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Leading Telecom Media Heads Expect More Fiber and Public-Private Partnerships in 2022

Leading figures in telecom media share thoughts on what the next year will hold for the industry.

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WASHINGTON, December 29, 2021 — Telecom experts expect 2022 to be a year of transition, as companies increasingly move toward fiber and public-private relationships and away from Huawei.

During Wednesday’s Broadband Breakfast “New Years’ Eve Party” event, editor in chief of Broadband Communities Sean Buckley said he expects 2022 to be a “time of transition,” referencing renewed talks about net neutrality and a greater emphasis on fiber over fixed wireless technology.

His statements were echoed by Light Reading editor in chief Phil Harvey. He added that the sector is not just shifting toward specific technologies, he said it is also shifting away from certain hardware providers due to the trade war with China.

“In general, you’re finding that Huawei is a lot less influential as a dominant player.”

Harvey said that while consumers should still expect Huawei to remain a global force in 5G fiber-to-the-home gear in Africa and China – at least in part attributable to its relatively low price – its presence on the “entity list” has made it a less popular choice for Western markets. The Federal Communications Commission has moved to block approvals of Chinese-based companies as part of the Secure Networks Act, while the White House has aggressively pushed an agenda that prohibits investments in those kinds of companies.

Harvey also explained that this has forced Huawei to develop its own chipset and explore other areas of expansion, such as smart vehicles. Despite Huawei’s diminished presence in the West, Harvey described the company as “very smart, very aggressive, and very well-funded,” adding, “they are going to change a little bit, but they are not going away.”

In fact, John Suffolk, Huawei’s global head of cybersecurity and privacy officer, told Broadband Breakfast earlier this year that the clamp down on the company will only make it more resilient and self-sufficient.

Harvey also said he expects public-private and municipal government efforts to become more popular in 2022, but that municipal efforts should expect to face significant backlash from incumbent providers.

“No one will get in the way of broadband more than incumbents,” he said. “They are pretty awful people,” he joked. He said that lobbyists representing incumbent providers would likely step-up their efforts to make municipal buildouts more difficult if not impossible to establish.

Vermont, for example, is actively engaged in public-private partnerships on its way to broadband buildouts. Such parties in the state recently came together to buy thousands of miles of fiber for a large build.

Telecompetitor’s editor in chief Bernie Arnson said that while he agrees that there will likely be a shift toward partnerships between municipalities and private entities, the model will not be a “silver bullet solution everywhere,” and that every community will need to assess its own demands and capabilities to determine which model will be best for them.

When asked about consumer preferences regarding models and technology, Broadband.Money Deputy Editor Sarah Lai Stirland said that she doubts consumers really care about how they get their broadband, so long as they actually get it.

“At the end of the day, people are desperate to get online,” she said. “The end consumer does not really care.

“I think it just matters to people in D.C. and telecom lobbyists,” she said.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the December 29, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021, 12 Noon ET — New Years’ Party

Join the Broadband Breakfast team and our guests as for a year of broadband in review. We’ve invited editors and journalists who cover broadband to give their perspective on the news of 2021. This includes weathering the never-ending pandemic, the beginning of the administration of President Joe Biden, and the passage and signing of the largest infrastructure funding bill in a generation, with $65 billion in funding for broadband. Tune in as we discuss what went right for broadband in 2021, what could have gone better, and what’s likely to happen in 2022.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Sean Buckley, Editor in Chief, Broadband Communities
  • Sarah Lai Stirland, Deputy Editor, Broadband Breakfast and Broadband.Money
  • Phil Harvey, Editor in Chief, Light Reading
  • Bernie Arnason, Editor in Chief, Telecompetitor
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Sean Buckley is the Editor in Chief of Broadband Communities. Buckley comes to the magazine publishing and conference company after serving nine years as Senior Editor at FierceTelecom, a daily online newsletter. He also oversaw FierceInstaller, a weekly publication chronicling trends in network installation. Prior to coming to FierceTelecom, Sean spent eight years at Horizon House publications, serving as senior editor and later as Editor in Chief of Telecommunications Magazine and Telecom Engine.

Deputy Editor Sarah Lai Stirland leads Broadband Breakfast’s work with Broadband.Money. She recently rejoined Broadband Breakfast after a several-year hiatus, and has covered business, finance, telecommunications and tech policy from New York, Washington and San Francisco for WiredRed HerringNational Journal’s Technology Daily and Portfolio.com. She’s a native of London and Hong Kong, and is currently based in the Bay Area.

Phil Harvey has been an editor at Light Reading for a combined 16 years. He (barely) manages editorial operations and news coverage for the Light Reading network’s digital properties, including Light Reading and Broadband World News.

Bernie Arnason brings more than 25 years of telecom industry experience to Telecompetitor and Pivot Group. Bernie follows the broadband industry closely and conducts industry research and analysis, provides strategic consulting for clients, and is the Editor in Chief of Telecompetitor, a leading online broadband industry publication.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

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.

