If Big Telco’s do not First Succeed, They Try Try Again

The FCC formed the Broadband Development Advisory Committee earlier this year, noted HERE that failing to gain state leverage in an unfettered installation of G5 networks the big Telcos will resort to federal mussels to have unrestricted infrastructure access.

According to a post at Steve Blum’s Blog the BDAC “…is top heavy with lobbyists and others from big and mid-sized telecoms companies, very weak on local or state government representation and devoid of any municipal broadband experience. The committee spun off five working groups, including one tasked with writing model laws for states to adopt or, potentially, for the FCC to impose through its assumed preemption powers.”

There is more discussion HERE. I agree with Steve’s Conclusion:

The FCC’s model state code working group is expected to finalise its recommended policy in January. After that, expect the political money men to pressure the FCC to impose as much of it as it can on a federal preemption basis, and then deploy to state capitols to mop up what’s left.

Due to the infrastructure density required by G5, if the Telcos have to negotiate with every, county, city, town and village it will take ten years to install G5 at twice the estimated cost, and by then G6 technology will be on the cusp of installation. In the meantime, there will be millions of citizens left without access to the digital economy that is swirling around them.

How Tax Reform Can Support Rural Broadband

Brookings: Nicol Turner-Lee, Fellow – Governance Studies, Center for Technology Innovation

Not all U.S. communities are created equal when it comes to broadband deployment and availability. Earlier this year, my colleagues Blair Levin and Carol Mattey shared the challenges associated with deploying broadband in rural areas. According to the authors, it is not only expensive, but it does not necessarily yield a profitable return for private companies.

The gap in high-speed broadband access between rural and urban areas remains wide in the U.S. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans (23.4 million) lack broadband access to a fixed service with speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download/3 Mbps upload, while only four percent of urban residents lack access to those speeds. Without access to high-speed broadband, rural residents are severely limited when it comes to economic development, civic engagement, and the other social benefits related to broadband availability and its adoption.

As the House GOP released the first draft of the tax plan last week, rural broadband deployment, an issue that continues to receive bipartisan congressional attention, may find some helpful incentives. For telecommunications companies that are highly capital-intensive, the draft that the Senate eventually adopts could impact investments in new rural broadband facilities or the upkeep of existing network infrastructure in rural and urban areas.

Full Report is HERE.

Broadband is critical infrastructure for rural economic development and should be considered as such by all levels of government.

Broadband Gaps Impact Every Member of Congress

Brooking Institute Adie Tomer

Digital connectivity is the glue of the modern American economy. From rural farmers to city business leaders, every industry relies on broadband to track markets, connect with customers, and sell their products. The American household is equally reliant on broadband, whether its kids bringing home their digital classrooms, adults telecommuting to their jobs, or whole families streaming video content to their televisions. And governments at all levels can use digital platforms to improve service delivery and reduce costs.

Yet for all of broadband’s economic benefits, the country continues to face a significant digital divide at the household level. First, over 22 million people live in neighborhoods without an available broadband connection, defined here as a 25 Mbps download speed via wireline. Second—and maybe more troublingly—over 73 million people live in neighborhoods where subscription rates fall below 40 percent.
Without seamless digital connectivity, many households are at-risk of falling further behind in the country’s advanced economy.

To view your district coverage in detail click on this LINK 
Then Select California

BB Availability By District

As you can see some of the Sierra Districts have a challenge ahead to bring broadband to all the population with full adoption. The methodology for these charts is explained in the full report. See link above the chart.

Broadband as Critical Infrastructure

On November 8th of this year in a California Advanced Services Fund presentation, Cynthia Walker who is the Director of the Communications Division, outlined some Big Picture Ideas for Discussion in implementing AB-1665 and changes to the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Program.

Those ideas are presenting in the graphic below:

Big Items for Discussion_Slide#6

I would like to offer one more Big Picture Idea for Discussion.

Designate Broadband as Critical Infrastructure — recommend county and cities put broadband requirements in their General Planning Documents as they address other critical community infrastructure needs water, sewer, power, and transportation.

I recommend that broadband requirements should be in the affordable housing element, establish dig once trenching rules in land use and transportation elements. Every economic development element should include broadband as a critical economic development tool. Every environmental element should consider the reduction in transportation generated CO2, as more citizens work remotely, shop online and gain access to health care via teleconferencing. The State of California General Plan Guidelines for 2017 touches on broadband but does not address its impact on planning elements.

If the CPUC is serious about engaging local government and community leaders put broadband requirements in General Planning Documents.

