High-Speed Internet Project for Nevada County Gets Green Light (Docs)

The California Public Utilities Commission has signaled approval of the sale of Bright Fiber Inc. to Race Communications with some changes, a move that after months of inaction advances a high-speed internet project in Nevada County.

The CPUC on Monday released a resolution detailing the changes, which include having 75 percent of the project on existing utility poles instead of “primarily underground.” Additionally, the utilities commission grant — which comprises 60 percent of the total project cost — will be reduced by almost $70,000, for a total of $16,086,789.

The utility commission must approve the sale — a vote scheduled for Jan. 10.

Read the Rest of the Story in The Union

 

C|NET: Why Rural Areas Can’t Catch A Break On Speedy Broadband

Everyone agrees on the mission to connect more people. But no one can agree on how to do it.

C|NET BB

 

 

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

 

 

[…]

In previous generations, communities thrived based on their proximity to infrastructure like roads, railways, airports and rivers to distribute goods. Today, it’s about having access to reliable, affordable high-speed internet. Communities without access will simply wither and die, says Jonathan Chambers, a former FCC official and partner at the Washington-based consulting firm Conexon, which works with electric co-ops looking to deliver rural broadband service.

People will vote with their feet and move away from places that do not provide high-speed internet access,” he said. “They will leave, and that community will not survive.”

[…]

But the biggest barrier to getting broadband in certain areas of the country is low population density. Broadband providers simply won’t offer service if they can’t get enough customers to pay for it.

[…]

The advent of 5G wireless, which promises to bring increased speeds and network responsiveness, is also unlikely to reach rural communities.

[…]

Market forces are what will drive the deployment of 5G,” said Blair Levin, who oversaw the FCC’s National Broadband report in 2010 and who served as chief of staff to Clinton-era FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. “The 5G economics are very different than they are for 4G. And cities, because of their density, are in a much better position to drive 5G deployment than rural communities.”

[…]

“Even if you make it cheaper to deploy and invest in the network, if you can’t sustain a business because the population density is too low, it doesn’t really matter,” Brake said.

[…]

. . . 5G, which needs hundreds of radios to cover relatively short distances, is likely prohibitively expensive to make sense for rural areas.

There’s also the use of unlicensed TV broadcast spectrum called white spaces. Microsoft, which holds several royalty-free technology patents for using this spectrum, announced a program in July 2017 to connect 2 million people in rural America by 2022 through partnerships with telecom companies. The company promised to have 12 projects up and running in 12 states in the next 12 months.

The FCC has set rules for the use of white space spectrum and established an administrator of a national database to identify channels that can be used by devices accessing the shared spectrum. But there have been problems with the database’s accuracy, and there’s not yet an ecosystem of devices, which means it could be a while before the technology is widely used by consumers.

Full Article is HERE.  Color highlights added.

 

 

Introducing the Community Networks Quickstart Program

Determining if a publicly owned network is right for your community is a multi-step, complex process. Many factors will influence whether or not the residents, business owners, and local leaders in your community will want to make an investment in Internet access infrastructure. ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative is now working with NEO Partners, LLC, to help local communities in the early phases as they consider investing in publicly owned infrastructure. For a limited time, a few select communities will receive special pricing to help spread the word about the Community Networks Quickstart Program. Apply by September 28th to be considered as one of the pilot communities.

Read More Here

This is an option more rural communities should be considering as the large Telcos are not going to bring broadband to rural communities unless the installation exceeds their ROI hurdles.  The Telcos are consumed by 5G mania, a technology that is too expensive for rural communities with low population densities. This is a DIY world, make plans based on a real-world assessment. Check out the Quick Start Models.

 

5G Is Going to Take Big Investment, How will it be Recovered?

There is growing discussion about the investment required to implemented 5G and how that investment is going to be recovered. Caroline Chan, Intel VP and GM of the 5G Infrastructure Division on the edge of 5G.

“How do 5G use cases benefit the enterprise?” she pondered during a panel conversation hosted by Cradlepoint in Austin, Texas, during a week of colocated 5G conferences. “That’s my personal interest–the enterprise edge. We all know that 5G, the way that we talk about, is going to take a lot of investment. Where are we going to get the return on investment?” Chan noted her involvement in 5G groups that look specifically at vertical use cases for automotive and industrial automation, for example. “The trick is, if you want to get more money, more than just a SIM card, you have to have enterprise,” she said.

More HERE.

