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Broadband's Impact

At Inaugural AnchorNETs Conference in Silicon Valley, The Broadband Talk is About Public-Private Partnerships

MOUNTAIN VIEW, November 24, 2015 – Community broadband institutions are a key building block to accelerate deployment of high-capacity internet service, said speakers and panelists at the inaugural Anchornets conference here last week.

Such community institutions also play a vital role in facilitating public-private partnerships that aid such deployment, they said at a conference hosted by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition at the Museum of Computer History here in the heart of Silicon Valley on Monday, November 16.

Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, speaks of the importance of public-private partnership to broadband.

Among the high-profile leaders who emphasized the important role of schools and libraries in promoting high-speed internet service were former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, and Evan Marwell, founder of EducationSuperhighway, a non-profit designed to promote greater internet connectivity in schools.

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, November 24, 2015 – Community broadband institutions are a key building block to accelerate deployment of high-capacity internet service, said speakers and panelists at the inaugural Anchornets conference here last week.

Such community institutions also play a vital role in facilitating public-private partnerships that aid such deployment, they said at a conference hosted by the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition at the Museum of Computer History here in the heart of Silicon Valley on Monday, November 16.

Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, speaks of the importance of public-private partnership to broadband.

Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, speaks of the importance of public-private partnership to broadband.

Among the high-profile leaders who emphasized the important role of schools and libraries in promoting high-speed internet service were former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Sunne McPeak, CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, and Evan Marwell, founder of EducationSuperhighway, a non-profit designed to promote greater internet connectivity in schools.

“We have fiber to every school, Wi-Fi to every classroom and connectivity that every district can afford,” said Marwell, speaking of his fast-growing non-profit, which started only in 2012.

EducationSuperhighway and the SHLB Coalition have been instrumental in pressing for changes to the eRate portion of the universal service fund that supports broadband connectivity in classrooms. Last year the FCC took significant steps in July and December to boost funding, and to permit schools to enter into partnerships to build their own broadband.

The theme the public-private partnerships can help overcome existing broadband gaps was echoed during other sessions throughout the conference.

For example, during a panel on the “Economics of the Local-Middle Mile Networks,” experts and practitioners building last-mile fiber-optic networks spoke the important role that middle-mile connections have played in opening new opportunities on their home ground.

In Sweden, open access fiber-optic networks are commonplace, said Isak Finer, vice president of COS Systems, which designs software enabling cities and companies to build Gigabit Networks. Finer said he’s seeing more and more U.S. communities following the Swedish model.

Isak Finer, vice president of COS Systems, speaking about tools to facilitate open access broadband networks.

Isak Finer, vice president of COS Systems, speaking about tools to facilitate open access broadband networks.

James Hackett, the director of business operations for the Santa Cruz, California-based provider Cruzio Internet, agreed. His company, which has been reselling digital subscriber line and wireless internet services for 26 years, is seeking to entice the city and public-private partners into build a fiber network upon which Cruzio may offer services.

“Not only will this bring incredible economic benefits, but huge savings to the city itself,” said Hackett. Noting that Santz Cruz is one of the hubs of the University of California higher education system, he said a Gigabit Network could dramatically cut down on traffic.

“We want to keep 25,000 people from driving over the hill every day,” he said, referring to the mountain passage separating the beachside Santa Cruz from the still-sprawling Silicon Valley around San Jose.

He noted an upcoming vote before the Santa Cruz City Council on December 8. “We anticipate a two to three year build-out plan that will bring a Gigabit to the home for close to 100 percent of the city.”

For additional articles about the California broadband conferences, please visit: https://broadbandbreakfast.com/2015/11/community-broadband-center-leaders-to-gather-in-silicon-valley-for-anchornets-and-ntia-event-on-november-16-17/

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 Best Best & Krieger LLP, with offices in California and Washington, DC. He works with cities, special districts and private companies on planning, financing and coordinating efforts of the many partners necessary to construct broadband infrastructure and deploy “Smart City” applications. 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.

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's Impact

Technology Policy Institute Introduces Data Index to Help Identify Connectivity-Deprived Areas

The Broadband Connectivity Index uses multiple datasets to try to get a better understanding of well- and under-connected areas in the U.S.

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Scott Wallsten is president and senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute

WASHINGTON, September 16, 2021 – The Technology Policy Institute introduced Thursday a broadband data index that it said could help policymakers study areas across the country with inadequate connectivity.

The TPI said the Broadband Connectivity Index uses multiple broadband datasets to compare overall connectivity “objectively and consistently across any geographic areas.” It said it will be adding it soon into its TPI Broadband Map.

The BCI uses a “machine learning principal components analysis” to take into account the share of households that can access fixed speeds the federal standard of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload and 100/25 – which is calculated based on the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 data with the American Community Survey – while also using download speed data from Ookla, Microsoft data for share of households with 25/3, and the share of households with a broadband subscription, which comes from the American Community Survey.

The BCI has a range of zero to 10, where zero is the worst connected and 10 is the best. It found that Falls Church, Virginia was the county with the highest score with the following characteristic: 99 percent of households have access to at least 100/25, 100 percent of households connect to Microsoft services at 25/3, the average fixed download speed is 243 Mbps in Ookla in the second quarter of this year, and 94 percent of households have a fixed internet connection.

