WASHINGTON, September 5, 2014 – Google Fiber has been perhaps the primary driver of the current push toward high-speed internet in the United States, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a speech here yesterday on the future of broadband competition.
In an otherwise general speech that failed to mention major communications companies like Verizon Communications, Comcast or Time Warner, Wheeler attributed the introduction of fiber-optic competition to Google’s bold gambit — announced in February 2010 — to enter the communications space by beginning to build Gigabit Networks.
We’ve seen what happens when companies like Google bring new competition in the form of gigabit service to cities like Kansas City and Austin. In Kansas City, the cable company responded with its own upgrade to gigabit service; in Austin, it was the telephone company that upgraded competitively with its own ultra-high-speed service.
In fact, AT&T has announced plans to deploy gigabit fiber to 21 major metropolitan markets. Many of these are in same markets where Google has announced plans to lay fiber.
A year ago, Cox Cable said it wouldn’t be upgrading to gigabit networks because it would cost billions. Now it says it will, starting with communities where Google and CenturyLink are deploying fiber.
This is all great news. We applaud the investment by incumbents and new entrants alike that have brought better broadband to Americans. Clearly, the infrastructure companies are voting with their checkbooks to say that competition and investment not only can coexist, but also that they can drive each other to produce both profit and progress.
In Wheeler’s telling, Google Fiber’s entry to the market marked a similar instance of what has been referred to as “facilities-based” competition.
As Wheeler said:
The path from narrowband, to broadband, to high-speed broadband, was forged by competition. In order to meet the competitive threat of satellite services, cable TV companies upgraded their facilities. When the Internet went mainstream, they found themselves in the enviable position of having greater network capacity than telephone companies.
Confronted by such competition, the telcos upgraded to DSL, and in some places deployed all-fiber, or fiber-and-copper networks. Cable companies further responded to this competition by improving their own broadband performance. All this investment was a very good thing.
The simple lesson of history is that competition drives deployment and network innovation.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Wheeler touched extremely lightly on the hot-button issues of network neutrality, an issue that has earned him criticism from some on the left; and on and municipal fiber competition, an issue that has earned him criticism from some on the right.
He referred to the costs of switching from one broadband network to another as an example of why the D.C. Circuit Court affirmed one small part of the FCC’s open internet order from 2010.
On the issue of municipal broadband, in which the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tenn., and the city of Wilson, N.C., have asked the FCC to preempt state laws against community broadband networks, Wheeler said only: “As we understand the petitions from two communities asking us to pre-empt state laws against citizen-driven broadband expansion to be [examples of efforts to create competition], which is why we are looking at that question so closely.”
Wheeler’s analysis about the importance of Google Fiber to the landscape of Gigabit Networks today in many ways echos the views of Blair Levin, the former head of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and executive director at Gig.U, an effort to promote Gigabit Network throughout the country.
In its third annual report last month, titled “Game of Gigs,” the non-profit group said:
While we are proud of the efforts by Gig.U communities, there is no doubt that the prime force in driving moving us into the ‘Game of Gigs’ has been the Google Fiber effort, which has already announced deployments in Kansas City, Austin and Provo. Google has further announced that it would enter into discussions with 34 communities in 9 regions (three regions of which have been involved with the Gig.U effort) with the hope — though not the guarantee — that Google will deploy its fiber networks in those communities.
Digital Literacy Training Needed for Optimal Telehealth Outcomes, Healthcare Reps Say
Digital literacy should be a priority to unlock telehealth’s potential, a telehealth event heard.
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – Digital literacy training should be a priority for providers and consumers to improve telehealth outcomes, experts said at a conference Tuesday.
Digital literacy training will unlock telehealth’s potential to improve health outcomes, according to the event’s experts, including improving treatment for chronic diseases, improving patient-doctor relationships, and providing easier medical access for those without access to transportation.
Julia Skapik of the National Association of Community Health Centers said at the National Telehealth Conference on Tuesday that both patients and clinicians need to be trained on how to use tools that allow both parties to communicate remotely.
