Connect with us

Funding

Focus of Broadband Expansion Should Be On Last Mile, Says President of CETF

Open access to middle mile infrastructure will help deliver services at the last mile, CETF says.

Published

on

Nate Walowitz of Colorado, Chris Mitchell of Institute for Local Self Reliance, and Chris Walker of NoaNet at Digital Infrastructure Investment

HOUSTON, September 28, 2021 – Sunne Wright McPeak, president and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, said Monday that stakeholders interested in expanding broadband rollout should focus on the last mile, the stretch of cable that goes to homes and businesses, by using existing middle mile infrastructure.

“I would rather leverage the resources and infrastructure they’ve [internet service providers] already built – that we as taxpayers and ratepayers have already paid for – and tap into that in order to focus on last-mile,” McPeak said at the Digital Infrastructure Investment conference.

Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 was hosted as an online and in person conference by Broadband Breakfast at the Broadband Communities Summit. The recording of the Monday event is available for registration and replay.

This year’s conference heard from proponents of the open access model, which allows telecommunications providers to ride on the existing infrastructure to boost competition, lower prices, and broaden connectivity.

McPeak said she supports the open access model to deliver on what she said should be a focus: on the last mile to businesses and homes – and especially to California’s large native American population and tribal lands.

“There has to be a discipline in our lenses of getting to last mile unserved, and in California that includes all our tribal lands,” McPeak said. “We have more federally recognized tribal governments than any other state and more native Americans than any other state. And so, if we don’t focus on last mile, we will not be as efficient in our investments in middle mile. And of course, we also support open access for middle mile.

“Every dollar that we don’t have to duplicate in middle mile, although there’s going to be a middle mile network, we can get to last mile.”

For Nate Walowitz, regional broadband program director for the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, opening access to infrastructure will entail realities that may not sound pleasant. “Coopetition,” he said. “Sometimes you’re a cooperator, sometimes you’re a competitor, and it doesn’t really matter h ow that partnership plays out because the reality is, in the business we’re in, we can’t all find a way to make money necessarily in a lot of our markets across large service areas…unless we take a strategy where we look for solid partnerships where it’s complimentary.”

Matt Schmit, director of the office of broadband in Illinois, said that the key is a “balance between last mile and middle mile expansion, and I think the kind of partnerships we’ve forged vary, from one focus to the next, but it really is that complimentary effort that’s going to get the job done in Illinois.”

Partnerships with telecoms

McPeak said partnerships between municipalities and telecoms starts with an understanding of each’s core competencies. Telecoms, she said, are generally good at delivering telecommunications services and maintaining the network, but it also has to ensure that it is setting quality standards and deploying in hard-to-reach areas while offering affordable services for low-income households. “Those are the kinds of things that have to be done in tough negotiations,” she said.

Chris Walker, senior executive director of infrastructure strategy at the Northwest Open Access Network, said governments and telecoms each have their own things that they are great at, and exploiting those things will benefit all. That, he said, includes governments being great at handling infrastructure and the private sector being very good at innovating.

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

FCC

FCC Announces Additional Details From Second Wave, Additional Money for First Wave, of Emergency Connectivity Fund

FCC said it disbursed an additional $269 million in the first round.

Published

on

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, October 26, 2021 ­– The Federal Communications Commission announced additional details Monday about the second wave of funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, including additional money that has been allocated from the first filing window.

The agency, which allocated $1.1 billion earlier this month, said second wave applicants filed for nearly $1.3 billion from all 50 states. The second window was open for applications between September 28 and October 13.

The agency also announced that an additional $269 million was allocated for the first filing window applications, which disbursed $1.2 billion from the $7.17 billion program.

The applications submitted for the latest round will go to fund 2.4 million connected devices and over 564,000 broadband connections to benefit schools and libraries. The agency has so far committed a total of $2.63 billion from the fund.

These latest commitments mean more than nine million students will be connected with the money. The support provided from the funds is expected to make homework completion and virtual learning more possible for students with connectivity issues, as many schools continue to operate remotely.

“Clearly there still is a tremendous demand for help in our communities to meet the broadband needs of students and library patrons engaged in online learning,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

Continue Reading

Funding

National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Minority Community Grant Applications

The more detail, the better, NTIA officials said of program.

Published

on

Scott Woods, senior broadband program specialist and team lead for NTIA's Connecting Minority Communities, speaking at Broadband Communities in Houston

WASHINGTON, October 24, 2021–Lack of eligibility or proper planning or documentation errors are frequent grounds for disqualification of applicants for the United States’ Commerce Department’s Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, agency officials said Wednesday and Thursday.

