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Citing Flexibility, Broadband Breakfast Panelists Double-Down in Support for Infrastructure Bill

Panel with broadband and wireless industry lobbyists wrestle with need for symmetrical internet, and press for fiber.

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September 1, 2021 – Panelists hosted by Broadband Breakfast Wednesday said the Senate-passed infrastructure bill’s flexibility – with its speed threshold parameters and grants to states – will ensure the focus is on future-proofed networks.

The bill, which will be up for either a House amendment or vote later this month, allocates $65 billion to broadband – a chunk of which is portioned out to be delivered to the states – and sets as “underserved” areas without 100 Megabits per second download and 20 Mbps upload while keeping the current federal definition of 25 Mbps x 3 Mbps as “unserved.”

The definitions surrounding the speed threshold in the bill, the head of the Fiber Broadband Association said Wednesday, is critical to allow for the flexibility to not only get those areas connected soon but to allow for scale in the future.

“I call it ratcheting,” Gary Bolton said. “If you put the underserved at too high levels then the concern was that people would cherry pick and do the easier, lower-cost to build areas and still leave the hardest-to-reach people left out. And so there was a lot of focus on, okay let’s make sure we prioritize reaching unserved as the old definition of 25 x 3 and then let underserved be 100 x 20.”

Bolton told Broadband Breakfast last week that, eventually, the market, which is building toward deploying fiber plus the investments and speed thresholds in the bill will mean that the country will be moving quickly toward symmetrical internet, where the upload matches the download speed.

Matthew Polka, president and CEO of ACA Connects, which represents small to medium independent communications companies, said the bill strikes a “reasonable balance” that is the “best opportunity to close the digital divide,” with a focus on adoption and deployment, as well as the ability of states to control their destiny and to ensure that the money doesn’t overlap with other programs.

Debate on symmetrical speeds

But whether symmetrical speeds are needed, at least in the near term, was a point debated Wednesday.

President Joe Biden’s original infrastructure proposal in March pledged 100 x 100 speeds, which worried at least one former Federal Communications Commissioner, who said earlier this year that requiring those kinds of speeds – similar to what Bolton said – would leave behind those areas that are barely getting the federal baseline.

Chip Pickering, the CEO of INCOMPAS, a trade association dedicated to addressing competition in the industry, said Wednesday that the way toward future networks is to subsidize those networks, not put generational federal money into older technologies. That means moving from coaxial to fiber and asymmetrical to symmetrical, he said.

“What we’re seeing in the marketplace is today’s consumer may have this disparity between upload and download. But the applications of the future, and what we’ve seen during the pandemic, is a much greater need for symmetrical service,” Pickering said.

“If you look at the applications of the future, more and more symmetrical services as the base and foundation at work,” he added.

Molly O’Leary, director of government affairs at NTCA, the Rural Broadband Association, said the funding this time around should be used to invest in bigger goals.

“We keep doing this incremental approach where, first we build to 10 x 1, then 25 x 3, we really need to aim high and do a lot better than we have and finally solve this once and for all,” she said, adding “100 x 100 symmetrical really, we’re talking about fiber here and that’s scalable, it’s reliable and over the long run, it will be cost efficient, too.”

While Jonathan Adelstein, the president and CEO of the Wireless Industry Association, said wireless networks are configured to accommodate consumer needs today – not necessarily what they need in the future. He noted that his organization hasn’t seen a dramatic increase in need for upload speeds, and that the 20 Mbps in the bill would be more than enough to accommodate current demand.

Configuring wireless networks to accommodate higher upload speeds, he added, could potentially mean sacrificing download speed, and that’s currently not what the market is asking for.

“The key is to allow policymakers to determine what’s best for their community based on who is in a position to provide that service,” Adelstein said, adding that policymakers will be able to choose what they need based on factors including resiliency, speed of deployment and mobility.

On the budget reconciliation

Some panelists noted that there is a high likelihood that the bill, in its current form, will be passed by the House, based on the concern that an amendment would force the bill back for another possible conflict in the Senate.

If the bill is passed as is, then, other potential broadband measures could be added in what’s known as “reconciliation,” a House Democratic package of initiatives worth $3.5 billion.

The panelists agreed that if there are additional measures to be put into reconciliation, it would be for a long-term extension of the popular Emergency Broadband Benefit, which provides broadband subsidies to low-income households, as well as some moves to ensure that a skilled workforce is in place to build these future networks.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021, 12 Noon ET — What’s Next for Broadband Infrastructure Legislation?

