Brookings on Broadband Adoption

Broadband adoption is on the rise, but states can do much more

The charts and graphics tell the story HERE.

 

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FCC Poised to Adopt USF Recipient Broadband Speed Testing Requirements

by Joan Engebretson writing at Telecompetitor:

The FCC will vote later this month on broadband speed testing procedures for recipients of Universal Service Fund (USF) support, said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a blog post. Pai said he had circulated a draft of USF broadband speed testing requirements to the other FCC commissioners in preparation for a vote at the October FCC monthly meeting.

USF Broadband Speed Testing

Pai noted that the FCC has been reviewing testing procedures for several months aimed at ensuring that USF recipients deliver broadband at the speeds they are required to deliver as a condition for receiving USF support. He said the proposed performance measurement procedures strike “the right balance.”

“On one hand, we want to make sure that subscribers are getting the quality of service that they have been promised and our rules require,” Pai wrote. “On the other, we also want to make sure that our testing procedures don’t impose unnecessary burdens on small carriers located in hard-to-serve areas that often face unique challenges.”

He didn’t provide many details on the speed test procedures and the draft order is not yet available publicly, but he did note that the proposed requirements would change testing implementation dates so that those dates are more closely aligned with when a carrier has its first mandatory build-out obligations.

He also noted that the speed test procedures call for a pre-testing period aimed at enabling carriers to ensure that their testing systems are performing correctly before testing begins.

Speed testing could become increasingly important as companies that won funding through the Connect America Fund CAF II auction begin their buildouts, as some companies gained a bidding advantage by committing to provide higher-speed service.

Continue reading HERE.

What is this accountability noise?  It is rare that an ISP provides the level of service promoted in their marketing campaigns.  This contract accountability could make for some very nervous providers, I can smell the sweat already.

 

Funding to Close to the Digital Divide

— Telecom and utility groups are urging congressional appropriators to continue investing in rural broadband in fiscal year 2020. “The health and productivity of the people we represent throughout rural America are dependent on access to high-quality broadband,” The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, the Utilities Technology Council and nearly two dozen other groups wrote in a letter to Senate and House appropriators. The groups are pressing lawmakers to include $605 million to fund the USDA ReConnect Program, which provides loans and grants to pay for broadband in remote areas without access. “Continued direct federal investment is critical to closing the digital divide and enabling rural consumers to fully participate in our 21st Century economy and society,” they tell Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Kay Granger (R-Texas).

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Doyle Previews Broadband Mapping Markup

— The House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee will soon move to mark up legislation to improve the government’s mapping of broadband data, which lawmakers have long complained is riddled with errors. And the panel will likely use the Broadband DATA Act, H.R. 4229, from Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), as the base. “I think the Loebsack bill will be the vehicle it runs through,” subcommittee chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) told reporters this week. “But I think we’re going to be taking bits and pieces of the other bills, too.”

— Taking out the ‘garbage’: “We can’t have a system at the FCC when it comes to mapping where it’s garbage in and garbage out, because that’s what it is,” Loebsack said. Ohio Rep. Bob Latta , the top Republican on Doyle’s panel and a backer of the Broadband DATA Act, said, “This is something we can get done.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Make policy on bad maps is not good policymaking.  Good maps are essential to good governance, and it is time for the FCC to step up to the challenge.

Rural Telecom Economic Impact Report: $10 Billion Impact in 2017

by Joan Engebretson @ Telecompetitor

Rural telecom companies supported $10 billion in economic activity in 2017, according to a new report from the Foundation for Rural Service (FRS). The rural telecom economic impact report also found that rural telecom companies contributed over 77,000 jobs that year.

The FRS is a non-profit organization that provides education, information, products and programming to support rural telecom companies.

Rural Telecom Economic Impact Report
The FRS findings were based on information gathered from approximately two thirds of the members of NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association. NTCA members are rural telecom service providers. Collectively, NTCA members employ more than 77,000 people nationwide. Those people received more than $2.3 billion in compensation in 2017.

Researchers also used the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and the Chmura economic model to assess rural telecom’s broader economic impact. The NAICS and Chmura information enabled FRS to determine the impact that telecom companies had on other industries on a state-by-state basis.

Broadband provided by rural telecom companies has a positive impact on 29 different industries, according to the report. Industries impacted include banking, health care and others.

For every job created by an NTCA member, almost two additional jobs were created in other industries, according to the researchers. This is “due to the interaction with other industries served by or supported from the spending by the telecom employees,” the researchers explained.

As rural stakeholders continue to push to make broadband available nationwide, reports such as this one may be useful in helping to persuade policymakers to support those efforts

Continue reading HERE.

Some rural communities benefited from broadband, on the other hand, those sitting on their hand’s waiting for the big telcos and cable companies to bring them broadband did not.  It is in the best interest of all rural communities to take charge of their economic destiny.   Over 800 rural towns and cities have developed community networks, assuring a more promising economic future.  What about your community?

 

Introducing the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

By the Executive Director

Broadband has quickly emerged as the most transformative technology of our generation — delivering opportunities and strengthening communities. As broadband’s capability to transform lives and society has grown, so too has it become the driving mission of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society.

