A leaked six-page draft of the White House infrastructure plan contains little mention of broadband, focusing most of its attention -- and funding -- on roads, bridges, tunnels and similar physical construction investments.
It also does not include specific dollar amounts of either the funding or what partners are expected to bring to a deal. But the document is the closest the public has come to seeing President Donald Trump's long-time pledge to spend $1 trillion on the United States' infrastructure.
First posted by Axios, the plan recommends that 50% of appropriations are spent on "Infrastructure Investment Initiatives" that use grants to encourage private and local investment in projects. About one-fourth of monies would go to a "Rural Infrastructure Program," and 10% would be designated for "Transformative Projects Program," the plan said.
The federal government would pay, at most, 20% of these Infrastructure Investment costs. That's half the current 40% rate the government currently pays for transportation and water infrastructure build-out, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But it would pay up to 80% of capital construction costs for Transformative Projects. As Laura Bliss wrote in CityLab, perhaps Elon Musk was right: Taxpayers will pay for his Hyperloop.
The remainder of these infrastructure funds would be split between increasing existing federal lending programs to grow investments (7%) and to create a "revolving fund [for] purchases of federally owned civilian real property" (5%), according to the document.
Nothing in this plan specifically addresses broadband infrastructure, despite many conversations and lobbying efforts leading up to the creation of this leaked document.
Reed Cordish, a White House tech policy advisor, told an Internet Association conference that the administration had a comprehensive, 70-page memo of infrastructure principles, according to The Hill . After being finalized, the White House planned to submit it to Congress for use as a building block lawmakers could use to draft an infrastructure package, he said.
Statehood rights rule
The leaked plan abides by President Donald Trump's goal of a smaller federal role in paying for and overseeing infrastructure projects. For example, the document includes the elimination of the federal government's restrictions on interstate tolling.
Governors will have flexibility in how they use their Rural Infrastructure funds, able to plunk down dollars on everything from transportation and flood risk management to electricity transmission and broadband, including "other high-speed data and communication conduits."
It's smart to leave more controls in the hands of local governors; who knows more about the needs of a state than the man or woman elected to oversee that region? And, of course, rural broadband gets additional funding from other federal sources. But it's unclear how much infrastructure money would actually go to rural communities to deliver broadband services and whether any underserved suburban or urban regions get access to this funding too.
There is another glimmer of connected light within the Transformative Project category, which the Department of Commerce will oversee. Covered sectors include telecommunications, as well as transportation, clean and drinking water, energy and commercial space, the plan said.
Reading the specifications, this project bodes well for CSPs -- but perhaps not cable operators -- involved in smart cities (and maybe, smart homes). The program demands that "applicable projects must be exploratory and ground-breaking ideas that have more risk than standard infrastructure projects but offer a larger reward profile." Providers compete for federal funding and technical assistance for their "innovative and transformative infrastructure projects" because they've been unsuccessful garnering private sector funding because of their programs' uniqueness, the White House wrote.
Applicants can apply for all or specific tracks from a list that includes planning, construction and deployment; evaluation of demo trials; project planning and capital construction.
Because this program is contracted as a financial partnership agreement, if it generates profits the federal government has the right to share in any fiscal gain although it would not be on the board or own any intellectual property. In addition, the applicant is subject to rules including minimum match requirements and Commerce Department administration.
"We are not going to comment on the contents of a leaked document but look forward to presenting our plan in the near future," White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told Axios.
Deploying DOCSIS 3.1 across its entire footprint gave Rogers Communications the ability to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s,
contributing to a broadband segement that generated about 60% of the Canadian operator's $3.05 billion (US) in Q4 cable earnings.
On Jan. 23, Broadband World News hosts a Calix-sponsored webinar that explores several ways CSPs can enhance customer experience and find new business opportunities to avoid devolving into a speed race where nobody wins, not even the customer.
As the pool of savvy, fiber-rich operators across the US rural and regional landscape wanes, the financial community will grow even more interested in acquiring or investing in them, a CoBank report says.
It wasn't long ago that TV was ranked by subscribers as the most important service in the bundle provided by their communications service provider (CSP). Recent research indicates that for nearly three quarters of subscribers, broadband is now the most important service. Broadcast TV is the most important service to only 15% of North American consumers, replaced by OTT video streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. In addition, many different competitors are moving aggressively to stake a claim in consumers' homes.
In 2020, CSPs need to fight back by transforming their business models, which are becoming more reliant on a single source of revenue: fixed broadband services.
This webinar will focus on helping CSPs transform their business models by placing a firm focus on delivering a sensational subscriber experience and by offering compelling new services that generate value for subscribers. These actions will reinforce the CSP's strategic position in the home network and position themselves for growth in the next decade.
Key topics include:
Being the first to market with WiFi 6 technology, in response to consumer purchases of new devices over the holidays;
Having the insights needed to proactively resolve issues, often before your subscribers even know that there are issues;
Providing help desk agents with the visibility they need to resolve common subscriber issues more quickly;
Delivering a mobile app, in response to consumer demands for the ability to do some things themselves, rather than having to call technical support; and
Addressing consumer concerns around device security, privacy and control with enhanced security and parental controls.
In this insightful Light Reading radio show, Kurt Raaflaub, Head of Strategic Solutions Marketing, will outline the key service provider challenges, deployment considerations, next-gen Gigabit technologies, and service models to win market share in the rapidly growing MDU market.