If Broadband is Essential Infrastructure it Should be in the General Plan

In California, the General Plan is a document providing a long-range plan for a city’s and county’s physical development. Local jurisdictions have freedom as to what their general plans include, however, there are specific requirements under California state law that each general plan must meet; failure to do so could result in suspension of future development.

Each general plan must include the vision, goals, and objectives of the city or county in terms of planning and development within eight different “elements” defined by the state as: land use, housing, circulation, conservation, noise, safety, open space, and environmental justice which was added as an official element in 2016.

To assist cities and counties to develop and refine their planning document the Governor’s Office and Planning Research published some guidelines in August of 2017.  These charts capture the essence of that guidance.

Screenshot 2019-01-31 21.09.54

Screenshot 2019-01-31 21.10

Please note that broadband is not mentioned in either graphic, yet broadband has a significant relationship to land use, circulation, housing, conservation, and social justice.

Broadband is mention in the General Planning Guidelines three places:

Chapter 4, Required Elements, Page 81, broadband as a “relevant utility.”

Chapter 4, Page 82 Broadband:

“Both state and federal governments are implementing various funding programs that serve the goal of expanding broadband access to unserved and underserved areas. Within California, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) manages the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), which invests hundreds of millions of dollars annually in broadband deployment. The state also created the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), which was designed to be a public-purpose venture capital fund.”

Dig once policies can substantially reduce costs for providing broadband service to communities. A new provider can run ber through leased conduit space at a fraction of the costs, incentivizing more private actors to deploy or reducing costs to the city if self-provisioning broadband services. For example, if conduit construction was promoted along ongoing civil work projects, fiber deployment costs drop by $30,000- $100,000 per mile. On average, 60 to 90 percent of network deployment costs come from civil works as opposed to equipment and maintenance.

Chapter 6, page 211:

In addition, general plan policies may improve access to health services through integrated public transportation and provisions for access to broadband, allowing for telemedicine capacity. 

If California planners were serious about the benefits of every home and businesses having broadband access, they would provide General Planning Guidance beyond dig once.

According to a recent Brookings Metro Policy Paper in less than two decades broadband access has become one of the foundations of the American Economy, joining water, sewer, power, transportation, and energy as essential infrastructure.

If broadband is essential infrastructure, and a “relevant utility”, it should be included in the general planning requirements:

Land Use:  Reduce the cost of installing fixed and mobile wireless antennas, including G5 mini towers.  See Nevada County Land Use, Communications for WiFi example.

Circulation: Use of broadband reduces the need to travel, enables work from home, promoter online shopping all which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to a California, Emerging Technology Funds report Broadband as Green Strategy, access to broadband reduces vehicle miles traveled, office-space construction, energy use, while increasing online shopping, all which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 billion tons over ten years,

Housing:  All new development should include broadband networks, especially in multi-family housing in low-income neighborhoods, where adoption is hindered by high-cost access.

Conservation:  Broadband reduces the consumption of natural resources. See Circulation.

Environmental Justice: Broadband internet improves access to health care, education, and employment. Broadband opens the doors to entrepreneurship by individual and small groups, especially in rural communities creating community wealth.

Also missing from the Governor’s Office and Planning Research planning guidelines issued in August 2017 are topics and elements related to economic development. An issue worthy of a future post. 

Your thoughts? Should Broadband be given more attention in General Planning?

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Telecom Predictions for 2019

POTs and PANs as some insight to the future of telecommunications in 2019. Doug Dawson has these rural broadband predictions. My emphasis added in red.

Rural America Will Realize that Nobody is Coming to Help. I predict that hundreds of rural communities will finally realize that nobody is bringing them broadband. I expect many more communities to begin offering money for public/private partnerships as they try desperately to not fall on the wrong side of the broadband divide.

We’ll See First Significant Launches of LEO Satellites. There will be little public notice since the early market entries will not be selling rural broadband but will be supporting corporate WANs, cellular transport and the development of outer space networks between satellites.

Big Companies Will Get Most New Spectrum. The biggest ISPs and cellular carriers will still gobble up the majority of new spectrum, meaning improved spectrum utilization for urban markets while rural America will see nearly zero benefits.

