American Broadband Initiative to Expand Connectivity for all Americans

White House announces the initiative on the White House Blog

Expanding America’s broadband connectivity is critical to our nation’s economy, and a top priority for President Trump and the Department of Commerce. Today, we join with our partners in government to announce the American Broadband Initiative (ABI), a comprehensive effort to stimulate increased private sector investment in broadband.

NTIA is proud to share leadership of the ABI, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the White House Offices of American Innovation, Management and Budget, Science and Technology Policy, and the National Economic Council. In a report released today, over 20 federal agencies set out strategies for streamlining federal permitting, leveraging federal assets, and maximizing the effectiveness of federal funding for broadband.

We congratulate the Department of Interior on the launch of the new Joint Overview Established Location Map, which pulls data related to federal lands and assets from multiple agencies into a single map. This map will help the broadband industry more easily identify the location of available assets. It is an important first step in one of the Initiative’s core priorities: making it easier for the private sector to leverage federal assets to promote investment.

More details and links at the Broadband USA Blog

 

 

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Volunteers Being Sought for Home Internet Study

CED Newsletter

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Geographical Information Center (GIC) at California State University, Chico and CSU, Monterey Bay are seeking 500 volunteers to take part in the CPUC Home Internet Study. The study aims to explore and analyze the Californian’s internet connections including:
* Performance of connections in rural areas, compared with connections in urban areas.
* Performance of DSL connections, compared with Cable connections.
* WiFi Router technologies in use in the California WiFi landscape.
* Performance of Ethernet (wired) connections vs. WiFi connections.

For additional information about the project, or to sign up, visit www.calspeed.net

I was a volunteer member of the beta test team for the CalSpeed data collection box. The box arrived in the mall, and I connected it to my internet router with a Gigahertz connection from Wave Broadband.

When Initially installed, before the beta test started,  the Wave 1Gig modem interface device’s speed ranged from 700 to 850 Mbps using my desktop Mac with Speedtest.com Speed checks were take at random times during the day. Good to go for the beta test.

IMG_1248
Photo of beta test box

 

During the beta test, we were on vacation for two weeks in Seattle. While we were gone, PG&E change our electric meter. They cut off the power to the house while making the change. For some reason, the router quit working as did my drip irrigation system. I rebooted the router upon returning home and data collection restarted. After the reboot, I did a speed test on the Mac using SpeedTest.com and Wave’s Speed Test ranged between 300 Mbps and 500 Mbps.  Not the Wave promised 1000 Mbps!

These speeds are consistent with the overall averages collected by the CalSpeed data collection box. As you can see from the recorded data, my average was about 400 Mbps on ethernet and about 160 Mbps on WiFi.

Screenshot 2019-02-01 12.49.28
Screenshot of collected data from the beta test box on the CalSpeed webpage

The Wave network modem had built-in WiFi signals, one in the 2.4 GHz band and one in the 5.3 GHz band. It was not clear to me which band the CalSpeed box was monitoring, and I failed to ask.

I returned the beta test box to the development team, but I continue to monitor the Wave broadband signal with my DIY recorder box. Following the beta test, I downgraded my Wave connection to 250 Mbps Service, as my DIY box is limited to about 300 Mbps due to the circuit limitation on the Raspberry Pi processor board.

Raspberry Pi BB Recorder

Given all the marketing hype about broadband internet access speeds, the only valid method of determining the real speeds is field testing. Going out to the specific location and measuring the speed of the bits coming out of the ethernet port. So far, I am not getting what I am paying for, and there is a high probability that most users are not experiencing their ISPs advertised level of service.

Here is an example output:

Wave Tri Display

Bright Fiber Schedules Town Hall About High-Speed Internet Project

The Union:

Race Communications announced Wednesday that a town hall meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 about the Bright Fiber high-speed internet project.

The town hall — at the Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City — will include a 10- to 15-minute presentation followed by a question-and-answer session, said Ally Hetland, with Race Communications, in an email.

“By now, you have heard that Race Communications has acquired Bright Fiber Network, and you’re probably wondering what that means for you as an advocate and supporter of the Bright Fiber project in western Nevada County,” a release states.

Race has said the project will bring a high-speed internet connection to almost 2,000 homes along Highway 174. The project’s completion is expected by May 2020.

Read the rest of The Union Article HERE.

If you plan to attend plan to attend register online: http://www.nvctownhall.eventbrite.com.

