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?
In the American Broadband Initiative Milestones Report out today, 20 federal agencies pledge to simplify and accelerate the process for service providers to deliver broadband into America's countryside.
A HIMSS Analytics survey, sponsored by Spectrum Enterprise, identifies five patient experience initiatives to where healthcare providers can boost the customer experience and bring in higher margins using advanced broadband networks.
Partner ecosystem is getting more diverse and Calix relies on broader base of service providers to sell, support and use its software- and cloud-based offerings, President and CEO Carl Russo tells analysts.
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.
Consumers are buying millions of IoT devices, from smart thermostats and security systems to intelligent entertainment setups and furniture. Yet many of these devices remain isolated because home users are uncomfortable connecting them to each other – or even their WiFi. After all, their WiFi network was probably designed only to handle a few laptops, a gaming system and a couple of smartphones. Now, demand on the network is surging and even though you're delivering 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps, that doesn't necessarily mean the broadband power is in the right place or reaches every corner of a home.
Even if WiFi coverage is sufficient, typing is not on trend. Voice is far more natural, easier and faster. Using a TV keyboard is archaic when more and more households have access to cloud-based voice services, like Amazon Alexa. This webinar will explore how service providers can create a comfortable, truly smart home for consumers – simultaneously driving up margin and loyalty.