The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) just announced plans to unleash more than $1 billion in fresh funding for rural broadband via its Broadband ReConnect Program, but not everyone is rejoicing. Claude Aiken, CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), warned new rules adopted for the latest funding round could effectively cut fixed wireless access providers out of the running.
Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) President and CEO Gary Bolton said, "It feels like the tide has changed where experienced providers are now realizing there’s a role for them to help, whether it’s a utility or a municipality or any community effort to put broadband in." Bolton noted the topic of public-private partnerships emerged unexpectedly as a key theme of FBA's Fiber Connect conference in July.
AT&T is preparing to upgrade customers in three Louisiana towns to GPON fiber after Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on its copper assets. In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T said Hurricane Ida “significantly damaged” its copper cables and terminals in Baton Rouge, Denham Springs and Zachary (LA) when it made landfall in late August 2021.
Nokia is throwing its weight behind an initiative it calls Broadband Zero, aiming to help connect as many people as possible with a minimal impact on the environment. Sandy Motley, President of Fixed Networks at Nokia, said the company’s Broadband Zero campaign is based on four key pillars: zero left behind, zero limits, zero touch and zero waste. She explained the first pillar is focused on applying fiber and fixed wireless access (FWA) technologies to connect every home and building as quickly as possible.
Virgin Media O2 is on course to double the broadband speeds available on its existing cable network, following a pair of real-world trials which delivered 2.2 Gbps. The operator said the tests conducted in Edinburgh and Birmingham utilized DOCSIS 3.1 technology alongside Virgin Media O2’s Hub 4 router, which is offered as standard to customers taking its 1 Gbps service.
Convergence between wireline and wireless networks is one of those ideas that feels like it’s perpetually on the horizon. But a perfect storm of industry trends – virtualization, disaggregation, 5G, fiber, cloudification – has finally come together to bring the long-sought-after approach within reach. Dave Allan, distinguished engineer at Ericsson and leader of the Broadband Forum’s Wireless-Wireline Convergence Work Area, summed up why convergence is such a big deal and why operators continue to chase it.
Rural operator American Broadband purchased the fiber assets of Nebraska provider BNT Broadband as part of what executives characterized as an aggressive growth strategy. American Broadband and its family of brands (including Cameron Communications and TelAkaska), provide voice, video and broadband service to rural communities across Nebraska, Missouri, Alaska, Louisiana and Texas. Chief Strategy Officer Jim Patterson stated the operator currently passes just under 60,000 homes and has customer relationships with about 60 to 65 percent of those.
Federal Communications Commissioner Nathan Simington argued wireline technology might not be the best broadband solution for every use case. Commissioner Simington discussed the question of whether fiber should be rolled out to every American, explaining some have argued that the US should pursue universal fiber deployments in the same way the country went about electrification. The commissioner stated “obviously fiber is a very robust technology” but it’s not necessarily one that everyone wants or needs.
Utah-based open access network provider UTOPIA Fiber struck a deal to help Montana-based wholesale operator Bozeman Fiber complete a $65 million network expansion. Bozeman Fiber currently runs an open access fiber ring in the city of Bozeman (MT) serving local government and education facilities as well as more than 200 commercial customers. Its new initiative with UTOPIA Fiber seeks to grow that footprint to deliver fiber-to-the-premises to 22,000 homes and businesses there. The three-year project is expected to begin in the first half of 2022.