 

Rural  Households Left Out of Internet Growth

Reading reports of internet growth over the past year, I learned that U.S. households consumed an average of 268.7 gigabytes (GB) of data in 2018. This is up from 201.6 GB for 2017, according to OpenVault, a leading provider of industry analytics and technology solutions for ISPs.

Some other findings by OpenVault:

In 2018 the percentage of households exceeding 1 terabyte of usage was 4.82%,

The rate of households using 1terabyte all more almost doubled in 2018, rising to 4.12% of all households up from 2.11% in 2017.

In 2018 the percentage of households exceeding 250 GB rose to 36.4% up from 28.4% in 2017.

Impressive growth across the board, indicating that consumption is growing across service providers’ entire subscriber bases, not just among the heavy users,  good news for everyone with one exception. Rural households that do not have access to high-speed internet did not experience any of this growth.

According to reports by the California Public Utilities Commission, less than half of roughly 680,900 households in rural California have broadband access. And, many of those that are connected have services which do not meet the minimum standards of 6 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, or the FCC standard of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up.

It is highly unlikely that rural households will get any high-speed internet access in the near term. The brightest light on the horizon is service by the LEO satellites that will be coming online in 2020, maybe late in 2019 at the earliest.  

Fiber: Nevada City is Missing the Revolution

I am reading Susan Crawford’s book Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It. She is a Professor at the Harvard Law School. Amazon’s summary of the book:

The world of fiber optic connections reaching neighborhoods, homes, and businesses will represent as great a change from what came before as the advent of electricity. The virtually unlimited amounts of data we’ll be able to send and receive through fiber†‘optic connections will enable a degree of virtual presence that will radically transform health care, education, urban administration and services, agriculture, retail sales, and offices. Yet all of those transformations will pale in comparison to the innovations and new industries that we can’t even imagine today. In a fascinating account combining policy expertise with compelling on†‘the†‘ground reporting, Susan Crawford reveals how the giant corporations that control cable and internet access in the United States use their tremendous lobbying power to tilt the playing field against competition, holding back the infrastructure improvements necessary for the country to move forward. And she shows how a few cities and towns are fighting monopoly power to bring the next technological revolution to their communities.

To my surprise, Nevada City/Grass Valley and John Paul of Spiral Internet has a role in the book. His fiber project is used as an example of the struggle that private citizens must endure while attempting to bring fiber to a community that does not recognize the economic potential and only provides lukewarm support for the project.

It is important that the community, the local government, have some skin in the game; the lack of such involvement in John Paul’s Nevada City/Grass Valley has made it very difficult for him to privately finance the building of the Chip Carman network.

This is only one of the ten references to Nevada City in Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution—and Why America Might Miss It.

According to Crawford, Nevada City/Grass Valley are missing the fiber tech revolution.

Editor Note: Since Fiber was published, John Paul has sold his fiber project to Race Communications.  Nevada City/Grass Valley may still get some economic fiber. If you want to understand the fiber network issues I highly recommend reading Crawford’s book. 

Nevada County: Bright Fiber Project Approved by Public Utilities Commission

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday unanimously approved the Bright Fiber high-speed internet project.

The commission’s vote means a $16 million grant initially slated for Spiral Internet is now in the hands of Race Communications. It also approves Race’s acquisition of Bright Fiber, which it will operate as a subsidiary.

The Union has the Story

 

Collins Coming For FCC Subsidies

— Rep. Doug Collins , the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, is gearing up to introduce legislation aimed at tightening requirements for the FCC’s broadband subsidies under the Connect America Fund, according to letters circulated by his office and obtained by POLITICO. Some subsidy recipients “have taken taxpayer dollars but failed to fulfill their obligations to their customers,” the Georgia lawmaker wrote in a letter seeking co-sponsors for the measure.

— “The CAF Accountability Act ensures that CAF recipients are reporting the speeds they are actually providing consumers – not those that are the product of gamed performance testing software, unrepresentative sampling, or repeat testing locations,” Collins continued. He alleged that ISPs in his rural district offer “consistently bad” speeds below what’s required of their subsidies.

One of the advantages of having a recording box that samples the speed every 30 minutes and then can be plotted on a graphic, provides clear evidence what speed the ISP is providing.  This is my DIY recorder.  Good up to about 250 Mbits.

Raspberry Pi BB Recorder

Here is a sample output:

Wave Tri Display