The Challenges of Closing the Digital Divide

I prefer to leave politics out of the delivery of broadband services across the United States, but it is a topic that is highly politicized because of government involvement. The “New York Times” interviewed FCC Commissioner Mig Clyburn with a decidedly supportive position that there exists an ever increasing digital divide. Articles like this one are not surprising with presidential candidates playing up class envy and income inequality to drum up votes. The interviewer did not ask tough questions or challenge Mig’s responses. Apparently the editors did not feel the need to do any fact checking either.

This interview contains inaccuracies that lead readers to believe that broadband deployments are also subject to the “great divide” that the media is constantly touting. Actually the opposite is true. Every new broadband deployment has a plan to cover low-income areas and provide free or subsidized broadband for low-income residents. These plans are independent of whether a local municipality or commercial enterprise are building the networks. Rural communities are taking matters into their own hands in several places and building their own broadband networks when no commercial provider will serve their area. Urban areas are the easiest to cover due to their density and short loop lengths. Urban areas typically have multiple service providers offering competition and discounted rates to low-income housing that suburban customers do not typically receive.
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Open Access

A key problem in improving Internet access has been ensuring residents and local businesses have high quality services. One means of ensuring high quality is via competition – if people can switch away from their Internet Service Provider, the ISP has an incentive to provide better services. However, the high cost of building networks is a barrier for new ISPs to enter the market – limiting the number of options for communities. Open access provides a solution: multiple providers sharing the same physical network.

Publicly owned, open access networks can create a vibrant and innovative market for telecommunications services. Municipalities build the physical infrastructure (fiber-optic lines, wireless access points, etc.) and independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operate in a competitive market using the same physical network. In this competitive marketplace, ISPs compete for customers and have incentives to innovate rather than simply locking out competitors with a de facto monopoly.  Continue reading

Siklu, the Urban Neighborhood Initiative and KC Digital Drive Announce Gigabit Project Using Fiber-Like Wireless

English: Picture taken from the Liberty Memori...

English: Picture taken from the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO. High Resolution. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Following the 2016 Gigabit City Summit, Siklu Communications, Ltd, the Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI), KC Digital Drive, Next Century Cities and a host of other partners are excited to announce an innovative project to bring gigabit Internet speeds to local residents and institutions in the UNI footprint and in the city’s historic East Side. Using hybrid fiber-wireless technologies – connecting to the existing fiber backbone provided by KC Web – this project will bring wireless gigabit service to the community beginning this May.

This project is a continuation of Siklu’s commitment to bring communities online and, the partnership with KC Digital Drive and UNI will help revitalize the east side of the city. Consistent with Kansas City’s innovative approach to piloting multiple fiber solutions in search of the right fit for every neighborhood, the coalition is exploring how Millimeter Wave (mmWave) wireless technology can effectively supplement wireline connectivity. This technology extends the reach of existing fiber and will bring gigabit services to some of Kansas City’s oldest buildings and underserved communities.

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AT&T Expands Gigabit Service in Four Cities

by Karl Bode

AT&T today announced the company has expanded availability of its U-verse Gigapower-branded gigabit fiber service in four cities: Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Atlanta and Kansas City. While AT&T’s overall fixed-line CAPEX has been dropping, the company continues to push fiber into housing developments, college campuses, and other areas where deployment costs are minimal. Speaking to investors during the first earnings call, AT&T CTO John Stephens said the company was on schedule to meet the commitments attached to the DirecTV acquisition.

“We’ll continue to expand our 100% fiber AT&T GigaPower network to additional locations,” AT&T says of the expansion. “We’re planning to triple availability by the end of 2016.”

As is traditionally AT&T’s practice, most of these deployments will be made available to high-end housing developments, and the company isn’t specifically stating just how many customers are actually able to get the service. Users in our forums are often frustrated to be told they’re in a launched market, only to realize AT&T’s fiber is deployed nowhere near their home. Continue reading

Tired of waiting, rich enclave may build fast Internet

By Dan McSwain

A flirtation with socialism in uber-capitalist Rancho Santa Fe could influence how telecommunications service is delivered to the rest of us in San Diego County.

On Thursday, the elected board that oversees land use in the wealthy rural enclave took a step toward building a super-fast, fiber-optic communications system that would reach each home and business. Here’s the twist: The system would be financed and owned by the public, with a telecom firm building and managing the network as a hired hand.

Internet speeds would start at 1 gigabits (1 billion bits) per second and top out at 10 gbps, or roughly 850 times the average U.S. connection of 11.7 megabits per second. Continue reading

Town evaluates high speed Internet options

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By Paul Krajewski

The Town of High River is exploring high speed Internet options for local homes and businesses, while Axia, an Internet service provider, attempts to drum up support for its plan to build the fiber optic cable infrastructure needed to support the service. “The original idea of engaging Axia was to benefit economic development, especially after the flood,” said Kent Blair, manager of information services for the Town of High River. He said that along with providing widespread residential access, the town is focused on improving access in key business areas including the downtown core, the 12th Avenue corridor and the east side industrial park. Continue reading

Progress Edition: Laying the groundwork: MPW installs fiber for faster Internet

Melissa Caliger

MUSCATINE, Iowa — Imagine Internet speeds capable of downloading 12 TV shows, 900 songs and one High Definition movie in 36 seconds.

Muscatine Power and Water officials say it is possible and they have a plan to make surfing the web a better experience by increasing Internet speeds and a switch from coaxial cable wiring to lightning-fast fiber-optic cable by the end of 2017.

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