Electric cooperatives in Georgia have proposed policies aimed at spurring rural broadband deployments. The cooperatives call the proposed policies the Georgia Solution. Although some Georgia electric cooperatives have proposed to build broadband networks in the rural communities they serve, those deployments are not the focus of the Georgia Solution.
The nation’s largest publicly held carriers had until Sept 28 to advise the Federal Communications Commission if they elect to receive a seventh year of support in the Connect America Fund (CAF) program, and at least some of them have opted to do so. AT&T, Frontier, and CenturyLink sent letters to the FCC electing to accept the seventh year of CAF support.
The city of McAllen (TX) is tapping unlicensed Citizen Band Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum to provide backhaul for a citywide Wi-Fi hotspot deployment aimed at enabling students in the city to gain internet connectivity to support distance learning during COVID-19. A large percentage of students are low income and do not have high-speed broadband at home. Many of the costs of constructing the network were covered through a CARES Act grant.
MoffettNathanson researchers say funding through the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction and other government programs could play a key role in fueling rural cable broadband footprint growth. To date, cable footprint growth has been minimal, according to the researchers, who note that Comcast’s footprint has grown at an average rate of 1.1% annually since 2016 and that Charter’s has grown an average of .7% per year over the same period.
The US is set to get another satellite broadband provider that uses a non-geostationary orbit (NGSO) approach. The Federal Communications Commission has approved market access to OneWeb, a NGSO satellite broadband operator that filed for bankruptcy earlier in 2020 but is back in action after receiving an investment from the British government. NGSO operators use constellations of satellites that orbit the earth at lower altitudes in comparison with traditional geostationary satellites.
The COVID-19 impact on telecommunication business revenues hasn’t been as bad as financial analysts at MoffettNathanson expected it to be. But the worst is yet to come.
The Federal Communications Commission is seeking input on how it should prepare its 2021 annual broadband deployment report. The report, which is intended to determine whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner, traditionally generates controversy, and 2021 is likely to be no exception – particularly considering that the FCC is proposing few changes to the methodology and definitions used in the 2020 report. The most controversial element of the proposed plan is likely to be the minimum broadband speed definition.
Fifteen Mississippi rural electric cooperatives have won a combined total of $65 million in rural broadband funding through the CARES Act passed earlier in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The money came indirectly through the state, which carved out $75 million for rural broadband from a larger pool of funding it received through the act. The rural electric cooperatives must spend the funding they were awarded before the end of the year and must invest an additional $65 million of their own in the broadband projects.
A lot of hopes are riding on the auction of spectrum in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band, which has a start date of July 23. The spectrum is considered mid-band – and industry stakeholders increasingly see mid-band spectrum offering the optimum mixture of bandwidth and coverage for 5G deployments. Perhaps no one has higher hopes for the auction than Verizon, which is light on mid-band spectrum holdings.
Frontier has filed a waiver request with the Federal Communications Commission, the resolution of which could impact the company’s ability to participate in Phase 1 of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction, scheduled to begin in Oct. Frontier entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April.