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Why to Attend | Broadband Communities Summit

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MDU PROGRAM REFLECTS HUGE CHANGES
Owners and managers of multiple dwelling unit properties will be hearing about how the changed carrier lineup, new technology, new regulations, expanding needs to accommodate in-building cellular reception, and yes, new ways to make deployments profitable, have changed things for the better in 2016 — but have set new traps for the unwary. Kept up with emerging agreements on home run wiring and net neutrality? Thinking of succumbing to entreaties of one locally dominant cellular provider to handle your building? Planning to serve that new college dorm just as you did the last one? Realize that cable companies are expanding fiber deployments in 2016?

Checked the new advantages many providers using the “private cable operator” model can offer property owners of all sizes?

We’ve already been discussing this exciting new environment with our team of MDU experts — staff working for owners and managers, people that sign or review contracts with providers every day before breakfast. At the Summit, the legal, technical, and financial experts we’re lining up will give it to you straight: What works best for today’s tenants and unit owners, in various diverse situations.

Can you afford NOT to be in Austin this April?
Meet The Mayors With Deb Socia

Next Century Cities founder Deb Socia will host a panel of mayors who have made broadband access a reality in their communities. Get all the details of how their leadership led to success – how they involved stakeholders, educated (and listened to) other officials, residents and business owners, lobbied state and regional power brokers, and explored all the alternatives. The panel is selected from among mayors from communities of all sizes, in all parts of the country. You don’t have to be an elected official to benefit from the mayors’ insights on regulation, marketing, finance, and the potential for cooperation with incumbents.

Student Housing Workshop
It will take a 2-hour deep-dive workshop to get through all the new technical and financial challenges faced by developers of on-campus student housing. David Daugherty will lead a table full of experts who have been walking the walk at colleges and universities across the country. From large institutions to small, public and private, students need – and demand – more broadband, in more ways, and with more reliability than ever before. Colleges need to be, well, educated about what student fees might be necessary to pay for the infrastructure and why various features are needed. Not doing student housing now? Consider attending anyway. Student housing is the canary in the broadband coal mine. It’s an early warning system for what everyone will want in a few years.
Rural Telecommunications Congress Explores New Funding Opportunities And New Needs

State, Federal and private funding opportunities for broadband to enhance rural healthcare, small businesses, and education highlight this year’s RTC annual meeting, held in conjunction with Summit 2016.

The best source of funding for rural broadband might be at the EPA, HUD, DOE or Justice! On the agenda are two panels explaining how to identifying potential partners and best practices for broadband spending under 18 federal agency programs due for Broadband Opportunity Council rule revisions that are scheduled to be finalized in 2016. Those agencies spend $10 billion a year on activities that could be enhanced with broadband, but that have typically ignored funding broadband up to now.

There’s also a panel on leveraging the evolving Connect America Fund rules, and another on extending middle mile networks to homes in rural areas. Two panels focus on the details of justifying — and funding — broadband deployments in tribal areas. Those areas have traditionally relied on Rural Utilities Services loans, but RUS money is somewhat sparse these days.

Mark Johnson, CTO of MCNC, will moderate a panel on how the emerging Internet of Things will impact rural America, both financially and socially.

Summit registrants can attend all RTC sessions free! There’s no extra charge.

 

MDU Deep-Dive Workshop
Multiple Dwelling Unit construction and greenfield broadband opportunities are at a 10-year high, while MDU residents craving gigabit access and seamless cellular have continued to grow in number as well. MDU broadband is not just for students and employees of high-tech companies anymore! MDUs now must accommodate cord-cutters, work-at-home professionals in fields ranging from medicine to teaching piano, and even 4K TV watchers. Building upon his wildly acclaimed Summit workshops over the past years, Richard Holtz and a panel of innovative deployers and technical experts will take you on an enlightening journey. They’re prepared to answer your toughest questions, too. No holds barred.

