The FCC’s Decision To Streamline Pole Attachments Have Gone Into Effect.

The FCC voted in August 2018 (unanimously, though with one partial dissent) to adopt a one-touch, make-ready (OTMR) policy for new broadband attachments on utility poles.

The rules were scheduled to take effect 30 days after publication of the rules in the Federal Register, which happened April 19. That could not happen until the Office of Management and Budget had signed off on the reporting requirement per the Paperwork Reduction Act, which happened April 15.

The new rules took effect Monday, May 20

The third Report & Order and declaratory ruling allows new attachers — like cable broadband providers and Google Fiber — to perform all the “simple” work of preparing and attaching the wires.

The ruling also declared in no uncertain terms that states and localities are prohibited from imposing moratoria on broadband buildouts.

The item codified that new wires can overlash existing attachments to maximize the space available and regularizes the rate incumbents pay for attachments vs. cable and telco attachers.

Continue reading at MultiChannel News HERE. [Emphasis Added]

 

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More DIY Fiber Served Networks in Western Nevada County?

By Russ Steele

I described the Beckville Network HERE, an innovate way to access the VAST Fiber network which twists and winds through Western Nevada County’s rural neighborhoods. Does this fiber network come close to your area?  See the map.

VAST in NC

One essential item NOT on the map is the splice points, where a point-of-presence could easily be established by VAST for access to the fiber.

I am working on a map with more details, but one of the first items to add should be the potential access points.

Ten years ago I  used my GPS to find all the AT&T DSL Remote Terminals by following the fiber cable and then recording the location using the GPS for plotting on a digital map.  If interested in starting a network, drive the route and spot the splice point vaults.  Wish I had a photo to show you what to look for. 

Any interest in developing a plan for your neighborhood?  Leave a comment with contact information. 

What Does the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Report Tell Us About the Digital Divide?

John B. Horrigan is Senior Fellow at the Technology Policy Institute

Conclusion

Back to the original question: What does the latest 706 report tell us about the digital divide? Not very much. It uses carrier-reported data that vary wildly from other methods and focuses only on a single part of the digital divide. Here are suggestions for action:

• . Continue to improve metrics: As the NTIA addresses broadband mapping, it should consider bringing network speed measurement into the picture to capture network performance at the local level.

• . Bolster capacity at the local level: With the digital divide becoming more local, the federal government should equip localities with the resources they need to address it.

The FCC recently gutted the ability of local governments to raise resources to address digital inclusion by limiting their ability to charge fees for rights-of-way for 5G deployment. Prior to federal preemption, some places used such fees for digital inclusion planning and funding. The federal government should develop a digital inclusion planning and grant program to help defray, in part at least, lost local revenues from the FCC’s action. Senator Patty Murray recently introduced the Digital Equity Act of 2019 which offers a vehicle for such a program.

Policymakers’ focus on the digital divide will not go away anytime soon. As dialogue on it continues, better data and a broad understanding of the problem are crucial to helping decision-makers make progress on the digital divide.

Emphasis was added.  The full report is HERE.

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.

The Beckville Network — DIY Fiber Innovation

By Russ Steele

Access to the VAST fiber optic network in Western Nevada County is . . . “what we need”

“I’m self-employed from a home office. Access to this broadband has improved my productivity immensely and reduced downtime. I often have to watch videos for research or shuttle large files to clients, and now I never have to worry about somebody else in the household (like my teenage son) using streaming services at the same time. We all get what we need.

Beckville Network Board Member

I learned about the innovative Beckville Network and it’s connection to the VAST fiber network in Nevada County from Peter Brown and Chelsea Walterscheid at the Sierra Business Council when Peter interviewed me for his Nevada County Broadband Strategic Plan Project. During the interview, he told me about a recent meeting he had with Mike McLaughlin, Beckville Network CEO. Mike is the lead innovator for the non-profit corporation that operates the network. 

