Scientists are working on something called the "quantum internet". The technology is like something from a sci-fi flick, but the bottom line is that a phenomenon called "quantum entanglement" using photons of light would allow an internet that's much faster and more secure than the one we have today.
Of course, photons are right at home in fiber optics, although theoretical lasers through the air could achieve similar results.
The website New Atlas has an interesting article if you want to learn more.
No doubt we'll soon hear BIG CABLE touting it's own version of quantum internet that works on 30-year old copper...
One of the advantages of fiber optic technology is that it is bidirectional, with downstream capacity and upstream capacity being essentially the same. That's not the case for networks that rely on copper for the "last mile" such as cable and DSL. Now Mediacom is starting to clamp down on customers who are using too much upload capacity - even if they aren't hitting their data caps.
According to an article at Ars Technica, Mediacom has contacted customers who use a lot of upload capacity and telling them to cut back or face consequences, citing its Acceptable Use Policy that allows it to enact penalties for excess usage that, in its opinion, impacts other users.
Mediacom's top tier of internet advertises download speeds of up to 1 gigabit (Gbps) per second. That's 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps). Upload speeds for that tier are capped at 50 Mbps, or just 5% of downloads. The data cap for this tier is 6 gigabits per month.
City leaders in Waterloo, Iowa continue to take a close look at the possibility of a community fiber network. And they've now decided to gather additional community input through the appointment of a citizen committee.
Last year, the Waterloo Telecommunications Utility Board - established in 2005 with city voters approved a municipal telecommunication referendum - hired Magellan Advisors to conduct a feasibility study. Waterloo sits right next door to Cedar Falls, Iowa which has operated a successful municipal network since the mid-1990's. The feasibility study is currently in draft form and not yet available for public review.
At a meeting this week, the utility board voted to establish a citizen committee to help the Board with the evaluation process. Members of the advisory committee will be appointed by utility board Chair Andy Van Fleet and confirmed by the Board.
“This is such a monumental project that we could as a group benefit from having additional minds thinking through some of the best ways to proceed with this." -- Waterloo Telecommunications Utility Board Chair Andy Fleet
As reported by the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Magellan Advisors has been updating the feasibility study to incorporated smart city elements being promoted by Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart.
Indiana-based Metronet has announced its newest new market in the Midwest - Mankato, Minnesota. The company's rapid expansion means it is now in more than 100 markets in 8 states. Other recently announced projects in the midwest include Urbandale and Johnston, Iowa and portions of several other Des Moines suburbs. Earlier Metronet began overbuilding Davenport, Bettendorf, and Ames, Iowa.
For details on the Mankato project, check out this article on the Mankato Free Press.
The Fox regional sports networks (RSN's), purchased by Sinclair last year, will be rebranded with the name "Bally Sports" as part of a deal announced this week.
Bally's Corporation is a major gaming operator with casinos and horse racing facilities in several states. The new names and logos will be attached to 19 former Fox RSN's in the coming months. A definitive timeline was not given in the news release on the Sinclair website.
Online publication TV Technology created a map showing the location and new names for the RSN's.
The giant coffee mug may be gone, but the outdated definition of broadband remains at the Federal Communications Commission.
With a new administration, former Chairman Ajit Pai is stepping away and being replaced as Chair by Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democratic appointees to the five-member commission. But one thing old will remain - for now. The FCC has decided to keep its current definition of broadband.
The FCC's definition of broadband as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload was put into place in 2015. Since that time, consumer bandwidth has continued to increase and many advocates have called for the definition to increase accordingly. But in one of his final acts as chairman, Pai declared that the definition is fine for now.
"We find that the current speed benchmark of 25/3Mbps remains an appropriate measure by which to assess whether a fixed service is providing advanced telecommunications capability. We conclude that fixed services with speeds of 25/3Mbps continue to meet the statutory definition of advanced telecommunications capability; that is, such services "enable users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications." -- FCC annual deployment report, per Ars Technica
The definition may be headed for an update however, depending on whether or not President Biden is able to get another Democratic appointee confirmed to the FCC (the Commission is currently one member short and has an even split of 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans). New Chair Rosenworcel has stated publicly that the definition should be raised to at least 100 Mbps for downloads and something much higher than 3 Mbps uploads.
