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.

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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 Federal and state governments have provided billions of dollars to companies to build out speedy fiber networks, but outdated and undetailed maps make it tough to identify areas in need.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. 

Today: White House Spotlights 5G

— The White House National Economic Council is bringing together government officials, carriers, chip makers and trade groups for a look at the future of next-generation 5G technology. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is expected to give remarks about his agency’s work to support 5G services, and both Republican Commissioners Brendan Carr and Mike O’Rielly are planning to attend. The lone Democratic commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, was not invited. The summit comes amid growing backlash from local officials over the agency’s approval of a plan to streamline the deployment of small cells across the country to support 5G — an order that will override local regulations.

— House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) expects to discuss the broadband provisions wrapped into Ray Baum’s Act, enacted into law this spring as part of omnibus funding legislation. He said the Trump administration is striking a better balance on 5G than earlier in the year, when a National Security Council staffer floated a proposal to nationalize 5G. “I think they’re rightfully concerned about cybersecurity and most importantly, we want the U.S. and U.S. companies in the lead globally,” Walden told John on Thursday. “So we’re not having to take somebody else’s technology — I’d rather have our companies in the lead, in the forefront, and I believe they are.”

— NEC Director Larry Kudlow will discuss 5G’s impact on the future of the economy, and will argue that the administration’s tax reform and deregulatory policies have helped lay the foundation for the technology, according to an NEC official.

— Other speakers include Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who will also deliver a keynote address, as well as NTIA Administrator David Redl and Deputy CTO Michael Kratsios. The event will include sessions on spectrum, rural broadband deployment, security and applications of 5G technology. About 150 people are expected to attend, including representatives from trade groups such as CTIA, the Consumer Technology Association, the Wireless Infrastructure Association, and companies including Intel and Charter.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Rural Communities Losing $68 Billion in Economic Value Due to Digital Divide, New NRECA Study Finds

Arlington, VA – The lack of broadband access for 6.3 million electric co-op households results in more than $68 billion in lost economic value, according to new research by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). The new report investigates the cost of the digital divide and the growing economic advantages to America’s rural communities.

The study analyzed the value that households place on broadband access. It noted that households in parts of America with broadband access receive, on average, a benefit of $1,950 annually. Applying this value to 6.3 million electric co-op households without broadband, the study finds a total lost value of $68.2 billion to cooperative members nationwide.

Importantly, the deployment of broadband would be expected to enable additional economic benefits such as expanded jobs, education and economic growth. None of these factors were examined in the NRECA study.

“Closing the digital divide is imperative for rural communities and will help improve the economic outlook for the entire country,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Millions of Americans are locked out of the new digital economy simply by virtue of their zip code. Electric co-ops recognize the importance of expanded broadband access and are working to be part of the solution.”

Read More HERE.

 

 

Fact Sheet Explains Why “Satellite Is Not Broadband” But?

Community Networks Newsletter

As a nation our goal is ubiquitous broadband coverage so every person, regardless of where they live, can obtain the fast, affordable, reliable Internet access necessary for modern times. For people in rural areas, where large national wireline providers don’t typically invest in the infrastructure for high-quality connectivity, satellite Internet access is often their only choice. In our Satellite Is Not Broadband fact sheet we address some of the reasons why depending on satellite Internet access to serve rural America is a mistake.

Download Fact Sheet HERE.

Analysis:

The data sheet is correct satellite broadband is expensive, it suffers from high latency and from weather interruptions.

Latency is the time it takes for a signal to get from the ground to satellite and back to the ground again. It is not a big issue when you’re sending emails or trying to view a static webpage. However, for online education, telehealth and virtual reality high latency can be a showstopper for any service requiring real-time communications.

SpaceX has proposed to reduce the latency issue with it’s Starlink Program. SpaceX’s idea is to put its satellites into much lower orbit than usual, in order to cut the latency of the services. A typical internet satellite in geostationary orbit is more than 22,000 miles above ground. According to SpaceX’s FCC filings, the company wants to put its Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit, between 684 and 823 miles in the air.

Space x wants to initially deploy 800 satellites in low Earth orbit, in order to cover “initial U.S. and international coverage.” Then it wants to throw over 7,000 more into the sky at “Very Low Earth Orbit” (VLEO, in this case around 211 miles up) to fill in the blanks as needed.

Also, SpaceX is not the only satellite company seeking to provide broadband services. OneWeb, Telesat, and Space Norway have also received the FCC’s go-ahead for similar low altitude satellite services. The competition should reduce the price and smaller low altitude satellites will reduce the latency problem, but all will have to deal with the weather.

Given the Telco focus on 5G which is not a rural friendly technology due to the low user density which makes the return on investment questionable, low altitude satellite may be the only options for rural communities for a long time. Getting taxpayers to pay for the fiber networks that 5G needs to cover rural communities are going to be a tough nut to crack.