The Trump administration is touting its support for better rural broadband connectivity, but is sending mixed signals as to how it thinks that infrastructure is going to be funded.
Earlier this week, President Trump told the American Farm Bureau Federation that broadband -- he called it "e-connectivity" -- is essential to the economic development of rural areas, and even presented two signed executive orders on that topic. His comments and the orders followed the narrative of this report
from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, carried out by the US Department of Agriculture in 2017.
That would seem to be good news for rural areas except that nothing Trump said before the farmers or in his executive orders promised federal funding of such infrastructure -- something previously done through the Universal Service Fund and Connect America. Further complicating the issue was that Trump's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman, Ajit Pai, has been floating the idea that the definition of broadband could be reduced to 10 Meg/1 Meg wireless service, in which case the FCC could then magically declare wide swaths of rural America to be broadband enabled. (See FCC to Shrink Digital Divide – Without Expanding Broadband)
But wait -- there's more! The FCC indicated in the first week of January that it may lift the $400 million cap on the Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, which supports broadband connectivity for rural healthcare providers. Spending requests exceeded that cap in 2016 and apparently will do so as well in 2017. The FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on whether to adjust the spending, which would be used on rural broadband infrastructure. That could be a boon to connectivity in some rural areas.
Otherwise, as this Light Reading article notes, support for rural broadband may only come in the form of lighter regulations and greater incentives for private investment.
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.