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Broadband's Impact

Using a Map of Communities Receiving Connect America Funds, FCC Uses Rigorous Approach to Targeting Broadband Subsidies

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WASHINGTON, September 6, 2013 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday released a map demonstrating the location of more than 600,000 homes and business targeted to receive higher-speed broadband connections.

The map, dubbed the “Connect America Fund, Phase I, Round 2,” follows on the FCC’s announcement, on August 21, 2013, that eight telecommunications providers are scheduled to receive up to $386 million in funds in order to build more robust broadband connections to 606,161 locations.

This is the second round of the Connect America Fund (CAF), launched in 2011 by the FCC with the goal of making broadband more universally available across the country.

But the first round of CAF funding didn’t go as planned: only $115 million of $300 million in funds available was dispensed.

To help enhance the success of the second round, the FCC announced in May that it would also seek to elevate the speeds of broadband connections, in addition to bringing broadband to unserved areas. The agency currently defines broadband as 768 kilobits per second (kbps) download, and 200 kbps upload.

As a result, the FCC is offering two levels of subsidy: $775 per location in order to bring high speed internet to currently unserved areas. Additionally, the agency will provide $550 per location in order to up broadband speeds to the agency’s more robust level of 3 Megabits per second (Mbps) download, and 768 kbps upload.

The map released on Thursday shows the number of business or residential connections, and the amount of subsidy — $775 or $550 per location — that each carrier is targeted to receive.

The four carriers that are targeted to receive the greatest subisidies in this round of the Connect America Fund are: Windstream, at $124 million; AT&T, at $100 million; Frontier Communications, at $72 million; and CenturyLink, at $54 million.

Phase I Round 2 – Elections by Carrier and State*
ACS  AT&T CenturyLink  FairPoint  Frontier Hawaiian PRTC  Windstream  Total Dollar Support 
AK 316 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 $173,800
AL 0 27,822 4,599 0 1,223 0 0 4,074 $27,063,353
AR 0 5,213 6,238 0 0 0 0 19,342 $18,222,247
AZ 0 0 8,744 0 11,016 0 0 0 $12,696,840
CA 0 0 0 0 1,189 0 0 0 $712,897
CO 0 0 8,976 0 0 0 0 0 $5,155,275
FL 0 2,674 2,321 390 929 0 0 3,979 $6,455,989
GA 0 3,320 0 0 7 0 0 49,401 $30,259,496
HI 0 0 0 0 0 1,317 0 0 $1,020,675
IA 0 0 828 0 1,898 0 0 10,046 $7,292,115
ID 0 0 4,369 0 878 0 0 0 $3,057,888
IL 0 0 0 0 5,077 0 0 0 $3,140,633
IN 0 0 146 0 7,661 0 0 0 $4,617,804
KS 0 0 185 163 0 0 0 0 $215,925
KY 0 3,173 0 0 0 0 0 16,937 $11,871,050
LA 0 6,686 3,040 0 0 0 0 0 $6,857,882
ME 0 0 0 1,659 0 0 0 0 $1,034,850
MI 0 0 48 0 5,040 0 0 0 $3,057,542
MN 0 0 5,096 0 1,506 0 0 0 $3,991,764
MO 0 3,796 3,500 0 0 0 0 6,959 $8,988,527
MS 0 20,897 363 0 0 0 0 5,212 $19,509,846
MT 0 0 7,231 0 0 0 0 0 $4,297,225
NC 0 3,150 1,420 0 2,642 0 0 28,260 $20,950,161
ND 0 0 20 0 0 0 0 0 $11,000
NE 0 0 952 0 0 0 0 2,518 $1,979,600
NH 0 0 0 1,470 0 0 0 0 $848,100
NJ 0 0 60 0 0 0 0 0 $33,000
NM 0 0 2,781 0 2,623 0 0 3,378 $5,178,853
NV 0 0 24 0 500 0 0 0 $294,630
NY 0 0 0 599 17,656 0 0 7,395 $15,137,932
OH 0 0 964 0 3,632 0 0 5,184 $5,957,790
OK 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4,418 $2,785,400
OR 0 0 5,853 0 538 0 0 0 $3,742,578
PA 0 0 27 64 4,716 0 0 15,378 $11,234,255
PR 0 0 0 0 0 0 40,761 0 $31,589,912
SC 0 9,565 909 0 0 0 0 4,680 $10,505,280
SD 0 0 75 0 0 0 0 0 $48,900
TN 0 41,364 1,008 0 1,313 0 0 0 $33,349,109
TX 0 1,371 793 0 0 0 0 30,477 $20,200,265
UT 0 0 78 0 665 0 0 0 $427,630
VA 0 0 4,863 1,122 0 0 0 0 $3,547,575
WA 0 0 4,700 28 2,057 0 0 0 $4,215,125
WI 0 0 12,354 0 5,462 0 0 0 $10,146,817
WV 0 0 0 0 40,756 0 0 0 $24,106,003
WY 0 0 52 0 0 0 0 0 $34,225
TOTAL 316 129,033 92,617 5,495 118,984 1,317 40,761 217,638 $386,017,133
* – Some of the carrier acceptances are contingent upon carriers prevailing in challenges regarding whether certain census blocks are unserved.  Furthermore, after providing the Commission with notice, carriers have the ability to alter deployment plans to other unserved census blocks, which could result in more or less funding being allocated to any given state.
† – Carrier did not provide locations by census block, so these figures are estimated by assuming each block has an equal number of locations to be served.
‡ – Due to calculations and rounding, individual states do not exactly sum to total.

