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Infrastructure

Infrastructure Money Must Go to Better Networks — Even If in Areas with Existing Infrastructure

Some are warning that federal infrastructure money should not go toward subsidizing old networks.

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WASHINGTON, January 13, 2022 — At a Broadband Breakfast event Wednesday, key broadband industry figures spoke about the value of using federal money to build higher quality networks in areas with existing infrastructure, punting the often negative connotations associated with “overbuilding” in certain areas.

While some believe that overbuilding – a term referring to networks built in areas with existing broadband infrastructure – is a real problem, others say the bad often gets conflated with the good.

“We also use the term newbuilding,” said Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS, a trade association for telecom competition. “And I think that’s what our objective is.

“The failure, I think, of our subsidy policy over the last two, three decades is that we subsidize the maintenance of old networks,” he said at the Wednesday event. ”My fear of failure in this round of funding would be if we subsidized the past instead of funding the future.”

Drew Clark, editor and publisher of Broadband Breakfast and host of Wednesday’s event, said that “overbuilding” has received a bad rap when it can mean real competition. So instead of having the same slow speeds, internet service providers – either incumbents or competitors – would be incentivized to upgrade their services in the area.

Claude Aiken, CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, and Broadband Breakfast editor and publisher Drew Clark

Claude Aiken, CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, and Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark

Instead of waiting for another company to move in and start building faster broadband with government funds, smaller companies could apply for the government funds themselves, the event heard. These smaller companies could then use the funds to build better networks.

Wednesday’s discussion included a deeper dive into the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $65 billion for broadband. States are currently preparing to accept a substantial chunk of that money from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Matt Polka, president and CEO of ACA Connects, an association with small service providers, spoke to the importance of states and broadband providers using the money granted through the IIJA in the “wisest and most effective ways.” Part of this, according to panelist Claude Aiken, CEO of Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, would be to “educate folks about the impact” of broadband.

Polka raised concerns about how involved localities should be in competitive service prices. He said that states and localities shouldn’t regulate rates for services and let competition, or the market, drive those low prices. Discussion of rate setting often emerges with government ownership of the network.

“History has answered that question: competition does work,” said Polka.

Pickering also spoke about how members need to encompass every technology. According to Pickering, there is a need for a system that incentivizes people to build the fastest broadband speed. The IIJA legislation includes a provision making funding technology agnostic.

In the middle of these two viewpoints was Aiken. While emphasizing the importance of not hampering the ability of companies to meet consumer needs, Aiken spoke to how hard it is to know what will work and what won’t work with certainty.

But, he continued, it’s “incumbent upon us to get the details right.”

There are two ways to participate in this event: IN PERSON or LIVE ONLINE. To attend in person, sign up to attend in person through Eventbrite. Please arrive for lunch at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, 707 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C., by 11:30 a.m. to be seated for lunch. The program will begin promptly at 12 Noon ET.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the January 12, 2022, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 12 Noon ET — Broadband Breakfast for Lunch: The Agenda of Key Internet and Technology Stakeholders for 2022

With 2021 in the rearview mirror, Broadband Breakfast will take the pulse of telecom, media and technology industry stakeholders. What’s on their agenda for 2022? Early in the year,  implementation of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act will dominate many broadband groups’ regulatory bandwidth. But what of Congress and of the Federal Communications Commission? Will net neutrality be back on the agenda, and when? What role will debates about big technology companies’ market dominance play on legislation dealing with online privacy and the regulation of social media? And what do entertainment industry players hope for in the New Year? Join us IN PERSON or LIVE ONLINE as Broadband Breakfast returns to its traditional role as the preeminent monthly gathering place for Washington discussions about broadband policy and internet technology.

