Sacramento will be Verizon’s first 5G city

Details in Sac Business Journal

Sacramento will be the first city in the nation where Verizon will roll out commercial application of 5G high-speed wireless service, the company announced Wednesday.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) officials said in a news release the company expects to launch the service locally in the second half of 2018.

Sacramento is among three to five markets getting the 5G (fifth generation) services, which will use radio signals instead of fiber or copper cables to give customers faster levels of connectivity and service.

The announcement is the latest chapter in an ongoing partnership between the telecommunications company and Sacramento.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg has also pushed for more initiatives to build the city’s technology sector, as city officials aim to make the city a hub for testing for new technologies such as autonomous vehicles.

“It’s another game-changing moment for our city as we demonstrate Sacramento is the leading place to be, experience, and create the future,” Steinberg said of Verizon’s announcement, in a statement Wednesday.

Rest of the article is HERE.


Rural Broadband: The Red Herring of Net Neutrality

Matthew Sekol writing at Medium

[. . .]

USTelecom, the nation’s leading trade association representing and promoting the interests of its members, broadband service providers and suppliers for the telecom industry (according to their site), states that as of 2015, about 4% of the US lacked a wired connection and .2% lacked wired or wireless connectivity.

This means not all Americans have the opportunity to enjoy the successes the internet can bring, nor the platform it can give for every voice to be heard.

This is a big problem.

The solution to bridging this digital divide is the investment in infrastructure and delivery of high-speed internet to everyone. The FCC’s rationale follows that by removing net neutrality, broadband providers can increase revenues through paid prioritization and therefore invest in infrastructure.

Per 249 of the FCC docket, “we expect that eliminating the ban on paid prioritization will help spur innovation and experimentation, encourage network investment, and better allocate the costs of infrastructure, likely benefiting consumers and competition.”

[. . .]

Giving everyone access to the internet is certainly a worthy goal, however placing the trust in that goal into the hands of broadband providers, accountable to stockholders and not the American people, is certainly misguided.

If you’re interested in telling the FCC to find another way to bring broadband to rural areas, take action and tell Congress.

Read the full article HERE.

Broadband should be considered critical infrastructure and all government agencies should treat it that way, including the FCC


Today in Technology: Innovation in the Heart of America

Brad Smith, Microsoft President, writing at LinkedIn with Carol Ann Browne

We live in a time when it’s easy to talk about a divided America. On some days the divide is characterized by partisanship and a division between our political parties. On other days the news is characterized by racial or economic divides. But there’s another divide that deserves our attention: it’s the technology divide that impacts too much of the United States.

One simple but powerful way to measure access to technology today is whether people have access to broadband. And in the United States today, 23.4 million people in rural America do not. It’s not even a question of affordability. There simply is no broadband service they can buy.

Broadband is no longer just about watching YouTube videos or the latest hits on Netflix – although it’s worth remembering that as many in the nation discuss the latest episodes of Stranger Things, more than 20 million people live in communities that effectively have no access to it.

Broadband has become a necessity of life. It’s fundamental for a child’s ability to do homework after school. It’s essential for a veteran’s to access telemedicine services rather than spend four hours driving to a VA Hospital. It has become the future of farming with precision agriculture. And it’s vital for small businesses and their ability to expand their customer base and create new jobs.

As we look at the broad range of cloud services that our customers use to harness the power of Microsoft datacenters, it’s apparent that broadband has become the electricity of our age. Just as the country committed in the 20th century that every American would have access to electricity and long-distance telephones, the United States today needs to commit itself to ensuring that broadband coverage is available to everyone.

It’s apparent that broadband has become the electricity of our age.
As with electricity and telephony, this is an issue and opportunity not just for government but for companies and the private sector. That’s why we launched Microsoft’s Airband initiative in July. Its aim is to partner with telecommunications companies to bring broadband coverage to at least two million new Americans over the next five years. But its purpose is larger than that. It’s to advance new technology, spur the broader market and encourage policymakers across the country to take the additional steps needed to eliminate the rural broadband gap entirely by 2022. We believe this is an achievable, affordable, and even essential goal for the country.

