How should we handle areas currently covered by FCC high cost programs in the context of the BEAD funding?
The Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) program is a monthly subsidy from the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund (USF) that covers about 1.27 million Broadband Serviceable Locations. A-CAM's funding comes from a surcharge on phone bills. But the “contribution base” — the number of phone lines — is shrinking. That means to generate the same amount of money, the percentage of the total phone bill needs to go up. That’s been happening quarter-over-quarter for years.
State challenge processes are not a panacea for broadband map issues
Should states run their own broadband mapping challenges? States could choose to award grants in an technology-aware manner, adding 3.1 million locations currently served or underserved by DSL or 25/3 fixed wireless, which would have the same — or an even better — effect. There are 218,878 locations where a DSL offering is advertising 100 Mbps download throughput and 20 Mbps upload throughput or better, and there is no other offering to the location that would serve them at 100/20.
The weird cable coverage submission in Arkansas
If you zoom into Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband map, it doesn’t take long to realize something doesn’t look right.
Evaluating claims about unlicensed fixed wireless
The wireless industry is out with a new paper that claims, “The bias [towards fiber to the home] ‘could increase costs by upwards of $30 to $60 billion depending on the distribution of fiber deployment costs for the unserved locations.’” It also says “[excluding unlicensed fixed wireless] ‘unambiguously adds’ at least 1.9 million new locations calling for government-funded overbuilding with [Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment] BEAD funds”. As both my
Unserved and Underserved is a distinction without a difference
Senator John Thune (R-SD) recently asked broadband stakeholders what Congress could do to improve the Infrastructure Improvement and Jobs Act (IIJA) with respect to broadband.
How far might the broadband funding go? An update with data from the new maps
An earlier model estimated how far the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding might go, using estimates of the unserved and underserved from the old Form 477 data. The prediction was that with an optimal allocation between states, there would be almost enough money to reach all the unserved and underserved. Well, we’re getting closer to real and final data, and an update is in: $41.4 billion at an average national cost of $6,214 per location should reach 6.7 million locations.
Comparing broadband access to adoption in urban, suburban, and rural America
New Federal Communications Commission maps that measure broadband access, and new American Community Survey data that measure adoption, show that only 64.4% of rural American households have access to broadband at 100/20 throughput. Most, 58.8%, subscribe to broadband, a gap of less than 6 percentage points. Even with new FCC maps, 98.5% of urban households have access to broadband, but only 73% subscribe.
Update: Comparing the New FCC Fabric to the Census
The Federal Communications Commission released a file that contains the number of “units” (usually housing units) in the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric). There are 158 million “units” in the Fabric and 140 million housing units in the 2020 Census. In the least dense 2,143 counties, there are 30 million “units” in the Fabric and 24.5 million Census housing units. As counties get more rural, the Fabric increasingly has more locations than the Census. In the least dense counties, the Fabric routinely has 40% more locations than the Census.
Do the state challenges to the FCC maps really matter for BEAD?
As the January 13 deadline looms for states to challenge the current Federal Communications Commission broadband coverage map, many states are asking for more time. I'm starting to wonder, however, whether more time is actually all that important. The FCC process is NOT building a location-level map of actual delivered broadband speeds, but rather a map of the performance that providers say they can deliver if a customer requests it. So let's try to put all of this together and see what it means. For me, a few key takeaways stand out (All of this is not to say that state efforts to understa
Gerrymandering may come to broadband buildout, courtesy of the 80% rule
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is clear: the $42.5 billion for broadband buildout should prioritize projects for the unserved. Specifically, states should prioritize projects where 80% of the locations served by the project are unserved. It may be impossible to reach all the unserved with projects that are 80% or more unserved without gerrymandering the project areas or changing the rules. Census block groups work well as a proxy for broadband project areas because they’re not too big and not too small.