Connecting our entire nation through High-Performance Broadband will bring remarkable economic, social, cultural, and personal benefits. In the Digital Age, open, affordable, robust broadband is the key to all of us reaching for — and achieving — the American Dream.

Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. has struggled with a persistent dilemma called the digital divide — the unfortunate reality that for too many people, meaningful connectivity is out of reach. As we enter a new decade, America encounters three inter-locking challenges:

Closing the Geographic Divide. In both rural and urban areas, millions of Americans are waiting for the deployment of robust broadband networks. Broadband is advancing in some places, which is good, but the fact is we don’t have an accurate count of how many people are on the wrong side of the digital divide and where they live. What we know is that places without robust broadband are falling further and further behind. We cannot let where we live determine our potential to connect.

Harnessing Competition. Even in areas that are served by adequate broadband networks, consumers lack choice of providers. Without competition, consumers are threatened with artificially high prices, lower-quality service, and little innovation. We cannot let lack of choice harm consumers.

Boosting Affordability & Adoption. For too many people, the cost of broadband is too high and the digital skills needed to use broadband effectively are absent. The result is people disconnected from continuing their education, gaining new job skills, and finding employment. We cannot let high prices divide people from opportunity.

Confronting these divides requires bold leadership and informed solutions.

Continue reading HERE.

Latest National Broadband Data From FCC Finds Median U.S. Internet Speed of 60 Mbps

Telecompetitor has the story

The median U.S. internet speed was 60 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream as of December 31, 2017, according to a report released this month from the FCC. More than two-thirds of internet customers (69%) subscribe to service at speeds of at least 25 Mbps, including 37.5% who subscribe to service at speeds of at least 100 Mbps, the commission said.

The December 2017 data apparently was the most recent available when the FCC did its analysis, which is summarized in the report titled “Internet Access Services: Status as of December 31, 2017.” The data is obtained from FCC Form 477 data.

Median U.S. Internet Speed

The percentage of customers taking higher speed service has been steadily increasing in recent years. As of December 2014, only 44% of customers subscribed to service at speeds of at least 25 Mbps, of which only 9.5% subscribed to service at speeds of 100 Mbps or higher.

Conversely, the percentage of customers taking the lowest speed services has been decreasing. As of December 2017, only 2.8% of internet customers subscribed to service providing speeds of less than 3 Mbps, down from 7.9% in December 2014.

Continue reading HERE.

How is your speed?  My download is about the median of 60Mbps, with a 10Mbps upload speed.  I am paying for 250 Mbps down and only getting 60 Mbps, with some occasional 150-175 Mbps sprints.  When I was buying 1Gig down, the median was about 440Mbps. It is rare to get what you pay for when the contract reads “up to 250Mbps” never stating a specific benchmark to measure against.

 

In South Dakota Today (09-05-19)

SOUTH DAKOTA FIELD TRIP — Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is today convening a Senate Commerce telecom subcommittee field hearing in Sioux Falls to discuss the best ways to expand broadband connectivity to rural communities. Expect plenty of talk about the benefits of internet access, with representatives from local broadband and telemedicine providers, wireless tower builders and university officials as well as Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, the agency’s point person on 5G wireless matters. (He’s been traveling South Dakota since Tuesday).

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

 

Heidi Hall: Federal, State Support Needed for Rural Broadband in Areas Like Nevada County

The pull quote from the Hall Other Voices:

This simply won’t get done without some financial help from the state and federal government, revived regulations that require larger companies to provide a better standard of service …

The full article is HERE.

My comment on Hall’s Other Voices:

Other communities are not waiting for state and federal government grants to build rural broadband networks. They consider broadband as critical infrastructure, just like city water, sewer, power, and transportation. They float bonds, build the fiber network, and then charge a connection fee just like they would a new water service connection, and then a monthly user fee.

One example can be found HERE.

Over 500 communities across the nation are served by community networks. Details here: https://muninetworks.org/communitymap

What prevents Nevada County from treating broadband as critical infrastructure? A middle-mile fiber network snakes its way through the County, passing numerous clusters of homes and business.

While $250,000 is a start, millions are required to close the last mile with fiber spurs and wireless distribution to homes and business. It is time for the County to treat broadband as critical infrastructure like hundreds of other communities have and more planning to take the plunge. Details here https://muninetworks.org/communitymap

Government award grants to well-defined projects with a high probability of success. Where are those Nevada County projects? The ROI driven corporations are not going to build out rural broadband networks. Nevada County needs to take action now and build the critical infrastructure to connect homes and business to the existing VAST fiber network.

[Edited for blog post]

RCRC: Rural Broadband Update

Rural Broadband Update

A USTelecom pilot test found 38 percent of rural areas in census blocks depicted to have broadband on the National Broadband Map lack access to a basic internet connection.  The organization conducted the test following allegations that the broadband map drastically overestimated broadband availability in rural America.  The pilot test focused on Virginia and Missouri, but the study is sure to inspire calls for a nationwide test of broadband data.

The pilot test from USTelecom provides further evidence that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has relied on inaccurate data to measure broadband connectivity in rural areas.  Inaccurate mapping data prevents policymakers from prioritizing funds for areas that are truly most lacking in high-speed internet.  More reliable coverage data would help the FCC and other agencies properly devote public votes towards closing the digital divide for underserved rural areas.