The map displays the location of awards to individual carriers on a Census block-by-Census block basis — the same unit of measurement deployed in the National Broadband Map created by the FCC, the Commerce Department, and its partnering State Broadband Initiative entities.

An equally significant aspect of this phase of the Connect America Fund is that several of the providers that are set to receive the greatest subsidy — including CenturyLink, Frontier and Windstream — have promised to leverage the subsidy “it accepts in 2013 with an equal investment of its own capital to extend broadband to unserved locations.”

“We make this commitment because we believe that access to high-speed broadband has become an indispensable platform for economic growth and job creation, and for addressing major national challenges like education, health care, energy and public safety,” the CEOs of the three companies wrote in an April 2013 letter to Julius Genachowski, the former chairman of the FCC.

“The FCC’s new map will provide welcome news to millions of rural Americans who have been waiting far too long for broadband access,” Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said of Thursday’s map. “Thanks to the latest round of Connect America funding, rural counties in every corner of the nation will get access to broadband for the first time.”

 

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney at The CommLaw Group. He has closely tracked the trends in and mechanics of digital infrastructure for 20 years, and has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers navigate coverage, identify markets, broker infrastructure, and operate in the public right of way. The articles and posts on Broadband Breakfast and affiliated social media, including the BroadbandCensus Twitter feed, are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

Health

Ask Me Anything! Friday with Craig Settles, Community Telehealth Pioneer at 2:30 p.m. ET

Visit Broadband.Money to register for the Ask Me Anything! event on Friday, December 3, 2021, at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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Visit Broadband.Money to register for the Ask Me Anything! event on Friday, December 3, 2021, at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Craig’s tireless work has helped transform the last mile of broadband in the U.S., through his influence among national, state, and corporate decision makers, and his on-the-ground work building community broadband coalitions. Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark will interview Craig Settles in this Broadband.Money Ask Me Anything!

Read the Broadband.Money profile of Craig Settles

About Our Distinguished Guest

Saved from a stroke by telehealth, Craig Settles pays it forward by uniting community broadband teams and healthcare stakeholders through telehealth projects that transform healthcare delivery.

Mr. Settles conducts needs analyses with community stakeholders who want broadband networks and/or telehealth to improve economic development, healthcare, education and local government. Mr. Settles’ needs analyses opens up additional opportunities to raise money for networks, as well as increase the financial sustainability of your network. He’s been doing this work since 2006.

A community telehealth champion

Mr. Settles views telehealth as the “Killer App” that can close the digital divide because everyone experiences illness or cares for someone who is ill. Every home that telehealth touches must have good broadband. Telehealth technology and broadband in the home provide avenues for other home-based technology services that can improve quality of life, such as companion distance-learning apps, a home business app, and home entertainment apps.

He authored Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless in 2005, and since then, Mr. Settles has provided community broadband consulting services. His public-sector client list includes Ottumwa, IA, Riverside, Benicia and Glendale, CA and the State of California. Calix, Ciena and Juniper Networks are among those on his private sector client list. In addition, he has testified for the FCC and on Capital Hill.

Craig around the web

Mr. Settles hosts the radio talk show Gigabit Nation, His in-depth analysis reports are valuable resources for community broadband project teams and stakeholders. Building the Gigabit City, Mr. Settles’ blog, further showcases his expertise in this area.

Follow Mr. Settles on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Mr. Settles is frequently called upon as a municipal broadband expert for journalists at CNN, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Time Magazine and a host of business, technology and local media outlets. He has spoken at various conferences in the U.S, Europe, South America, Australia and Asia.


About Ask Me Anything! (AMA)

AMA invites broadband industry leaders from all corners to share their knowledge and perspectives with our community.

The format is simple:

  1. A one hour live webinar with our distinguished guest
  2. Interactive questions from attendees in the comments below this post
    • See a question you also wonder about? “Like” it to upvote it
    • Have more questions? Add them as comments to this post.
  3. Our guest will answer as many questions as time permits, in order of upvotes
    • A community moderator will paraphrase our guest’s answers and post as reply
    • Want to weigh in with your perspective? You’re welcome to share your replies!

