This disturbing news for potential rural broadband customers comes from Politico’s Morning Tech newsletter:
“Although the Trump administration doesn’t seem inclined to set aside funds for broadband deployment in its forthcoming infrastructure bill, the White House national security strategy released Monday highlighted the need for next-generation 5G wireless to maintain U.S. competitiveness. “We will improve America’s digital infrastructure by deploying a secure 5G Internet capability nationwide. These improvements will increase national competitiveness, benefit the environment, and improve our quality of life,” the document states.”
Blackburn, Latta cheer the strategy: House digital commerce subcommittee Chairman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) commended the plan for putting “America on the cutting edge of emerging fields, like autonomous technologies, including self-driving cars, and artificial intelligence,” while House telecom subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) deemed it a milestone for 5G. “The 5G revolution is here,” she said.
The way I read this news is the Trump Administration, and Congress has been sold a bill of goods by the major telcos that 5G will bring broadband to rural communities. Communities they are currently ignoring as they are too costly to serve without subsidies. Do you buy that 5G is a good solution for rural broadband? I do not, given the challenge that rural communities present, starting with the short range of the mmWaves and need for a clear line of sight void of foliage to function. The mountainous terrain limits population density, thus increasing the installation and operating costs. Microsoft “Airband” technology would be a better option in mountainous regions that are covered with trees and bushes.
Microsoft’s Rural Airband Initiative will invest in partnerships with telecommunications companies with the goal of bringing broadband connectivity to 2 million people in rural America by 2022.
We will have to wait and see how the final legislation addresses rural broadband needs. Stay Tuned!