My question is who is going to provide the investment for rural 5G? How will that investment go to be recovered, there are few automotive and industrial plants to automate and control through low latency IoT-type devices in rural communities? Low latency IoT applications is a core sales feature of 5G. How may low latency industrial applications exist in rural communities what would produce the revenue streams needed to recover the investment mentioned by Chan?

Rural communities need to examine their 5G expectations and consider some alternatives. Over 750 rural communities across the country have or are developing community fiber networks. More details HERE.

Small-Town Ingenuity Is Making Gigabit Broadband A Reality

With all the headlines about the lack of broadband in rural America, you’d be forgiven for thinking that all small towns are stuck in the dark age of dial-up internet.

The untold story of rural broadband is that over the past seven years, independent broadband networks have proliferated. Today, some of the fastest, most affordable internet in the country can be found in communities like Oskaloosa, Iowa (population:11,500); Powell, Wyoming (6,400); Red Wing, Minnesota (16,500); and Springfield, Vermont (9,000). According to a 2016 Federal Communications Commission data release, more than 1,100 rural fiber broadband providers operate networks of various sizes in some of the most remote parts of America, and more than 230 of those providers offer symmetrical (both download and upload) gigabit speeds.

Rural broadband deployment isn’t easy, but the biggest barriers to better connectivity are not simply geographical. Twenty-one states currently have laws—largely manufactured by telecom industry lobbyists—that impede independent ISPs trying to deploy fiber. Wilson, North Carolina, for example, was one of the first municipalities to build out a network and show that fiber to the home was possible in a rural town. But in response, lobbyists forced through legislation to restrict municipal networks in North Carolina. The absurd result of this was that the Wilson fiber network has actually had to shutter service for some of its customers.

[. . .]

Just how far and fast is rural gigabit-speed broadband being deployed? My organization, the Center on Rural Innovation, mapped it to learn more. Using the 2016 FCC data again, we found that more than 2,500 rural towns have access to fiber internet, representing more than 8.5 million rural Americans—a million more people than live in the Bay Area, including Silicon Valley. Of those, nearly 3 million have access to full symmetrical gigabit speeds. And though the gap between rural and non-rural fiber internet coverage is significant, it isn’t as overwhelming as many people think. More than 15 percent of rural Americans have access to fiber, compared with approximately 30 percent of people in suburban and urban areas.

Full article is HERE. This article mirror’s many of my thoughts on rural broadband band as critical infrastructure.

•  “Small towns and rural counties have leveraged their ability to issue inexpensive bonds to build world-class infrastructure.”

• “. . .generously fund construction of this kind of infrastructure just like it does for water and sewer capacity.”

Read the whole article!

Fiber Alternative in Rural Communities: Connectivity Matters

Article by Trevor Jones at Broadband Communities Magazine.

If your community is struggling with the economics of a townwide fiber network, you are not alone. The good news is that although wiring your whole town with fiber is the ideal solution, there are other options for getting broadband access to your constituents if you just can’t raise the funds – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

For as long as I have been engaged with community broadband networks, the technologies best suited for public investment have been a source of debate. Some believe public money should be invested only in fiber to the premises because fiber infrastructure investments have sufficient capacity to be future-proof for at least 20 years.

On the other hand, building fiber is expensive and time consuming, and a full-on commitment to a fiber-only solution probably means it will be many years before some areas see the kind of investment necessary to bring them improved service.

The Full article is HERE

Fixed wireless may also be a better solution than 5G for rural communities which lack the fiber infrastructure that 5G requires.

Verizon’s wireless chief on 5G use cases: retail, manufacturing, gaming and more

Fierce Wireless has the story:

And Dunne offered some specific 5G use cases that might leverage some of those features:

Retail: “Think in a real-time enterprise environment for retail, where you can deliver both quality of insight and information about your customers that you might have previously only assumed that an online retailer can have, in real time in a physical retail environment,” Dunne said, explaining that retailers could also offer augmented and virtual reality offerings through 5G.

Healthcare: Dunne said healthcare providers could use advanced network services to provide better and more effective long-term patient monitoring.

Gaming: “Things like gaming will be really, really interesting,” Dunne said, noting that lower latency will be key for the sector. “That’s probably where you get this extra level in your game that only Verizon’s 5G customers are able to access with the extra capability there.”

Added Dunne: “Clearly in the gaming world its the latency … Getting your retaliation in first in a gaming app is all that matters.”

