As we've talked about several times here at Broadband Bytes, true 5G wireless service - the kind cabable of ultra-low latency and ultra-high speeds require a LOT of small cells spread throughout a service area. AT&T is partnering with equipment manufacturer Ericsson to utilize streetlights in a community to at least partially solve the densification problem.
As reported at Telecompetitor, the "Ericsson Street Radio 4402" plugs into streetlights using a NEMA standardized connector. AT&T began doing field tests on the concept in 2021. As Gordan Mansfield with AT&T points out in the Telecompetitor article:
“Streetlights are also the perfect deployment point for meeting network infrastructure densification needs because they are typically 8 to 10 meters high, spaced 50 meters apart, have an existing power supply and are within close proximity to fiber,” Mansfield wrote in the blog post. “By using existing infrastructure, this solution reduces costs, streamlines site approval and permitting, and speeds installation.”
5G needs fiber, with full bandwidth capacity likely requiring fiber at every streetlight. That's unlikely to be available in most cities, but could represent an opporutnity for communities that own their own fiber networks to serve those streetlights.
The billions of dollars allocated by the recent federal infrastructure bill will pass through states before being deployed. In order to take advantage of those funds, each state will need to have its own broadband office and a mechanism for getting those dollars out the door and into the hands of providers who will fill the gaps. Some states have very healthy broadband offices while others are lacking. Now, two national organziations are stepping forward to provide some guidelines for states on how to best use those federal funds.
The Fiber Broadband Association and the NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association collaborted to create a "Broadband Infrastructure Playbook" to help state broadband offices make efficient and effective use of the federal broadband infrastructure money. The two groups are holding a webinar on March 4th to review the playbook, which will be made available to participants at the conclusion of the webinar.
CLICK HERE to register for the webinar. For more information about the announcement, CLICK HERE to read the announcement.
CBAN's February edition of Lunch and Learn goes live on YouTube and LinkedIn today (February 23, 2022) at noon CST. Co-hosts Curtis Dean, Todd Kielkopf, and Jon Anne Willow will talk about current broadband issues. We will also take a deep-dive into the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) from the provider's perspective. Renee Knoop with Consortia Consulting will discuss what ISP's need to do to begin offering the $30 per month ACP broadband subsidy to eligible households.
Join us today at the CBAN YouTube and LinkedIn pages!
Cedar Rapids, Iowa based ImOn Communications (a CBAN Provider Member) is in the process of being acquired by Goldman Sachs Asset Management. The purchase price was not disclosed.
While ImON has its roots in Cedar Rapids, the company has been focusing on growth over the past several years. In addition to growing its network in and around Cedar Rapids, including the adjoining communities of Marion and Hiawatha, ImOn is in the process of building out FTTP in Dubuque, Iowa City, and Coralville. According to a news release, the Goldman Sachs transactions will give ImOn additional capital to continue their expansion strategy.
"The ImOn team is thrilled to be working with Goldman Sachs. The ImOn difference is our high-quality fiber-optic broadband network, our commitment to providing the highest level of customer service, and our support of the communities we serve. Goldman Sachs shares our values and supports ImOn’s vision. They will be a great partner to help us implement our ambitious growth plans.” - Patrice Carroll, founder and CEO of ImOn.
ImOn has a strong reputation for excellent service in the communities it serves. It has also been a vital partner for several municipal broadband utilities in Iowa, providing voice services and other capabilities.
The transaction will undergo regulatory approvals and is epected to close sometime in the first half of 2022.
Alabama bill allows local grants to expand broadband
HMU Telecom sale in near term appears unlikely
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma leaders look to create state broadband office to improve internet access
Gov. Wolf: This 11-person group will manage $100M to improve PA's broadband access
Pierre, South Dakota
S.D. regulators decide against LTD Broadband
Metronet continues on a tear. Almost weekly, the Indiana-based company announces a new market where they plan to build fiber-to-the-home networks. So far they have announced projects in ten states outside of their home state. However their latest move is a bit of a head-scratcher.
According to a news release this week, Metronet has begun hooking up fiber customers in Iowa City, Iowa. This announcement seems very consistent with Metronet's rapid growth in the state of Iowa where they've already built or announced their intentions to build in 12 of Iowa's 30 largest communities, including the vast majority of the Des Moines metro area. This week's announcement adds Iowa City (#5) and Coralville (#25) to that list.
