The Federal Communications Commission today proposed additional funds for rural broadband and unveiled new data-collection methods -- including crowdsourcing -- for a more accurate map of broadband deployment around the US -- a tool it expects to use for the second phase of its digital divide efforts.
In what the agency calls its "biggest single step to date" to ensure rural residents have fixed-access broadband, the FCC wants to establish the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to direct up to $20.4 billion over a decade to expand broadband across unserved rural regions. The fund would make more areas eligible for support and, in a move widely demanded by regional providers, requires faster service than last year's Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) reverse auction. In fact, it would ensure "millions" more rural premises have gigabit speeds, the FCC said.
"The Commission should be commended for kicking off the RDOF," Claude Aiken, president and CEO of WISPA -- which represents about 800 wireless ISPs -- said in a statement. "The investment being made here is massive, and the FCC properly recognizes the many technological paths that can be taken to get rural Americans online."
In its notice of proposed rulemaking, the Commission requests comment about expanding broadband to unserved areas via another reverse auction. RDOF would target those regions served by price-cap carriers currently receiving CAF II model-based support but without speeds of 25 Mbit/s down and 3 Mbit/s up; districts without a winning bid in the CAF II auction and those without any high-cost universal service support.
In related news, the FCC established the Digital Opportunity Data Collection to gather geospatial broadband coverage maps via polygons from fixed broadband providers in their territories. This database is designed to simplify and accelerate the agency's ability to target funding for needy areas via its programs, including the proposed RDOF if finalized.
In today's "Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," the FCC also adopted a crowdsourcing portal for data from everyone from consumers to tribal and state or local officials. This method, in use by several non-government sources, was popular with multiple providers and organizations. (See Pai: FCC Must Crowdsource Broadband Map.)
Through the second Further Notice, the FCC seeks input on refining that shapefile development, creation of a Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (BSLF) and the shapefile overlay onto the BSLF itself, WISPA's Aiken said.
"This fabric is important because it will provide more accurate and granular information about where service is already available, so that future subsidies will target only those areas that currently lack broadband service," he said. "If adopted, costly and unwarranted overbuilds will be prevented, reducing both government waste and the stubborn absence of broadband in America's heartland."
The FCC's move also would make "targeted changes" to Form 477, a step designed to reduce operators' reporting costs and time, and incorporate new technologies such as location-based solutions.
The FCC's new data collection process will begin once the US Office of Economics and Analytics issues a notice announcing the availability of the new collection platform, along with new reporting deadlines.
It would cost about $70 billion over 10 years to bring all-fiber fixed-access broadband to rural and small-town America, writes Fiber Broadband Association President and CEO Lisa Youngers in this month's exclusive BBWN column. The ROI? Priceless.
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.
The cable industry took a major step in the battle for Gigabit broadband supremacy with the announcement of its 10G Platform vision. The key to realizing this vision hinges on leveraging the right access technologies and network architectures to provide the best balance of benefit versus cost.
One network path has the MSO embracing Next-Generation Hybrid Fiber Coax (NG HFC), which includes:
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During this webinar, Jack Burton, principal of Broadband Success Partners, outlines current and new access network architectures. Additionally, he will examine the facts and debunk some common misconceptions surrounding both fiber and NG HFC network deployment and maintenance.
Tuesday, September 10, 2019 12:00 p.m. New York / 5:00 p.m. London
Wi-Fi is the foundation of the connected home for consumers; yet, it’s often a source of frustration. With the imminent release of the new Wi-Fi 6 standard – combined with a strong Managed Wi-Fi offer – service providers can reverse subscriber frustration while tapping into new revenue streams.
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What’s different about Wi-Fi 6 and why it matters to your subscribers
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