There are two ways to participate in this event: IN PERSON or LIVE ONLINE. To attend in person, sign up to attend in person through EventbritePlease arrive for lunch at Clyde’s of Gallery Place (The Piedmont Room), 707 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C., by 11:30 a.m. to be seated for lunch. The program will begin promptly at 12 Noon ET.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Matt Polka, President and CEO, America’s Communications Association Connects
  • Chip Pickering, CEO, INCOMPAS
  • Claude Aiken, CEO, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Matt Polka is the President and CEO of ACA Connects – America’s Communications Association (ACAC), a 700-member Washington, D.C., trade and federal advocacy association of independent, smaller- and medium-sized broadband, cable and phone businesses. ACACmembers serve more than 10million 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 served in that role 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.

Claude Aiken is CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), an association representing thousands of fixed wireless providers. In the decade prior, Aiken worked at the Federal Communications Commission as an advisor to Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, as well as in various staff attorney roles and in senior leadership positions in the Wireline Bureau and Office of General Counsel. He graduated from New York Law School as a John Marshall Harlan Scholar specializing in information and technology law.

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.

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Broadband Mapping

FCC Opens Broadband Data Collection Program

The data will go toward improved maps, which the FCC chair said will be available by the fall.

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Screenshot of Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday officially opened its new system to collect broadband service information from over 2500 broadband providers.

The Broadband Data Collection “marks the beginning of [the FCC’s] window to collect location-by-location data from providers that we will use to build the map,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a press release.

Screenshot of Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox

Broadband providers will be required to provide availability claims and supporting data. Supporting data will include sections such as “propagation modeling information” and “link budget information.” The deadline to submit is September 1.

Rosenworcel said the agency has established consistent parameters that require broadband providers to submit data using geocoded locations that will “allow [the FCC] to create a highly precise picture of fixed broadband deployment, unlike previous data collections, which focused on census blocks, giving us inaccurate, incomplete maps.”

With this information, the FCC will build a common dataset of locations in the United States where fixed broadband service can be installed, called the “fabric.” Rosenworcel said that this fabric will serve as a “foundation upon which all fixed broadband availability data will be reported and overlaid in our new broadband availability maps.”

Following the completion of the maps, government entities and internet service providers will be given a challenge window where availability claims may be challenged based on submitted data.

Rosenworcel previously said that the improved broadband maps will be available by the fall.

States expect to be busy fact-checking these claims as they are released, said panelists at Broadband Breakfast Live Online Event Wednesday. States will be involved in individual challenging processes and will be expected to provide information on availability through individual speed testing.

States want to get these maps right because they serve as a broadband investment decision making tool, said Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox, a data platform that is helping states build broadband maps. That means many states are committed to obtaining accurate local coverage data to utilize federal and state funding.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 12 Noon ET –Broadband Mapping and Data

Now that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Notice of Funding Opportunity has been released, attention turns to a core activity that must take place before broadband infrastructure funds are distributed: The Federal Communications Commission’s updated broadband maps. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as implemented by the NTIA’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, these address-level maps from the FCC will determine the allocation of funds among states and serve as a key source of truth. Our panelists will also consider the role of state-level maps, the NTIA challenge process and other topics. Join Broadband Breakfast as we return to one of the subjects that we know best: Broadband data and mapping.

Panelists:

  • Bill Price, Vice President, Government Solutions, LightBox
  • Dustin Loup, Program Manager, Marconi Society’s National Broadband Mapping Coalition
  • Ryan Guthrie, Vice President of Solutions Engineering at ATS
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

Bill Price, Vice President of Government Solutions, is responsible for LightBox broadband data and mapping solutions for government. Bill has more than 40 years in telecommunications and technology services development and operations. His track record includes delivering the Georgia statewide location level broadband map, the first fiber metropolitan area network in the U.S., and launching BellSouth’s internet service. LightBox combines proven, leading GIS and big data technology to transform how decisions are made in broadband infrastructure planning and investment.

Dustin Loup is an expert on internet governance and policy and program manager for the Marconi Society’s National Broadband Mapping Coalition. Much of his work centers on improving digital inclusion and establishing transparent, open-source, and openly verifiable mapping methodologies and standards.