Spectrum

Agency Leaders Urge Improvements to Spectrum Management

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel advocated for bills that would make better use of spectrum.

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Photo of Matthew Pearl of the FCC, Derek Khlopin of the NTIA, Anna Gomez of Wiley Rein LLP (left to right)

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2023 – Agency leaders at speaking at a Public Knowledge conference Thursday said more needs to be done to bring spectrum management up to speed, as a issues outlined by a decades-old task force report are still pertinent today.

Receiver standards continue to prohibit innovation, barriers remain for a national spectrum strategy, and spectrum frequencies are becoming more crowded and valuable, said panelists at the event, pointing to challenges outlined by the 2002 Spectrum Policy Task Force.

“[The task force recommendations] were spot on but they also identified a lot of persistent challenges that remain today,” said Derek Khlopin of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “I don’t think that it means we haven’t made progress.”

Technology, use cases, and standards will constantly evolve, added Matthew Pearl of the FCC. “We need to constantly assess them and be very nimble while at the same time honoring the principles like flexibility to all users.”

Suggested steps for improvement

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, speaking at the event, suggested three areas of improvement for spectrum innovation.

First, she advocated for the Spectrum Innovation Act, a bill introduced to the House in September and awaiting committee approval that would make available new airwaves for commercial wireless broadband.

Second, Rosenworcel suggested that the FCC update the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act, which encourages federal users to clear spectrum by establishing a spectrum relocation fund to reimburse agencies operating on airways that are allocated for commercial use.

She also suggested that federal relocators can be given a broader range of options to update their capabilities when they relocate. These changes could “help avoid spectrum disputes and smooth the way for reallocation of airways.”

Third, “we should explore receiver performance.” The efficient use of our airways is a two-way effort and low quality receivers will make it difficult to introduce new services in the same frequencies. The FCC recently launched a new inquiry on receiver performance.

These suggestions come a week after a House subcommittee on communications and technology advanced two bills for floor votes that would provide the NTIA with resources to develop “innovative spectrum management technologies.”

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Funding

Researching the Impact of Digital Equity Funding Starts With Community Collaboration

Understanding the funding impact will ‘begin with the NTIA’s mandate to work with community partners.’

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Photo of Fallon Wilson

CLEVELAND, June 23, 2022 – Formulating research questions and making data readily accessible will contribute to the impact of federal and state digital equity funding, said experts speaking at the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Broadband Access Summit Wednesday.

It is essential to “formulate the research questions with communities” so that researchers will understand what is of interest and importance to the residents and local leaders, said Nicole Marwell from the University of Chicago,

Marwell said it is “critical” for researchers to consider how to “ask questions that bring answers that are more relevant for the community partners and then for [researchers] to try and figure out a way to make that interesting for a research audience.”

“We can demystify research,” said Fallon Wilson of the #BlackTechFutures Research Institute, speaking on how researchers can effectively work with community members. When data looks friendly to local leaders, they can go directly to their state broadband offices and advocate for their specific needs in specific areas.

“The best advocates are the people who advocate for themselves,” said Wilson.

Our role as researchers can play is to make data digestible for the non-academic, said Hernan Galperin of the University of Southern California.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration requires states to work with community leaders and partners for the funds distributed by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Wilson praised this mandate, saying that understanding the funding impact will “begin with the NTIA’s mandate to work with community partners.”

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Fiber

Google Fiber Says it Welcomes Overbuilding, Competition for Lower Prices and Better Services

Comments were made at the Fiber Connect conference last week.

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Photo of [left to right] David Wade of EPB, Tarryl Clark of NACO Telecommunications and Technology, Jay Winn of Lumos/NorthState, Robert Conger of ADTRAN, and Linda Hardesty of Fierce Telecom, by Drew Clark

NASHVILLE, June 21, 2022 – A representative from Google Fiber said Wednesday at the Fiber Connect conference that the company is encouraged by competition in the fiber space because it leads to partnerships, lower costs for consumers and greater coverage.

Jessica George said that more partners and more people working in the broadband space will encourage more competition, which will drop prices and increase speeds.

She added that Google has been a long-time proponent for overbuilding, where providers build their infrastructure in areas already covered. More competition in the fiber space promotes overbuilding, which ensures greater coverage and connectivity for consumers in that area, she said.

Jay Winn, chief customer officer at fiber provider Lumos Networks, added that Lumos’s strategy is to be “first with fiber” by connecting all homes and businesses in its territory to fiber – at the cost of occasional overbuilding.

Ultimately, the conflict lies between companies that oppose greater competition in favor of protecting their territory and those that encourage competition in favor of creating more opportunities for their consumers, said George.

“What do [ISPs] really believe makes this industry, makes our world, makes our communities better?” asked George.

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