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Infrastructure

Path To Gigabit Found In Pole Access and Government Program Design, Says WISPA CEO

Tim White

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Photo of Claude Aiken from April 2018 by New America used with permission

March 25, 2021 – Wireless broadband providers need more regulatory support to meet broadband gigabit needs on a large geographic scale, including access to poles and expanding federal programs to more providers, said Wireless Internet Service Providers Association CEO Claude Aiken.

Aiken took to the webinar stage Wednesday to discuss WISPA’s new ‘path to gigabit,’ a proposal that defines needs and goals for providing wireless broadband in the gigabit speed tier across America. It comes at a convenient time just days after three large funding bills were introduced it the House of Representatives.

For infrastructure, all the money available won’t do much good if providers can’t get into a right of way or onto a pole or a tower, Aiken said. Companies need more infrastructure support from all levels of government to lower costs and increase speed of deployment, he said, including allowing all broadband providers access to poles and rights of way.

He also argued for the removal of the requirement for broadband providers to become “eligible telecommunications carriers” for access to infrastructure or qualifying for government programs. ETCs are approved service providers through the Universal Service Administrative Company for certain government programs.

He also said “dig once” rules – those that allow providers to ride on existing infrastructure — should be required during road construction and upgrading to prevent overlap of construction projects, he said.

The ‘path to gigabit’ will also require digital adoption and inclusion, Aiken said. It should include reimbursement programs for low-income consumers and programs for digital literacy, he said.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, its multifaceted, its more than just dollars, Aiken said. “What encapsulates our membership are those who provide solutions, who innovate, and who are nimble and flexible bringing their communities what they need, when they need it,” he said. Our companies will use whatever technology and means they need to serve customers, he said.

Our fixed wireless can do gigabit speeds today in certain contexts, but in order to deliver it on a much broader geographic basis, we need that kind of support, he said.

Critics of gigabit on fixed-wireless

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission held the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction, in which companies bid on the lowest funding they’d be willing to receive from the government to expand broadband access in rural areas, conditioned on certain speed tiers, as Broadband Breakfast explains here.

Since that auction concluded, however, some criticism has been raised that some of the winning bidders won’t be able to meet the conditions of their connection speeds. In response to that criticism, Aiken said that from a technical and financial standpoint, gigabit fixed wireless is a viable option both for current spectrum availability and for new bands that will be available in the future.

He did not comment on the technical capabilities of any specific company to deliver speeds in the gigabit tier, saying that he was confident in the FCC’s ability to determine each winner’s qualification.

Policy areas of focus for gigabit

Beside infrastructure and inclusion, to get to gigabit, Aiken described other areas of policy, including localized spectrum and subsidy program design.

Localized spectrum aims to increase accessible bands by allocating at least 200 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for non-auctioned point-to-multipoint use, on either shared or licensed-by-rule basis, he said.

It also includes shared millimeter-wave spectrum for providers to relieve congested bands in urban areas, and additional auctions for designated spectrum areas for small geographic areas available to small providers, he said. It should also mandate ‘use it or share it’ stipulations for unused licensees.

Subsidy programs should “incentivize and leverage” current providers to deliver broadband to consumers who currently lack access, Aiken said. The programs should be technology-neutral so that one form of broadband is not favored over another, based on an “evolving level” of service considered essential for education, health, safety, and based on the subscription of a “substantial majority” of residential consumers, he said.

Subsidies should prevent government-funded overbuilding, he said, and also favor small providers that can deliver service more quickly in a given residential area.

If we want to think big about solving the broadband digital divide, we need to start thinking small—meaning small companies—to deliver internet to those unserved areas, he said.

Updating broadband maps, which are the datasets that detail where service is available across the country, should be “supercharged,” Aiken said, because they are essential to spending government funds in an intelligent manner.

The FCC is currently in the process of updating the broadband mapping system from Form 477 to a new Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, also called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

Rural

In San Juan, Utah, a Snapshot of a School District’s Struggle to Bring Broadband Home

The fight for broadband infrastructure in one Utah community. Is private enterprise the end goal?

