Students Influence Broadband Debate

The results of work performed by a student practicum team in the Master of Science in Analytics (MSA) Class of 2013 has made its way into the latest report on consumer broadband wireline services published by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Measuring Broadband in America 2014. The team—led by Neha Rawal and including Suman Basu, Robert Moreira and Attila Veres—developed a novel method for measuring broadband performance (Internet data upload and download speeds) called the “consistent speed metric,” which provides a more accurate way to assess the quality of service actually experienced by households across the country. The consistent speed metric has been a catalyst in elevating the dialogue on broadband performance at a critical time in the governance of the Internet—with the heavy demands placed on Internet Service Providers by the rapid proliferation of web video—and the ensuing debate on Net Neutrality.

Commenting on the release of the report, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “Consumers deserve to get what they pay for. While it’s encouraging to see that in the past these reports have encouraged providers to improve their services, I’m concerned that some providers are failing to deliver consistent speeds to consumers that are commensurate to their advertised speeds. As a result, I’ve directed FCC staff to write to the underperforming companies to ask why this happened and what they will do to solve this.”

“It’s gratifying to see our students influence the national debate on broadband performance,” said the Institute’s director Dr. Michael Rappa. “It’s a wonderful example of how talented students, through careful data analysis and working together in what is truly a team effort, can make a major contribution. We see it time and again—when it comes to achieving significant results, so much hinges on effective teamwork.”

Upon graduation Neha Rawal joined Adometry (a Google company) in Austin, Texas as Data Scientist; Suman Basu is Senior Consultant with Infosys in Dallas, Texas; Robert Moreira is Enterprise Analytics Architect at SAS in Cary, North Carolina; and Attila Veres is Senior Statistician at Kelley Blue Book in Orange County, California.

Since 2007, MSA students have conducted a wide variety of projects—70 in all—from virtually every industry sector, as well as state and federal government agencies. Sponsors identify challenging business problems and share large quantities of data for their team to analyze. The 8-month project is conducted confidentially and without a sponsorship fee. To learn more about how to submit a proposal, please see the guidelines for Practicum Sponsorship.

Attila VeresRobert MoreiraSuman BasuNeha Rawal

(Left to right: FCC practicum team members Neha Rawal, Suman Basu, Robert Moreira and Attila Veres.)