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Democrats Celebrate E-Rate, Remote Alaska Gets Broadband, Openreach and ADTRAN in UK

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Photo of Utqiaġvik, Alaska, from Wikipedia

February 11, 2021 – Democratic Senators applauded Wednesday increased spending on subsidized internet devices and access as part of the House’s coronavirus relief reconciliation proposal.

Senators Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, and Congresswoman Grace Meng, D-New Yorkapplauded the inclusion of the Emergency Educational Connections Act and more than $7 billion in funding for the E-Rate internet subsidy program for schools and libraries in the relief bill.

The lawmakers’ legislation funds elementary and secondary, as well as tribal,schools and libraries to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, including internet service through such equipment to students, staff, and patrons.

“We are excited to see our legislation that funds K-12 distance learning included in the latest coronavirus relief package unveiled by the House of Representatives,” said the lawmakers. 

“The reconciliation package reflects what we all know: that we cannot afford to wait another day to connect online our nation’s most vulnerable children to their teachers and classmates and to ensure the ‘homework gap’ does not continue to grow into a damaging learning and opportunity gap as the pandemic continues.

“We call on our colleagues in both the Senate and House to include this funding in the final package and quickly send it to President Biden’s desk for his signature.” 

Markey is the author of the original E-Rate program, which was created as a part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, spoke at the INCOMPAS 2021 Policy Summit, emphasizing his committee’s focus on broadband deployment, adoption and affordability. The committee will hold a Thursday markup session on broadband funding.

“We welcome the efforts of Chairman Pallone and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to advance legislation that will promote home broadband adoption and help schools that remain closed fulfill their educational mission through remote learning,” said a Thursday statement from NCTA, the Internet and Television Association.

“With added resources, we look forward to seeing such collaborative efforts intensify so we can shrink the homework gap, help teachers and students stay connected, and bring the benefits of broadband to new families across America.”

Remote Alaska Gets Broadband

The northernmost city in the United States, Utqiagvik, Alaska, which sits above the arctic circle, has received broadband connection thanks to the collaborative efforts of two broadband companies, Quintillion and Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative.

“Today we are proud to begin the launch of our Home Internet 25+ in Utqiaġvik, Wainwright, Point Hope and Nuiqsut,” said ASTAC’s Jens Laipenieks in a statement. “This new offering will provide the speeds needed for families who continue to work and do schooling from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Utqiagvik is part of the North Slope Borough in Alaska, which ASTAC reports is 85% connected to fiber broadband.

According to a Telecompetitor article, ASTAC has laid over 62 miles of fiber networks and Quintillion has laid over 1600 miles along the Alaskan coast, bringing broadband to some of the most remote locations in the world.

“Quintillion is proud to partner with ASTAC to bring fast, reliable, and affordable internet to these North Slope communities,” read a statement from George Tronsrue, CEO at Quintillion. “Our subsea fiber network was built to help improve the lives of rural Alaska residents. These new services will do that and come at a time when they are needed more than ever.”

Another small town in northern Alaska, the off-grid indigenous village Tatitlek, received broadband connection recently as well, as reported by Telecompetitor. Because the village is so remote, the broadband provider Copper Valley Telecom used barges and helicopters to lay the network.

Openreach connects first customer on ADTRAN’s gigabit-capable optical solution

ADTRAN announced Wednesday that Openreach switched on its first live subscriber with the ADTRAN SDX series fiber access platform and the Mosaic Cloud network automation platform.

Openreach has been building its broadband connections to businesses and residents throughout the UK through its Full Fiber broadband program.

Openreach said introducing ADTRAN’s SDX and Mosaic platforms into the network is intended to streamline the current delivery of fiber services and the future introduction of higher speed symmetric services with next-generation fiber technologies.

This benefit is key, Openreach said, as it looks to achieve its ambition of making its gigabit-capable Full Fiber broadband network available to 20 million homes by the mid-to-late 2020s.

Millions of premises will be able to benefit from a range of competing service providers using Openreach’s new digital network, it said. More than 660 retail carriers across the UK rely on Openreach to deliver reliable wholesale capacity to support a broad portfolio of dynamic services to enterprise, small-to-medium businesses and residential customers.