Speaking at webinars for individuals considering applying for the grants – which are being made by the National Telecommunications and Information Association of the Commerce Department – officials shared the most commons mistakes made by applicants when applying for the grants.

Among the officials speaking during the two presentations were Scott Woods, senior broadband program specialist and team lead for the Connecting Minority Communities program, Management and Program Analyst Pandora Beasley-Timpson, Broadband Program Specialist Janice Wilkins, Telecommunications Policy Analyst Francine Alkisswani, and Broadband Program Specialists Cameron Lewis and Kevin Hughes.

Among the biggest mistakes is eligibility. “Only historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, or minority serving institutions can apply,” said NTIA’s Michelle Morton.

Making a Successful Application

Morton and other leaders of the program also shared traits of a successful grant application.

“Good applicants provide a business and execution plan,” they said. “[Applicants] should demonstrate there is a core staff that is dedicated to the proposed project and knowledgeable about the process, as well as an editor, preferably one not connected to the project, to encourage non-biased review of the grant to see how it reads.”

Project Implementation and Evaluation

When describing their project implementation and planning process, applicants should have a clear project narrative that “identifies specific tasks, measurable milestones, and performance outcomes resulting from the proposed project activity,” the officials said.

Importantly, the NTIA stressed that all applicants must comply with Commerce Department regulations for the protection of human subjects during all research conducted or supported with grant funds.

This is important because the NTIA is required to determine whether or not a project’s evaluation plan “meets the definition of human subject research.” Thus, no work can be taken for research involving human subject until a federal grants officer approves of the research.

Consortiums

NTIA leaders also addressed questions about consortium-based applicants. “The lead application is the entity entering into the grant agreement with the NTIA and assumes primary operational and financial responsibility for the project.”

A consortium allows Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities and minority-serving institutions to partner with local governments on their application. Each consortium partner must provide a letter of a commitment to the project, including the detailed role of each member of the project and the specific commitment of each member of the project.

Finances and Budgeting

Applicants are also required to include financial documentation that details how the funds will be used and how the funding plans to meet the projects’ intended goals.

Additionally, applicants’ budget narrative should serve to explain how the costs were estimated and justify how the budget items are necessary to implement project goals and objectives and accomplished applicant’s proposed outcomes.

“We encourage out of the box thinking with regard to applicants putting together their projects,” said Hughes.

Continue Reading

Funding

Federal Communications Commission Dispenses $544 Million in Rural Broadband Funds

Funds targeted towards internet providers in areas with poor digital access across 19 states.

Published

on

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that it would authorize another $554 million for expansion of broadband service through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

The funding announcement represented the finalization of a relatively small portion of the funding awarded as part of $9.3 billion granted in the first phase of the RDOF reverse auction in October and November 2020.

Together with other recent press announcements dribbling out details of RDOF awards, Wednesday’s news puts the FCC’s awards at just more than $1 billion of the $9.3 billion originally awarded at auction.

The FCC, which says that it aims to place broadband infrastructure in areas where it is not currently available, denied LTD Broadband’s petition seeking waiver of the deadline to be designated as an Eligible Telecommunication Carrier in Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota. Becoming an ETC was a necessary prerequisite to receiving RDOF funds.

The agency also denied NW Fiber’s petition seeking waiver of the deadline for submission of a post-auction “long form” application.

With the latest wave of funding, 11 internet providers will be able to bring fiber-to-home gigabit broadband service to more than 180,000 locations across 19 states.

Michigan and Georgia were the states that received the most funding in this wave with $188 and $149 million, respectively. The FCC has cited broadband expansion as an even more necessary priority since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Broadband is an essential service and during the pandemic we’ve seen just how critical it is for families, schools, hospitals and businesses to have affordable internet access,” said Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

The FCC also said that they were working to “clean up” the program and address some of the controversial aspects of RDOF funding decisions.

These decisions included:

  • Sending letters to 197 applicants concerning areas where there was evidence of existing service or questions of waste. Bidders have already chosen not to pursue support in 5,094 census blocks in response to the Commission’s letters.
  • Denying waivers for winning bidders that have not made appropriate efforts to secure state approvals or prosecute their applications.  These bidders would have otherwise received more than $344 million.
  • Pulishing a list of areas where providers had defaulted, thereby making those places available for other broadband funding opportunities.
  • Conducting an exhaustive technical, financial, and legal review of all winning bidders.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending