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Georgetown, Columbia Programs Gather Experts To Discuss National Broadband Plan

WASHINGTON March 21, 2011 – The Columbia Institute for Tele-Information and Georgetown University’s Communication Culture and Technology Program gathered government officials and industry experts Friday to debate the federal government’s implementation of the National Broadband Plan.

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WASHINGTON March 21, 2011 – The Columbia Institute for Tele-Information and Georgetown University’s Communication Culture and Technology Program gathered government officials and industry experts Friday to debate the federal government’s implementation of the National Broadband Plan.

Former Executive Director of the FCC’s Omnibus Broadband Initiative, Blair Levin, kicked off the event calling the broadband plan “a set of ideas, not a blueprint.” Levin compared the plan to a novel that was then being made into a movie, while the main ideas of what needs to be done were articulated, the details would change based on the realities of the day.

“Having high speed broadband will not guarantee success,” Levin said, “but not having it will lead to failure.” He went onto say that the speed of the network needs to be relative to the activity that will take place on it.

Levin commented that “going from narrowband to broadband brought about great advantages, but it’s unknown what the next great leap in speed will bring.”

He highlighted the iPhone’s meteoric rise in popularity using a relatively slow, but widely-accessible network. As the device was able to access the faster 3G network, however, it was able to harness new speed and innovators developed new applications.

While many plans focused on speed, Levin was proud of the fact that the U.S. plan looked beyond simple network expansion to include application and adoption.

Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer of the United States, reiterated Levin’s praise of the national purposes section, saying that it showed how broadband could be used in expanding education, promoting public safety and improving energy savings. These, he said, are the areas where the economy will gain the most value.

“Many sectors of the economy have not yet embraced high-speed broadband to improve their productivity, but the Obama Administration is trying to push them to adopt new policies which will harness the power of high speed access,” Chropa said. “One of the key proposals within the health care reform act was the digital health records which will allow doctors to share information more easily via safe and secure networks.”

Chopra acknowledged that there are barriers for many sectors to fully embrace broadband, but the administration is trying to knock those barriers down by working with industry and lawmakers to change policy.

“The broadband plan has legislative actions, rulemaking ideas and just general suggestions. What we have been trying to do is push this forward by not only working with Congress, but also convening open meetings to bring together private industry and non-profits to find solutions,” said Chopra.

National Telecommunications and Information Administration Chief of Staff, Thomas C. Power, provided the group with an update on the broadband technology opportunities program. Many of the grantees, he said, have begun to deploy their networks and numerous last-mile providers have been in contact with middle-mile projects with attachment inquiries.

“We have also commissioned a multi-year study on our grants to see how they are affecting the community in which they have been deployed in,” Powers said. “We want to know how these projects are promoting broadband adoption along with their overall effect on the community.”

Powers then offered an overview of the recently released National Broadband Map, adding that, “since the launch of the map many providers that would not initially provide data on their availability have come forward and are now asking to have their networks included.”

Presenting a non-governmental view, Rebecca Arbogast, Managing Director of Stifel Nicolaus & Co., called the national broadband plan ambitious. She said that before the plan came out, many investors were worried that the FCC would recommend that cable companies have their networks unbundled to expand access. This unbundling would have allowed independent Internet Service Providers access to use the cables installed by the cable companies, similar to regulation that first allowed independent telephone companies access to existing phone lines.

“The plan was respectful of existing investment and the private sector,” Arbogast said, “and it provided new areas where broadband could be applied.”

Investors were pleased that the goal of the plan was not just expanding the network, but to get people to do more on broadband. Abrogast echoed statements made by Levin and Chopra, saying that the economic value of broadband lays in the applications that run on top of it.

In regards to the broadcast spectrum, Arbogast said that investors were split on the issue.

Joseph Waz, Senior Vice President External Affairs & Public Policy Counsel at Comcast, said that while improving network speed was not the sole goal of the broadband plan, by showing how broadband applied to various applications networks would improve to meet those new needs.

Waz went onto say that cost is no longer one of the largest limiting factors for adoption, but rather applicability.

“We hope through the Comcast Broadband Opportunities Program [a condition of the Comcast-NBC Universal Merger] we can help people learn the value of broadband,” said Waz.

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Broadband Mapping

Utah’s Broadband Maps Are Ready for Federal Funding, Broadband Director Says

‘The efforts that have been done in the past have been a great foundation.’

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SALT LAKE CITY, July 13, 2022 – Utah’s work on its own broadband availability maps means it is prepared for billions in federal funds coming from the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, said the state’s broadband director at a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event Wednesday.

“The efforts that have been done in the past have been a great foundation,” said Rebecca Dilg, director of the Utah Broadband Center, the state’s broadband office.

Utah’s decade-old broadband availability maps are updated every six months and Dilg said they provide a foundation for upcoming money from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, the $42.5-billion initiative from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Utah counties work with the state broadband office to continually update a layer on the map that shows individual addresses, added Kelleigh Cole, director of strategic initiatives at the Utah Education Network, a state research network. This layer allows the broadband office to see whether broadband access extends to specific addresses.

Mapping data, said Dilg, prepares the state broadband office to address “doughnut holes” where urban centers receive high-speed coverage, but surrounding areas do not. The BEAD program requires that unserved residents are served first, but Utah’s broadband office is optimistic that the funds will reach into underserved areas, including cities where antiquated technology, like digital subscriber lines, are primarily used.

