RCRC Broadband Update

[Today] the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a rule change that will restrict rural carrier’s access to spectrum needed to close the digital divide. Rural counties across the country often rely on small local providers to offer broadband services where the large nationwide carriers refuse to provide coverage.

Small carriers deliver high-speed internet to millions of rural Americans at an affordable rate in areas where nationwide carriers refuse to build networks. Despite the important role these carriers play for rural broadband customers, the FCC will vote to restrict small carriers’ access to low-cost spectrum next week.

The Report and Order drafted by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will change the rules for the “Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service” (CBRS) program which provides affordable spectrum licenses for census tract areas. These licenses are more beneficial to large rural counties because they enable local carriers to provide broadband to smaller population centers. CTIA, a telecommunications trade association representing nationwide carriers and other stakeholders, petitioned the FCC to eliminate the census tract licenses because they interfere with larger networks. CTIA and T-Mobile proposed a “compromise” to the FCC to expand the license area from census tracts to counties. Critics argue nationwide carriers would abuse a county license by over-building in urban centers to meet their build-out requirements without adding service for under-served rural areas.

Rural advocates will intensify their political pressure in the days leading up to the FCC’s vote to encourage Members of Congress to speak out on their behalf.

The source is HERE.


ATTENTION: AB 1999 Easing the Way for Rural Communities

This is really important news! Governor Brown signed AB 1999 on 30 September 2018. Communities can now treat broadband as a critical infrastructure, just like water, wastewater management, trash collections, fire protection, and public transportation.

Community Networks has the details:

AB 1999 focuses on the responsibilities and authority of community service districts (CSDs), created to provide necessary services. CSDs are independent local governments usually formed by residents in unincorporated areas for the purpose of providing the kinds of services city-dwellers often take for granted: water and wastewater management, trash collection, fire protection, etc. In keeping with the ability to raise funds for these services, CSDs have the authority to create enhanced infrastructure financing districts (EIFDs). CSDs are allowed to use EIFDs to fund development of Internet access infrastructure in the same way they would sewer infrastructure, or convert overhead utilities to underground, or other projects that deal with infrastructure and are in the public interest.

Prior to the adoption of AB 1999, however, a CSD would first have to engage in a process to determine that no person or entity was willing to provide Internet access before the CSD could offer it to premises. Additionally, if a private sector entity came along after the infrastructure was deployed and expressed a willingness to do so, the CSD had no choice by law but to sell or lease the infrastructure they had developed rather than operate it themselves.

With the passage of AB 1999, CSDs no longer need to adhere to those strict requirements.

When the California State Legislature chose to pass the bill, lawmakers sent a message to big cable and telephone companies that they are no longer willing to bend over backwards to protect incumbent monopolies that ignore their rural constituents. Other states with restrictions championed by national ISPs and their lobbyists need to take note of California’s decision. Voters already believe that the federal government doesn’t do enough to bring high-quality Internet access to rural areas. State laws that further restrict options add to their frustration.

This a major step toward empowering local communities! Now the problem is getting local communities to exercise that power.  Local communities can stop waiting for the 5G that will never come and start taking action to meet the broadband needs of their citizens.

FCC Small Cell Ruling Local Impact?

Governor Brown vetoed SB 649 which would have cleared the path for 5G small cell installation. Counties, Cities, and Town administrators worried if SB 649 became law, it would cap how much they could charge the telcos for use of public infrastructure. Now it has become a Federal administrative dictate.

Of course, what is worth noting is the majority of local authorities are working effectively with the telcos and the federal government to remove administrative hurdles and smooth the road to deployment. These new rules, which limit the power and influence of the local governments, are only directed at the troublemakers who demonstrate short-sighted ambitions in laying out a troublesome path for the telcos.

This is from telecom.com news article HERE.

It raises a question. What is the Gold County Broadband Consortia doing to smooth 5G installation in its area of responsibility, including Sierra, Nevada, Placer and El Dorado County? Question asked, waiting for an answer.

