Also in this roundup: Virgin Media launches gigabit services in Edinburgh and Liverpool; rural Mississippi gets the "equivalent of the initial delivery of electricity" with broadband legislation; and the Georgia Broadband Availability Map reveals huge disparities.
Virgin Media made progress on its plan to bring "gigabit-capable" speeds to more than 15 million UK homes by the end of 2021, with Liverpool and Edinburgh becoming the latest cities to benefit. Accomplished largely through DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades to the operator's hybrid fiber coax (HFC) network in those cities, the expansion covers an additional 600,000+ households. Other cities currently covered include Southampton, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham and Coventry. In a press release, Virgin Media said it will announce the next round of cities "later in the year."
Broadband, or a lack of it, continues to get renewed attention in the rural US as COVID-19 works its magic at exposing every flaw in our society. With the digital divide still high on that list, various localities are seeking solutions. This week Mississippi's state legislature passed an appropriation of the state's $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, allocating nearly $300,000 for rural broadband and K-12 distance learning services.
In a press release, Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said, "This is the equivalent of the initial delivery of electricity to rural Mississippi," noting that the funding will "impact thousands of Mississippians who currently do not have access to broadband." (BroadbandNow estimates 368,000 households in Mississippi lack access to a connection capable of 25Mbit/s download speeds.)
Meanwhile in Georgia, a new broadband availability map published by the state Department of Community Affairs has revealed that of 507,000 homes and businesses lacking access to reliable broadband services, nearly 70% are in rural parts of Georgia. While a page about the new map states that "the map can be used by local communities and providers to assist with broadband planning efforts," its launch did not come with any meaningful news about solving the access problem.
Despite time having lost all meaning, it is apparently July. With the new month comes the official expiration of the FCC's Keep America Connected pledge. While some ISPs are extending some of the support they provided consumers throughout the early days of the crisis, piecemeal efforts won't be enough to ensure the majority of people have reliable broadband across the country.
This week, the House of Representatives approved $100 billion worth of broadband funding as part of a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill. The plan would provide the FCC $80 billion in fiscal year 2021 to fund high-speed broadband projects in unserved and underserved areas. It would also provide monthly discounts for low-income broadband users and households in Tribal lands of $50 and $75 respectively, among other things.
Whether the infrastructure bill or at least the broadband bits will now succeed in the Senate remains to be seen. The vote on the broadband amendment fell on party lines, with 231 "yes" votes from Democrats and just three from Republicans. (177 Republicans voted "no.") But the strains placed upon US families as a result of the Keep Americans Connected pledge expiring will also coincide with evictions (as rent-and-mortgage relief expires), a reduction in unemployment insurance, an [inexplicable] end of federal funding for COVID-19 testing and a Senate majority that just isn't sure people need more relief – all while the pandemic promises to be with us for much longer than those running the country will ever admit.
Over the next two years, approximately 60% of service providers (both large and small) will adopt virtualization on a wide scale across their networks, according to the latest survey report from Ovum. Why are providers making these moves? Is there an easy way to start?
Learn how and why service providers are using virtualization to transform their networks. This webinar will look at how providers are leveraging virtualization to create more flexible and agile networks while also providing a better customer experience. Expert speakers from netElastic and Heavy Reading will address the industry drivers for network virtualization, the benefits that can be realized, the challenges to face and the results of virtualization being achieved by providers today.
Key topics will include:
Current network infrastructure and the move to virtualization
Benefits and challenges of network virtualization
How providers can get started
Service provider success stories: the decision to virtualize, the solution, and results