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Drew Clark: ‘Killer Apps’ for the Gigabit Economy: Why They Are Necessary to Sell the Benefits of Advanced Broadband Networks

Drew Clark

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February 10, 2015 – With all the talk — and now the action — behind building Gigabit Networks by hundreds of cities across the United States, a key question emerges: What can actually be done with all the speed?

Understanding the technologies that take advantage of Gigabit Networks is a key component of fleshing out the vision behind high-speed networks. Among the organizations and companies that have been articulating a vision for the “killer apps” for the Gigabit economy include The Pew Research Center, the national non-profit organization US Ignite, Ohio-based OneCommunity, and Orange Telecom.

Officials from US Ignite and Orange Silicon Valley will join Kirton McConkie Attorneys David Shaw and Drew Clark in discussing high-bandwidth applications in a webinar to be held on Tuesday, February 10, at 2 p.m. ET. The webinar, the third of four in a series on “How to Build Your Gigabit Network” by Kirton McConkie, will be recorded and made available on the Kirton McConkie web site. The final webinar will be held on Tuesday, February 17, at 2 p.m. ET.

Below is a compendium of a few of the resources available to individuals seeking to understand the important role of broadband applications.

Pew Research Center

In October 2014, Pew published its “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age” report. In an article on the report, BroadbandBreakfast.com noted:

Three-dimensional holograms. Immersive virtual reality environments. Instant face-to-face meetings that match physical meetings and inch closer to a real-life virtual hug. These are among the technologies made available by gigabit networks, according to “Killer Apps in the Gigabit Age,” a report released last week by the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project.

“What is striking about the answers in the report is that technologists are way ahead of current reality,” said Lee Rainie, the Director of the Internet Project, in an interview.

The report surveyed more than 1,400 experts from academia, tech firms and the industry about their thoughts on the report’s two titular topics: apps and connectivity in 2025.

The report featured the following themes:

  1. People’s basic interactions and their ability to ‘be together’ and collaborate will change in the age of vivid telepresence—enabling people to instantly ‘meet face-to-face’ in cyberspace with no travel necessary.

  2. Augmented reality will extend people’s sense and understanding of their real-life surroundings and virtual reality will make some spaces, such as gaming worlds and other simulated environments, even more compelling places to hang out.

  3. The connection between humans and technology will tighten as machines gather, assess, and display real-time personalized information in an ‘always-on’ environment. This integration will affect many activities—including thinking, the documentation of life events (‘life-logging’), and coordination of daily schedules.

  4. Specific economic and social sectors will be especially impacted; health/medicine and education were mentioned often.

  5. New digital divides may open as people gain opportunities on different timelines and with different tools.

  6. Who knows? ‘I have no idea due to rapid change.’ ‘The best Internet apps are yet to emerge.’ ‘If I knew, I wouldn’t tell you, I would invest in it!’

  7. Advances will be gradual for various reasons: Bandwidth is not the issue. The US will lag because a widespread gigabit network is not easily achieved.

US Ignite

US Ignite, a non-profit organization funded in part by the National Science Foundation, is also tackling this question of what to do with a Gigabit. US Ignite is fostering the development of next-generation applications for education, healthcare, energy and more — with a particular focus on the apps that are going to provide transformative public benefit to our society.

Among these applications is a real-time emergency response systems that combine ultra-fast broadband and radar to improve hazardous weather warning and response. The project also focuses on aircraft surveillance by identifying and tracking small, low-flying aircraft by developing new detection algorithms that operate digitally on uncompressed, high-bandwidth radar data.

There are also real-time audio-visual app for ambulances uses high-quality, robust data communications that let doctors interact with patients while they’re en route to the hospital. This app, called WiMed, is application aware and able to cross-layer and cross-application optimize when wireless connectivity changes due to ambulance location. In addition, the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois Chicago specializes in the design and development of advanced visualizing, virtual reality and networked collaboration display system, all utilizing high-performance networking.

OneCommunity

OneCommunity, a Ohio-based non-profit, is among the Gigabit Network providers that has been on the forefront of helping to present “use cases” for Gigabit services. Among the ways that the OneCommunity network articulates the benefits include:

  • Broadband for Health Care:

OneCommunity’s high speed Internet for hospitals promotes enhanced research, shared medical records, telemedicine, mobile/home monitoring, and more.