Tim White

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on

Chris Monson with Wesley Hunt on Abajo Peak tower. Photo courtesy of Monson.

March 25, 2021 – Wireless broadband providers need more regulatory support to meet broadband gigabit needs on a large geographic scale, including access to poles and expanding federal programs to more providers, said Wireless Internet Service Providers Association CEO Claude Aiken.

Aiken took to the webinar stage Wednesday to discuss WISPA’s new ‘path to gigabit,’ a proposal that defines needs and goals for providing wireless broadband in the gigabit speed tier across America. It comes at a convenient time just days after three large funding bills were introduced it the House of Representatives.

For infrastructure, all the money available won’t do much good if providers can’t get into a right of way or onto a pole or a tower, Aiken said. Companies need more infrastructure support from all levels of government to lower costs and increase speed of deployment, he said, including allowing all broadband providers access to poles and rights of way.

He also argued for the removal of the requirement for broadband providers to become “eligible telecommunications carriers” for access to infrastructure or qualifying for government programs. ETCs are approved service providers through the Universal Service Administrative Company for certain government programs.

He also said “dig once” rules – those that allow providers to ride on existing infrastructure — should be required during road construction and upgrading to prevent overlap of construction projects, he said.

The ‘path to gigabit’ will also require digital adoption and inclusion, Aiken said. It should include reimbursement programs for low-income consumers and programs for digital literacy, he said.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, its multifaceted, its more than just dollars, Aiken said. “What encapsulates our membership are those who provide solutions, who innovate, and who are nimble and flexible bringing their communities what they need, when they need it,” he said. Our companies will use whatever technology and means they need to serve customers, he said.

Our fixed wireless can do gigabit speeds today in certain contexts, but in order to deliver it on a much broader geographic basis, we need that kind of support, he said.

Critics of gigabit on fixed-wireless

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission held the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction, in which companies bid on the lowest funding they’d be willing to receive from the government to expand broadband access in rural areas, conditioned on certain speed tiers, as Broadband Breakfast explains here.

Since that auction concluded, however, some criticism has been raised that some of the winning bidders won’t be able to meet the conditions of their connection speeds. In response to that criticism, Aiken said that from a technical and financial standpoint, gigabit fixed wireless is a viable option both for current spectrum availability and for new bands that will be available in the future.

He did not comment on the technical capabilities of any specific company to deliver speeds in the gigabit tier, saying that he was confident in the FCC’s ability to determine each winner’s qualification.

Policy areas of focus for gigabit

Beside infrastructure and inclusion, to get to gigabit, Aiken described other areas of policy, including localized spectrum and subsidy program design.

Localized spectrum aims to increase accessible bands by allocating at least 200 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for non-auctioned point-to-multipoint use, on either shared or licensed-by-rule basis, he said.

It also includes shared millimeter-wave spectrum for providers to relieve congested bands in urban areas, and additional auctions for designated spectrum areas for small geographic areas available to small providers, he said. It should also mandate ‘use it or share it’ stipulations for unused licensees.

Subsidy programs should “incentivize and leverage” current providers to deliver broadband to consumers who currently lack access, Aiken said. The programs should be technology-neutral so that one form of broadband is not favored over another, based on an “evolving level” of service considered essential for education, health, safety, and based on the subscription of a “substantial majority” of residential consumers, he said.

Subsidies should prevent government-funded overbuilding, he said, and also favor small providers that can deliver service more quickly in a given residential area.

If we want to think big about solving the broadband digital divide, we need to start thinking small—meaning small companies—to deliver internet to those unserved areas, he said.

Updating broadband maps, which are the datasets that detail where service is available across the country, should be “supercharged,” Aiken said, because they are essential to spending government funds in an intelligent manner.

