Pai Eyes Rural Broadband Fix

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told a group of House members he acknowledges shortfalls with the subsidy arrangements for rural telecom carriers. “I aim to circulate an order ensuring adequate and efficient funding for rural broadband deployment later this year,” he wrote in a response to Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and other lawmakers. They had complained in May that the FCC’s subsidy fund suffers from a “persistent insufficiency” that hurts “the ability of smaller rural broadband providers to effectively deliver broadband services in the most rural areas of America.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

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RCRC: Rural Broadband Legislation Passed

This week, the House passed two pieces of legislation that would promote rural broadband. HR 3994, the Access Broadband Act, would create the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG) within the Department of Commerce. HR 4881, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish the Task Force for Meeting Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States.

The OICG would streamline the application process for broadband deployment projects seeking federal funds. The office will:

  • Connect with communities that need access to high-speed internet and improved digital inclusion efforts;
  • Hold regional workshops to share best practices and effective strategies for promoting broadband access and adoption;
  • Develop targeted broadband training and presentations for various demographic communities through media;
  • Develop and distribute publications providing guidance to communities for expanding broadband access and adoption; and
  • Track construction and use of any broadband infrastructure built using federal support.

HR 4881, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish the Task Force for Meeting Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States. The task force would be responsible for measuring internet coverage gaps of cropland and ranchland, particularly in rural areas. Based on these findings, the task force would then recommend policies and legislation to expand broadband internet service for cropland and ranchland. Precision agriculture practices utilize 21st century data and technology to increase productivity for farmers and growers. HR 4881’s supporters argue precision agriculture will promote employment and economic prosperity for rural communities.

Thune Eyes Packaging Broadband Deployment Bills

— Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) left Wednesday’s 5G wireless hearing eyeing ways to combine his STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, S. 3157 (115) , with “several bills that have been filed” also dealing with “faster deployment of broadband services,” he told reporters. He says to expect another hearing on these and noted his STREAMLINE bill, which would ease deployment of 5G infrastructure, “is one we would clearly like to see move this year” perhaps along with “elements or features” of other bills “that could be incorporated into something that could move out of the committee.” One major bill that could hitch a ride: the AIRWAVES Act, S. 1682 (115), which would free up more spectrum for commercial use.

— But opponents to Thune’s 5G bill are piling up. Desmarie Waterhouse, government relations VP for the American Public Power Association, told POLITICO that her group has concerns with the bill taking away local control. “A national, one-size-fits-all approach from the FCC pertaining to utility pole attachments—especially small cell attachments—raises issues for our utilities in terms of security, safety, and creating a situation where our electric customers end up subsidizing communications companies’ input costs,” she said.

— Utilities, while not formally opposed, are skeptical. And localities are lobbying against it, with recent negative blog posts from the National Association of Counties and the National League of Cities. During Wednesday’s hearing, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) described a “lot of passionate feedback from local officials, public power companies and others about that bill,” submitting concerned letters from local officials. He said localities better have a chance to testify in a potential follow-up hearing. Thune, speaking at the hearing’s outset, suggested flexibility: “It is still a work in progress.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

CTIA on G5 Spectrum Needs

Testimony of Meredith Attwell Baker President & CEO CTIA
on The Race to 5G: Exploring Spectrum Needs to Maintain U.S. Global Leadership before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation July 25, 2018

The full statement is HERE, However, the most interesting part for rural citizens seeking broadband are the paragraphs below. The 600 MHz works better is forested areas and the “rural dividend” will provide the additional funds to implement rural broadband.

The AIRWAVES Act would provide key new low-band spectrum that offers great coverage and propagation characteristics that can help reach hard-to- serve areas. Further, the recently auctioned 600 MHz spectrum is rapidly being deployed as broadcasters vacate that spectrum. Both steps will help extend mobile coverage. Similarly, the STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act and other siting reforms can help reduce the cost and complexity of deploying in rural America and on adjacent federal lands, particularly in the West. And lower siting fees will free capital for more deployment.

One of the most promising proposals for reaching more Americans is in Senators Gardner and Hassan’s AIRWAVES Act. AIRWAVES not only provides us a roadmap to win the 5G race but will also help us shrink the digital divide through its “rural dividend” provision. That provision sets aside 10 percent of the proceeds from new spectrum auctions for deployment of wireless networks in rural America. If this provision had been in place during the last two spectrum auctions, the rural dividend would have made available an additional $6 billion to build out wireless in rural America and unserved communities. CTIA urges Congress to expeditiously pass this legislation and implement this program, which would drive greater rural investment without the need for taxpayer funding.

There also was an appeal for more accurate broadband maps.  Is it had to make a good decision without accurate information.