Stock trading: Dunne said that Verizon could “deliver a trading experience on your mobile, in conjunction with Yahoo, that is best-in-class and perhaps even your ability to trade nanoseconds faster than somebody who is on a wired service.”

Smart cities: Dunne mentioned services like real-time facial recognition, traffic management and potentially autonomous vehicles as services enabled by an advanced, 5G network. He noted that such technology could improve the reaction time of autonomous vehicles significantly: For example, a car traveling 60 miles an hour could respond to an accident within the time it travels four inches rather than four feet on a 4G connection. “That sort of helps to give you a sense of how important that latency is,” he said.

Stadium experiences: 5G connections in locations like a stadium could provide new, real-time experiences to sports fans or concert goers, Dunne said.

Precision manufacturing: Dunne said 5G could aid in industries like manufacturing, which is an area that other companies have also discussed.

Full article is HERE.

The real question is will rural communities see 5G anytime in the near future?  Remember 5G is being brought to you by cooperations that must answer to stockholders who are expecting a profit on their investment. That makes AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint/TMobile profit-driven companies that make decisions based on return on investment.  Rural 5G installation are major risks, and will only be addressed after the all the low hanging fruit is all gone, and by then soon forgotten as the G6 hype will become the next big thing. Rural America will be left holding an empty bag of promises once again.   Rural America, if you want broadband for economic development, then build it, just like you build new sewer plants, extend water services and widen roads to meet the demand.

Breaking: Bright Fiber Sale Suspended until November, Public Utility Commission says

The state’s Public Utilities Commission has suspended the process of selling the Bright Fiber high-speed internet project to address issues and concerns raised by the public, a suspension scheduled to last until November, a commission spokesman said.

The suspension of an “advice letter,” which details the sale of Bright Fiber to Race Communications, occurred Wednesday — the same day a public comment period about the proposed transaction ended. Commission staff now will review issues and concerns raised in various letters it received.

Details HERE.

 

Small Cell Rural Coverage

I have been reading 5G propagation studies to assess the viability of 5G as a rural friendly technology. Most of the models and studies focus on urban applications and urban problems, like building shadows, antenna height, wall and window penetration and the miles of fiber need for fronthaul and backhaul networks to feed the needed bandwidth to the small cells required to transmit high capacity 5G signals.

5g model

One study, Radio Propagation Path Loss Models for 5G Cellular Networks in the 28 GHz and 38 GHz Millimeter-Wave Bands, simulated the coverage areas for existing 2/3/4G signals to cover a 10-mile square area. To ensure a suitable signal within the 100 square mile target area would require 22 cell sites, on antenna 20 meters high. To cover the same area with 28GHz small cells would require 81 sites, approximately one per square mile.

Coverage at 28Ghz

According to the United States Census Bureau, Nevada City has a total area of 2.2 square miles, requiring approximately three small cells at 28GHz, Grass Valley, 4.7 square miles, requiring about five small cells. Nevada County covers 974 square miles, with 16 being water. For complete coverage of the County at 5G would need 958 small cells.

With vast areas only sparsely populated with few paved roads, it would be difficult to justify installing 5G small cells that would not be used enough to have a return on the investment (ROI). Thus, it is highly unlikely that those small cells will ever be installed, without government intervention to include installation grants and ongoing use subsidies. Not a high probability.

It is about 24 miles from Auburn to Grass Valley. Using the one small cell per square mile, it would require about 24 small cells to provide G5 coverage to US-49 from Auburn to Grass Valley. Again, due to ROI issues, it is unlikely that this section will have small cell G5 coverage.

All the calculations in the model use assume a clear line of sight between the small cell antenna the user antenna. In highly forested areas, maintaining a clear line of sight can be a challenge for providers. More in this issue in a future post.

“5G” Wireless Is the New Fiber Optic, Bait-and-Switch Scandal

Bruce Kushnick, a Telecom Analyst and New Networks Institute,Executive Director, & Founding Member has a long and rambling discussion of telco bait and switch on Medium, the last third of his article and link to full article is below.  This does not bode well for rural broadband, just a higher tech digital divide. Cities, towns and villages need to build thier own networks and not wait for the telco promisses to be broken again.  Link to full article is HERE.  See the Ft Colins article HERE.

View at Medium.com

History Shows 5G Is Just another “We Will Bring New Tech if You Get Rid of Regulations” Scam.

