After somewhat of a hiatus, Broadband Action - the CBAN podcast - is back! Our newest episode, released today, is titled "All About Althea".
In this episode of Broadband Action, we chat with Deborah Simpier, CEO of Althea. Althea is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) platform and blockchain that enables the coordination of multi-stakeholder networks. Althea decouples the service and infrastructure layers of Internet delivery and coordinates transparent and programmatic revenue sharing.
Using Althea’s platform, networks can be built faster and more economically than ever before.
Althea’s flexible payment structure opens new markets and supports new entrants into the market, by enabling them to capitalize on underutilized bandwidth and real estate.
Check out Broadband Action at https://spotifyanchor-web.app.link/e/lFJMOPmufA or on your favorite podcast app!
The FCC's second version of a national broadband map has been released, and it adds approximately 330,000 more unserved locations to the previous map released last November. While that seems like a lot of locations, it represents just 0.2% increase over the last map. Overall, and additional 1 million "serviceable locations" were identified by the FCC.
Getting the national broadband map as close to reality as possible has been a big concern in the broadband industry, as the map will provide the basis for future funding. The NTIA will use the map to deploy funds from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program (BEAD) where states will get funding in proportion to the number of unserved and high-cost locations on the map.
In a blog post, the NTIA says the new FCC map will allow them to remain on track to announce BEAD allocations his summer.
NTIA is confident that with this data as a baseline, we will be able to effectively allocate funds by the end of June. We will continue to monitor the FCC’s updates to availability data to ensure that we make a well-informed allocation of these vital funds.
Holland BPW, the municipal utility board in Holland, Michigan, has hired EX2 Technology to design and build a city-wide fiber network. The step follows a vote last November where residents authorized the BPW Board to borrow up to $30 million to extend their existing but limited fiber network to cover every address in the community.
Construction is expected to begin this fall with the first new service addresses connected in 2024. For more about Holland's progress, CLICK HERE to read an article at the Holland Sentinel.
The NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) insists that the 17 state laws that hamper nationwide community broadband deployments won’t delay a massive looming infusion of infrastructure broadband subsidies. But one industry group isn’t so sure. Read the full story on Community Networks’ website.
Four east coast states - Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware - have the best broadband in the U.S. according to a report from research firm BroadbandNow.
On the other side of the broadband coin, West Virginia, Alaska, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Vermont were ranked worst according to their metrics, which takes into account speed, latency, and affordability. Among states where CBAN members call home, the results look like this:
Fiber's Upgrade Path
Most fiber optic networks use a technology called "Passive Optical Networks" or PON to bring broadband from a central office/data center to the end user. PON networks have several advantages, including the fact that they don't require any powered equipment between the data center and the user's home or business. That's where the word "passive" comes from.
Up until just a couple of years ago, most networks utilized a platform called GPON. GPON networks are capable of handling up to 2.5 Gbps in aggregate data downstream (from data center to user) and either 1.2 Gbps or 2.5 Gbps upstream (from the user back to the data center), depending on the standard used for the equipment. The GPON standard has been around for 20 years and while it can still support amazing broadband experiences, the need for more bandwidth has tasked engineers with doing better.
Enter XGS-PON, the new standard when deploying a fiber network. Using the exact same fiber as a GPON network and using upgraded electronics on either end, XGS-PON allows providers to offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps in each direction. It's the solution that several CBAN provider members have in their networks today.
One of the amazing things about fiber optics is that, once the glass is in the ground, it can support electronics upgrades to improve bandwidth. At least one manufacturer (Nokia) is deploying 25 GPON (25 Gbps bidirectional). Others are working on 40 GPON. And as this article in Telecompetitor points out, work is underway to develop a 100 GPON standard.
The main takeaway is that a lot of really smart people are working behind the scenes to make sure that fiber optic networks will be able to keep up with growing consumer demand for bandwidth for many years to come.
On May 5, 2023 the Iowa Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO) announced the results of a spring process whereby communities in Iowa self-identified areas in need of broadband network investment.
The OCIO received a total of 99 applications during the Invitation to Qualify (ITQ) application window in March.6 Ninety six of the applications were ranked in order of priority, with three applications not ranked because all of their addresses were included in another ranked application. The intention of the ITQ was to allow, for the first time, communities to have a say in where the State of Iowa should invest broadband grant funding to cover unserved and underserved areas. In prior rounds of state broadband grants, the State relied on providers to identify the eligible areas they were interested in serving.
Each Broadband Intervention Zone is expected to receive some sort of priority for funding in the next round of the Iowa Broadband Grant program, NOFA 8. It isn't clear if provider applications in those zones will receive additional points on the scoring matrix, a higher percentage of grant support, or some combination. While the OCIO has not released details on the formula or the timing, it is expected that NOFA 8, using funds from the state's Capital Projects Fund from the US Department of Treasury. Iowa's allocation under that program was $152.2 million.
Three CBAN members had successful ITQ applications. Madison County Development Group submitted three ITQ responses, which were ranked #2, #4, and #24. Johnson County's applications were ranked #5, #10, and #82. The City of Waterloo's application was ranked #21.
With the ACP’s funding set to run out later this year, the re-funding drive is underway. While nationwide enrollment levels are often reported to be below 30 percent, the numbers vary widely by region. Luckily, the Benton Institute has undertaken the heavy lifting to create an easy to use tool to track ACP enrollment down to the zip code level.
According to its authors, “the Benton Institute’s ACP Performance Tool is a resource for any community that wants to answer the question: “How are ACP sign-ups going?” To answer, search a 5-digit zip code on the tool’s website. It returns results that show two important numbers for the zip code area: 1) how many households have signed up for ACP (from government data) and 2) the expected number of households enrolled.”
Read more about the tool and the Benton Institute’s methodology here.
CBAN Welcomes Digitunity
Helping all Americans access the digital economy requires efforts on multiple fronts. Access, affordability, and digital skills training all play vital roles in digital equity. A sometimes overlooked aspect of digital equity is access to devices. So CBAN is excited to have a new member that has been putting technology in the hands of people for nearly 30 years - Digitunity.
Digitunity helps bridge the digital divide by advancing device ownership for all Americans. They partner, lead, coordinate, educate, ignite and unite people, ideas, and solutions. We are excited to add them to the CBAN community!
Mi-Fiber Joins CBAN
CBAN would like to welcome Mi-Fiber as CBAN's newest Provider member!
Mi-Fiber provides fiber broadband services in central Iowa, focusing on the suburbs of Des Moines. Mi-Fiber is a subsidiary of CBAN member GRM Networks, and established a foothold in the region by building fiber-to-the-home in Waukee, Iowa. Since then they have expanded services into parts of West Des Moines, Grimes, Polk City, Ankeny, Bondurant, and Pleasant Hill. Their office is in Urbandale, Iowa.
From Curtis Dean of CBAN: On a personal note, I am SO EXCITED to now be connected to the Mi-Fiber network at my home near the border of West Des Moines and Waukee! It is the first time in 13 years I have been able to receive service from a community-focused company that treats its customers like neighbors, not numbers!
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.