But bringing innovation back to every part of the country will require more than broadband. It requires a broader range of investments in digital skills in schools, digital transformation for businesses, and digital support for non-profits. That’s why we’ve launched Microsoft’s TechSpark program, which is partnering with six communities outside the countries’ large cities to invest in and learn more about how technology can better support economic growth in these parts of the country. It provides us with the opportunity to learn from local leaders in specific regions in Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Washington State.

Read Full Article HERE.

If Broadband is a necessity of life, government agencies at all levels should treat it as critical infrastructure, just like water, waste, power, and transportation.  


Who’s Spinning the World Wide Web? A Look at Broadband Connectivity

Post by Michelle Gartner. Sr Program Manager at SBC.

I’ve always been curious about technology and how it works. Since embarking on my new position at Sierra Business Council managing the Gold Country Broadband Consortium, my curiosity around how we are connected to the World Wide Web has grown. I’ve been trying to uncover who owns all the wires connecting us to the Internet, where the various wires are that make up the World Wide Web, and how to gain high-speed access for unserved and underserved communities. The biggest spiders are the telecoms that own most of the fiber, coax cable, copper and the conduit to deploy it, but they’re not connecting everyone and turning off service for some. People can dig their own trench, pay an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to lay the conduit and the wire to connect them and the ISP will own the conduit and the wire. It’s a complex Web that not long ago was being built by only a few spiders.

Read the whole post HERE.

The Coming Broadband Initiative Challenges for Rural ISPs

by Russ Steele

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law on February 17, 2009. The Broadband Initiative funded in the Act was intended to accelerate broadband deployment in unserved, underserved, and rural areas and to strategic institutions that are likely to create jobs or provide significant public benefits.

SEDCorp, the sponsor for the Gold County Broadband Consortia host a series of meetings to promote the initiative and encouraged the wireless internet providers (ISPs) in the GCBC service area ( Sierra County, Nevada County, Placer County, El Dorado County and Eastern Alpine County) to submit proposals. Of the nine ISPs who attended these meetings, all but one decided to pass on the opportunity. For many the workload and timeline were beyond their capacity to prepare a compliant proposal, others rejected the idea of seeking government funding with long strings attached. SmarterBroadband Submitted a proposal that was developed in part by a vendor that was working with the ISP. The proposal for 2.3 million dollars to build out wireless networks in Western Nevada County was approved.

The request for proposals document was about 3/4 of an inch thick with provisions requiring financial audits, documents certified by the corporate legal department and maps that were rendered as GIS shapefiles. Most of the small ISP did their books on open source (free on the web) accounting software no accounting department, they did not even have a legal council on retainer, or the capacity to produce shape files.

Also, the RFP had an American buy clause which limited the equipment that could be used in the proposal. The requirement was waived late in the proposal cycle, long passed the decision cycle for small ISPs. These were the obstacles that all nine ISPs faced in meeting the goals for accelerating broadband deployment and the creation of new jobs. Only one of the nine ISPs found a solution to these road blocks.

I have written Congressional Offices representing the GCBC Counties and asked for their help in alerting the FCC/NTIA/USDA staffs that they need to consider the staffing limitation of small mom and pop ISPs. There are the ISPs which are filling the gaps left by the big telecommunication providers if the government was serious about extending rural broadband. Congressman McClintock office was not interested in the problem. On the other hand, Congressman La Malfa and his staff were most helpful and provided this reply:

Thanks for the comments Russell. This is really helpful when going forward with any future rural broadband initiatives/language that could be included as part of the incoming infrastructure bill. Efforts to streamline the process will definitely be looked at more closely. I can reach out to someone at the liaison’s office and discuss some of these issues with them. Otherwise, it will probably be fairly costly and time consuming to travel to the Sierra Counties to see some of these concerns firsthand. However, if any such opportunity arises I think it would be a great way to see these challenges up front.

And this comment

Just wanted to let you know that the Congressman plans on asking several questions regarding ways to improve access to rural broadband in today’s House Agriculture Committee Hearing regarding the Farm Credit System.

When it is time for comments on the draft RFP, I will once again express my concern that consideration should be given to the small ISP that are filling the broadband gaps left by the big telecommunication companies: wireline, cable, and cellular. Even though my voice will be drowned out by the Telco lobbyist, who are “assisting” in the RFP preparation. From the large Telco’s perspective the more obstacles the small competitors have to face the better for them, as eliminating competition is the name of the game.

