BBWN Bites: Google Fiber 'plants the speed' in Des Moines
Also in this roundup: Starlink nearly ready for public beta; USPS suggests it could support rural broadband; FCC to update its incorrect maps; California urges broadband action.
- If you – like most – have been waking up in a cold sweat at night wondering, what's happening with Google Fiber in West Des Moines?, good news came for you in the form of a Google Fiber blog this week entitled, "What's happening in West Des Moines." After announcing plans in July to deliver gigabit Internet on the city's conduit network, Google Fiber has been working to make this a reality citywide. According to this week's blog post, the City of West Des Moines has officially "kicked off its 'Plant the Speed' campaign, aimed at getting every address in the city ready for high speed internet, whether people choose Google Fiber or another provider." Calling this the "necessary first step to getting fiber service at your home," the campaign asks residents to sign up at www.wiredWDM.org "right now" to get their address connected to the conduit network.
- Making more fun use of his time in quarantine than the rest of us, Elon Musk continued to blast satellites into space this week. With the additional 60 Starlink satellites launched, the Starlink satellite broadband service will soon be ready for public beta. Said Musk in a Tweet, "Once these satellites reach their target position, we will be able to roll out a fairly wide public beta in northern US & hopefully southern Canada. Other countries to follow as soon as we receive regulatory approval." That could be encouraging news for those in remote environments. In a SpaceX post about the latest launch, the company referenced its recent relief effort in Washington state in an area destroyed by the wildfires, saying "The way emergency responders deployed Starlink in this context is representative of how Starlink works best—in remote or rural areas where internet connectivity is unavailable."
- A new report issued by the United States Post Office (USPS) inspector general has made some interesting proposals for how its over 31,000 postal facilities could play a role in supporting connectivity services like 5G and rural broadband. On the broadband front, the report imagines USPS facilities could become neutral antenna collocations sites for fiber-optic cable connection points and for fixed wireless; and that they could further become central locations for public connectivity to Wi-Fi.
- FCC Chairman Ajit Pai this week committed to implementing the Broadband DATA Act. The bipartisan bill, signed into law in March, requires the FCC to "change the way broadband data is collected, verified, and reported." In implementing the law, the commission is now required to update its broadband coverage maps to accurately represent underserved areas before the $9 billion 5G Fund for Rural America is distributed. As per the bill, the FCC must collect and share broadband service availability maps, set requirements for service availability data it collects from broadband providers and create a process to enable submission of independent data that challenges their claims, as well as conduct regular audits of information submitted by providers.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and 60 California community leaders this week called on Governor Gavin Newsom to convene a special legislative session to pass universal broadband access legislation. EFF noted in a press release that more than 2 million Californians lack access to high-speed broadband, including 1.2 million students. In a statement, the EFF's senior legislative counsel Ernesto Falcon said: "Children should not be forced to do homework in fast food restaurant parking lots in the middle of a pandemic, and workers should not be forced to struggle with decades-old Internet infrastructure or literally no broadband access at all... If [Governor Newsom] heeds our call to invoke a special session on broadband access, this coalition stands ready to push the legislature to follow his leadership." [Ed. note: By the way, just for the record and apropos of nothing insanely terrifying at all, this from the EFF and community leaders is a great example of the proper way to engage with your governor in a functioning democracy.]
— Nicole Ferraro, contributing editor, Light Reading
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will present our Cable Next-Gen Europe conference as a free digital symposium on June 21.
Charter has sparked RDOF work in all 24 states where it won bids. The cable op booked about $19 million in RDOF revenues in Q1, and expects to have about $9 million per month come in over the next ten years.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will stage the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference as a free digital event over two half-days in mid-March.
Launch of 2-Gig and 5-Gig FTTP tiers in 70-plus markets puts more pressure on cable ops to enhance their existing DOCSIS 3.1 network or accelerate their upgrade activity centered on the new DOCSIS 4.0 specs.