More Broadband Mapping Angst

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) is the latest lawmaker to say the FCC needs to step up action on broadband mapping. “My constituents have repeatedly expressed frustration with their limited access to broadband Internet, calling into question FCC’s census-based maps that inaccurately claim otherwise,” he wrote Thursday in a letter to Chairman Ajit Pai, criticizing the data collection methods that generate the mapping.

Source: Politico Morning Tech

The California Public Utilities Commission has recognized the broadband mapping problem and is working on a process to record the actual upload, download, and latency of broadband connections. They will be able to plot the real speeds and not the advertised speeds and coverage provided by the providers.

Here is a sample of a recording I have made using a low-cost computer [Raspberry Pi 3] and some open source software. The graphic is generated by a Python program that I wrote to display selected data. Below is download speed for eight days from my WAVE Broadband connection.

Wave Speed Test

As you can see my connection is not as stable as I would like. We recently had the Wave Tech out for a visit and stability has improved. A friend is currently using my recording box to validate the random drop out of his broadband signal.

There are solutions out there; it just takes the political will to implement some of the more useful answers. The CPUC is working on one possible solution, more details as they unfold.

Here is another graphic showing all three recorded parameters.

Wave Tri Display

Note the upload speed is one megabit or less. This is what prompted a Wave Tech visit. The upload speed is now between 6-7 Mbps after the visit. We changed some cables from flat to round with a twist. I will post an update when my recording box returns.

5G in Sierra Neighborhoods

by Russ Steele

One of the broadband challenges in the Sierra is our tree covered hills and steep valleys, making an accurate line of sight between the transmitting and the receiving antenna difficult and in some cases impossible. 5G systems will be operating an even higher millimeter wave spectrum than the frequencies currently used for backhaul and last mile connections in wireless installations. These higher frequencies will also require a clear line of sight connections for reliable operation.

Doug Dawson at POTS and PANs lives in Asheville, NC a town with lots of shade trees and ornamental bushes in yards. He notes that shade trees are a fixture in many cities across America. We certainly have them in the Sierra.

5G is being touted as a fiber replacement, capable of delivering speeds up to a gigabit to homes and businesses. This kind of 5G (which is different than 5G cellular) is going to use the millimeter wave spectrum bands. There are a few characteristics of that spectrum that defines how a 5G network must be deployed. This spectrum has extremely short wavelengths, and that means two things. First, the signal isn’t going to travel very far before the signal dissipates and grows too weak to deliver fast data. Second, these short wavelengths don’t penetrate anything. They won’t go through leaves, walls, or even through a person walking past the transmitter – so these frequencies require a true unimpeded line-of-sight connection.

These requirements are going to be problematic on the typical residential street. Go outside your own house and see if there is a perfect line-of-sight from any one pole to your home as well as to three or four of your neighbors. The required unimpeded path means there can be no tree, shrub or other impediment between the transmitter on a pole and each home getting this service. This may not be an issue in places with few trees like Phoenix, but it sure doesn’t look very feasible on my street. On my street the only way to make this work would be by imposing a severe tree trimming regime – something that I know most people in Asheville would resist. I would never buy this service if it meant butchering my old ornamental crepe myrtle. And tree trimming must then be maintained into the future to keep new growth from blocking signal paths.

I think that Doug has illustrated the problem that many in Sierra towns and village are going face with 5G implementation. If the mini towers and light pole configurations are on the street, the user will have to have an antenna on the front of the home or business with a clear signal path. The installers will have to string coax from the best antenna location to the rooms were the home or office network is located. Long distance runs will be expensive, increasing the cost of 5G installations.

Doug raises another rural issue, backhaul. The stringing of fiber to each mini tower will be expensive, with the microwave a lower cost alternative. But, there are still the trees to be dealt with. Doug writes about the issue:

One of the primary alternatives to stringing fiber is to feed neighborhood 5G nodes with point-to-point microwave radio shots. In a neighborhood like mine these won’t be any more practical that the 5G signal paths. The solution I see being used for this kind of back-haul is to erect tall poles of 100’ to 120’ to provide a signal path over the tops of trees. I don’t think many neighborhoods are going to want to see a network of tall poles built around them. And tall poles still suffer the same line-of-sight issues. They still have to somehow beam the signal down to the 5G transmitters and that means a lot more tree trimming.

Full POTs and PANs article is HERE:

As you can see, rural communities have multiple 5G challenges ahead of them.

RCRC: Hearing Held on “Internet of Things”

From the RCRC Newsletter:

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet held a hearing on expanding access to the “Internet of Things” (IoT) in rural communities.  “Beyond generating simple conveniences, Internet of Things technologies are taking on more significant and vital roles in our lives,” Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) argued in his opening statement.  Telemedicine in particular is an IoT technology that is expanding access to life-saving health care services in rural hospitals and clinics.

