September 14, 2021 – In less than two weeks, 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 kickoff session at Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 – Topic 1 — concerns the all-important debt and equity financing for digital infrastructure investment. It will begin shortly after the conference kicks off at 1 p.m. ET / 12 Noon CT. Unlike other aspects of the Broadband Communities Summit, Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 will be available both IN PERSON and LIVE ONLINE.
I will moderate this session, which we hope will set the stage for a broader discussion that includes investment fund manager, institutional investors, venture capitalists and senior broadband leaders speaking in Topics 2, 3 and 4 later in the day. Last-mile digital infrastructure, public-private partnerships, and the future of shared infrastructure will be considered in subsequent panels at the event.
Topic 1 includes, as panelists, Tom Coverick, Managing Director of Keybanc Capital Markets, James Wagar with Frontbridge Capital, Lindsay Miller with Ice Miller LLP and Ryan Carr of MC Partners.
Panelists for Topic 1:
- Ryan Carr, Partner, MC Partners
- Tom Coverick, Managing Director, Keybanc Capital Markets
- Lindsay Miller, Partner, Ice Miller LLP
- James Wagar, Partner, Frontbridge Capital
- Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast
James Wagar is a partner with Frontbridge Capital, in addition to serving as a Managing Director for Thomas Capital Group, and a Partner with Alpine Pacific Capital. He is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University where he received his BBA in Finance. James has experience in myriad areas including venture capital, private real estate, buyouts, and growth equity.
Tom Coverick serves as the managing director for Keybanc Capital Markets, working with their public sector division. Tom has extensive experience in municipal broadband and public finance in the Midwest, Southwest, and Northeast. Tom has worked for broadband initiatives such as UTOPIA Fiber, the Utah Infrastructure Agency, and MINet.
Ryan Carr is a Partner at M/C Partners, where he leads origination, deal diligence and portfolio company support for investments for broadband infrastructure and technology services segments. He serves on the Board of BAI Connect, Everywhere Wireless and Denovo and previously was on the Board of Thrive Networks, as recapitalized by Court Square. Prior to joining M/C Partners, he worked at MVP Capital, a telecommunications, media and technology focused boutique investment bank, where he completed a number of financing and M&A transactions in wireless communications and infrastructure, fiber infrastructure and media sectors and previously worked as a certified public accountant in the energy and telecommunications sectors of KPMG.
Lindsay Miller is a partner at the law firm Ice Miller LLP and is a member of the Public Affairs and Government Law Groups. With nearly 15 years of experience in broadband and telecommunications initiatives, Lindsay is a strong advocate for building relationships with public and private sector stakeholders. She regularly advises municipalities on how to utilize Public-Private Partnerships for fiber and wireless expansion to build smarter cities and leverage the Internet of Things.
Drew Clark (moderator, not pictured), Editor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, also serves as Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group. He has helped fiber-based and fixed wireless providers negotiate telecom leases and fiber IRUs, litigate to operate in the public right of way, and argue regulatory classifications before federal and state authorities. He has also worked with cities on structuring Public-Private Partnerships for better broadband access for their communities. As a journalist, Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband, and – building off his work with Broadband Census – was appointed Executive Director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois under Gov. Pat Quinn. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.
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.
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.
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.
Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 Sponsors:
To inquire about Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021, contact email@example.com.
Digital Infrastructure Investment 2020
Pole Access Delays Cost Americans Millions a Month, Report Claims
Report recommends policymakers streamline access to poles as ‘most efficient’ means of broadband expansion.
WASHINGTON, December 2, 2021 – Policymakers at the federal and state level must reform pole attachment policies to facilitate faster broadband deployment and unlock millions in economic benefits, according to a Connect the Future report released Thursday.
The report by Edward Lopez, a professor of economics at Western Carolina University, and pole attachment expert Patricia Kravtin concludes that allowing broadband providers to attach their equipment on utility poles “is the most efficient means to expand high-speed broadband access to currently unserved areas of the country.”
The report also estimates that delayed expansion due to hold ups at poles “costs Americans between $491 million and $1.86 billion” every month.
Service providers generally either bury telecommunications cables in the ground, which can be prohibitively expensive in remote areas of the country, or attach equipment over land on utility poles, which are often owned by electricity companies. While the latter is a standard practice, sometimes there are permit delays or disagreement on attaching fees that have created frictions.
Pole attachments will play a significant role for broadband expansion, as federal dollars pour in from sources including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law last month, and as 5G networks require more attachments.
