CCG Consulting

ACP Fraud

I would wager that most of the supposed Affordable Connectivity Program fraud is coming from cellular carriers. My suggestion is that we stop using ACP to subsidize cellular service. The underlying concept of ACP is to get better broadband to folks, and I don’t care how you try to justify it—cell phone data is not a substitute for home broadband. Many people claim that they only use their cellphone as a broadband connection, but if they are more than a casual broadband user, they are probably getting most of their broadband through WiFi connections on somebody else’s broadband connection.

The Three Broadband Gaps

I think there are three distinct broadband gaps that together define the broadband availability gap – the rural broadband gap, the urban affordability gap, and what I call the competition gap. Nobody is talking about what I call the competition gap. Most places in the US have only one ISP that can deliver fast broadband of speeds greater than 100/20 Mbps. Why does this matter? It is becoming clear that the majority of people and businesses nationwide want relatively fast broadband.

Google Moonshot Delivering Wireless Backhaul

You may recall a number of years ago when Google experimented with delivering broadband from balloons in an effort labeled Project Loon. The project was eventually dropped, but a remnant of the project has now resurfaced as Taara—broadband delivered terrestrially by lasers. Project Loon functioned by beaming broadband from dirigible to receivers on the ground, and Taara sprung out of the idea of using those same lasers for terrestrial broadband. Taara claims to be able to beam as much as 20 gigabits for 20 kilometers (12 miles).

Is Broadband Essential?

There is an easy way to simplify the upcoming battle between the Federal Communications Commission and big internet service providers (ISPs) over Title II regulation and net neutrality. The public expects the government to regulate industries that are essential. That’s the reason we regulate electric companies and drinking water quality. It’s the reason we regulate meat and drug safety.

Reinventing ReConnect

It’s my understanding that the annual Agriculture Reauthorization Bill includes new money for the ReConnect grant program that is administered by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which is part of the Department of Agriculture. The ReConnect grants only fund areas that are remote and include a test that gives priorities to grant areas that are the farthest distance from towns and cities. There have been changes in the broadband industry that have made it harder each year to define a ReConnect grant area. The RUS grant rules favor grant requests that cover large contiguous areas.

Broadband Choice

One of the most questionable facts circulating in the broadband industry is that a large percentage of homes in the country have multiple internet service provider (ISP) options. A recent U.S. News and World Report states that the FCC data shows that 94 percent of homes have a choice of three or more ISPs. I’ve seen similar statistics elsewhere, and it’s not hard to see that this information comes from the latest FCC mapping data. I’m not surprised to find that the FCC maps show that 94 percent of homes in the country have three or more ISPs claiming the ability to provide service.

Defining Broadband Discrimination

One of the provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is that it requires the Federal Communications Commission to “take steps to ensure that all people of the United States benefit from equal access to broadband internet access within the service area of a provider of such service.” In legalese, the term equal access, in this case, means that consumers should be able to expect to get the same speed, capacity, and latency as other customers buying the same product from the same internet service provider (ISP) sold elsewhere.

An Alternate to the FCC Maps

It’s been easy to criticize the Federal Communications Commission broadband coverage maps since they are still full of errors and fantasy. I don’t foresee the maps getting any better as long as internet service providers (ISPs) can continue to decide what they want to report in terms of broadband coverage and speeds. Too many ISPs have reasons for reporting maps they know are inaccurate, and it’s hard to think that’s going to change.

Criticizing BEAD

A report from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) highlights some of the problems and issues of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant program. Sen. Cruz's first criticism of BEAD is that the allocation gives too much funding to places that have good broadband and don’t need the money—like Washington (DC) and Delaware.

Labor Downsizing

I’m mystified when large internet service providers (ISP) and carriers have significant layoffs at a time when they seem to be doing well; it’s a pattern that we’ve seen over and over during the last several decades. The latest big layoff is coming from T-Mobile, which announced in August that it is eliminating 5,000 jobs, about 7 percent of its total workforce.