Catch The Wave!
New buildings to Gigafy: Greenfield housing construction has recovered, with MDU builds leading the way.
New Fiber-to-the-Home and Fiber-to-the-Basement technology: Better DSL, clever G.fast, the cable industry’s impressive DOCSIS 3.1, 10 Gig Ethernet and GPON…
New Interconnections: Fiber to cell towers, Stimulus- and now state-funded middle-mile support network builders offering gigabit access.
New Deployment Tricks: Modern software-defined networks (SDN) make it easier to serve new giga-hungry business customers and flexible intermixing of fiber with copper and point-to-point wireless.
New Services to Offer: Tele-medicine, health care, education, security and entertainment offerings continue to expand, driven by giga-nets, new technology, and demographic trends. Now add data centers to the mix. They scale small – small enough to add to a central office or network operating center.
New Management: Organizations are emerging to guide deployers and property owners from concept to construction to financing to ongoing management.
New Money, New Business Cases: It is easier than ever for even small operators and communities to fund new projects.
We’ve Got Your Back!
No one covers it all like we do at Broadband Communities. So of course we’ll be bringing the latest to Summit 2016. Detailed workshops. Wide-ranging panels. Super-star keynoters. Plenty of time to ask questions and connect with your peers!
Property Owners And Managers, Financial Experts, Network Deployers, Municipal And State Officials, Economic Development Specialists
Our staff, our original research, and our blue-ribbon user (not vendor!) advisory committees will make sure you get the legal, technical, and financial information you need. You’ll hear the best advice, from people who are already in the swim.
Greenfield Opportunities Multiply
US housing starts rose to 1.2 million in 2015, best since 2007. But what’s really exciting is that annual multiple dwelling unit starts are running well over 600,000 with another bump expected in 2016. That’s an all-time high! Before the recession, MDUs were less than a third of new housing. Now they are more than half. Most are rental units, most are being occupied by broadband-savvy tenants under 30, and most are well-positioned to fatten franchise broadband providers’ bottom lines or to attract CLECs, traditional private cable operators, and current cable franchise operators (MSOs).
More opportunities and choices for property owners and managers, even as MSOs and RBOCs consolidate! More care needed when writing the service contracts! More ways to differentiate buildings on what our surveys say is the number one amenity tenants and owners want: Great Broadband.

Summit 2016 will cover all that, of course. But what about the financing options? New companies (and plenty of evolving old ones) that can manage – and even build and finance – projects? Deep dives into regulatory and contract issues? New services such as security, energy management, and cellular access? We’ve got your back there as well!

Workshop On Broadband Business Modeling
Step your use of our free business modeling and cash flow analysis tools up a notch – or more – by attending our free pre-conference workshops. Editor-at-large Steve Ross, the models’ author, will take you through the process, concentrating on use of our tool for determining the return on various broadband investments in a subdivision or multiple dwelling unit environment.
Attendees get free thumb drives with all five models, documentation, and real-world use examples as well. Join hundreds of property owners and managers, ISPs, private cable operators, consultants and investors who already use these tools to build a business case or track monthly cash flow.

One example pursued by a 2013 attendee at this 2-hour workshop: An owner of four MDU properties got bank financing to install fiber-to-the-basement with Ethernet delivery over copper in the building with the best wiring. He’s been using the great cash flow to bootstrap full fiber-to-the-tenant unit in the other MDUs, intending to swing back and upgrade the first building in about 5 years. This year, that strategy looks better than ever, with DOCSIS 3.1 or G.fast in the mix.

Cable Is In The Gigabit Game!
Cable companies now have a clear upgrade path for fiber all the way to customers. DOCSIS 3.1, out of the box, ups available bandwidth by 50 percent. Deployments started in 2014, as we first announced. They’ll be mainstream in 2016. But wait! There’s more! DOCSIS 3.1 has an FTTx option – fiber to customers or to equipment rooms in multiple dwelling unit buildings and commercial or office complexes. It’s already being deployed, with customers getting as much as 2 Gbps downloads and 1 Gbps upstream.
Split a DOCSIS node to serve 32 or 64 customers, supply it with fiber running on new 10 GB switches, and it begins to look like a passive optical network as far as bandwidth is concerned, although with generally higher latency and a tad less reliability.

