RCRC Rural Broadband Update

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is under mounting pressure to re-evaluate the accuracy of the broadband mapping data used in the commission’s 2019 Broadband Deployment Report.  On June 2, 2019, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) became one of the loudest critics yet when he pointed to the disparities between the FCC’s report and a 3rd party study conducted by Microsoft.

In addition, Congressman Doug Collins (R-Georgia), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai requesting the commission consider a more accurate and reliable approach to mapping broadband coverage.  Unreliable broadband coverage data from the FCC paints an overly optimistic picture of broadband coverage in rural areas and undermines the ability of policymakers to prioritize funding for areas that are truly underserved.  More members are calling for improvements to broadband mapping data to better address the digital divide and improve broadband coverage in rural areas.

Source: RCRC Barbed Wire Newsletter

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Supervisors Deny 70 Household Critical Infrastructure

Note:  This letter to The Union Editor was submitted on 30 May 2019

Nevada County supervisors oppose new cell tower read the headline!

“Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield said he usually supports new cell towers. However, he wasn’t going to approve one at 13083 Wildlife Lane.
Speaking near the end of a Tuesday hearing for a tower, Scofield said the proposed 110-foot AT&T tower would bring broadband access to only some 70 homes.”
In today’s digital world Broadband access has become critical infrastructure, just like water, power and waste management according to the Brookings Institute, California Public Utilities Commission, the Federal Communication Commission and other future assessing organizations.
Would the Supervisors deny 70 households access to water, power, or waste management? No! So why do they deny 70 homes access to more economic opportunity, better education, and healthcare that is available on this critical infrastructure called broadband?
I have invested 1,000 of hours promoting broadband in Nevada County, mapping broadband deficiencies, working with Congress and the FCC to promote federal investment in rural broadband. Now that it has arrived Supervisor Schofield says, “We do not need that” Really, how clueless to the needs of modern digital society can a Supervisor be?
This kind of leadership is destroying the economic potential of a beautiful County. It would help if Nevada County had a more knowledgeable representative.

Top Dem Launches Rural Broadband Task Force Amid Infrastructure Talks

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Monday announced the creation of an all-Democrat task force on rural broadband, signaling his support for the inclusion of broadband funding in any infrastructure package.

The move comes as Democratic leaders pursue a potential $2 trillion infrastructure deal with President Trump, with both sides saying rural broadband would likely be included.

“It’s unacceptable in 2019 that many rural communities have limited to no access to the internet,” Clyburn said in a statement. “If rural America is to thrive in the 21st century information economy, it must have affordable and accessible internet service to every community.”

The group of 17 House Democrats aims to ensure federal funding for rural broadband is spent “effectively” and that legislation is passed to expand internet access to all Americans by 2025, according to a statement about the new coalition. Its members include lawmakers representing rural districts, as well as some progressive leaders like Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

“Majority Whip Clyburn and the President agreed on the need to include significant funding for rural broadband in the package,” the statement reads.

Continue Reading at The Hill

Trump promised to put rural broadband in his previous budgets and it did not happen. Let’s hope this time it is a real deal!

Making 5G Sausage in Washington

CTIA SLAMS DEFENSE BOARD 5G STUDY

— The wireless industry trade group called a recent 5G study presented to the Defense Department a “missed opportunity to collaborate” and contended it includes flawed information about the technology, in a Thursday letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

— The study from the Defense Innovation Board warned about the potential for Chinese dominance in 5G and recommended the Pentagon explore sharing its mid-band spectrum with wireless operators. It also suggested the U.S. was wrongly focused on high-band spectrum for 5G when the rest of the world is making lower-frequency airwaves available for next-gen networks.

— CTIA said the study would have benefited from outreach to the wireless industry. While acknowledging that midband is necessary for 5G, CTIA said the U.S. approach to supply a mix of airwaves is the right one, and that efforts to free up midband airwaves should be geared toward exclusive licenses — not sharing models.

BRING ON THE BROADBAND BILLS

— Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) earned quick praise from telecom industry trade groups for his new Broadband Interagency Coordination Act, filed Thursday with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The measure would compel an agreement among the FCC, NTIA and USDA to coordinate on federal broadband subsidies. A bipartisan group of senators including Klobuchar also reintroduced the Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act, which would mandate a federal study on — what else — the impact of broadband on the U.S. economy.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

President Trump to hold WH Meeting on 5G and Rural Broadband (Updated 04-12-19)

Screen Shot 2019-04-11 at 9.13.03 PM

Looking forward to seeing the results of this meeting.  Rural broadband needs all the public attention it can get.  In the scheme of things, rural communities will be the last to get 5G unless some government action is taken to change the ROI for the telecom providers.

Update 04-12-19:  From POLITICO Morning Tech

5G IN THE WHITE HOUSE — Pai is slated to head to the White House this afternoon for a 5G-themed meeting with Trump, as Margaret reported for Pros. The afternoon event will focus on U.S. efforts to build the next-generation networks and comes amid feuding by Trump advisers on how best to advance the technology. The meeting is also expected to include a rural broadband funding announcement, according to an administration official. Remember: Pai briefed Trump on American leadership in 5G last week, and Trump also heard from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson about his company’s progress.

The State Of Our Maps

— Senate Commerce holds a hearing this morning on the steps needed to improve the accuracy of broadband mapping data, particularly in rural communities where the lack of reliable information has become a source of frustration for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Panel Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has criticized the FCC’s handling of the issue and, six months ago, contemplated the use of a congressional spending bill to force the commission to revisit the problem. “Flawed and inaccurate maps ultimately waste resources and stifle opportunities for economic development in our rural and underserved communities,” Wicker said in an opening statement shared with MT.

— Witnesses include USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter, who is leading his own mapping initiative. (Charter Communications and Microsoft both outlined their own concerns with the mapping process and suggestions for improvement in blog posts this past week.)

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Lawmakers Revive Broadband Bill

— The ACCESS BROADBAND Act, which aims to expand broadband access in underserved areas, is now back in both chambers, lawmakers announced in a news release Wednesday. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) tout bipartisan support for the reintroduction of the measure, H.R. 1328 (116), which would also create an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), meanwhile, are backing a Senate version. The bill passed the House but not the Senate in the previous Congress.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

The Press Release is HERE.

Bill Text is HERE   I am not sure this legislation and the organization it creates is going to solve any rural broadband problems. No mention of broadband mapping.