Full Article is HERE.

 

Remote Workers Havens – Keys to Succesful Workforce

One of the economic options for rural communities with excellent highspeed connections is to promote the community as a remote worker haven. To help promote remote work, the Sacramento Business Journal has published: What are the keys to a successful remote workforce?

We surveyed over 400 business executives on how companies are approaching mobility and what’s holding them back.

Download this complimentary eBook to see the results and find out how your business can achieve greater efficiency and security.

 

Webinar: Federal Broadband Funding: Policies and Programs to Connect America

This BroadbandUSA webinar offered an overview of federal funding options to support increasing broadband access in communities across the United States. Learn about recent program and policy updates from officials representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).

Speakers:

Barrett L. Haga, Ph.D., Senior Administrator for Economic Engagement, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce

Shawn Arner, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Loan Origination and Approval Division, RUS Telecommunications Program, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Kate Dumouchel, Special Counsel, Telecommunications Access Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission

Links to presentations and audio are HERE.

C|NET: In Farm Country, Forget Broadband. You Might Not Have Internet At All

5G is around the corner, yet pockets of America still can’t get basic internet access

C|NET BB

 

 

This is part of CNET’s “Crossing the Broadband Divide” series exploring the challenges of getting internet access to everyone.

[…]

This corner of Iowa, where I grew up, isn’t alone. While US carriers are busy promising super-speedy 5G wireless service, pockets of the country still have slow or even no internet. In many rural areas, there are only one or two providers, and the service available is pricey and spotty. Hospitals, schools and other critical groups don’t have fast-enough internet to function. Federal and state governments have provided billions of dollars to companies to build out speedy fiber networks, but outdated and undetailed maps make it tough to identify areas in need.

[…]

Continue reading HERE.

Many of the problems in this article can be applied to rural California Counties.  It is an ROI issue, which is driven by population density.  You can look at the US Census maps and figure out the probability of getting broadband access. The problem is acerbated when considering 5G service as the cell tower coverage is measured in square yards, rather than square miles.  If you do not have broadband now, the probability of getting 5G anytime soon is very low, if not zero.

Mini-Makers Faire

I have been a promoter of the Maker Movement ever since Maker Magazine was launched in January 2005.  I like to build stuff and in the 1960s and early 1970s was a Heath Kit client, making electronic test equipment, shortwave radio, and a color TV set.  And, when the integrated circuit chips with embedded processor arrived in the late 1970s, I build a computer with switches and blinking lights using an RCA 1802 CMOS Chip.  An early TRS-80 user I make a teletype printer interface to print out programs and email.  In the process, I learned how to write some 1802 machine language code plus some Basic on the TRS-80 and Fortran on a DEC-11 at work.

On Saturday, October 6th, Ellen and I joined hundreds of other tinkers, makers and future makers at the Sierra College Mini-Makers Faire, sponsored by the Hacker’s Lab.

While there was a plethora is activities from beer making, sewing, and coding, it was the multiple robotic displays and activities that was capturing the most attention of the young and mature Makers alike. There were industrial robots, intelligent robots, fighting robots, and underwater rovers.   

Hacker Lab Table

This was our third Mini-Makers Faire at Sierra College. One of the notable changes on campus is the library, it now the Library and Cyber Center.  Gone are the book stacks replace by rows of computer terminals, a Writing Center and Research Assistance Desk, and expanded coffee shop, with lots of tables for social interaction.

Today I tinker with Raspberry Pi processors. I met an exciting gent from the Hackers Lab who had created a weather station with a Raspberry Pi controller. Most interesting was an old-time radio he built with a Raspberry Pi and a storage device to playback over a 1,000 old time radio shows, Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, The Shadow, and many more.

One of my broadband Raspberry Pi projects is HERE.

Every rural county should consider launching a gathering place for makers and hosting a Mini-Makers Faire.  Nevada County has the Curious Forge and Truckee Roundhouse. Sacramento County has two Hacker’s Labs and Placer County one.  These makers places are the incubators for tomorrows economic success. Planner and community leaders can find the recipe for a maker space in Chris Anderson’s Makers, The New Industrial Revolution.