“We’re fully committed to building the UK’s leading ultrafast, ultra-reliable Full Fiber broadband network and to reinforce our vital role in keeping the nation connected,” said Peter Bell, Openreach’s director of network technology.

Broadband Roundup

AT&T’s Opens Learning Center in Dallas, Parallel Wireless Expands, AT&T 5G Experiment for National Defense

AT&T’s opens first learning center with free broadband, open RAN company Parallel Wireless expands, AT&T testing 5G for maritime use.

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Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications

September 16, 2021—AT&T said Thursday it is opening its first learning center in Dallas, Texas, which it hopes will help bridge the digital divide by providing free access to the internet, computers and educational resources.

Dallas is the first in more than 20 AT&T Connected Learning Centers across the country that it plans to open in, which will include Los Angeles, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Miami, and San Francisco, the company said in a press release Thursday.

The telecom has committed to plowing $2 billion over three years to expand its AT&T Connected Learning program, which it announced in April and is an effort to bridge the digital device by promoting broadband affordability, accessibility and adoption.

“The stakes for closing the digital divide are incredibly high, and it is imperative that we remove barriers to opportunity for children and families,” said Jeff McElfresh, chief executive officer of AT&T Communications. “Education plays a vital role in the long-term success of our society, and we are committed to investing in the educational and connectivity needs of underserved communities, while also expanding access to low-cost broadband services.”

Open RAN company Parallel Wireless expands

Open radio access network company Parallel Wireless is expanding its research and development centers and company headquarters in the United States to develop its 4G and 5G software, said a press release Thursday.

“Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) across the globe are quickly adopting Open RAN networks to deliver cost-effective, easily scalable, wireless broadband connectivity,” the release said. “Parallel Wireless is at the forefront of the telecom revolution driving All G – 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G, Open RAN wireless networks into the future.”

The benefits of open RAN, which allows for a broader market of radio equipment versus relying on proprietary products, has been touted by the Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel for its supposed low cost and security benefits. The FCC held an open RAN showcase in July.

Dish Network is testing technologies for its 5G broadband network, which will use open RAN equipment.

AT&T experimenting with 5G for national defense

In a press release on Thursday, AT&T said that it has come to an agreement with the Naval Postgraduate School to explore and develop 5G for maritime use for national defense, homeland security, and certain industries like shipping and oil and gas.

The three-year research agreement will feature AT&T’s 5G networking capabilities that is intended to hone the ubiquitous connectivity inherent in the next-generation network to create a network that would improve logistics and data analytics.

“The collaboration between the Naval Postgraduate School and AT&T will help us explore better, faster means of collecting, disseminating, and analyzing data at the tactical edge, which is vital to maintaining and exploiting battlespace awareness,” Mike Galbraith, the Navy Department’s chief digital and innovation officer, said in the press release. Experiments conducted under the NPS-AT&T CRADA are expected to complement other DON efforts to apply 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enterprise and tactical uses.”

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Broadband Roundup

Connectivity Bill Introduced, OneWeb Halfway to LEO Launches, USTelecom Announces New VP

Democrats intro device subsidy bill, OneWeb half way to launch goal, Trevor Jones is USTelecom VP of gov. affairs.

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Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2021—In a move lauded by broadband equity advocates, Democrat congressmen introduced the “Device Access for Every American Act” to help low-income broadband consumers.

On Tuesday, congressmen Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Virginia, and Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, introduced the bill as part of similar efforts to improve consumer accessibility.

The legislation would allot $1 billion every year for five years to a program that would give Americans a $400 voucher to purchase a device to access the internet—whether that is a tablet, PC, laptop, etc.—and could get up to $800 over the course of every four-year period that the program is in place.

“Without a computer or tablet, low-income consumers across the country can’t connect despite Congress’ significant investments in deploying affordable broadband across the nation,” Public Knowledge senior policy analyst Jenna Leventoff said.