The Federal Communications Commission assured that its nationwide broadband coverage maps will be available by the fall. The Broadband Data Collection portal on the FCC website is currently open for internet providers and governments to submit coverage data.

Utah is home to the second largest city in the country fully connected to fiber, West Valley City, which is also the largest U.S. city connected via an open access network.

Screenshot of Rebecca Dilg, director of the Utah Broadband Center.

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Broadband Mapping

FCC Opens Broadband Data Collection Program

The data will go toward improved maps, which the FCC chair said will be available by the fall.

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Screenshot of Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday officially opened its new system to collect broadband service information from over 2500 broadband providers.

The Broadband Data Collection “marks the beginning of [the FCC’s] window to collect location-by-location data from providers that we will use to build the map,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a press release.

Screenshot of Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox

Broadband providers will be required to provide availability claims and supporting data. Supporting data will include sections such as “propagation modeling information” and “link budget information.” The deadline to submit is September 1.

Rosenworcel said the agency has established consistent parameters that require broadband providers to submit data using geocoded locations that will “allow [the FCC] to create a highly precise picture of fixed broadband deployment, unlike previous data collections, which focused on census blocks, giving us inaccurate, incomplete maps.”

With this information, the FCC will build a common dataset of locations in the United States where fixed broadband service can be installed, called the “fabric.” Rosenworcel said that this fabric will serve as a “foundation upon which all fixed broadband availability data will be reported and overlaid in our new broadband availability maps.”

Following the completion of the maps, government entities and internet service providers will be given a challenge window where availability claims may be challenged based on submitted data.

Rosenworcel previously said that the improved broadband maps will be available by the fall.

States expect to be busy fact-checking these claims as they are released, said panelists at Broadband Breakfast Live Online Event Wednesday. States will be involved in individual challenging processes and will be expected to provide information on availability through individual speed testing.

States want to get these maps right because they serve as a broadband investment decision making tool, said Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox, a data platform that is helping states build broadband maps. That means many states are committed to obtaining accurate local coverage data to utilize federal and state funding.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 12 Noon ET –Broadband Mapping and Data

Now that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Notice of Funding Opportunity has been released, attention turns to a core activity that must take place before broadband infrastructure funds are distributed: The Federal Communications Commission’s updated broadband maps. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as implemented by the NTIA’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, these address-level maps from the FCC will determine the allocation of funds among states and serve as a key source of truth. Our panelists will also consider the role of state-level maps, the NTIA challenge process and other topics. Join Broadband Breakfast as we return to one of the subjects that we know best: Broadband data and mapping.

Panelists:

  • Bill Price, Vice President, Government Solutions, LightBox
  • Dustin Loup, Program Manager, Marconi Society’s National Broadband Mapping Coalition
  • Ryan Guthrie, Vice President of Solutions Engineering at ATS
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

Bill Price, Vice President of Government Solutions, is responsible for LightBox broadband data and mapping solutions for government. Bill has more than 40 years in telecommunications and technology services development and operations. His track record includes delivering the Georgia statewide location level broadband map, the first fiber metropolitan area network in the U.S., and launching BellSouth’s internet service. LightBox combines proven, leading GIS and big data technology to transform how decisions are made in broadband infrastructure planning and investment.

Dustin Loup is an expert on internet governance and policy and program manager for the Marconi Society’s National Broadband Mapping Coalition. Much of his work centers on improving digital inclusion and establishing transparent, open-source, and openly verifiable mapping methodologies and standards.

Ryan Guthrie is VP of Solutions Engineering at Advanced Technologies & Services.  He started with ATS in 2006 and has been involved in all aspects of the business from sales and marketing through solution design and implementation.  Ryan also manages regulatory solutions for ATS and has been deeply involved with the federally funded broadband projects by assisting ISPs with their performance measures testing compliance.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Broadband Mapping

Industry Concerned About Challenges of Getting Mapping Data to FCC

The FCC has a September deadline for mapping data it will begin collecting at the end of June.

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Photo of Lynn Follansbee from October 2019 by Drew Clark

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2022 – Key players in the broadband industry are under pressure to deliver coverage data to the Federal Communications Commission, as some expressed concern Monday about workforce availability and the costs of getting that data to the agency.

Specifically, the Federal Communications Bar Association event heard that certification requirements for professional engineers are causing concerns, especially among small internet providers. And workforce shortages are pushing hiring costs up, which small companies often cannot afford.

“Everybody is going to have different challenges depending on the size of the company,” Lynn Follansbee, vice president of strategic initiatives and partnerships at US Telecom, said at the FCBA event Monday.

A big company has “challenges just by sheer number of communities served” and smaller companies often don’t have sufficient manpower for efficiently reporting coverage, Follansbee added.

Chris Wieczorek, senior director of spectrum policy at T-Mobile, said the key is to strike a balance between accountability with proper certifications and small staff limitations.

The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act requires the FCC to collect new data from fixed broadband service providers to construct a new map, which is expected by this fall and will help federal programs deliver billions in funding to underserved and unserved areas. In April, the FCC released the preliminary broadband serviceable location fabric to help prepare providers for their data submissions due in September.

Christine Sanquist, vice president of regulatory affairs at Charter, stated that although the FCC has provided the preliminary fabric, “the biggest challenge for Charter is really that the BDC requirements are so different from the Form 477 requirements,” which were the existing forms submitted by providers and which yielded data inaccuracies.

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