The head-scratcher is that in coming to the Iowa City/Coralville area, Metronet is choosing a market that ImOn Communications (a CBAN provider member) is already serving with fiber services. ImOn began offering fiber connectivity to businesses in Iowa City several years ago, and began its Iowa City-Coralville buildout in 2020. ImOn is on a path to complete the entire area (residential and business) within the next two years. ImOn has a stellar reputation in its markets (it's hometown of Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas, Dubuque, and Iowa City/Coralville) for excellent service. They have also been a valued partner for municipal broadband utilites in Iowa, offering voice switching services for several community-owned networks in eastern Iowa. And although Metronet has access to seemingly limitless capital, it's strange that they would choose to deploy that capital in a market that is or will soon be very well served.
The state of Nebraska is a study in contrasts when it comes to essential services. On the one hand, all electric utilities in the Cornhusker state is publicly-owned. On the other hand, public ownership of broadband utilities is strictly prohibited. The lackof a public option for broadband has presented a huge challenge for communities seeking to bring better broadband to their citizens. However a Nebraska lawmaker is trying to change that.
Senator Justin Wayne of Omaha has introduced a bill (LB916) to create a process whereby some cities in the state could provide municipal broadband services. It is the third time in less than a year that Wayne has pushed for authorizing legislation. The bill has some strong advocates - both the AARP Nebraska and the League of Nebraska Municipalities back the effort. To no one's suprise the Nebraska Telecommunications Association, which represents incumbent carriers in the state, object to the bill.
CLICK HERE to read more abou the legislation at The Daily Nonpreil.
Shrewsbury Electric and Cable Operations (SELCO), based in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, is the newest CBAN Provider Member. SELCO began electric operations in 1908. The city-owned utiity launched cable TV service in 1983 and by the end of the following year had grown rapidly to 5,600 subscribers. SELCO launched internet service in 1999 and local telephone in 2006.
SELCO is in the midst of a multi-year project that is replacing its hybrid fiber-coax network with fiber-to-the-home.
CBAN is excited to have our first CBAN member from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!
FCC To Look at "Digital Redlining"
Across America, access to reliable, affordable broadband service may come down to where you live. This practice has been called "digital redlining" - where newer, more affluent neighborhoods are the first to receive upgraded broadband networks while older, less affluent neighborhoods are made to wait.
A new FCC task force is being appointed to take a look at broadband equity, including preventing deployment discrimination based on income, race or other factors. Today there are no laws or rules that prevent redlining, leaving it up to the individual provider to decide who or who not to serve.
The term redlining was coined to describe a common practice in urban areas during the 1930's and beyond where persons of color had trouble obtaining a mortgage for homes in white areas and were essentially assigned to live in more traditionally minority communities.
Big providers, when deciding where to invest the money to upgrade their networks, often focus on wealthier parts of cities and shun low-income communities. Fiber connections are expensive, and ISPs are hesitant to expand unless they expect a return on their investment. As a result, poorer communities often have no internet or are stuck with slow, legacy networks that can't meet today's demands -- even though they usually pay as much as their wealthier neighbors who have gigabit fiber connections - "The broadband gap's dirty secret: Redlining still exists in digital form", CNET, June 2021
It's not just poorer communities that are seeing this sort of digital redlining. Any older, more established neighborhood is seen as less attractive for providers to overbuild or rebuild with fiber for many reasons. Crowded rights of way, trees, landscaping, fencing, and other characteristics of more established neighborhoods make them more expensive to serve, especially in communities where electric utilities have moved their lines underground. By contast, building fiber to a new development is relatively easy. Plus, providers find its actually less expensive to build out fiber in newer neighborhoods than copper-based technology.
As communities are exploring ways to bring better broadband, especially fiber networks, to their citizens, they should try to ensure that the benefits come to all neighborhoods.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in bringing better broadband to more Americans is having an accurate picture of where broadband is and isn't available. Current broadband maps that most states are relying on for grant programs are simply not good enough. They don't provide nearly enough granularity for one thing. They are also inaccurate because they solely rely on providers ADVERTISED download speeds, which aren't always achievable in real-world conditions. They also do not take any other important factors into account such as upload speeds and reliability.
The job of fixing the maps has been placed in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This step is vital because funds authorized under the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program (BEAD), part of the federal infrastructure bill, can't spent until the maps are updated. So the $42 million that BEAD will allocate to reaching unserved Americans is in limbo until the maps are resolved.
In response to a congressional letter sent to her office in December, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said there is no clear timeline for the updated maps. One source of the delay is the fact that the FCC chose a vendor to develp the "Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric" on which the maps will be based, but that selection was contested by another vendor. So until that appeal is concluded the fabric is on hold.
As the "Milestones" graphic above shows, a lot needs to happen before the new maps are ready. While Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Congress last week that the maps should be on their way "this summer", that may be overly optimistic.
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Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.