One obstacle facing municipal broadband operators in Iowa is the inability for joint action agencies formed under Iowa Code Chapter 28E to jointly finance projects. That barrier could be relieved if a bill introduced in the Iowa House of Representatives advances.
HSB 128 would add one sentence to Iowa Code Chapter 28F (the section that provides financing authority for 28E entities), "works or facilities useful for the operation of a telecommunications system or the provision of telecommunications services." The bill was introduced on January 25th and referred to the House Information Technology Committee. A subcommittee consisting of Representatives Dustin Hite (R-District 79), Shannon Latham (R-District 54), and Sharon Sue Steckman (D-District 53) will initially consider the bill.
28F already allows joint financing for solid waste, natural gas, and electric projects. Several years ago a group of Iowa communities considered the creation of a jointly owned-and-operated fiber network to connect their networks to each other, but the deal did not materialize due in part to the lack of joint financing authority.
Chattanooga, Tennessee has long been seen as a shining example of what can happen if a community invests in a fiber optic network. The Electric Plant Board (EPB) of Chattanooga built a fiber-to-the-home network and began operations 10 years ago. Now, an independent study show $2.69 billion is community benefits as a result of the network's presence.
The study was conducted by Dr. Bento Lobo, Ph.D., head of the Department of Finance and Economics at the Rollins College of Business at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Among the key community benefits identified in the study:
“The true economic value of the fiber optic infrastructure for EPB’s customers is much greater than the cost of installing and maintaining the infrastructure,” Dr. Lobo said. “Our latest research findings show that Chattanooga’s fiber optic network provides additional value because it provides high speeds, with symmetrical uploads and downloads, and a high degree of network responsiveness which are necessary for the smart grid and other cutting-edge business, educational and research applications.” -- Dr. Bento Lobo, researcher
It's nice to see researchers obtain statistical evidence of something we all know intuitively - fiber optic networks create many community benefits that don't show up on utility balance sheets.
I hope you're sitting down when you read this, because we have some news that will surprise you to your core. Frontier and CenturyLink tell the FCC that they "may not have met" their deployment deadlines that were part of hundreds of millions of dollars in Connect America Fund Round 2 (CAF II) money they received to deploy broadband to unserved areas.
OK, so you're not that surprised. And neither is the telecommunications industry in general as it has appeared for some time that the two large companies didn't seem to be in a real hurry to spend that money on new connectivity.
As usual, Telecompetitor has a great run-down of the situation. Overall, Frontier said it has met the deployment deadline in 8 states but missed it in 13 others. CenturyLink said it met the deadline in 10 states but missed it in 23 states. Oops.
Frontier's failures were in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
CenturyLink came up short in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Both companies appear to blame COVID-19 for their shortfalls, even though pandemic restrictions for just a fraction of the six year timespan they had to finish their work.
CenturyLink accepted $514 million a year for six years to build out the rural areas and Frontier accepted $283 million.
Similar concerns about accountability for the billions of dollars awarded under the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) has led a bipartisan group of US senators and representatives to send a letter to the FCC, asking the commission to thoroughly vet the RDOF auction winners.
"Without proper due diligence today, we fear that we will not know whether funds were improperly spent for years to come.” -- Congressional letter to the FCC
The letter is drawing praise and support from many in the industry, including representatives of rural carriers and REC's who question whether those RDOF dollars will be spent as advertised.
CBAN is working on a compelling lineup of topics for our 2021 editions of Lunch and Learn. Our goal is to deliver at least one Lunch and Learn each month during 2021, and we'd love to hear your feedback on the topics YOU want to see covered!
So far, the only other topic that has been scheduled is for February 10, 2021 when we will turn our attention to the various groups that are fighting against municipal broadband nationwide. Click the Lunch and Learn slide on the right side of the page to register.
We have a wide range of other topics we're considering, but we'd like your opinions on which ones would be of most interest to you. So, we've set up a quick survey to have you pick the topics you want to see covered. CLICK HERE to take the survey.
We will keep the survey open through the end of January and encourage all to participate!
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.