  • Broadband for Schools:

Our broadband service enables distance learning and electronic student data management, fulfilling lifelong learning needs, and helping to build a strong workforce in Northeast Ohio.

  • Broadband for Economic Development:

OneCommunity helps local governments with advanced infrastructure that enables coordinated, centralized control of network connectivity and citizen-centric services while simultaneously attracting high-growth businesses.

  • Digital Literacy Training:

OneCommunity trained thousands of underserved households across the country in how to use computers and the Internet, and helped them obtain affordable equipment and broadband access.

See http://www.onecommunity.org/community-technology-programs/ for more details

Orange Telecom

Orange Silicon Valley, a unit of the global Orange telecommunications provider, has been offering symmetrical Gigabit connection as a testbed for developers to pioneer the benefits of advanced connectivity.

Orange GigaStudio explores how the future of ultra-fast broadband Internet enables exceptional new solutions and experiences. We seek to learn and evaluate high bandwidth applications and accelerate consumer adoption of ultra-fast Internet connectivity by providing an experimental testbed for Silicon Valley startups to develop and scale consumer applications. We invite our partners and developers to come test out our secure 1 Gbps Internet connection and unleash the possibilities of their apps and platforms – all at no charge.

Through this program, we’ll collaborate with early adopters and evangelists in the ecosystem, hold events to champion gigabit use cases and applications, and partner with startups to bring their products to Orange markets.

See http://orangegigastudio.com for more information.

Conclusion

We know that high-speed internet is about more than basic internet speeds for e-mail, Skype and social networking. Broadband is about high-bandwidth capacity. It’s about immersive telepresence systems, cloud computing for advanced manufacturing and biomedical health monitoring. 

There are some who still question whether a Gigabit of connectivity is really necessary. Although those voices are growing dimmer, it is important to continually remind individuals of the benefits of Gigabit Networks by bringing examples of the benefits of advanced networking to the forefront.

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Kirton McConkie, based in Salt City City, Utah. You can find him on LinkedIN and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com  and affiliated social media 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. Clark brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband: job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, energy, transportation and eGovernment. 

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.

Broadband Data

New Broadband Mapping Fabric Will Help Unify Geocoding Across the Broadband Industry, Experts Say

Tim White

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Photo of Lynn Follansbee from October 2019 by Drew Clark

March 11, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission’s new “fabric” for mapping broadband service across America will not only help collect more accurate data, but also unify geocoding across the broadband industry, industry experts said during a Federal Communications Bar Association webinar Thursday.

Broadband service providers are not geocoding experts, said Lynn Follansbee of US Telecom, and they don’t know where all the people are.

The new fabric dataset is going to be very useful to get a granular look at what is and what is not served and to harmonize geocoding, she said.

AT&T’s Mary Henze agreed. “We’re a broadband provider, we’re not a GIS company,” she said. Unified geocode across the whole field will help a lot to find missing spots in our service area, she said.

The new Digital Opportunity Data Collection fabric is a major shift from the current Form 477 data that the FCC collects, which has been notoriously inaccurate for years. The effort to improve broadband mapping has been ongoing for years, and in 2019 US Telecom in partnership with CostQuest and other industry partners created the fabric pilot program.

That has been instrumental in lead to the new FCC system, panelists said. It is called a “fabric” dataset because it is made up of other datasets that interlace like fabric, Follansbee explained.

The fabric brings new challenges, especially for mobile providers, said Chris Wieczorek of T-Mobile. With a whole new set of reporting criteria to fill out the fabric, it will lead to confusion for consumers, and lots of work for the new task force, he said.

Henze said that without the fabric, closing the digital divide between those with broadband internet and those without has been impossible.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection expected to help better map rural areas

The new mapping can help in rural areas where the current geolocation for a resident may be a mailbox that is several hundred feet or farther away from the actual house that needs service, Follansbee said.

Rural areas aren’t the only places that will benefit, though. It can also help in dense urban areas where vertical location in a residential building is important to getting a good connection, said Wieczorek.

The fabric will also help from a financial perspective, because of the large amount of funding going around, said Charter Communications’ Christine Sanquist. The improved mapping can help identify where best to spend that funding for federal agencies, providers, and local governments, she said.