The report determined the economic value of such a policy on a willingness-to-pay metric. That measure calculates how much more households are willing to pay per month for improvements in broadband and multiplies it by the number of locations becoming connected. For example, if 5.22 million locations become connected as a result of the Federal Communications Commission’s $9-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, that would generate a monthly WTP of $579 million. The figure is then annualized in terms of net present value over 25 years at a 5 percent discount rate. The study includes case studies in North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, and Wisconsin.
The “new report makes clear that as our country continues to invest public and private dollars into expanding broadband access, policymakers must take immediate action to ensure that these investments are maximized for impact to bring connectivity to rural communities without delay – and this includes reforming outdated and ineffective pole attachment rules,” Zach Cikanek, executive director of Connect the Future, said in a press release.
“Policymakers can do this by guaranteeing a faster, fairer process for utility pole access, replacements, and dispute resolution to speed the construction of broadband infrastructure so we can more quickly achieve 100% connectivity across our country,” he added.
According to Thursday’s report, utility pole owners have exercised “significant market power over pole attachment rates, terms and conditions” and “frequently impose onerous timetables, unfeasible permitting fees, and various pre- and post-construction requirements, including full pole replacements ahead of scheduled replacement, as part of ‘make-ready’ procedures required prior to the actual attachment to the pole.”
There have been a number of lawsuits popping up in courts across the country that have involved large telecoms trying to gain cost efficient and timely access to those poles. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission found Verizon paid “unjust” pole attachment fees to a utility company in Maryland, as it billed the maximum rate possible.
And earlier this year, the FCC alleviated some burdens by ruling that investor-owned utilities cannot charge new attachers for pole replacements if they are not the sole cause for the replacement. This stems from telecom companies having to front the cost for replacing a pole if an assessment shows that adding new equipment would warrant the change.
Governors Discuss Infrastructure Bill Spending at Summit
Leaders addressed strategies and importance of private spending.
ANNAPOLIS, December 2, 2021 – Governors from some states gathered in Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss how they would use the billions in funding coming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The three-day National Governor’s Association Infrastructure Summit, a large part of which was closed off to media, hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday. The panel included Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, Guam Democratic Governor Lourdes Leon Guerrero, Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan, and Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf.
Edwards said that once Louisiana had received money from the infrastructure bill – signed into law in mid-November that would provide a minimum of $100 million to the states – the changes to broadband would be drastic. “We will be able to address [access and the digital divide] to a degree that was not be possible before.
“If there is a home or business [in Louisiana] without high-speed internet by 2029, it is because they do not want it,” Edwards said. He explained that because Louisiana identified the shortcomings in its broadband infrastructure and began laying the groundwork to improve it years ago, the state is more well equipped to take advantage of the funding that will come with the IIJA.
In early 2020, Edwards announced his “Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana” plan that outlined coverage priority areas, the guiding principles, and goals for the state’s approach to improved broadband connectivity. The state broadband office, Connect L.A., was formed to help put the plan into action.
As part of the state’s initiative to bridge the digital divide, Edwards’ administration created Louisiana’s Grant Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities program, or GUMBO, to help underserved and unserved areas apply for federal funding for broadband projects.
Need for private investment
Wolf pointed to actions Pennsylvania is taking to ensure that funds are not squandered. “[The IIJA] is not an infinite amount of money and it is not nearly what our engineers say we need,” he said. To get the most out of the funding they receive, Wolf recommended that states create centralized infrastructure banks to only allocate money to approved projects and avoid both literal and figurative “bridges to nowhere.”
“Private investment is also critically important,” Hogan said. Indeed, all the governors sharing the stage encouraged states to explore public-private efforts. Edwards said he was hopeful that the IIJA would not tie states’ hands, preventing states from utilizing such models. “We need an approach that has the flexibility to work for us,” he said. “I hope the rules are not written in a way that requires us to do all of this ourselves [without private investment].”
The purpose of this gathering is to allow governors, their secretaries, and staff to meet, collaborate, and share their experiences to help states partner for regional infrastructure projects, prioritize projects, and learn to obtain the necessary resources from the federal government to complete said projects.
Hogan presented the opening keynote and participated in some of the first day’s events. Bipartisanship was one of the focal points of the summit, and Hogan hammered on it during his keynote.
“A lot of conventional wisdom was that a federal infrastructure bill could not be in a bipartisan way,” he said. Hogan said that the collaborative work governors did on a state and regional level proved this “wisdom” to be false, stating, “the nation’s governors will continue to lead the way.”
Waiting on the federal government
Hogan said that while the money in the IIJA will be “transformational,” there are still a considerable number of unknowns. “We are still waiting for guidance from the federal government,” he said. As it stands now, he said there is no precise timeline for when the funds will be dispensed or if certain monies will have rigid, unknown requirements that could hold up the process. “The devil is in the details,” said Hogan.