Though it may have passed in the Senate, the bipartisan infrastructure framework still faces hurdles before it can be put into law. How much money can broadband expansion expect to see? Will we see a return of reverse auctions? What kind of obstacles will the bill face?

Join us on September 1, 2021 where we will discuss all of this and more during our Broadband Breakfast Live Online event!

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Molly O’Leary, Director of Government Affairs, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association
  • Jonathan S. Adelstein, President and CEO, Wireless Industry Association
  • Matthew Polka, President and CEO, ACA Connects
  • Chip Pickering, CEO, INCOMPAS
  • Gary Bolton, President and CEO, Fiber Broadband Association
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

  • Molly O’Leary serves as Director of Government Affairs, NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association, and advocates in Congress and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to influence legislative and regulatory policy on behalf of NTCA members. Prior to joining NTCA, O’Leary worked in the U.S. Senate as a policy advisor to Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., on telecommunications, appropriations and native affairs. She previously served as a legislative aide to Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) for his position on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  • Jonathan S. Adelstein has headed Wireless Industry Association since 2012, representing the businesses that build, develop, own, and operate the nation’s wireless infrastructure. He is a former Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission and Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. He previously served 15 years on the U.S. Senate staff, culminating as a senior legislative advisor to Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
  • Matt Polka is the President and CEO of ACA Connects – America’s Communications Association (ACA), a 700-member Washington, D.C., trade and federal advocacy association of independent, smaller- and medium-sized broadband, cable and phone businesses.  ACAC members serve more than 10 million subscribers in smaller/rural markets and competitive areas in all 50 states.  Matt has been with the organization since 1993.
  • Chip Pickering is the CEO of INCOMPAS and has done so since 2014. He is also a former representative of Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district. He holds a BBA from the University of Mississippi and an MBA from Baylor University.
  • Gary Bolton serves as president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association — the largest trade association dedicated to all-fiber-optic broadband. Prior to FBA, Gary held executive management positions at two successful venture-backed high-tech start-ups as well as at large publicly traded companies in marketing, product line management and public policy. Gary is currently an adjunct professor in business administration and management science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and he holds an MBA from Duke University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

Assistant Editor Ahmad Hathout has spent the last half-decade reporting on the Canadian telecommunications and media industries for leading publications. He started the scoop-driven news site downup.io to make Canadian telecom news more accessible and digestible. Follow him on Twitter @ackmet

Infrastructure

Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021: Pathbreaking Mini-Conference Monday at 1 p.m. ET

Even if you are not at the Broadband Communities Summit, you can still participate in Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021.

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HOUSTON, September 26, 2021 – On Monday, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in the Digital Infrastructure Investment mini-conference at the Broadband Communities Summit.

I’m here in Houston for the start of the conference. I’m keen to kick off our five-hour program beginning at 1 p.m. ET / 12 Noon CT.

This event is taking place LIVE ONLINE and IN PERSON. 

But whether you plan to attend the Summit in-person or not, we want to make sure you know what you need to about Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021. This unique and innovative event, now in its second year at the Summit, joins the broadband infrastructure and financial services communities to focus on digital infrastructure and asset investment profiles, including fiber, small cells, towers and data center assets required to support a 21st Century information economy.

REGISTER NOW

We’re also looking to collect questions from our LIVE ONLINE and IN PERSON audiences that we can address throughout the day. You can ask your questions — ahead of time, and during the event — by posting them on Sli.do for Topic 1.

As the five-hour event rolls out, we’ll take questions here on Topic 2, Topic 3 and Topic 4 using the same technology. See the full and updated program at Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021

The Broadband Communities Summit is ​the ​leading ​conference ​on ​broadband ​technologies ​for ​communities. It will take place in Houston, Texas, from September 27 – September 30, 2021.

The Summit ​attracts ​broadband ​system ​operators, ​network ​builders ​and ​deployers ​of ​all ​kinds. ​Many ​of ​the ​country’s ​major ​property ​owners ​and ​real ​estate ​developers ​attend ​the ​Summit ​each ​year, ​along ​with ​independent ​telcos ​and ​cable ​companies, ​municipal ​and ​state ​officials, ​community ​leaders ​and ​economic ​development ​professionals. ​

Participation in the LIVE ONLINE portion is available for only $149.00. This purchase includes unlimited online replays of DII2021 – no matter what time you join the program.