There is now more than $10 billion in new federal funding for broadband-related projects, with the recent $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020 and the new $7.6 Emergency Connectivity Fund part of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday.

The new FCC task force for implementing the new mapping system was created in February 2021, and is being led by , led by Jean Kiddoo at the FCC. No specific dates have been set yet for getting the system operational.

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GOP Grills FCC on Improving Broadband Mapping Now, as Agency Spells Out New Rules

Tim White

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Photo of former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at the March 2019 launch of US Telecom’s mapping initiative by Drew Clark

March 11, 2021 – Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has changed her stance on the timeline for updating the FCC’s broadband mapping data, and several House and Senate Republicans are wondering why.

“On March 10, 2020, you testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government that the FCC could ‘radically improve’ its broadband maps ‘within three-to-six months,’” read the letter, sent Monday to Rosenworcel from the GOP delegation.

“You repeated that statement the next day, testifying before the House Appropriations Committee’s FSGG Subcommittee that the agency could fix its maps in ‘just a few months.’”

“You can imagine our surprise and disappointment when the FCC recently suggested the new maps would not be ready until 2022,” the letter read, referring to the FCC’s open meeting on February 17, 2021.

“The United States faces a persistent digital divide. The pandemic has made connectivity more important than ever, yet millions of Americans continue to live without high-speed broadband. Any delay in creating new maps would delay funding opportunities for unserved households,” the letter read.

The letter requests Rosenworcel’s response by March 22, 2021, including why she changed the timeline, details on the timeline for developing new maps, how the FCC plans to spend the $98 million funding provided for this updated mapping as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act that passed in December 2020, among other stipulations.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection order spells out rules for mapping

On January 19, 2021, as the final order before FCC Chairman Ajit Pai left his position, the FCC announced new rules for mobile and fixed broadband providers to submit data.

The agency began collecting data from service providers in 1996 with the Telecommunications Act, and at that time considered broadband connection speed to be at least 200 kilobits per second (Kbps).

While internet speeds have greatly improved since then, the January 19 order still uses the 200 Kbps speed as at least one benchmark measurement 25 years later.

The fact that many Americans still lack access to modern, high-speed broadband has become increasingly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many children lack a consistent connection to the internet for remote learning.

Improving broadband mapping has been a major obstacle for the FCC for several years. Since the Telecommunications Act became law and the commission began gathering data on their Form 477, further legislation has been passed to improve that data, including the National Broadband Plan and National Broadband Map in 2010 and 2011, but many say that the maps still need considerable work.

In August 2019 the FCC launched this new mapping initiative, dubbed “Digital Opportunity Data Collection.” It shifts how the agency gather data from service providers using Form 477. Now, they will be required to provide more granular information.

Then, in March 2020 Congress passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act into law. It further improves the way the FCC much collects broadband mapping data. It wasn’t until the consolidated appropriations bill in December that Congress appropriated funds for the mapping effort.

New order returns to August 2019 principles

Under the new order, fixed broadband providers must submit data for services offered, specifying if they are for residents and/or businesses.

The order states: “This represents a change from the Commission’s proposal in the Second Order and Third Further Notice to collect data separately on residential and on business-and-residential offerings. We find that the approach we adopt will provide us with a more complete picture of the state of broadband deployment.”

Data for non-mass market services do not need to be filed, because the FCC says it does not fall within the scope of the Broadband DATA Act. Data services that will not need to be collected include those purchased by hospitals, schools, libraries, government entities, and other enterprise customers.

The order requires providers to report connection speeds for broadband internet access. The FCC considers a download speed faster than 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and an upload speed faster than 3 Mbps as “advanced telecommunications technology.” That also matches the speed threshold on Form 477, at least since 2015.

Companies must report the maximum advertised speeds in the geographic area if they’re higher than 25/3 Mbps. Although the median fixed broadband speed is much higher than that across America, as reported by Ookla for the fourth quarter of 2020, millions of Americans still lack quality access to the internet.

When providers report their speeds to the FCC under the new order, they must specify in two tiers the connection speed if it falls below the 25/3 Mbps threshold. The first tier is for speeds between 200 kbps and 10/1 Mbps, and the second tier falls between 10/1 Mbps and 25/3 Mbps.