I will be writing on this issue throughout the broadband proposal process. There is a lot the rural broadband consortia can do to help spread the word about this point. Hundreds of comment from rural ISPs would be far more potent than a single voice from an unknown consultant. The broadband consortia should be organizing their ISPs and coordinating a message for the FCC/NTIA/USDA about the administrative obstacles which will only delay the desired rapidly expanding of rural broadband.

Hudson Institute: The Economic Impact of Rural Broadband

Rural broadband companies contributed $24.1 billion to the economies of the states in which they operated in 2015. Of this, $17.2 billion was through their own operations and $6.9 billion was through the follow-on impact of their operations. The total represents the amount added to the Gross Domestic Product by this set of firms.

More details under the Institutions Tab

FCC Public Comment Process and Bots

by Russ Steele

The FCC is asking for public comments on Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Proposals.  It will be an opportunity for communities to express their concerns about the implementation of G5 networks in their neighborhoods. It also could be an opportunity for the major telcos to use bots to flood the comments with replies favorable to their position that state, county, and city regulations could impede rapid installation and the telcos should have free or low-cost access to rights of way and existing infrastructure.

The FCC asked for comments on network neutrality and received 22 million or more comments. A data scientist and software engineer Jeff Kao took a look at the comments and concluded:

More than a Million Pro-Repeal Net Neutrality Comments were Likely Faked

I used natural language processing techniques to analyze net neutrality comments submitted to the FCC from April-October 2017, and the results were disturbing.

Kao’s analysis is HERE

1-8xMFT plot

View at

The potential is hight for pro big telecom comments on Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Proposals being generated by bots.  The FCC should use data science natural language processing to uncover the bot deception and let the authentic voices of the communities prevail as they must deal every day with the results of an invasive G5 network installation.

BDAC’s Third Meeting Invites Public Comments

The Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee has released the first vote and discussion items and is seeking public comment on various issues.

On Thursday, November 9th, the third Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee Meeting (BDAC) took place at the FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. The mission of BDAC is to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on how to fast-track the deployment of high-speed internet access in all areas of the nation by reducing and removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.

At the third meeting for the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, reports and presentations were given from the various subcommittees including Model Code for Municipalities, Model Code for States, Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure, Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers, and Streamlining Federal Siting Working Group. There were further discussions of how BDAC can continue its discussion on how push forward the deployment of broadband using the mission of the committee and its internet infrastructure goals.

Members of the public are welcome to submit comments to the BDAC within the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System at Comments to the BDAC should be filed in GN Docket No. 17-83.

Links to documents being considered can be found here.

The link includes materials such as the Working Group Recommendations for Vote and Discussion Documents for each issue mentioned above. These documents will include a summary of the challenges and solutions, recommended solutions to address these problems, as well as further details on these specific groups of challenge suggestions including leadership and details on past meetings.

H/T Utah Broadband Outreach Center

Utah Has Decided to “Opt-In” to FirstNet – 31st State

On Tuesday, November 6th, Governor Herbert announced that Utah has now opted in to using FirstNet for its Public Safety First Responders, making it the 31st state and territory to opt into this network.

Details HERE

The California First Responder Network Board of Directors (CalFRN) was established in 2012 to deal with the decision process. CalFRN Board of Directors is working with the FirstNet Board to ensure the development of a successful program.

CalFRN Board of Directors Meeting

Date: Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Time: 10:00AM to 12:00PM
Location: California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Public Safety Communications
630 Pacific Sequoia Blvd, Room #115 A & B
Sacramento, CA 95811

December is decision time for joining FirstNet, we may soon know if California will be the 32nd FirstNet state. Stay Tuned.

Microsoft Leverages Tv White Spaces in Puerto Rico

Microsoft this morning is announcing its use of TV white spaces – unused broadcast spectrum channels – to help build out access to broadband in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin islands following the hurricanes that took out essential communications infrastructure in both regions. “In partnership with NetHope, government agencies, local Internet Service Providers, and local TV broadcasters, we have deployed TV White Space technology from our Airband initiative to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” the company’s technology and corporate responsibility general manager Shelley McKinley writes in a blog post. Microsoft has been a proponent of using TV white spaces to deploy broadband to rural regions.

Source: Politico Morning Tech