“We will find a way to make use of every penny we receive,” he added, but said it was still unclear how much money the state would get or, where it could be used, and when the state would get it.
Hogan said Maryland’s efforts would be concentrated on repairing and modernizing infrastructure, while also devising new ways to streamline the deployment of future projects.
The NGA summit runs through December 2 and covers topics such as broadband, freight transportation, green infrastructure and supply chain issues.
Advocates Call for Universal Service Fund to Include Broadband Revenues
Letter cites Carol Mattey report, which recommends broadening the base.
WASHINGTON, November 29, 2021 – A broad swath of organizations on Monday is calling for policymakers in Washington to reform and stabilize the Universal Service Fund by broadening its funding base to include broadband revenues.
The Universal Service Fund, which supplies the nation’s low-income and rural and remote communities with basic telecommunications services, currently relies on voice service revenues, which has been a dwindling for years. Debate has emerged about how the fund can be stabilized, with some asking for the money to come from a congressional budget item and others asking for it to come from broadband revenues.
The latter is being recommended by over 254 organizations, including public interest groups, anchor institutions, trade associations and broadband service providers, in a Monday call to action letter to policymakers in Washington. The letter cites a September report by Carol Mattey, a former deputy chief of the Federal Communications Commission, which said broadband revenues should be incorporated into the USF base of money to draw upon.
“Unfortunately, this universal service system is in danger of collapse because the mechanism that funds it has not been updated since it was adopted nearly 25 years ago,” the letter said. The USF program is a relic from 1997 and a product of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
The letter features organizations including Public Knowledge, the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition, Gigabit Libraries Network, California Emerging Technology Fund, and a number of telecoms and telecom associations and anchor institutions from over a dozen states.
The contribution percent – the percent providers must pay of their voice revenues – has reached an all-time high in the second quarter this year, at 33.4 percent in the second quarter this year, and decreased slightly after that. Mattey and the signatories, however, warn that the contribution could soar as high as 40 percent in the coming years, as the fund operates at around $10 billion annually.
Citing the Mattey report, the letter suggests that including broadband revenues into the fund would reduce the USF fee to less than 4 percent, adding it would not stunt broadband adoption or retention, as fees are often passed down to customers.
“Our recommendation would reduce regulatory uncertainty, would better reflect evolving uses of services, would be straightforward to administer, and would be more equitable and nondiscriminatory for residential and business consumers than the current system,” the letter said.
“Moreover, the Federal Communications Commission could make this change under its existing authority without requiring new legislation,” the letter added, as Mattey and Greg Guice, Public Knowledge director of government affairs, said at a conference recently.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr suggested earlier this year that Big Tech companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook should contribute to the fund because they benefit from broadband services. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called the idea “intriguing,” while FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington also raised the idea at an event in September.
- Frances Haugen, U.S. House Witnesses Say Facebook Must Address Social Harms
- Pole Access Delays Cost Americans Millions a Month, Report Claims
- Governors Discuss Infrastructure Bill Spending at Summit
- Federal Court Blocks Social Media Law, Illinois Broadband Initiative, Fiber Leads for Telecom Giants
- Julio Fuentes: Access Delayed Was Access Denied to the Poorest Americans
- Senate Committee OK’s Rosenworcel, Questions Sohn on Mapping, Net Neutrality, Broadband Standards
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Broadband Roundup4 months ago
Senators Intro App Bill, Groups Drop TracFone Buy Complaint, States Want Shorter Robocall Deadline
Antitrust4 months ago
Daniel Hanley: Federal Communications Commission Must Block Verizon’s Acquisition of TracFone
Broadband Roundup3 months ago
Mapping Comment Deadline Extended, AT&T Gets Federal Contract, 5G and LTE Drive Microwave Demand
#broadbandlive3 months ago
Broadband Breakfast on September 1, 2021 — What’s Next for Broadband Infrastructure Legislation?
Broadband Roundup2 months ago
Cox’s Wireless Deal with Verizon Dies, Apple Appeals Epic Games Case, AT&T’s Fiber Investment
Broadband Roundup3 months ago
FCC and FTC Announce Open Meeting Agendas and AT&T Signs Deal with OneWeb
Antitrust4 months ago
Antitrust Experts Zero In on Big Tech and Consumer Welfare Standard at Aspen Forum
Expert Opinion3 months ago
Shrihari Pandit: States Can Enable Broadband Infrastructure Through Open Access Conduits