What does it mean for cable companies? Customers? MDU owners and managers? Old municipal hybrid fiber coax systems? Telco competitors? Those questions and more will be discussed in depth at Summit 2016.
New Options For Municipal Builds
No one says muni broadband is easy. But it is becoming easier. There are now more than 200 municipalities served by more than 165 Fiber-to-the-Home systems alone. The secret: Muni systems just have to break even in the long run. Much of the payback is in economic and population growth, quality of life, and “insurance” from the vagaries of a global economy that can put single-industry towns out of business in a heartbeat.
Our Summit and our regional economic development conferences always give municipal and state officials as well as local activists the latest on how to detect what is pie-in-the-sky and what might be a real business plan. And options are exploding in 2016. There’s new technology, a new regulatory outlook with interest by the FCC and the White House, new financial players including state funding, and a revitalized public-private partnership model that many may find attractive.

It all makes Summit 16 a “can’t miss” for state and local officials and broadband activists, existing operators (especially Tier 3 incumbents), electric coop operators, economic development experts, and corporate site selection consultants and staff members.
Strategies For Muni Electrics And Electric Coops
Seems easy enough. You already know your customers. Your community needs broadband. You have assets to pledge. Hah! Korcett CEO David Daugherty will lead a group of experienced coop managers and engineers on a blow-by-blow trip through the technical, regulatory, political, managerial and financial paths that must be navigated.
His blue-ribbon experts – your electric coop peers – will show you how to look ahead to emerging technologies and financial options, and to ways to compete or partner with others in your footprint.
Bridging The Digital Divide
No wonder you can’t define it. The divide and its cures vary from community to community. But aside from the moral issue – it is not a bad idea to use broadband access to raise living standards, to improve job and educational opportunities, and deliver health care – there’s a great business case, too. Network providers get more customers! And better take rates make better networks possible.
Summit 2016 will offer examples and success stories in rural and urban settings nationwide. But it boils down to this: Bridging the digital divide – often with educational outreach, custom services, and special product packages – is worthy of a bit of your marketing budget whether you operate on a Native American reservation, an urban neighborhood, or a community that skews elderly.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.bbcmag.com

This exciting program is beginning to take shape! The Rural Telecommunications Congress will play a significant role in the event this April 2016!

See on Scoop.itBroadbandPolicy

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

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Digital Inclusion

Broadband is Affordable for Middle Class, NCTA Claims

According to analysis, the middle class spends on average $69 per month on internet service.

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Photo of Rick Cimerman, vice president of external and state affairs at NCTA

WASHINGTON, November 22, 2022 – Even as policymakers push initiatives to make broadband less expensive, primarily for low-income Americans, broadband is already generally affordable for the middle class, argued Rick Cimerman, vice president of external and state affairs at industry group NCTA, the internet and television association. 

Availability of broadband is not enough, many politicians and experts argue, if other barriers – e.g., price – prevent widespread adoption. Much focus has been directed toward boosting adoption among low-income Americans through subsidies like the Affordable Connectivity Program, but legally, middle-class adoption must also be considered. In its notice of funding opportunity for the $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration required each state to submit a “middle-class affordability plan.”

During a webinar held earlier this month, Cimerman, who works for an organization that represents cable operators, defined the middle class as those who earn $45,300–$76,200, basing these boundaries on U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for 2020. And based on the text of an Federal Communications Commission action from 2016, he set the threshold of affordability for broadband service at two percent of monthly household income.

According to his analysis, the middle class, thus defined, spends on average $69 per month on internet service. $69 is about 1.8 percent of monthly income for those at the bottom of Cimerman’s middle class and about 1.1 percent of monthly income for those at the top. Both figures fall within the 2-percent standard, and Cimerman stated that lower earners tended to spend slightly less on internet than the $69-per-month average.

Citing US Telecom’s analysis of the FCC’s Urban Rate Survey, Cimerman presented data that show internet prices dropped substantially from 2015 to 2021 – decreasing about 23 percent, 26 percent, and 39 percent for “entry-level,” “most popular” and “highest-speed” residential plans, respectively. And despite recent price hikes on products such as gas, food, and vehicles, Cimerman said, broadband prices had shrunk 0.1 percent year-over-year as of September 2022.

Widespread adoption is important from a financial as well as an equity perspective, experts say. Speaking at the AnchorNets 2022 conference, Matt Kalmus, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, argued that providers rely on high subscription rates to generate badly needed network revenues.