The FCC is currently in the process of updating the broadband mapping system from Form 477 to a new Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, also called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

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Infrastructure

Treasury Announces Summer Deadline For Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund

$10 billion dollars are being made available to communities in need to better connect their communities.

Benjamin Kahn

Published

on

Photo of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

March 25, 2021 – Wireless broadband providers need more regulatory support to meet broadband gigabit needs on a large geographic scale, including access to poles and expanding federal programs to more providers, said Wireless Internet Service Providers Association CEO Claude Aiken.

Aiken took to the webinar stage Wednesday to discuss WISPA’s new ‘path to gigabit,’ a proposal that defines needs and goals for providing wireless broadband in the gigabit speed tier across America. It comes at a convenient time just days after three large funding bills were introduced it the House of Representatives.

For infrastructure, all the money available won’t do much good if providers can’t get into a right of way or onto a pole or a tower, Aiken said. Companies need more infrastructure support from all levels of government to lower costs and increase speed of deployment, he said, including allowing all broadband providers access to poles and rights of way.

He also argued for the removal of the requirement for broadband providers to become “eligible telecommunications carriers” for access to infrastructure or qualifying for government programs. ETCs are approved service providers through the Universal Service Administrative Company for certain government programs.

He also said “dig once” rules – those that allow providers to ride on existing infrastructure — should be required during road construction and upgrading to prevent overlap of construction projects, he said.

The ‘path to gigabit’ will also require digital adoption and inclusion, Aiken said. It should include reimbursement programs for low-income consumers and programs for digital literacy, he said.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, its multifaceted, its more than just dollars, Aiken said. “What encapsulates our membership are those who provide solutions, who innovate, and who are nimble and flexible bringing their communities what they need, when they need it,” he said. Our companies will use whatever technology and means they need to serve customers, he said.

Our fixed wireless can do gigabit speeds today in certain contexts, but in order to deliver it on a much broader geographic basis, we need that kind of support, he said.

Critics of gigabit on fixed-wireless

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission held the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction, in which companies bid on the lowest funding they’d be willing to receive from the government to expand broadband access in rural areas, conditioned on certain speed tiers, as Broadband Breakfast explains here.

Since that auction concluded, however, some criticism has been raised that some of the winning bidders won’t be able to meet the conditions of their connection speeds. In response to that criticism, Aiken said that from a technical and financial standpoint, gigabit fixed wireless is a viable option both for current spectrum availability and for new bands that will be available in the future.

He did not comment on the technical capabilities of any specific company to deliver speeds in the gigabit tier, saying that he was confident in the FCC’s ability to determine each winner’s qualification.

Policy areas of focus for gigabit

Beside infrastructure and inclusion, to get to gigabit, Aiken described other areas of policy, including localized spectrum and subsidy program design.

Localized spectrum aims to increase accessible bands by allocating at least 200 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for non-auctioned point-to-multipoint use, on either shared or licensed-by-rule basis, he said.

It also includes shared millimeter-wave spectrum for providers to relieve congested bands in urban areas, and additional auctions for designated spectrum areas for small geographic areas available to small providers, he said. It should also mandate ‘use it or share it’ stipulations for unused licensees.

Subsidy programs should “incentivize and leverage” current providers to deliver broadband to consumers who currently lack access, Aiken said. The programs should be technology-neutral so that one form of broadband is not favored over another, based on an “evolving level” of service considered essential for education, health, safety, and based on the subscription of a “substantial majority” of residential consumers, he said.

Subsidies should prevent government-funded overbuilding, he said, and also favor small providers that can deliver service more quickly in a given residential area.

If we want to think big about solving the broadband digital divide, we need to start thinking small—meaning small companies—to deliver internet to those unserved areas, he said.

Updating broadband maps, which are the datasets that detail where service is available across the country, should be “supercharged,” Aiken said, because they are essential to spending government funds in an intelligent manner.

The FCC is currently in the process of updating the broadband mapping system from Form 477 to a new Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, also called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

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Open Access

Open Access Networks Key To Affordability Question, House Committee Hears

The House Energy and Commerce committee heard arguments that open access to networks is crucial for competition and affordability.