Even larger question is what are all the 14 California Utilities Commission Broadband Consortia doing to smooth 5G implementation? It is going to an economic challenge for the telcos to bring 5G to rural communities. Short-sighted administrative or greedy obstacles in the path will reduce the probability that those communities will ever see 5G.

Links to rural broadband consortia are in the right-hand column, ask the 5G question of the administrator and local policymakers.  Are they helping or hindering 5G implementation?  You might be surprised by the answer.

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.



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.


Opening Round: Local Officials Mull Suing FCC

— National organizations representing municipalities are rebelling against FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr’s plan to streamline the deployment of the 5G wireless infrastructure known as small cells. The proposal, set for a Sept. 26 vote, would preempt local government authority, a measure of run-around that wireless giants like AT&T and Verizon say may be necessary for 5G deployment given delays they face at the local level. That doesn’t sit right with the municipal groups, which say the plan amounts to federal overreach that could harm public safety and local governments’ ability to collect vital revenue. If Carr’s plan is enacted unchanged, the U.S. Conference of Mayors “and its members will seek relief in federal court to overturn this unprecedented overreach,” CEO Tom Cochran said in a statement. The National League of Cities is also opposed and “absolutely” expects litigation to follow, Angelina Panettieri, the league’s principal associate on telecom, told John.

— The National Association of Counties is objecting too, says spokesman Brian Namey: “By narrowing the window for evaluating 5G deployment applications, the FCC would effectively hinder local governments’ fulfillment of public health and safety responsibilities during the construction, modification or installation of broadcasting facilities.” The Conference of Mayors complained that the FCC itself estimated its proposed small cell streamlining “threatens future revenues to local (and state) governments by billions of dollars over the next decade” (Carr had touted estimates funded by Corning, a company with a financial interest in small-cell deployment). In the days leading up to the FCC’s Sept. 26 vote, “I do think you’re going to see a lot of response from municipalities, from utilities,” the NLC’s Panettieri said.

— Carr, for his part, has sought to talk with local officials and called several, including Panettieri, last week to talk through details. He maintains local leaders broadly back his plan. “I’m pleased that dozens of mayors, local officials, and other state leaders all support FCC action,” Carr said. “We’re building on the smart infrastructure policies championed by local leaders. I look forward to continuing the conversation about commonsense reforms with them and the national associations.” In unveiling his proposal Sept. 4, Carr noted rural elected leaders had pressed for FCC action because they worry “that the billions of dollars of investment needed to deploy next-gen networks will be consumed by high fees and long delays in big, ‘must serve’ cities.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Back in 1990s, I was Chamber of Commerce Board Member and attended a Planning Conference at CSU Chico with a fellow board member. At the first break, the instructor took Matt and me out into the hall and said he was uncomfortable with our presence in the front row and the questions we were asking. He explained the session was intended for government planners, not Chamber Members. The purpose was to school government employees on how to extract additional fees from contractors and developers, so “they were paying their fair share.”  We refused to leave, we had paid our fees and it was a joy to watch the instructor squirm as he explained how to extract developers wealth for the public good.  Too many governments view the Telcos as bottom cash resources “for the public good,”  and a way to get their favorite projects and campaign promises funded. The FCC is trying to put a cap on this extortion and the locals are complaining.

Closing The Digital And Economic Divides In Rural America

Today, Staunton sits at the crossroads of two interstates, 81 and 64, which carry traffic north and south through the center of the valley and east across the Piedmont to Virginia’s state capitol, Richmond. With a 2017 population of nearly 25,000, Staunton is the first stop on my 10-city tour to investigate the effects of being digitally invisible in a highly connected, global society. This photo essay confirms that rural areas like Staunton are in critical need of high-speed broadband networks for economic and talent development, especially as access to technology has become the lever to avert the expected outcomes of poverty and social isolation, at least for vulnerable populations.

Full Brookings Article HERE.  The article points out the obvious, rural America does not have broadband because of it’s not a viable business model which can overcome the ORI hurdles. The high 5G investment hurdle is going to make the problem even worse.  The major providers are counting on the edge computing to fatten the 5G ROI, where are the edge industries in rural America to pay the piper? Right?