By changing one of its operator-funding programs, the Federal Communications Commission expects to raise rural broadband's speed, encouraging operators to provide country subscribers with the same, higher Internet connectivity their urban counterparts enjoy.
That's the word from Ajit Pai, FCC chairman, according to a recent blog. Just before Thanksgiving, Pai shared his plans for the FCC's upcoming open meeting, slated for Dec. 12 from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm ET (viewable live or via webcast). In addition to 5G, robocalls and media ownership, Pai discussed changes he wants made to at least one way the FCC finances the demise of the digital divide.
This program addresses Universal Service Funds (usually collected from each mobile phone user's bill via separate line item), specifically the high-cost program that subsidizes rural carriers, also known as rate-of-return providers. These operators build broadband networks in the country's most remote and difficult to serve regions, generally serving only sparse populations over their networks, he said.
Private enterprises are loathe to enter these regions because they have little to no business case. As subsidized programs, the FCC must stretch taxpayer money as far as possible and ensure subsidies are sufficient to build out these networks, Pai said. In addition, subsidies must be predictable given the time it requires to design and deploy this infrastructure, he noted.
"After all, building networks is a serious long-term proposition, not a one-time whim. Unfortunately, for many, many years, the program hasn't satisfied each of these important principles," Pai said. "We're recognizing that rural Americans need and deserved high-quality services by increasing the target speeds for subsidized deployments from 10/1 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps."
The FCC will change how it compensates providers by steering them from today's incentive-based model. Rather, the commission will use a "more efficient, effective way of distributing funding to close the digital divide," wrote Pai.
Here's how the FCC expects providers to deliver on this plan:
Agency stops telling rate-of-return carriers their allowable costs and return on investment.
If new program is approved, rate-of-return providers can opt-in to model-based support.
This approach delivers guaranteed revenue streams for 10 years in exchange for meeting specified buildout requirements.
FCC will give more funding to carriers that now get model-based support and agree to attain increased buildout requirements.
The commission plans also to increase funding for non-model-based support providers. Pai did not provide specific dollar amounts or percentages for either scenario.
By ending "arbitrary funding cuts" and creating a long-term budget for rate-of-return providers that did not opt into model-based support, the FCC makes the rural broadband's subsidized deployment program more predictable, Pai said.
Rural operators and their vendor partners -- some of which have on-staff experts proficient in government programs and the best-suited technologies for the wide array of physical, weather and other obstacles in the countryside -- are accustomed to program changes, tweaks and endings. Will they view these changes as a gift from Santa or a holiday turkey?
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In a new report and searchable database, Broadband Now discovered fiber is the is the least expensive technology powering subscribers' connections. But the poorest, most rural residents pay the most for connectivity, regardless of underlying infrastructure.
As Vice President of Global Healthcare at AT&T, Maria Lensing oversees the telecommunications operator's technology and professional services offerings across the spectrum of medical providers, from solo practitioners and walk-in clinics to giant hospital chains, medical-device vendors and consulting firms. Lensing also sees more interest from traditional service providers -- cable and telecom operators looking to expand or build relationships with their own medical communities, perhaps as an adjunct to smart-home successes or standalone.
Lensing, who took on this role almost a year ago in May 2018, oversees both the sales and technical teams responsible for developing growth initiatives for AT&T's Global Healthcare business -- including products, services and industry-specific solutions. She also very actively promotes business minority inclusion, education and female empowerment programs and has been recognized both within and outside AT&T. Some awards she's received include "Top 40 Under 40" and "Super Woman in Business" from the Memphis Business Journal.
Join Maria Lensing, VP of Global Healthcare at AT&T, on Tuesday, April 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. PT, when she's the guest on BBWN Radio, hosted by Broadband World News Editor Alison Diana. Register now!
So far, the agenda includes a discussion of technologies such as fiber and 5G; defining the needs and solutions for a widely diverse range of customers; partnering for success in a typically slow-moving, budget-constrained market; learning and dispersing best practices from other verticals and within other business groups; promoting diversity and female empowerment when so many say they're doing so but so little has changed; and what she hopes to accomplish in another year in this role.
Register and post your questions for Maria on BBWN Radio's easy-to-use chat board. We will get to as many questions as possible. Please post questions before and during the broadcast. Once you've registered, you will be led to the chat board page. Talk to you on April 23!
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on February 14 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT / 4 p.m. UK when John Isch, Practice Director of the Network and Voice Center of Excellence at Orange Business Services, discusses use cases, ROI and misconceptions of software-defined wide-area networks, virtualization and cloud.
Just when you thought the answer to your next technology direction question was clear, the noise around multiple new technology options fills the Internet and airwaves. Multiple 5Gs are being deployed; there's CableLabs' 10G initiative; the ITU and IEEE are toiling around 50G PON – and we haven’t even talked about Wi-Fi6 yet! Is any of this real, do you have to pay attention or can you just let the dust settle and then decide?
Since waiting is often not the best option, let’s demystify technology options, their impact on your business, and how to prepare for whatever the future brings.
In this webinar, Service Providers will learn:
Current state of 5G and how it affects everyone, not only mobile network providers.
Latest technologies being developed and how they will benefit their networks and subscribers.
How to prepare their networks for the future – whatever it may hold.