Benjamin Kahn

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on

Screenshot of Francella Ochillo from House hearing

March 25, 2021 – Wireless broadband providers need more regulatory support to meet broadband gigabit needs on a large geographic scale, including access to poles and expanding federal programs to more providers, said Wireless Internet Service Providers Association CEO Claude Aiken.

Aiken took to the webinar stage Wednesday to discuss WISPA’s new ‘path to gigabit,’ a proposal that defines needs and goals for providing wireless broadband in the gigabit speed tier across America. It comes at a convenient time just days after three large funding bills were introduced it the House of Representatives.

For infrastructure, all the money available won’t do much good if providers can’t get into a right of way or onto a pole or a tower, Aiken said. Companies need more infrastructure support from all levels of government to lower costs and increase speed of deployment, he said, including allowing all broadband providers access to poles and rights of way.

He also argued for the removal of the requirement for broadband providers to become “eligible telecommunications carriers” for access to infrastructure or qualifying for government programs. ETCs are approved service providers through the Universal Service Administrative Company for certain government programs.

He also said “dig once” rules – those that allow providers to ride on existing infrastructure — should be required during road construction and upgrading to prevent overlap of construction projects, he said.

The ‘path to gigabit’ will also require digital adoption and inclusion, Aiken said. It should include reimbursement programs for low-income consumers and programs for digital literacy, he said.

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, its multifaceted, its more than just dollars, Aiken said. “What encapsulates our membership are those who provide solutions, who innovate, and who are nimble and flexible bringing their communities what they need, when they need it,” he said. Our companies will use whatever technology and means they need to serve customers, he said.

Our fixed wireless can do gigabit speeds today in certain contexts, but in order to deliver it on a much broader geographic basis, we need that kind of support, he said.

Critics of gigabit on fixed-wireless

Last year, the Federal Communications Commission held the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction, in which companies bid on the lowest funding they’d be willing to receive from the government to expand broadband access in rural areas, conditioned on certain speed tiers, as Broadband Breakfast explains here.

Since that auction concluded, however, some criticism has been raised that some of the winning bidders won’t be able to meet the conditions of their connection speeds. In response to that criticism, Aiken said that from a technical and financial standpoint, gigabit fixed wireless is a viable option both for current spectrum availability and for new bands that will be available in the future.

He did not comment on the technical capabilities of any specific company to deliver speeds in the gigabit tier, saying that he was confident in the FCC’s ability to determine each winner’s qualification.

Policy areas of focus for gigabit

Beside infrastructure and inclusion, to get to gigabit, Aiken described other areas of policy, including localized spectrum and subsidy program design.

Localized spectrum aims to increase accessible bands by allocating at least 200 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for non-auctioned point-to-multipoint use, on either shared or licensed-by-rule basis, he said.

It also includes shared millimeter-wave spectrum for providers to relieve congested bands in urban areas, and additional auctions for designated spectrum areas for small geographic areas available to small providers, he said. It should also mandate ‘use it or share it’ stipulations for unused licensees.

Subsidy programs should “incentivize and leverage” current providers to deliver broadband to consumers who currently lack access, Aiken said. The programs should be technology-neutral so that one form of broadband is not favored over another, based on an “evolving level” of service considered essential for education, health, safety, and based on the subscription of a “substantial majority” of residential consumers, he said.

Subsidies should prevent government-funded overbuilding, he said, and also favor small providers that can deliver service more quickly in a given residential area.

If we want to think big about solving the broadband digital divide, we need to start thinking small—meaning small companies—to deliver internet to those unserved areas, he said.

Updating broadband maps, which are the datasets that detail where service is available across the country, should be “supercharged,” Aiken said, because they are essential to spending government funds in an intelligent manner.

The FCC is currently in the process of updating the broadband mapping system from Form 477 to a new Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, also called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

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