do I know what speed I am getting?

Take a speed test!  We have a speed test available on the MoBroadbandNow website.  This will provide you with the information you are looking for and is important to our data verification efforts (see more information below).

The speed test will show you both your upload and download speeds.  Note that if you take the test multiple times, you will not necessarily get the same result.  There are a number of factors including speed results, including the number of devices connected in your home at the time, and overall network congestion (which is affected by the type of broadband service you have and the time of day).

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Why does my Internet connection seem slower at some times of the day than others?

Network congestion is a factor here.  During peak periods, which the FCC’s 2013 Measuring Broadband America Report defines as weeknights between 7:00pm and 11:00pm local time, more people are attempting to access their Internet connections at the same time.  This reduces the available capacity per person and results in slower speeds.  DSL connections are particularly prone to peak period congestion and reduced speeds.  Cable can also experience congestion and reduced speeds.

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What is the difference between wired and wireless broadband access?

Broadband can be delivered by a range of different technologies – some are wired, and some are wireless.  Different technologies are capable of different speeds. Wired broadband can be delivered by Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Cable, of Fiber.  Wireless can be mobile or fixed.  To learn more about different technology types, click here.

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What is the difference between wireless in my house and on my phone?

There are different types of wireless technology and wireless can be mobile or fixed.  Mobile wireless is the technology that allows you to access data from (almost) anywhere on your smart phone or other mobile device.  Fixed wireless creates a point-to-point line of sight connection between wireless antennae.  Fixed wireless provides a reliable option for expanding service in high-cost rural areas.

Often when people think of wireless in their house, they aren’t thinking of either of these types of wireless.  Instead, they are using a wireless router for their DSL, cable, or fiber connection. 

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How do I know who the providers are in my area?

Visit the MoBroadbandNow Interactive Map Viewer.  By entering your address, you will be able to generate a list of providers in your area.  The list will include both wired and wireless providers. Do keep in mind that not all providers on the list will be available at your address, as provider lists are displayed on the county level.

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Why don’t I get service where I live?

Broadband service has increased significantly in Missouri since 2009, both in total coverage area and in available speeds.  In 2009, 79 percent of Missourians had access to broadband defined as a download speed of 768 kbps and an upload speed of 200 kbps.  According to the most recent NTIA data, just over 97 percent of Missourians have access to broadband at download speeds of 3mbps and upload speeds of 768kbps.  In rural areas of Missouri, this number is lower, with just over 91 percent of residents have access to broadband.

Many areas that are unserved or underserved by broadband are what are called high-cost areas.  In these areas, the costs of providing telecommunications services (including broadband) are high because there are fewer customers to share in the cost of the infrastructure and maintenance.  For many companies providing broadband services, expansion to these areas does not meet the Return on Investment business models, as costs of providing service are high and profit margins are low.

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I don’t currently have broadband service in my area. How do I get service?

One of the most effective ways to get or improve service in your community is to show providers that there is strong interest in an area, particularly if that area may not fit traditional models of service provision. 

Currently, 18 Regional Planning Commissions are working to improve broadband access and adoption within their regions.  These RPCs can serve as a great resource for connecting with providers.  Learn more about the regional planning efforts here.

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What is triple-play service? What is a bundle? 

Triple-play service refers to the provision of broadband, cable, and telephone service, all in a pricing bundle.  A bundle can also be just broadband and phone (generally a DSL connection from your local phone company) or another combination of services priced together.

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Why should I have a broadband connection in my home?

So you can spend more time on the MoBroadbandNow website!  But in all seriousness, there are many great reasons to connect.  Increasingly, important information and functions are available online or are available online first.  There are an increasing number of educational, financial, cultural, and health resources online.  Local governments are moving services online (imagine skipping that trip to the DMV and renewing your license plates online or filing your taxes online).

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How much should I pay for broadband?

How much you pay for service will depend on a number of factors, including speed, whether or not your service is part of a bundle, and where you live.  Providers also often have promotional deals, which lower the cost of service for the first 6 months to a year.  October 2012 data from Telogical Systems, LLC shows the average monthly price for a broadband subscription in Missouri to be $49.45 per month or $37.15 per month with promotional discounts for the first year of service.  This equates to $28.85 per mbps.

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How was the data for the maps collected and verified?

Data is collected from Internet Service Providers through non-disclosure agreements.  Missouri currently has 113 of 139 ISPs participating in data collection efforts.  Providers can submit data in different formats including shapefiles, text-based data, or paper maps, which the mapping team then consolidates and integrates into a common model.

Collecting data is important, and so is verifying it.  There are several methods of verification, which include field verification, the speed test, and data collection at events around the state, including the Missouri State Fair.

And once the data is collected and verified, we map it to show broadband access in Missouri. View the statewide speed and service maps here and regional maps here.

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The map shows service where I live, but I don’t have any. What should I do?

There may be several different reasons why the map shows more providers or a higher speed of service than you are able to get at your address.  Providers, under NTIA reporting guidelines, are able to report the area they would be able to reasonably serve within 7-10 business days.  This is often larger than their current service territory.  Additionally, the map shows both wired and wireless data – if you see five providers listed, but you only know of one DSL or cable provider in your area, the other four may be mobile wireless carriers.

That brings us to what you should do.  In addition to extensive field verification of data submitted, hearing from Missouri residents is very important to our data verification efforts.  You can take the speed test, which is part of our data verification and will provide information on your ISP and connection speed.  You can also email us at mobroadbandnow@oa.mo.gov and let us know that you think your area on the map has been misrepresented.

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I am a broadband provider in Missouri, but I am not on the interactive map. What can I do?

Contact GeoDecisions by emailing Brian Rudolph at brudolph@gfnet.com or by phone at 314-770-9090 x11. Please keep in mind, only primary providers are included on the map, and not resellers.

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How does Missouri compare to other states when it comes to broadband access and adoption?

Based on NTIA data, Missouri currently ranks 41st out of 50 states when it comes to broadband access.  For more information, visit the National Broadband Map.

Along with access goes adoption – or the percentage of households subscribing to broadband. According to 2011 NTIA data, Missouri ranks 40th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia when it comes to adoption, with a 63.6 percent adoption rate (NTIA data reflects a lower adoption rate than MoBroadbandNow surveying). 

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