Valley Vision: Connected Community Initiative

connected community initiative

We live in a digital age, where it is critical that all members of the community have access to the Internet. Broadband infrastructure is necessary for access to information for education, healthcare, government, public safety, social services, employment opportunities, breaking news, and many other common needs. Equally important is that people have the basic skills and proficiency to use online technology in ways that can improve their quality of life. Valley Vision has been at the center of coordinating strategic efforts to improve broadband infrastructure, access and adoption in California’s Capital Region for almost a decade.

what is the goal?

The goal is to fill critical broadband infrastructure gaps and increase access and adoption across the region to businesses, residents, and organizations, particularly within our unserved and underserved communities. Ultimately the initiative will help the region envision and plan for a competitive, future-ready infrastructure needed for regional prosperity.

Continue reading about the Connected Community Initiative HERE.

Hearing On “Oversight Of The FCC”

Some highlights from the prepared Statement Of Chairman Ajit Pai

United States Leadership in 5G.

. . .the FCC is moving forward aggressively to hold auctions and move a substantial amount of spectrum into the commercial marketplace. On November 14, we plan on beginning our 28 GHz band auction, which will be quickly followed by our 24 GHz band auction. Then, in the second half of 2019, I intend to hold a single auction of spectrum in the 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz bands. Combined, these auctions will make 4.95 GHz of spectrum available to the private sector and advance America’s global leadership in the deployment of the next generation of wireless connectivity, or 5G.

The FCC is also moving forward on other fronts to ensure that our nation is a pioneer in 5G. Earlier this month, we proposed to make more mid-band spectrum in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band available for flexible terrestrial use. In June, we proposed making spectrum in the 26 and 42 GHz bands available for flexible terrestrial use. In May, the Commission proposed to allow more efficient and effective use of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band by increasing flexibility for existing Educational Broadband Service licensees and providing new opportunities for educational entities, rural Tribal Nations, and commercial entities to access unused portions of the band. Earlier this year, we proposed in our Spectrum Horizons proceeding to allow for greater experimentation in very-high spectrum bands above 95 GHz.

[. . .]

Many of our regulations were designed for 200-foot towers, not small cells that can be the size of pizza boxes. That needed to change. And thanks to Commissioner Carr’s leadership, that is changing. Earlier this year, for example, we decided that small cells would no longer have to go through the same federal historic preservation and environmental review processes that were designed for traditional large towers. This common-sense step will expedite the deployment of small cells, cut the cost of deployment, and allow for the faster rollout of 5G.

[. . .]

The Commission has also given the green light to companies that want to send a large number of satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide high-speed broadband. These new networks promise much faster and more reliable satellite broadband services and could help us reach the hardest-to-serve areas.

[. . .]

Closing the Digital Divide.

From the beginning of my tenure as head of the agency, I’ve made clear that my top priority would be to close the digital divide. I take this issue personally, having grown up in a small town in rural Kansas. And in order to inform our efforts on how to connect unserved areas, I’ve travelled to 33 states and two U.S. territories and have logged nearly 9,000 road miles to learn about rural communities around the country. I’ve seen places that are using the Internet to open new doors of opportunity as well as towns that are being bypassed by the digital revolution. In the time to come, I’ll continue to visit these areas and keep the Commission’s eyes focused on how we can find innovative ways to address this critical challenge.

[. . .]

We also have to cut through the regulatory red tape and make it easier for broadband providers to invest in next-generation networks. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. Among other things, we’ve modernized our rules to make it easier for companies to transition away from maintaining the fading copper networks of yesterday and toward investing in the resilient networks of tomorrow. We’re also taking action to make it easier and cheaper for providers to get access to utility poles and conduits.

[. . .]

Public Safety.

In recent months, the Commission has taken many important steps to improve public safety. A principal focus has been on improving our nation’s alerting systems: the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).

These are only the highlights there are more information nuggets in the full text which is linked under the Government Tab.

Four Telecom Bills Sail Through House

Four pieces of telecom-focused legislation passed the House by generous margins on Monday. In the afternoon, lawmakers passed by voice votes the PIRATE Act, H.R. 5709 (115), which would boost penalties for unlicensed radio broadcasters, and the ACCESS BROADBAND Act, H.R. 3994 (115) , which would create an internet connectivity office within the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. In roll call votes Monday night, lawmakers passed by 378-4 the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, H.R. 4881 (115), which would force the FCC and Department of Agriculture to assemble a task force looking at precision agriculture’s broadband needs, and by 379-1 the National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act, H.R. 2345 (115) , mandating a study on creating an emergency dialing code for suicide prevention.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech [Emphasis added]