Skapik said her association has plans to implement training for providers to utilize tech opportunities, such as patient portals to best engage patients.
Ann Mond Johnson from the American Telemedicine Association agreed that telehealth will improve health outcomes by giving proper training to utilize the technology to offer the services.
The Federal Communications Commission announced its telehealth program in April 2021, which set aside $200 million for health institutions to provide remote care for patients.
W. Antoni Sinkfield: To Succeed in 21st Century, Communities Need to Get Connected Now
One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community and understand its problems.
One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community, understand its problems, and provide support in challenging times. Particularly during the pandemic, it has been hard not to notice that my parishioners, and folks across the country, are divided into two groups: those with access to the internet, and those without.
In 2022, digital inclusion is still something we strive for in poor and rural areas throughout America. The lack of reliable internet access is an enormous disadvantage to so many people in all facets of their lives.
To fully participate in today’s society, all people, no matter who they are and no matter where they live, must have access to the internet. Think of the remote learning every child had to experience when schools were closed, and the challenges that families faced when they didn’t have access to a quality connection.
It’s a question of plain fairness.
Politicians have been talking for decades about bringing high-speed internet access to everyone, however many families continue to be left behind. More than 42 million people across the country lack affordable, reliable broadband connections, and as many as 120 million people who cannot get online are stuck with slow service that does not allow them to take advantage of everything the internet has to offer.
People of color are disproportionately affected by lack of broadband access
Every person in rural towns, urban neighborhoods, and tribal communities needs and deserves equal and full economic and educational opportunities. Studies show that students without home access to the internet are less likely to attend college and face a digital skills gap equivalent to three years’ worth of schooling. Small businesses, which are the cornerstone of rural and urban communities alike, need broadband to reach their customers and provide the service they expect.
Simply put, having access to the internet in every community is vital to its ability to succeed in the 21st century.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take major steps toward a solution. Last year, Congress passed President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides $65 billion to expand broadband access and affordability. It is essential that we use this money to connect as many unserved and underserved communities as we can – and as quickly as we can.
Different places need different options to bridge the digital divide
As we bridge the digital divide, we must listen to those who have been left behind and make sure that we deploy solutions that fit their needs. Different places need different options – so it’s important that all voices are heard, and the technology that works best for the community is made readily available.
All people need access to broadband to learn, work, shop, pay bills, and get efficient healthcare.
When I talk to my parishioners, they speak about how much of their lives have transitioned online and are frustrated about not having reliable access. They do not care about the nuances of how we bring broadband to everyone. They just want to have it now – and understandably so.
This means that we must explore all solutions possible to provide high-speed broadband with the connection and support they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live.
Now is the time to meet those struggling where they are, stop dreaming about bridging the divide, and just get it done. Our government has a rare opportunity to fix an enormous problem, using money already approved for the purpose. Let’s make sure they do so in a manner that works for the communities they’re trying to help.
Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Ph.D., serves as Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary, and is an ordained Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
Biden Delivers Remarks on Free Broadband to Qualified Households
Biden compared the value of broadband to telephone service, and drew parallels to the historic effort to connect the country.
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2022 – President Joe Biden emphasized the essential nature of broadband during a public appearance on Monday.
Biden delivered remarks at the White House Rose Garden on the day’s earlier announcement that the federal government would work with both regional and national broadband providers to provide essentially free broadband to qualified households.
“Too many Americans simply cannot afford to get connected even if there is access to get connected. So, they go without high-speed internet, or they sacrifice other necessities in order to make it work,” Biden said.
“High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer – it is a necessity,” Biden said. “That is why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”
Biden also laid out the criteria for eligible households to take advantage of Affordable Connectivity Program, which when paired with the effort by ISPs to keep 100 Mbps download services under $30, provides free internet to consumers.
“If your household income is twice the federal poverty level or less – that is that’s about $55,000 per year for a family of four – or $27,000 for an individual – or a member of your household is on Medicaid or supplementary [social] security income or a number of other programs – you are eligible.”
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