FCC Votes To Ease Wireless Infrastructure Deployment

This is how government should be behaving. They should be removing the hurdles for business and society to advance.

The FCC voted unanimously Friday (Oct. 17) to make it easier to deploy wireless infrastructure, yet another step in the commission’s broader move to spur broadband deployment.

The item extends various exclusions from environmental and historical impact restrictions for wireless buildouts, including co-locations of new equipment on existing structures, and clarifies that shot clocks and other measures to ease infrastructure buildouts extend to distributed antenna systems and small cells.

State and local entities won’t be able to deny further modifications of existing sites that do not change the physical dimensions, and fixes a 60-day deadline for action.
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Google has been rapidly testing and deploying a variety of high speed internet delivery systems. The first volley for consumers was its Google Fiber gigbit internet access, which saw municipalities in the US competing to present their cities as the best fit for high speed access. Then, CivSource reported on a constortium of tech companies including Google, which were deploying TV White Space Broadband, sometimes called Super Wifi. Now, the company appears to be testing millimeter wave technology to provide wireless broadband according to a recent public FCC filing.

Millimeter wave technology uses the frequency spectrum from 30 GHz to 300 GHz, between microwave and infrared waves. Historically, like TV White Space (TVWS), these parts of the spectrum haven’t really been used. It the case of TVWS, that technology relies on extra and empty TV channels to transmit broadband access over long distances like they already transmit TV stations. Until the last decade or so, few devices could transmit millimeter waves but now the technology is more economical. Millimeter waves have been floated as a 5G network for mobile phones as well.

The battle for spectrum among technology providers and governments has already been high profile, with major telecommunications companies like Verizon and Comcast going to every spectrum auction they can to bolster their private networks. The development of FirstNet also touches on the scarcity and politicized nature of spectrum use as program administrators try to find spectrum bands that can be allocated to first responders.

If successful in commercial use cases, millimeter wave technology would allow for more spectrum for all of these networks, and would also be able to transmit bulky data wirelessly. However, there are limitations. As readers might guess from the word millimeter, these waves don’t go that far. The magazine Electronic Design breaks down just how much you might expect from millimeter waves without further technological innovation.

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S.F. Plans to Speed Up Installation of Fiber Optic Network

Trenching for a fiber optic installation in Wo...

Trenching for a fiber optic installation in Worcester, Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A plan that goes before San Francisco supervisors next week would speed up the installation of a fiber optic network in the city.

Under the proposal, the city’s Department of Technology would be required in many instances to make sure conduits for a fiber network are installed when trenches are dug for electrical or sewer work, according to a story in the San Francisco Examiner.

The goal, city officials say, is to expand the existing fiber network to provide a strong, quick wireless Internet service throughout the city.

Currently, San Francisco has 140 miles of fiber conduit that connects police stations, office buildings and public safety radio sites. The system provides free public WiFi along Market Street, in public buildings such as City Hall and in 32 public places where service was launched last week.

The “dig once” proposal was approved Monday by the supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Development Committee.

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Governor Brown signs community broadband bond financing bills into law

I am not convinced that the wording of this new law explicitly allows for the issue of bonds for broadband infrastructure. I do like the fact that California cities are changing road building practices and zoning to build broadband infrastructure. Also, I agree that fiber, ducts, right-of-ways, and other physical media components of a broadband network should be considered infrastructure. Governments know how to build long-term infrastructure projects for the most part which are too expensive for each service provider to do on their own. I wish more state and local governments would support policies allowing for the financing and building of broadband last-mile infrastructure.

Cities and other local agencies in California will be able to issue bonds to pay for building broadband infrastructure, thanks to two new laws approved by Governor Brown yesterday. Assembly bill 2292 and senate bill 628 expand the use of infrastructure financing districts (IFDs), on the one hand specifically allowing broadband to be included in old-style IFDs and creating a new kind, called enhanced infrastructure financing districts, on the other. In both cases, the bonds can be repaid by earmarking the incremental tax revenue that the project is expected to produce. Continue reading

How Come My ISP Won’t Increase Internet Speed and Lower My Bill, Like They Do in Sweden?

We Americans are getting addicted to our high-speed broadband connections. Unfortunately, they are often slower and more expensive than the Internet hook-ups you can grab in many other developed nations.

For example, my brother pays $40 a month for his 100-megabit broadband connection in Karlstad, Sweden. He can take his pick from 19 different service providers, all using a common last-mile infrastructure and competing on price and features. For $70 a month, he could upgrade to a full gigabit. Continue reading

Municipal Broadband: A Bad Deal For Taxpayers

Please read my accompanying blog article.

There has long been a heated debate over the merit of government-run broadband networks, of which there are currently over 100 operating in municipalities around the country. Proponents of government-owned broadband networks, such as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler, claim they introduce competition into the market, while critics point  them as an inappropriate use of tax dollars and an example of government improperly competing with the private sector.

The inherent problem with municipal broadband is that government entities are incapable of fairly competing in the free market, as they are taxpayer-backed and therefore able to charge less for a service than it actually costs. Private businesses cannot do this, as doing so would result in bankruptcy. Continue reading

Municipal Broadband From a Different Perspective

I’m going to step into it big time here and make a bold comment. We have too many politicians and lawyers trying involved in driving broadband services and not enough business people and engineers. Politicians and lawyers should be trying to facilitate the penetration of broadband services, not drive the business. We have technical solutions to these issues, but they have yet to really gain traction in the U.S. for the reasons I mentioned above.

Like too many issues in our society, this one seems to boils down to whether you believe in big or limited government. The big government types are perfectly willing to compete or eliminate commercial enterprises in the name of fairness or some other lofty goal. The truth is that they always have an ulterior motive. Municipal broadband enterprises are at best a 50/50 proposition, but those odds are not sufficient in my view when it comes to sticking taxpayers with the bill. Our Constitution says nothing about guaranteeing citizens the right to the Internet nor is it a public safety issue. Universal Service was a deal concocted by AT&T with the Federal Government to allow their monopoly to continue. When divestiture occurred, it was a holdover for the RBOC. 
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