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Broadband's Impact

Federal Communications Commission Mandates Broadband ‘Nutrition’ Labels

The FCC also mandated that internet service provider labels be machine-readable.

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Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday afternoon ordered internet providers to display broadband “nutrition” labels at points of sale that include internet plans’ performance metrics, monthly rates, and other information that may inform consumers’ purchasing decisions.

The agency released the requirement less than 24 hours before it released the first draft of its updated broadband map.

The FCC mandated that labels be machine-readable, which is designed to facilitate third-party data-gathering and analysis. The commission also requires that the labels to be made available in customers’ online portals with the provide the and “accessible” to non-English speakers.

In addition to the broadband speeds promised by the providers, the new labels must also display typical latency, time-of-purchase fees, discount information, data limits, and provider-contact information.

“Broadband is an essential service, for everyone, everywhere. Because of this, consumers need to know what they are paying for, and how it compares with other service offerings,”  FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. 

“For over 25 years, consumers have enjoyed the convenience of nutrition labels on food products.  We’re now requiring internet service providers to display broadband labels for both wireless and wired services.  Consumers deserve to get accurate information about price, speed, data allowances, and other terms of service up front.”

Industry players robustly debated the proper parameters for broadband labels in a flurry of filings with the FCC. Free Press, an advocacy group, argued for machine-readable labels and accommodations for non-English speakers, measures which were largely opposed by trade groups. Free Press also advocated a requirement that labels to be included on monthly internet bills, without which the FCC “risks merely replicating the status quo wherein consumers must navigate fine print, poorly designed websites, and byzantine hyperlinks,” group wrote.

“The failure to require the label’s display on a customer’s monthly bill is a disappointing concession to monopolist ISPs like AT&T and Comcast and a big loss for consumers,” Joshua Stager, policy director of Free Press, said Friday.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association clashed with Free Press in its FCC filing and supported the point-of-sale requirement.

“WISPA welcomes today’s release of the FCC’s new broadband label,” said Vice President of Policy Louis Peraertz. “It will help consumers better understand their internet access purchases, enabling them to quickly see ‘under the hood,’ and allow for an effective apples-to-apples comparison tool when shopping for services in the marketplace.”

Image of the FCC’s sample broadband nutrition label

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Broadband's Impact

Midterm Control of Congress Remains Uncertain, But States Got Answers to Broadband Votes

Alabama, Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Kansas and Pennsylvania had broadband-related measures on the ballot.

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Photo of an Ohio voter on November 8, 2022, by Marshall Gorby of the Dayton Daily News

As voters went to the polls on Tuesday, November 8, 2022, broadband-focused initiatives and candidates could be found up and down the ballot all across the country.

Alabama

Alabama voters cast their ballots to decide on a state Constitutional amendment known as the Broadband Internet Infrastructure Funding Amendment. The measure sought to amend the state’s constitution “to allow local governments to use funding provided for broadband internet infrastructure under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and award such funds to public or private entities.”

That measure passed, garnering a “Yes” vote from nearly 80 percent of Alabama voters. With 73 percent of the vote counted late last night, 922,145 “Yes” votes had been tallied with 251,441 “No” votes.

Also in Alabama, Democratic U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell won her re-election bid to represent Alabama’s 7th congressional district. Sewell, whose district covers a large swath of the Alabama Black Belt, “spent much of her past two years in office bringing American Rescue Plan Act funds to rural Alabama, dedicated to healthcare, broadband access and infrastructure building,” as noted by The Montgomery Advertiser.

Colorado

The Centennial State is not listed as one of 17 states in the nation with preemption laws that erect barriers to municipal broadband because nearly every community that had a vote has passed it to nullify it. But more communities had to go through that unnecessary process yesterday due to the law known as SB-152 that bans local governments in the state from establishing municipal broadband service absent a referendum.

As of spring 2022, 118 Colorado municipalities, 40 counties and several school districts have opted out of SB-152.

Now Colorado can add to that list.

In Pueblo County, nearly 48,000 ballots were cast with 34,457 or 72 percent, voting yes to opt out of SB 152 while 13,087 (28 percent) cast a “No” vote.