Ryan Guthrie is VP of Solutions Engineering at Advanced Technologies & Services.  He started with ATS in 2006 and has been involved in all aspects of the business from sales and marketing through solution design and implementation.  Ryan also manages regulatory solutions for ATS and has been deeply involved with the federally funded broadband projects by assisting ISPs with their performance measures testing compliance.

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.

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FCC

FCC Commissioner Supports Rural Telco Efforts to Implement ‘Rip and Replace’

In remarks at the Rural Wireless Association event on Wednesday, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks reaffirmed the FCC’s goals.

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Photo of Carri Bennet, general counsel of the Rural Wireless Association, leading a discussion at the summit on Wednesday by Drew Clark

PARK CITY, Utah, June 30, 2022 – Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks acknowledged the agency’s goal of obtaining secure broadband networks at an event of the Rural Wireless Association on Wednesday.

“We must ensure that our broadband networks are secure,” Starks said in keynote address at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here, delivered via Zoom. “This is evident in the constant barrage of attacks of American networks from hostile state and non-state actors.”

Starks continued, “insecure networks, by definition, can’t provide the stable, reliable, always on communications we need. Especially during emergencies… Broadband must be secure for the full benefits of broadband to be achieved.”

The issue of ridding American telecommunications networks of equipment manufactured in China was a constant theme during the conference.

In addition to Starks’ presentation, several sessions addressed the dilemma faced by telecommunications carriers, particular rural ones, that had in the past invested heavily in lower-cost equipment from Huawei, a leading Chinese manufacturer.

As the political winds have changed on the topic over the past three years, Congress has allocated funds for a “rip and replace” program. The FCC is expected to announce the providers that will receive nearly $2 billion as part of the program by July 15.

But some fear that number could be more than $4 billion short of needed funds.

“The funds available will cover only a very small portion” of the costs to replace Huawei with non-Chinese manufacturers, said Carri Bennet, general counsel of the Rural Wireless Association.

Potential new requirements imposed on telecom providers

The commission recently sought comment on whether it should require carriers that receive high-cost support to have include baseline cyber security and supply chain risk management plans.

If these plans are included in requirements, Starks said that American communication networks would be protected from bad actors. Moreover, they are consistent with requirements already included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Starks thanked the RWA for its activity and advocacy in the “rip and replace” proceedings, officially dubbed the Secure and Trusted Communications Network Reimbursement Program.

“The threat is real,” called Starks. “Companies that are deemed by the federal government to be a threat to the United States and its people can not have free reign in data centers featuring some of the most sensitive data of Americans.”

This comes only days after Commissioner Brendan Carr called for Apple and Google to remove Beijing-based popular video-sharing application, TikTok, from their app stores in response to the apps’ obligation to comply with the Peoples Republic of China’s surveillance demands.

Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.

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Infrastructure

States Must Ease Zoning, Permit Regulations for Broadband Buildouts

‘You have to take a serious look at red tape.’

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Screenshot of Heather Gold , Carolyn Price, Shane Butler and Bob Knight (left to right)

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2022 – States must ease regulations surrounding local building permits and zoning that may prevent internet service providers from building broadband infrastructure, said experts in community and stakeholder engagement at a Rural Broadband Conference on Tuesday.

“If you want to attract private industry or want to bring fiber to your community, you have to take a serious look at red tape,” said Bob Knight, CEO of marketing firm Harrison Edwards Strategic Communications.

“Let’s be realistic,” Knight continued. “We are operating at a time where private investment can go anywhere, we are operating at a time where materials are scarce… now is not the time to mess around and slow up the process [through regulations.]”

The Upstate New York Town Association, a group dedicated to serving the needs of upstate New York communities, indicated that it would continue to lobby for an easing of state regulations to support broadband connectivity in its region.

Knight encouraged states to engage with stakeholders and local community members to make the process easier and build networks in a timely fashion. “Get as many [local] voices as you can.”

Communities in Upstate New York worked with local engineers to develop broadband models that work for their topography. Understanding the local geography proved beneficial in building out networks that connect to all community members, said Carolyn Price, executive director of the Upstate Association.

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