Why a non-profit corporation? VAST will not provide service to an individual, only business or corporation. To gain access to the VAST fiber network required the formation of a formal business entity, in this case, a non-profit corporation.

I contacted Mike by email and he graciously agrees to an internet interview, which I have edited for length and clarity 

The Beckville Network is a fixed wireless network with a point of presence (POP) on the VAST Fiber network that follows Newtown Road west of Nevada City. The POP provides dedicated 200Mbps symmetrical access. From the POP the Corporation provides Wireless bi-directional services to 13 neighborhood households at speeds between 50 – 120 Mbps, with a latency of 12-15 ms, according to Mike.

Russ: How is the broadband distributed . . .?

Mike: “Our distribution is entirely fixed wireless. My house is the “main hub” and we have 2 other repeater sites, one is another member house, the other is on a members hilltop and is an entirely off-grid, solar powered, relay tower.”

Russ: Estimated start-up development costs and how was the development finances?

Mike: “We started up with 10 members for under $10,000. Joining members cover a share of the startup costs. We were able to bootstrap the network from the membership. “

Russ: The fee to join the network:

Mike: “The current fee is $500. This helps us buy all the necessary equipment and helps recoup some of the initial investment for the original members (who get paid back in lower cost service).” 

Russ: The average monthly user fees?

“$50-70. It is tiered based on when you joined and how many members we have. Our goal is $40-50/month once we have about 20 members.”

Russ: What is the growth potential?

Mike: “It’s limited by volunteer input.  Our goal right now is to get to 20 member households and then revisit our desire to continue growing. I believe this is a number where the monthly fees are low and the maintenance time and costs also stay low. One thing we have always had in mind was trying to inspire more local micro-ISPs and lend a hand where we can.”

Russ: What were the challenges in creating your non-profit corporation?  

Mike: “. . .There are definitely positives and negatives to the business entity. Doing it over again, I would at least consider a co-op model, especially if I wanted to try to grow it further. The non-profit was chosen primarily for the goodwill aspect, . .”

This project should inspire others to follow the Beckville Network model and learn from Mike’ experience. As he indicated above Mike is willing to help others form a micro-ISP. VAST has been very clear from the beginning they are not interested in working with individual users while providing access to businesses and corporations.

More of Nevada County can have access to a fiber optic network if they are willing to invest in the time and effort required to organize a neighborhood and create a corporate entity.  Mike and the Beckville Board of Directors have proven it can be done.  Let’s have less complaining about the lack of broadband access in Nevada County and more action!

Least Connected

This link is to an award-winning article examining the lack of connectivity on an Idaho Indian Reservation. The article reminded me of the struggle people who live in North San Juan have with connectivity. There was a ridge top with some connectivity. Each morning cars gathered on a temporary parking area and with coffee cup in hand passengers downloaded their mail and crafted some replies, collected product orders, and work assignments and then went home. Later in the evening, the same groups of vehicles assembled to repeat the processes, with an additional movie download for the evening entertainment.

While this article is about connective on a Reservation, many other communities across America struggle for some connectivity.

Full Article is HERE.

 

Buy Local (Including Broadband)

 

An article in Broadband Communities Magazine by Eric Ogle

Ogle’s conclusion:

As corporate service providers continue to shortchange many rural communities on the services they should provie, they also remove tremendous amounts of money from communities. Given the public outcry for buy-local campaigns, why isn’t there a similar outcry for buy-local campaigns focused on local broadband service?

In the example provided, through a sustainable partnership with the local utility, what long-term local economic impact would result if a utility-anchored broadband initiative were able to capture 50 percent – or even a third or a quarter – of the market?

As with many public infrastructure projects, utility-provided broadband is deployed for the common good, and many benefits occur “off the balance sheet” in terms of enhanced economic opportunities and quality-of-life improvements. So instead of wondering how it can afford to offer broadband services, given the money that is lost each year to corporate providers with inferior services, a community should wonder instead how long it can afford not to offer broadband services.

It has been my experience, that AT&T moves much faster to improve broadband services when threatened by competition.