In the City of Pueblo, the county seat, Mayor Nick Gradisar told The Pueblo Chieftain that his city was not looking to build a municipal broadband network but rather to pursue a public-private partnership to bring ubiquitous high-speed Internet service to the city in a way that does not “just allow (broadband companies) to cherry pick the ones that can pay the most.”

Meanwhile, in the City of Lone Tree, one of about a dozen communities located in Douglas County, voters there overwhelmingly approved opting out of SB-152 with over 83 percent of voters casting a “Yes” ballot.

According to the city’s website, the ballot question was put to voters to enable the county to extend broadband infrastructure into Lone Tree. The website goes on to explain what opting out of SB-152 would mean for city residents and businesses:

  • Along with providing support for the County’s efforts, voter approval opens a range of opportunities to improve broadband access or services. Approval would allow the conversation to begin, while not binding the City to any specific actions or timelines.

New Mexico

Similar to the Constitutional question voters decided in Alabama, a ballot question in New Mexico asked voters to modify the New Mexico Constitution to ensure the easy flow of broadband funding. A 1900s era portion of the state’s constitution restricts “lending, pledging credit, or donating to any person, association, or public or private corporation.”

The proposal, which was approved by the New Mexico state legislature last February, passed with a 65 to 35 percent split in favor of adding an exception to the state’s anti-donation clause that will allow the state legislature to appropriate state funds through a majority vote in each chamber for infrastructure that provides essential services such as water, sewer, electricity, and broadband.

Bipartisan Support for Expanding Broadband Access

Yes, one day after the election and it was still unclear which party will control Congress, even as political analysts pontificate on what happened to the “Red Wave.” But, this much is clear: for successful candidates in both parties, at the federal and state-level, expanding access to broadband has become a bipartisan issue.

In New York, Republican State Sen. Dan Stec won his bid re-election, building on his first victory in 2020 when he campaigned for better broadband and mobile phone service. In North Carolina, Renée Price, a Democratic state representative, was elected by a wide margin. During the campaign, Price said her priorities are funding a range of initiatives and that she was particularly focused on increasing access to broadband.

Meanwhile, Republican Congressman Rick Allen was re-elected to represent Georgia’s 12th Congressional District. Allen said he would “continue to fight for the priorities of the 12th District like securing funding for Fort Gordon and the Savannah River Site, expanding rural broadband, and supporting our farmers and rural America.”

In Kansas, where Republican Congressman Mark Alford was elected to represent Missouri’s staunchly conservative 4th Congressional District, Alford told The Kansas City Star that as he campaigned “’on just about every back road of the district, all 24 counties,’ he heard that the No. 1 issue in the district is lack of rural broadband access.”

Over in Pennsylvania, where Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro won the race to be that battleground state’s next Governor, Shapiro’s campaign told Spotlight PA “he will prioritize expanding quality and affordable access to broadband in rural regions of the state by supporting the newly created Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, and establishing comprehensive subsidies for low-income households with high [I]nternet prices.”

And finally, in Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott fended off a challenge from Beto O’Rourke, in the less sexy race for State Comptroller, Republican incumbent Glenn Hegar won his re-election bid in which he touted his record championing the expansion of broadband in the Lone Star State.

Eye On State Legislatures

States are now beefing up or establishing state broadband offices to award billions of dollars for the deployment of new or expanded broadband infrastructure thanks to an historic infusion of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). With those bills already passed and the midterm elections behind us, most of the action on the broadband front will rest in the hands of state lawmakers.

The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that “with roughly 9 out of 10 adults in America using the Internet, many consider it to be a necessity of modern life,” which is why there are numerous pieces of broadband-related legislation that was enacted or is pending in the 2022 legislative session.

  • In the 2022 legislative session, 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have pending and enacted legislation addressing broadband in issue areas such as educational institutions and schools, dig once, funding, governance authorities and commissions, infrastructure, municipal-run broadband networks, rural and underserved communities, smart communities and taxes. Twenty-six jurisdictions enacted legislation or adopted resolutions: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Authored by Sean Gonsalves, this article originally appeared on the web site of the Institute for Local Self Reliance’s Community Broadband Broadband Networks Project on November 9, 2022, and is reprinted with permission.

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