Meanwhile, the worst-connected county is Echols County in Georgia. None of the population has access to a fixed connection of 25/3, which doesn’t include satellite connectivity, three percent connect to Microsoft’s servers at 25/3, the average download speed is 7 Mbps, and only 47 percent of households have an internet connection. It notes that service providers won $3.6 million out of the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to provide service in this county.

“Policymakers could use this index to identify areas that require a closer look. Perhaps any county below, say, the fifth percentile, for example, would be places to spend effort trying to understand,” the TPI said.

“We don’t claim that this index is the perfect indicator of connectivity, or even the best one we can create,” TPI added. “In some cases, it might magnify errors, particularly if multiple datasets include errors in the same area.

“We’re still fine-tuning it to reduce error to the extent possible and ensure the index truly captures useful information. Still, this preliminary exercise shows that it is possible to obtain new information on connectivity with existing datasets rather than relying only on future, extremely expensive data.”

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Broadband's Impact

New Report Recommends Broadening Universal Service Fund to Include Broadband Revenues

A Mattey Consulting report finds broadband revenues can help sustain the fund used to connect rural and low-income Americans.

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Carol Mattey of Mattey Consulting LLC

WASHINGTON, September 14, 2021— Former deputy chief of the Federal Communications Commission Carol Mattey released a study on Tuesday recommending the agency reform the Universal Service Fund to incorporate a broad range of revenue sources, including from broadband.

According to the report by Mattey’s consulting firm Mattey Consulting LLC, revenues from “broadband internet access services that are increasingly used by Americans today should contribute to the USF programs that support the expansion of such services to all,” it said. “This will better reflect the value of broadband internet access service in today’s marketplace for both consumers and businesses.”

Mattey notes that sources of funding for the USF, which are primarily from voice revenues and supports expanding broadband to low-income Americans and remote regions, has been shrinking, thus putting the fund in jeopardy. The contribution percent reached a historic high at 33.4 percent in the second quarter this year, and decreased slightly after that, though Mattey suggested it could soar as high as 40 percent in the coming years.

“This situation is unsustainable and jeopardizes the universal broadband connectivity mission for our nation without immediate FCC reform,” Mattey states in her report, “To ensure the enduring value of the USF program and America’s connectivity goals, we must have a smart and substantive conversation about the program’s future.”

According to Mattey’s data, the assessed sources (primarily voice) of income will only continue to shrink over the coming years, while unassessed sources will continue to grow. Mattey’s report was conducted in conjunction with INCOMPAS, NTCA: The Rural Broadband Association, and the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition.

“It is time for the FCC to take action, and to move away from the worst option of all – the status quo – that is jeopardizing the USF which is critical to connecting our nation,” the report said.

John Windhausen, executive director of SHLB, echoed the sentiments expressed by Mattey in her report, “We simply must put the USF funding mechanism on a more stable and sustainable path,” he said, “[in order to] strengthen our national commitment to broadband equity for all.”

Mattey report uniform with current recommendations

Mattey’s research is generally in line with proponents of change to the USF. Some have recommended that the fund draw from general broadband revenues, while others have said general taxation would provide a longer lasting solution. Even FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr suggested that Big Tech be forced to contribute to the system it benefits from, which the acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said is an “intriguing” idea.

The FCC instituted the USF in 1997 as a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The fund was designed to encourage the development of telecom infrastructure across the U.S.—dispensing billions of dollars every year to advance the goal of universal connectivity. It does so through four programs: the Connect America Fund, Lifeline, the rural health care program, and E-Rate.

These constituent programs address specific areas related for broadband. For example, the E-Rate program is primarily concerned with ensuring that schools and libraries are sufficiently equipped with internet and technology assistance to serve their students and communities. All of these programs derive their funding from the USF.

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Digital Inclusion

Outreach ‘Most Valuable Thing’ for Emergency Broadband Benefit Program: Rosenworcel

FCC Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel said EBB will benefit tremendously from local outreach efforts.

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Internet Innovation Alliance Co-Chair Kim Keenan

WASHINGTON, September 13, 2021 – The head of the Federal Communications Commission said Monday that a drawback of the legislation that ushered in the $3.2-billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program is that it did not include specific funding for outreach.

“There was no funding to help a lot of these non-profit and local organizations around the country get the word out [about the program],” Jessica Rosenworcel said during an event hosted by the Internet Innovation Alliance about the broadband affordability divide. “And I know that it would get the word out faster if we had that opportunity.”

The program, which launched in May and provides broadband subsidies of $50 and $75 to qualifying low-income households, has so-far seen an uptake of roughly 5.5 million households. The program was a product of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“We gotta get those trusted local actors speaking about it because me preaching has its limitations and reaching out to people who are trusted in their communities to get the word out – that is the single most valuable thing we can do,” Rosenworcel said.

She said the FCC has 32,000 partners and has held more than 300 events with members of Congress, tribal leaders, national and local organizations, and educational institutions to that end.

“Anyone who’s interested, we’ll work with you,” she said.

EBB successes found in its mobile friendliness, language inclusion

Rosenworcel also preached the benefits of a mobile application-first approach with the program’s application that is making it accessible to large swaths of the population. “I think, frankly, every application for every program with the government should be mobile-first because we have populations, like the LatinX population, that over index on smartphone use for internet access.

“We gotta make is as easy as possible for people to do this,” she said.

She also noted that the program is has been translated into 13 languages, furthering its accessibility.

“We have work to do,” Rosenworcel added. “We’re not at 100 percent for anyone, and I don’t think we can stop until we get there.”

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