Access to these life-improving technologies remains limited by the rate of broadband expansion to close the rural/urban digital divide.  Internet-service providers (ISP) face massive entry costs in rural areas with low-population density.  This barrier to entry greatly inhibits competition and limits the ability of ISPs to provide adequate high-speed coverage.  In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) redefined broadband access as a minimum connection of 25/megabytes-per-second download speed, and reported in 2016 that 39 percent of rural areas lack this minimum criteria for sufficient internet access.

On Wednesday, Representative Marsh Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Chairwoman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, announced that she is drafting a bill to address the challenges broadband providers face when expanding their services in rural areas.  Representative Blackburn indicated that the Energy and Commerce Committee will take up her draft bill after they’ve completed a two-year reauthorization of the FCC and will likely serve as House GOP alternative to a Senate-passed proposal, S. 19 the “MOBILE NOW” Act, introduced by Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair John Thune (R-South Dakota).   Representative Blackburn has not released any details on the House plan but the Senate’s effort would authorize the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration to increase spectrum availability for 5G wireless broadband and reduce red-tape for broadband infrastructure projects.

Some of the red tape reduction will be designed to reduce local control over the 5G installation, to reduce the cost and speed this critical infrastructure for the Internet of Things, self-driving vehicles, and health monitoring technology.  Stay Tuned.

A New Vision for Economic Development

A new approach to economic development centered around the development of a municipal fiber network. Here again is a city, Wilson, treating high-speed broadband as critical infrastructure, just like water, sewer, and power.

Pots and Pans:

Wilson is using an approach that other cities should consider. They involve all of the stakeholders in the community in the effort to improve quality of life there. That includes working with Barton College, a 1,200-student liberal arts university and nursing school. They challenged the arts community to move and grow downtown and have a thriving art scene. They put an emphasis on buying local, which we all know has a tremendous local economic multiplier effect. The various constituencies in the city meet often to discuss ways to make the city better.

But they credit the fiber network for being the change that started everything. While big companies and big employers are important to every community, Wilson understood that the work-from-home entrepreneur movement is creating a lot of jobs and a lot of wealth. And so they foster innovation in a number of different ways and strive to make small and new businesses successful.

The big shame is that the North Carolina legislature passed a law to prohibit other communities in the state from following the Wilson model. Cities are no longer allowed to become retail ISPs in North Carolina. If they build fiber it has to be operated by somebody else – and we know that is a far harder model to make work. One only has to look at what’s happening in Wilson to understand that fiber is an important component these days for economic vitality. But fiber alone is not a guarantee for economic success. It takes a community-wide effort like the one in Wilson to take advantage of what fiber offers. Wilson still has a way to go, but you can feel the excitement in the community – and that is what makes any city a place where people want to live.

Read Full Story HERE.

Fiber networks as critical infrastructure the 21st Century Economic Development Tool!!

House Democrats Plugged In On Broadband

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) introduced Tuesday his Broadband Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act, as POLITICO reported last month would be coming. “This legislation builds on a model that already works in other sectors of the economy – a model that yields high value returns on modest investments,” Lujan said in a statement.

Source: Politico Morning Tech

The text of Bill not yet available online:

H.R.4287 – To establish a broadband infrastructure finance and innovation program to make available loans, loan guarantees, and lines of credit for the construction and deployment of broadband infrastructure, and for other purposes.

How tax reform can support rural broadband

Nicol Turner-Lee Brookings Techtank:

Not all U.S. communities are created equal when it comes to broadband deployment and availability. Earlier this year, my colleagues Blair Levin and Carol Mattey shared the challenges associated with deploying broadband in rural areas. According to the authors, it is not only expensive, but it does not necessarily yield a profitable return for private companies.

The gap in high-speed broadband access between rural and urban areas remains wide in the U.S. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans (23.4 million) lack broadband access to a fixed service with speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download/3 Mbps upload, while only four percent of urban residents lack access to those speeds. Without access to high-speed broadband, rural residents are severely limited when it comes to economic development, civic engagement, and the other social benefits related to broadband availability and its adoption.

As the House GOP released the first draft of the tax plan last week, rural broadband deployment, an issue that continues to receive bipartisan congressional attention, may find some helpful incentives. For telecommunications companies that are highly capital-intensive, the draft that the Senate eventually adopts could impact investments in new rural broadband facilities or the upkeep of existing network infrastructure in rural and urban areas.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Conclusion: Moving forward, it’s important that policymakers consider both the immediate and longer-term needs of American businesses. More important, the alignment of the plan’s details with national infrastructure goals should become one of the priorities during the next round of debate. In the case of broadband deployment, these conversations should anticipate how to fund the access needs of rural America as part of a plan to return prosperity back to American communities.