Under President Donald Trump's infrastructure plan, the federal government will place control of $40 billion of the $50 billion allotted to rural infrastructure in the hands of each state's governor.
States then will decide when and how to use these funds on rural capital infrastructure investments such as broadband, power generation, water facilities, transportation or other assets, according to a blog posted on WhiteHouse.gov on Feb. 20.
The feds will distribute the remaining 20% of the $50 billion as "rural performance grants" based on competitive criteria, including more rural broadband investment. Some funding will also be dedicated to Native American tribes and territories, the blog said.
In addition, the plan aims to accelerate deployment for fiber, towers and other broadband infrastructure by "incentivizing private capital investment," including public-private partnerships where allowed by law. Trump wants at least $1.5 trillion in new investment for all infrastructure and to abbreviate the project approval process to two years. (See 7 Best Practices for Broadband Public-Private Partnerships.)
Co-sponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), the bill mandates the inclusion of broadband infrastructure in any federal transportation projects in rural America. For example, if federal monies fund the construction of new highways or lane additions, broadband technology -- such as fiber -- must be installed so multiple providers then can use it to deploy services to residents and businesses.
"Access to broadband is access to the modern economy," Gardner said in a statement. "This bill would make federal construction projects more efficient by encouraging simultaneous construction of transportation and broadband infrastructure."
Although some states, like Idaho and Utah, already have a dig-once policy, this bill will help service providers cut unnecessary costs and accelerate deployment, thereby allowing them to more quickly deliver services to rural customers -- and begin earning a return on their not insubstantial investment, Jason Williams, CEO of Blackfoot Telecommunications told the Missoulian. (See Get 'Dig Once' Out of Its Rut.)
"Any time steps are taken to eliminate or reduce the amount of permitting we have to do in order to deploy broadband, it's a good thing. This bill takes important steps to limit the overhead involved with putting more broadband facilities in the ground," he said. "The Idaho Department of Transportation [has] a program where whenever they have highway construction they put an empty conduit in the ground. Then they can lease out that empty conduit. It's a great way of doing business because fiber is cheap, but construction is expensive."
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.