“However, the unfortunate reality is that most low-income consumers, including many senior citizens, can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars for a computer or tablet. Across the country, more than 11 percent of households don’t have a computer,” she added.

Leventoff pointed to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center that found that 37 percent of schoolchildren in economically disadvantaged households do their coursework from a cellphone and a quarter of them have been unable to do coursework due to a lack of a computer at home.

“This bill will ensure that low-income consumers can connect not only now, but into the future. We applaud Sen. Warnock and Rep. McEachin for their tireless leadership in working to ensure that those most in need are able to get connected,” Leventoff added.

Leventoff noted that she is hopeful that the bill would be added as part of the reconciliation package.

OneWeb’s network of satellites is halfway to completion

On Tuesday, OneWeb launched an additional 34 low-earth orbit satellites, bringing their total to up to 322 out of their projected 648 estimate.

Launch service provider Arianespace was responsible for getting the satellites into orbit. In a press release, Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël touted this as an achievement for the entire sector. “This launch illustrates the recent acceleration in space operation.”

During Satellite 2021’s opening keynote, executive chair of OneWeb Sunil Mittal committed to starting OneWeb’s commercial operations in the northern hemisphere over the next couple of months.

This all follows OneWeb’s 2020 bankruptcy filling and subsequent delays that resulted from the ensuing rescue of the company.

Trevor Jones named VP of Government Affairs for USTelecom

Trevor Jones, former legislative assistant to Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, has been named vice-president of government affairs for USTelecom.

A graduate of Willamette University, Jones has worked with USTelecom since 2019. Jones is an expert in broadband, telecom, and internet policy.

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Broadband Roundup

Dish Using IBM AI for 5G Network, ConnectMaine’s New Grants, Intuit Buys Mailchimp, STL Hires Former Ericsson Exec

Dish is partnering with IBM for 5G, ConnectMaine’s community broadband grants, Intuit to buy Mailchimp, STL hires Paolo Colella.

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Former Ericsson executive Paolo Colella now on STL advisory board

September 14, 2021 – Dish Network has selected IBM’s artificial intelligence technology to automate its 5G network, it said in a Tuesday press release.

The smart network is said to implement the custom software from the makers of Watson that Dish said will help reduce its costs and create new revenue streams for the company.

Dish has been making several moves to expand its wireless offering, under its Boost Mobile moniker. Earlier this month, the company announced that it is buying prepaid and low-cost mobile carrier Gen Mobile. In the summer of last year, it purchased Ting Mobile.

On Wednesday, the Denver-based company asked the Federal Communications Commission for permission to use 600 MHz band licenses to test its 5G network in Las Vegas and Denver. Earlier this year, the company said it was accepting sign-ups for its 5G network.

ConnectMaine announced new community broadband grants

Maine has announced Monday new startup grants to build community broadband and has provided guidelines for eligibility on its website.

“Funded projects are intended to get communities ready to pursue future opportunities for broadband expansion, by committing to firm milestones to expand broadband in a way that reflects the community’s vision and goals,” the webpage reads.

The funded activities for broadband expansion should include the local broadband needs and goals, an inventory of existing infrastructure assets, gap analysis for why infrastructure is needed, cost estimates, and a strategy to promote digital inclusion, the webpage said.

Intuit to buy Mailchimp for $12 billion

The maker of tax software Intuit is set to buy email marketing company Mailchimp for $12 billion, the purchasing company said in a Monday press release.

The release said that Mailchimp will help bring Intuit technology scale and global customer reach.

Mailchimp has a global reach of 13 million users, 2.4 million monthly active users, and 800,000 paid customers, the release said.

STL appoints former Ericsson executive to advisory council

More leadership changes are being made at STL, as the company announced Tuesday that it is bringing former Ericsson executive Paolo Colella to its advisory board.

Colella has more than a 25 years of experience in telecommunications, technology and professional services and has held senior executive positions throughout that time. Sweden’s Ericsson is a leading supplier of 5G and mobile wireless equipment to global telecommunications companies.

The company, which focuses on integrating digital networks, earlier this month announced the appointment of Paul Atkinson, who will run the optical networking business.

STL is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

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