CCG Consulting

Rural Cellular Coverage

The cellular coverage in rural areas is drastically different than the national coverage maps that cellular carriers have been advertising for years. The Federal Communications Commission announced a process to address this issue in October 2020 when it announced the creation of a 5G Fund for Rural America. This will be a $9 billion fund that comes from the Universal Service Fund and that will provide subsidies for wireless carriers to build and equip new rural cell towers.

The Need for Mid-Band Spectrum

5G Americas recently released its annual white paper discussing the lack of activity at the Federal Communications Commission in making more mid-band spectrum available for cellular broadband. Midband spectrum is an industry-defined term for the spectrum between 1 GHz and 7 GHz spectrum. This is the sweet spot for cellular broadband because these bands of spectrum can cover the distances needed for cell phone data with a decent amount of bandwidth. The paper laments that there are no actions currently at the FCC to consider

Buy America and BEAD

In the State of the Union speech earlier in 2023, President Biden made it clear that he wants to see the monies spent on infrastructure projects follow the Buy America rules. The law says that purchasing funded by the US government should have a preference for using American-made products. The rules allow for waivers from this provision, but the presumption is that without a waiver that American goods must be used.

Shutting Down Obsolete Technologies

Verizon admitted that shutting down the 3G cellular networks cost it about 1.1 million retail cellular customers along with the corresponding revenues. This was long expected because there are still a lot of places where 3G technology was the only cellular signal available to rural customers living in remote areas, and a lot of people were still happy with 3G flip phones even where 4G was available. Verizon has been trying to shut down the 3G network for at least five years, but its original plans got delayed due to discussions with the Federal Communications Commission and then got further

The Increasing Cost of Building Fiber

AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches said that the cost of building fiber has increased and that those costs are pushing up against the company’s goal of not spending more than $900 – $1,000 per new fiber passing. Any time I see a broadband provider talking about fiber costs, my first question is: What's included in the costs? AT&T’s low target number highlights two things – its advantage of being able to overlash, and a willingness to skip neighborhoods with higher costs. AT&T’s low target price also highlights that the company is shooting for a higher margin goal than most overbuilders.

Should DSL Cost Less Than Fiber?

How do big broadband providers get away with charging the same prices in urban areas for both slow and fast broadband? An Associated Press article found that one customer was paying the same price for 1 Mbps DSL from AT&T as other city residents were paying for a fiber connection. It would be easy to justify charging the same price for both technologies if AT&T was in the process of converting everybody in New Orleans to fiber, but this is not the case.

Businesses Rely on Broadband

I don’t think most folks understand the extent to which businesses are adapting to broadband. One of the best examples I can give you is to talk about a specific business. It’s a casual bar/restaurant that attracts customers by offering good food and arcade games for customers. Consider the following ways this one local business uses broadband:


There is a good chance that if you are reading this blog you are well-versed in a fair amount of telecommunications industry jargon. Every segment of the industry has its own jargon. Wireless folks know what’s meant when a colleague talks about MIMO, QAM, and RAN. Fiber folks understand what is meant by OLT, jitter, and backscattering. Cable company folk can talk about DAA, CMTS, and DOCSIS. The folks that finance broadband networks talk about yield, basis points, and acid tests. Regulators all know what is meant by NARUC, NOI, and CPNI. It’s hard to avoid using jargon.

Replacing Poles

When ased for an estimate of the cost of building aerial fiber, I always say that the cost is dependent upon the amount of required make-ready needed. Make-ready is well-named—it’s any work that must be done on poles to be ready to string the new fiber. Broadband providers complain when saddled with the full cost of pole replacement. Many of the issues described above should more rightfully be borne by the pole owner. But the federal and most state make-ready rules put the entire cost burden of a pole replacement on the new attacher. Poles don’t last forever.

Net Neutrality Again?

There is an interesting recent discussion in Europe about net neutrality that has relevance to the US broadband market. The European Commission that oversees telecommunications and broadband has started taking comments on a proposal to force content generators like Netflix to pay fees to Internet service providers (ISP) for using the Internet.