With the new order, fixed wireless providers that submit propagation maps are now required to also submit geographic coordinates—latitude and longitude—for their base stations that provide broadband to their consumers.

Previously, providers were required to submit data only on the spectrum used, height of the base station and type of radio technology. The order details that also verifying the geographic coordinates of base stations will allow for more accurate mapping. Due to the sensitive nature that geographic coordinates may have “for business or national security reasons,” the FCC will consider this new data presumptively confidential.

Latency and signal strength information now required

The new order requires fixed broadband access providers to submit information on latency in their semiannual Digital Opportunity Data Collection filing. The information must detail whether the network round-trip latency for the maximum speed offered in a geographic area is at or below 100 miliseconds.

The agency used the 100 milisecond threshold because it aligns with the requirement for the Connect America Fund Phase II program, which subsidizes companies that provide broadband access in unavailable areas.

Mobile broadband providers are now required to submit signal-strength “heat maps” showing reference signal received power and received signal strength indicator. Both of these metrics are ways of measuring 4G LTE and 5G mobile signal strength.

Covering only outdoor strength, the maps must include data for both pedestrians and drivers. Mobile providers must also submit 3G maps for areas without access to 4G or 5G connections. Due to various factors that affect signal strength, the FCC has not set a floor for minimum signal strength.

Additionally, all mobile and fixed broadband providers must certify each submission by a qualified engineer for accuracy, in addition to the corporate officer certification. The engineer must be employed by the service provider and is directly responsible for or has knowledge of the submitted maps.

FCC verification processes, and the deployment of a broadband fabric

The order permits the FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to request additional information from mobile service providers to verify all necessary information that details either infrastructure information or on-the-ground test data for the area where coverage is provided. The companies must do so within 60 days of the request.

The order also directs OEA to verify mobile on-the-ground data submitted by state, local, and Tribal government entities that are responsible for mapping broadband service coverage. It also permits OEA to similarly verify data from third parties if that data is in the public interest for developing the coverage maps or to verify other data as submitted by providers.

The order also adopted a previous suggestion to implement systems for consumers, governmental or other entities to challenge coverage maps for both fixed broadband and mobile connections, disputing the data submitted by providers.

US Telecom and WISPA, trade association representing telecom and wireless providers in the United States, has been working with CostQuest Associates on a “fabric” mapping system for years. The CostQuest system touts considerable improvement over the FCC’s current broadband mapping. The Fabric is based on granular address-level data.

In this new order, the FCC took the first steps to implementing such a system by adopting the definition of a “location” as a residential or business location at which fixed broadband access service is or can be installed, using geographic coordinates.

The commission declined to use street address data until at least they are able “to determine the types of data and functionality that will be available through the procurement process.”

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Broadband Breakfast Interview with BroadbandNow about Gigabit Coverage and Unreliable FCC Data

Broadband Breakfast Sponsor

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December 27, 2020 – Broadband Now’s new report on gigabit internet coverage in the United States picks upon aspects of the Federal Communications Commission’s unreliable broadband data.

FCC data shows that in 2016, only 4 percent of American had access to a gigabit connection. Fast forward to 2020, and – according to government statistics – 84 percent of Americans reportedly have that same luxury.

Except that it isn’t so.

In this interview with Broadband Now Editor-in-Chief Tyler Cooper, he and Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark delve into the mechanics of understanding the availability of gigabit broadband networks.

As Broadband Now notes in its report, progress on gigabit deployment in the U.S. has been greatly exaggerated. This is true for the state of the internet in general, as Broadband Now previously illustrated. However, the gigabit landscape is a subsection worth examining more closely, as it is the connectivity threshold that will be required to solve the speed and functionality divides of the near future.

This 18-minute question-and-answer delves into the details: Why gigabit connectivity is important, why the FCC is mismeasuring it, and how Broadband Now has filled out our understanding of this benchmark level of broadband connectivity.

The full report is titled, “Massive Gigabit “Coverage” Increase Highlights How Unreliable Government Broadband Data Can Be.”

Broadband Now Editor-in-Chief Tyler Cooper

This Broadband Breakfast interview is sponsored by:

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