FCC Says Digital Divide Narrowed

— FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said Tuesday that the agency’s annual broadband deployment report shows that the number of Americans who lack access to high-speed internet service dropped by 25 percent, from 26.1 million at the end of 2016 to 19.4 million at the end of 2017. The figure, an FCC spokesman said, reflects revised data provided by carriers for 2016. (MT readers may recall that last year’s report put the 2016 figure at 24.7 million.) The full report for this year is not yet public.

— Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel quickly disagreed with the report’s conclusion that broadband deployment is happening on an adequate and timely basis. “Millions of households — in rural and urban communities — have no access to high-speed service. That’s a fact.” The FCC said the data shows an improvement in rural parts of the country, with approximately 5.6 million gaining access in rural America.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

I will wait for the full report to see how the numbers were collected. If they used the Federal Broadband Maps or the Telco Self Reporting, there is a high probability the FCC numbers are wrong.

Advertisements

FCC Pai on 5G Future at NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association Conference

Source: telecompetitor.com:

The interview also touched on 5G, where Pai suggested that a promising future for rural markets awaits. Bloomfield pressed Pai on the importance of wired networks, particularly fiber-based, to the future of 5G. Pai agreed and even took it a step further.

“I’ve consistently said that the 5G future isn’t necessarily a wireless one, it’s actually a wired one,” Pai said. “Part of our 5G fast plan, as I’ve called it at the FCC, that’s facilitating America’s superiority [for] 5G technology, involves modernizing our regulations to encourage much more fiber deployment.”

Bucking some conventional wisdom regarding the promise of 5G for rural markets, Pai says he actually sees a promising future there, with one catch though. That promise is largely a fixed 5G promise in Pai’s view, which can help complement carriers who can’t make a business case for fiber everywhere.

“Contrary to what some people have suggested, I actually think 5G has a very promising future in rural America and part of the reason is, in terms of the possibilities of fixed wireless, given the fiber penetration that some of your members have,” he said. “I think the ability of rural telecom carriers to think broadly about the future of these networks and how to extend this great fiber penetration you’ve got, there’s a huge amount of promise there.”

Pai also discussed spectrum management, where he pointed to the FCC’s efforts to make spectrum auctions more accommodating to smaller carriers by reducing the geographic size of spectrum licenses, and thus making spectrum more affordable. He pointed to the upcoming 3.5 GHz auction as an example and told the crowd to stay tuned.

“Stay tuned, there’s a lot of spectrum work yet to be done this year and next, and our hope is more of you will be able to participate,” he said.

Read the full article HERE.

5G in rural America is wishful thinking at mmWave bands. Microsoft Airband has more potential in forested rural regions. SpaceX Airband will be available long before we see 5G in rural America.

 

FCC Quibbles At Senate 5G Hearing

— Amid broader national security fears surrounding Chinese telecom giants, various senators also singled out the FCC with gripes during Senate Commerce’s hearing on 5G wireless on Wednesday. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called the agency too “chicken to do contribution reform” and force more people to pay into its telecom subsidy fund — currently only supported by landline customers. “It’s a shrinking pie,” Schatz said. “We want to win every race but don’t admit that this takes resources.”

— And Democrats weren’t the only ones with gripes with the agency. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) both raised concerns about the FCC’s maps of nationwide broadband availability, widely derided as inaccurate. “NTIA needs to take over this mapping responsibility and clean it up,” Blackburn said.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Spectrum for Rural 5G?

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wants the FCC to set up an incentive auction of the 2.5 GHz spectrum. “This is the spectrum that could make 5G happen in our rural communities,” she said during an event hosted by the Internet Innovation Alliance. She recommended some proceeds go toward solving what she calls the homework gap harming those without broadband connectivity.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

It is good to know that someone in government recognizes that mmWave 5G technology is not the right solution for rural neighborhoods. The question is will policymakers listen and then act?  While 2.5G goes farther than mmWave, it still has line-of-sight limitations.

Telehealth Changes Will Increase Rural Broadband Demand

From the Daily Yonder

New federal policies will make it easier for Americans to use telehealth. Rural communities should be looking for ways to leverage the new demand into better internet connections at home.

Several policy changes from Washington, D.C., should accelerate urban and rural telehealth deployments. On November 1 the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the body that manages these two healthcare programs, finalized new rules that include payment reimbursements for telehealth.

These changes are good news for communities that want broadband to help expand access to healthcare. They will also be welcomed who hope that expanded use of telehealth will increase the number of broadband subscribers. Currently, telehealth service isn’t covered by Medicare and Medicaid in many rural homes, and they don’t reimburse telehealth at all in urban areas.

One of the major telehealth benefits is that it enables people to stay at work or home and have electronic doctor “house calls.” Medicaid and Medicare, as a guard against fraud, required patients to get telehealth treatments at a healthcare provider’s facility. Many private-sector insurers take their cues from Medicaid and Medicare as to what healthcare services they reimburse. Altogether, this has stifled telehealth adoption.

Eric Wicklund, editor of mHealth Intelligence, says that “the CMS changes open the door for more telehealth and remote patient monitoring programs. In turn, this pressures community broadband providers to make sure healthcare providers have the resources to deliver these services.” The FCC has publicly pledged to boost broadband access in rural areas, and hopefully the CMS’ actions will intensify the FCC’s commitment

 

FCC Wins Battle In Small Cell Litigation?

— The FCC notched a victory Thursday in the court fight over its order pre-empting city and state laws on fees and timelines for 5G equipment installation. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from several cities, including Seattle and California’s San Jose and Huntington Beach, to halt implementation of the order while the litigation is pending. The court sided with the FCC, which opposed the request, finding that the cities failed to show that there would be “irreparable harm” if the order takes effect in part as planned Jan. 14. Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr, who spearheaded the order, cheered the ruling as “more good news for U.S. leadership on 5G.”

— Win some, lose some: The 10th Circuit, based in Denver, also on Thursday granted a request from the cities to transfer the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California. The FCC, Verizon, Sprint and industry trade groups had opposed the transfer.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Well, with the transfer to the 9th Circus it will not be long before we are reading about a reversal of this decision. The 9th Circus is the most liberal anti-capitalism court in the Nation. I would give the Cities a win and the 5G Providers a loss. This issue will most likely end up at the Supreme Court.

Collins Introduces FCC Subsidy Bill

— Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) is today introducing his Connect America Fund Accountability Act , which will require recipients of the FCC’s CAF broadband subsidies to provide additional information about their internet speed and latency testing. “This legislation institutes specific tools to hold providers accountable for accurate reporting while ensuring households and businesses throughout our rural communities have access to the broadband services required to compete in the 21st-century economy,” Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.

— And keep an eye out — later this month, Collins plans to reintroduce his Gigabit Opportunity Act, which would create tax incentives for broadband investment in low-income areas, an aide tells MT.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech [Emphsis Added]