Panelists at the event include representatives from  Althea Networks, Broadband.Money,Google Fiber, Keybanc Capital Markets, Lit Communities, Positron Access, Render Networks, SiFi NetworksTing Internet, UTOPIA Fiber, Broadband Now, the City of Brownsville, NoaNet, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, the State of Illinois, California Emerging Technology Fund, the Wireless Industry Association, and more!

To order:

REGISTER NOW

Pay $149.00.

That’s it! You’ll receive an email with instructions on how to get the Zoom link to participate in Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 Live Online.

Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 Sponsors:

Platinum Sponsors

Lit partners with municipal, county and other governmental entities, as well as a variety of private partners to deploy last-mile fiber optic network infrastructure. Residents and businesses connected to our networks will receive service from a local internet service provider that delivers a local brand and promise of great service and customer support.

 

Broadband.money makes finding and winning broadband grants easy. Sign up at today at broadband.money to line up for your share of $42 billion worth of broadband grant funding with a single application that unlocks grants in multiple states. Find underserved and unserved areas in your territory. Need match funding? No problem. Get on the fast track to funded with many sources of private money to choose from. Discover, apply, get match funding, and win grants. It’s really that simple. www.broadband.money

Gold Sponsors

BroadbandNow is a data aggregation company helping millions of consumers find and compare local internet options. BroadbandNow’s database of providers, the largest in the U.S., delivers the highest-value guides consisting of comprehensive plans, prices and ratings for thousands of internet service providers.

 

Render Networks provides an entirely new approach to fiber deployment. Utilizing innovative geographic information systems (GIS), mobile and automation technology, Render’s platform and data management enable network operators, engineers and builders to deliver quality networks without the need for manual, paper-based construction packs. Render uses real-time geospatial data to provide increased control and visibility, resulting in significant resource productivity across the delivery lifecycle.

Silver Sponsors

SiFi funds, builds and owns FiberCity™ networks for use by Internet Service Providers, 4G/5G carriers and other service providers wishing to deliver ubiquitous high-speed broadband services to business and residential properties as well as connectivity for city-wide Internet of Things applications.

 

Created by a group of Utah cities, the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) is a community-owned fiber optic network that uses the Open Access model to promote competition by giving customers the freedom to choose which telecommunication services they want.

 

Positron Access specializes in carrier-grade telecommunications products that increase bandwidth delivered and the distance covered within both core access networks and residential buildings using existing wiring infrastructure. These include line powered digital subscriber line amplifiers/extenders that double the customer serving areas and increase the bandwidth, G.hn Gigabit Access Mulitplexors (GAM) that provide managed non-blocking symmetrical gigabit bandwidth to subscribers in multiple-dwelling units/multi-tenant units over copper pairs or coaxial cables; and bonded copper solutions for mobile backhaul, core transport, access and edge aggregation.

 

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) has been on a mission over the last decade to forge partnerships and foster public policy to close the Digital Divide. This work has been strategically-focused, results-oriented, and people-centered. CETF is a leading proponent of the Digital Equity Bill of Rights

 

See the complete agenda for Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021

See the complete agenda for Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021

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Rural

Christopher Ali’s New Book Dissects Failures of Rural Broadband Policy and Leadership

“Farm Fresh Broadband” explains the world of broadband policy and provides solutions to bridge the digital divide.

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WASHINGTON, September 24, 2021—In his most recent book, University of Virginia Professor Christopher Ali argues that the ongoing battle for improved connectivity is not only far from over, but also critically flawed.

“Farm Fresh Broadband” proposes a new approach to national rural broadband policy to narrow the rural-urban digital divide. In Ali’s view, the lack of coordinated, federal leadership and a failure to recognize the roles that local communities and municipalities need to play in the deployment of broadband has contributed to a lack of competition between carriers, and ultimately, higher costs to consumers.

Just two days after it was released, Ali sat down for a video interview with Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark to discuss his story – and Ali’s recommendations that resulted from his journey.

Ali raises the question about How the $6 billion in federal funds allocated to broadband is spent annually? Based on his findings, he makes policy recommendations to democratize rural broadband policy architecture and re-model it after the historic efforts to bring telephony services and electricity to Americans across the country.

In particular, Ali discusses how, in one chapter of his book, he raises the provocative question about whether “Good Is the Enemy of Great: The Four Failures of Rural Broadband Policy.” In his telling, less money, lower speed, and poor-quality broadband mapping have all contributed to an approach that, in seeking “good enough,” federal policy has failed Rural America.

Ali, an associate professor at UVA’s Department of Media Studies and a Knight News Innovation Fellow with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, is also the chair of the Communication Law and Policy Division of the International Communications Association and the author of two books on localism in media, “Media Localism: The Policies of Place” (University of Illinois Press, 2017) and “Local News in a Digital World” (Tow Center for Digital Journalism, 2017)

“Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity” available at the MIT Press.

See Professor Ali’s recent Expert Opinion for Broadband Breakfast, “Christopher Ali: Is Broadband Like Getting Bran Flakes to the Home?

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Infrastructure

Topic 4 at Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021: The Future of Shared Infrastructure

Topic 4 explores the past and future of the shared infrastructure model with more smart city deployments.

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Panelists for Topic 4 at Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021

September 23, 2021 – In four days, Broadband Breakfast will kick off Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 at the Broadband Communities Summit on Monday, September 27, 2021.

This pathbreaking event brings the broadband infrastructure and financial services communities together to focus on the digital infrastructure and investment asset profile, including fiber, small cells, towers and data center assets required to support a 21st Century information economy.

This fourth session at Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 – Topic 4 — is about the future of shared infrastructure. What will best practices look like for ownership models? How will the landscape shift as we continue to deploy 5G technologies across the country?

In particular, this session will consider how cellular towers were once proprietary, before carriers partnered with infrastructure owners. Will future wired and wireless deployments, including smart city projects, have any bearing upon the shared infrastructure model?

The conference will kick off at 1 p.m. ET / 12 Noon CT, and this fourth panel is scheduled to begin at 5:15 p.m. ET / 4:15 p.m. CT. Unlike other aspects of the Broadband Communities Summit, Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 will be available both IN PERSON and LIVE ONLINE.

The session will moderated by Mari Silbey, Senior Director of Partnerships and Outreach for US Ignite, and Program Director for the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program, and includes, as panelists, Jonathan Adelstein, President & CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association; C. Earl Peek, Founder and Managing Partner, Diamond Ventures and Peek, LLC; and Deborah Simpier, Co-founder and CEO, Althea Networks.

Visit Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 to register, and for the most up-to-date information about the mini-conference.

Panelists for Topic 4:

  • Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO, Wireless Industry Association
  • C. Earl Peek, CPA, Founder and Managing Partner, Diamond Ventures and Peek, LLC
  • Deborah Simpler, Co-founder and CEO, Althea Networks
  • Mari Silbey (moderator),  Senior Director of Partnerships and Outreach, US Ignite

Jonathan Adelstein has headed the Wireless Industry Association since 2012, representing the businesses that build, develop, own, and operate the nation’s wireless infrastructure. He is a former Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission and Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. He previously served 15 years on the U.S. Senate staff, culminating as a senior legislative advisor to Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

C. Earl Peek, CPA, Founder and Managing Partner, Diamond Ventures and Peek, LLC, is a graduate from Wilberforce University in Ohio with a B.S, in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude and has an extensive background in public accounting, banking, commercial lending, and venture capital formation.  As an entrepreneur he ran his own business for eight years.  He founded and was greenlighted to be a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC). As Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Treasury he was a key voting member for deploying capital to ethnic minorities, minority depository institutions, community banks, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and other U.S. entities deploying nearly $6B in all states, cities, and more than 400 community banks. Mr. Peek, was an Assistant Vice-President /Director of the Bank Commercial Business Development with Industrial Bank and later he was Vice President in Commercial Banking with BB&T- both   in Washington, D.C.

Deborah Simpier is a small business veteran and has been active in the Pacific Northwest mesh networking and net neutrality scene for several years. Before she became co-founder and CEO, she was Althea’s first user.

Mari Silbey (moderator) is Senior Director of Partnerships and Outreach for US Ignite, and Program Director for the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research (PAWR) program, a $100 million initiative funded by the National Science Foundation and a consortium of more than 30 wireless companies and associations. Mari has 20 years of experience in communications and technology. She has worked previously as a writer, analyst and consultant in the private sector, and as a journalist covering broadband and wireless infrastructure.

Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 will take place at the Broadband Communities Summit, and online, on Monday, September 27, 2021. 

Join the Broadband Breakfast Club and Register for the LIVE ONLINE version of Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 for the Member’s Rate of $149. First month of Broadband Breakfast Club Membership included.

REGISTER NOW

The Broadband Communities Summit is ​the ​leading ​conference ​on ​broadband ​technologies ​for ​communities. It will take place in Houston, Texas, from September 27 – September 30, 2021.

The Summit ​attracts ​broadband ​system ​operators, ​network ​builders ​and ​deployers ​of ​all ​kinds. ​Many ​of ​the ​country’s ​major ​property ​owners ​and ​real ​estate ​developers ​attend ​the ​Summit ​each ​year, ​along ​with ​independent ​telcos ​and ​cable ​companies, ​municipal ​and ​state ​officials, ​community ​leaders ​and ​economic ​development ​professionals. ​

For more information on the Summit, visit Broadband Communities, as well as 2021 Travel & Hotel Information.

Broadband Breakfast Club Members receive discount pricing on both the Broadband Communities Summit and Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021.

Join the Broadband Breakfast Club and Register for BOTH the Broadband Communities Summit and the IN-PERSON Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 for the  Member’s Rate of $349. First month of Broadband Breakfast Club Membership included.

REGISTER NOW

 

Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 Sponsors:

Platinum Sponsors

Lit partners with municipal, county and other governmental entities, as well as a variety of private partners to deploy last-mile fiber optic network infrastructure. Residents and businesses connected to our networks will receive service from a local internet service provider that delivers a local brand and promise of great service and customer support.

 

Broadband.money makes finding and winning broadband grants easy. Sign up at today at broadband.money to line up for your share of $42 billion worth of broadband grant funding with a single application that unlocks grants in multiple states. Find underserved and unserved areas in your territory. Need match funding? No problem. Get on the fast track to funded with many sources of private money to choose from. Discover, apply, get match funding, and win grants. It’s really that simple. www.broadband.money

Gold Sponsors

BroadbandNow is a data aggregation company helping millions of consumers find and compare local internet options. BroadbandNow’s database of providers, the largest in the U.S., delivers the highest-value guides consisting of comprehensive plans, prices and ratings for thousands of internet service providers.

 

Render Networks provides an entirely new approach to fiber deployment. Utilizing innovative geographic information systems (GIS), mobile and automation technology, Render’s platform and data management enable network operators, engineers and builders to deliver quality networks without the need for manual, paper-based construction packs. Render uses real-time geospatial data to provide increased control and visibility, resulting in significant resource productivity across the delivery lifecycle.

Silver Sponsors

SiFi funds, builds and owns FiberCity™ networks for use by Internet Service Providers, 4G/5G carriers and other service providers wishing to deliver ubiquitous high-speed broadband services to business and residential properties as well as connectivity for city-wide Internet of Things applications.

 

Created by a group of Utah cities, the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) is a community-owned fiber optic network that uses the Open Access model to promote competition by giving customers the freedom to choose which telecommunication services they want.

 

Positron Access specializes in carrier-grade telecommunications products that increase bandwidth delivered and the distance covered within both core access networks and residential buildings using existing wiring infrastructure. These include line powered digital subscriber line amplifiers/extenders that double the customer serving areas and increase the bandwidth, G.hn Gigabit Access Mulitplexors (GAM) that provide managed non-blocking symmetrical gigabit bandwidth to subscribers in multiple-dwelling units/multi-tenant units over copper pairs or coaxial cables; and bonded copper solutions for mobile backhaul, core transport, access and edge aggregation.

 

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) has been on a mission over the last decade to forge partnerships and foster public policy to close the Digital Divide. This work has been strategically-focused, results-oriented, and people-centered. CETF is a leading proponent of the Digital Equity Bill of Rights

 

See Broadband Breakfast’s Digital Infrastructure Investment Archives for a complete list of prior DII events, including DII 2020

To inquire about Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021, contact drew@breakfast.media.

Digital Infrastructure Investment 2020

Digital Infrastructure Investment 2020 took place online on August 10, 2020, from 1 p.m. ET to 5:30 p.m. ET. It was broadcast at the Broadband Communities Virtual Summit on Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

See Broadband Breakfast’s Digital Infrastructure Investment Archives for a complete list of prior DII events, including DII 2020

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