The 5G frenzy is like any of the previous techno-bait-and-switch schemes — and this one is ironically similar to the super-hyped 1990’s “Info-Highway” when America was supposed to get a fiber optic network that would replace the existing copper wires. The companies, changing the state laws, collected (overcharged) over $400 billion from this hype, and worse, the original rate increases were built into most of the current rates.

In fact, a lawyer came up with Kushnick’s Law:
“A regulated company will always renege on promises to provide public benefits tomorrow in exchange for regulatory and financial benefits today.”

And anyone who thinks this is different should travel back to the techno-hype that was thrown at the public hourly; it was everywhere, it was all pervasive and it was using a ‘new technology’ — the new shiny bauble, as the lure.

Example: It’s the spring of 1993 and the fiber optic Info Bahn is just a few months away. The April 12th, 1993 cover of Time Magazine proclaims: “The Info Highway: Bringing a Revolution in Entertainment, News and Communication: Coming Soon to your TV Screen….”. The story continues: (Click to get/view/purchase/tweet the cover.)

“It’s not here yet, but it’s arriving sooner than you think. Suddenly the brave new world of videophone and smart TVs that futurists have been predicting for decades is not years away but a few months…. We won’t have to wait long. By this time next year, vast new video services will be available at a price to millions of Americans.”

Ironically, America should have started on the path of a fiber optic future 25 years ago.

•  AT&T (Pacific Bell) California claimed it would spend $16 billion from 1993–2000 to complete 5.5 million households with fiber. Never deployed; pocketed the tax breaks and rate increases.

•  Verizon Bell Atlantic claimed it would spend $11 billion from 1993–2000 to have eventually 12 million households wired with fiber. (Most of the East Coast — never deployed; pocketed the tax breaks and rate increases.)

And 25 years later we have little to show for it. AT&T California never deployed the fiber optics in the 1990’s and then pulled a bait-and-switch with U-Verse in 2005, claiming it was ‘fiber-based’ when it is really a copper-to-the-home service. Verizon deployed virtually no residential fiber from 1993–2005, even though they got billions per state. They ended up finally deploying FiOS in 2005, then stopped in 2010–2012, leaving less than ½ of the utility territories covered (and with major gaps). Unfortunately, we know of no state that gave refunds or lowered rates based on the state-based incentives and the removal of ‘barriers to investment’.

Now we know why the previous FCC stats showed that there is little or no competition for high-speed broadband in America — AT&T and Verizon never showed up.
And just to show you how crazy this is, we again face a situation where a new technology is being touted as superior to upgrading the networks to fiber optics, even though 5G doesn’t exist yet as advertised, may never fulfill its projected destiny and requires fiber optics. But now, the FCC is giving companies the ability to dismantle the state utilities and hand them over to an affiliate company — wireless. And there are no commitments of any sort that once they get deregulated they will do what they say.

Based on history… this needs to be stopped. Where are the audits of the financial books? The FCC is now ‘weed-whacking’ them to cover over the cross-subsidies.

And if you think there are no similarities to the fiber promises of the past and the ‘wireless’ promises of today (that ironically require the fiber to be deployed…)

Compare:

Brendan Carr’s 2018 statement about 5G claims that there will be a $500 billion dollar boost to the economy.

“Deploying 5G, the next-generation of wireless service, could mean 3 million new jobs, $275 billion in private sector network investment, and $500 billion added to the GDP.”

To this:

In 2001, when what is now Verizon et al. wanted to prove to America that increasing broadband deployment (their way, of course), could add $500 billion to the US economy, Verizon hired the Brookings Institute to prove the case.

“While the great broadband debate rages on at Capitol Hill, a new study released yesterday said widespread use of high-speed Internet service in the near future could pump as much as $500 billion annually into the U.S. economy.

“The study, conducted by the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. and titled ‘The $500 Billion Opportunity: The Potential Economic Benefit of Widespread Diffusion of Broadband Internet Access….”

This 2001 study and others helped to create the Net Neutrality issues. They were used, in part, to convince the Republican FCC (and Congress) our fiber optic future was just a few years away — and we needed to get rid of competitors, including small ISPs. This was done by combining the broadband service and the internet service and calling it broadband-internet.

I note that by the end of 2017, about $500 billion has been overcharged in the name of broadband in the US; ($400 billion extended from 1992 through 2014, and this accounting process started in 1998.) And this is the low number based on our uncovering that the wireline customers have been charged for the wireless deployments.