Please be respectful of our distinguished guest. It’s okay to disagree, but thank you for being kind. Trolls will be banned.

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Broadband's Impact

Julio Fuentes: Access Delayed Was Access Denied to the Poorest Americans

Big Telecom companies caused months and months of delays in the rollout of the Emergency Broadband Benefit.

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The author of this Expert Opinion is Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Remember when millions of students in dense urban areas and less-populated rural areas weren’t dependent on home broadband access so they could attend school?

Remember when we didn’t need telehealth appointments, and broadband access in urban and outlying areas was an issue that could be dealt with another day?

Remember when the capability to work remotely in underserved communities wasn’t the difference between keeping a job and losing it?

Not anymore.

Education. Health care. Employment. The COVID-19 pandemic affected them all, and taking care of a family in every respect required broadband access and technology to get through large stretches of the pandemic.

You’d think the Federal Communications Commission and its then-acting chairwoman would have pulled out all the stops to make sure that this type of service was available to as many people as possible, as soon as possible — especially when there’s a targeted federally funded program for that important purpose.

Alas, by all appearances, some Big Telecom companies threw their weight around and caused months and months of delays, denying this life-changing access to the people who needed it most — at the time they needed it most.

The program in question is the federally funded Emergency Broadband Benefit program. The EBB offered eligible households — often the poorest Americans — a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service, and those households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop or other computer if they contribute just $10 to the purchase. Huge value and benefits for technology that should no longer be the privilege of only those with resources.

Seems fairly straightforward, right?

It should have been. But FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel slammed on the brakes. Why? It turns out that Big Telecom giants wanted more time to get ready to grab a piece of the action — a lot more time. While the program was ready to go in February, it didn’t actually launch until several months later.

That’s months of unnecessary delay.

But it wasn’t providers who were waiting. It was Americans in underserved and rural areas, desperate for a connection to the world.

Here are some numbers for Rosenworcel to consider:

  • As recently as March, 58% of white elementary students were enrolled for full-time in-person instruction, while only 36% of Black students, 35% of Latino students, and 18% of Asian peers were able to attend school in person.
  • Greater portions of families of color and low-income families reportedly fell out of contact with their children’s schools during the pandemic. In one national survey in spring 2020, nearly 30% of principals from schools serving “large populations of students of color and students from lower-income households” said they had difficulty reaching some of their students and/or families — in contrast to the 14% of principals who said the same in wealthier, predominantly white schools.
  • In fall 2020, only 61% of households with income under $25,000 reported that the internet was “always available” for their children to use for educational purposes; this share was 86% among households with incomes above $75,000.

And all of these numbers cut across other key issues such as health care and maintaining employment.

Access delayed was access denied to the poorest, most isolated Americans during the worst pandemic in generations.

Allowing Big Telecom companies to get their ducks in a row (and soak up as many federal dollars as possible) left poor and rural Americans with no options, for months. Who knows how many children went without school instruction? Or how many illnesses went undiagnosed? Or how many jobs were terminated?

This delay was appalling, and Chairwoman Rosenworcel should have to answer for her actions to the Senate Commerce Committee as it considers her nomination for another term as commissioner. Rather than expedite important help to people who needed it most, she led the agency’s delay — for the benefit of giant providers, not the public.

Hopefully, the committee moves with more dispatch than she did in considering her actual fitness to be FCC chairwoman for another term.

Julio Fuentes is president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to commentary@breakfast.media. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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Education

Texas High School Students Enter the Fight for Better Connectivity

Students in a Houston-area school district hosted a panel on connecting schools and libraries as part of a national event on bridging the digital divide.

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John Windhausen Jr., founder and executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition

WASHINGTON, December 1, 2021 – Generation Z students are making their mark at a Houston-area school district by adding broadband access to the list of issues they are actively working on.

The high school students in the Fort Bend Independent School District organized a panel conversation on internet access in education as part of Connected Nation’s national event titled “20 Years of Connecting the Nation,” and were able to host some high-profile guests in the world of telecommunications.

The November 17 panel included John Windhausen Jr., founder and executive director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition, Chris Martinez, division director of information technology for the Harris County Public Library, Heather Gate, vice president of digital inclusion for Connected Nation, and Meredith Watassek, director of career and technical education for Fort Bend ISD.

Nine percent of residents in Harris County, where Houston is located, reports that they do not have a connected device at home and 18 percent say they do not have access to an internet connection. These gaps in access are the focus of the panelists’ digital equity efforts.

With Windhausen and Martinez present on the panel, a key point of discussion was the importance of helping libraries to act as anchor institutions – institutions which help enable universal broadband access.

Watassek pointed out that she has been helping oversee distance learning in Fort Bend ISD for six years, starting such a program to enable teachers to teach students in several of the district’s buildings without having to drive to each one, and has seen that with time and learned experience it is possible to work through distance learning logistical issues that school districts around the nation are currently facing.

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