BBWN Bites: One in six can't afford broadband in UK – report
Also in this roundup: Report urges full fiber for Europe; Chattanooga's Gig City brings in billions; Salt shows its speed; CenturyLink, Frontier fall short.
- A new report out this week from Citizens Advice, a UK charity that aids people with financial and legal issues, revealed that more than one in six people in the country are struggling to afford broadband. This comes as people endure another strict lockdown due to the more contagious coronavirus strain, with schools not set to open until at least March. The report highlights the fact that 2.3 million people fell behind on their broadband bill at the end of last year, and that regulator Ofcom had "strongly urged" providers to offer cheaper tariffs for struggling families. Citizens Advice said it is now "calling on the government and Ofcom to fast-track these plans by making it compulsory for all providers to offer affordable tariffs to people on low-income benefits." It further points out that "only three of the largest 13 firms currently offer these tariffs."
- Meanwhile, another new report out from German trade association BREKO, along with the FTTH Council Europe and Europacable, is calling upon European policymakers to support the build of full-fiber networks for the environment's sake. The groups say that copper networks consume up to 17 times more energy than fiber, and committing to fiber-based broadband builds is crucial for Europe to achieve its goal of becoming the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. which was set forth in the 2019 European Green Deal. Furthermore, they say, fiber is the most future-proof technology, therefore hitting the sustainability mark in more ways than one. "Full fibre networks are the only ones that can cope with future data rate requirements without a need to adapt or upgrade their primary passive infrastructure," state the firms in a press release. "To reap the benefits of digitalisation and to enable a more sustainable future, a strong and swift political commitment to full fibre technology is needed."
- For the third year running, Salt (the most difficult-to-Google service provider name since Orange...) came out on top in the annual nPerf barometer of fixed Internet connections in Switzerland. The data released this week showed that Salt Home is the fastest home Internet service in the country. In a press release, the company said: "While the average download speed in Switzerland (all technologies combined) increased from 98Mbit/s in 2019 to 157Mbit/s in 2020, Salt's average download speed was more than twice as high (418 Mbit/s). With 345 Mbit/s, Salt's average upload speed was even three times higher than the overall average."
- US ISPs CenturyLink (now Lumen) and Frontier both reported to the FCC that they failed to meet their broadband commitments in dozens of states. According to rules that accompanied the Connect America Fund Phase II grants, issued in 2015, participating ISPs are required to complete their deployments within six years, or by December 31, 2020. CenturyLink accepted $505.7 million to deploy broadband to 1.17 million homes and businesses in 33 states; and Frontier accepted $283.4 million to bring service to 659,587 homes and businesses in 28 states (which was then expanded to 774,000 in 29 states). According to their FCC filings, CenturyLink said its preliminary reporting shows it "may not have met the CAF Phase II 100% deployment milestone in twenty-three states," namely Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Frontier said the same for 17 states – Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The ISPs now have a year from the date of reporting these shortfalls to reach 100% deployment before facing fines.
- New research shows that Chattanooga, Tennessee has enjoyed billions in benefits over the last decade since laying the foundation for its Gig City. According to a press release issued by EPB, the city has derived "$2.69 billion in community benefit during the first ten years since EPB of Chattanooga built America's first Gig-speed community-wide network and used it to establish the nation's most advanced smart grid power distribution system." EPB further breaks down the benefits fiber has brought, including 9,516 jobs ("about 40% of all jobs created in Hamilton County during the study period"); a lower unemployment rate (4.7% in Hamilton County in November, compared to 5.3% for Tennessee overall and 6.7% nationwide); and – crucially – the ability to keep students online. "Having Chattanooga's fiber optic network in place allowed EPB to join with Hamilton County Schools and other local and state partners in launching HCS EdConnect, a fiber optic broadband internet service provided at no charge to economically challenged families with K-12 students," says EPB. "Currently 12,000 students have internet access to continue their studies from home through HCS EdConnect."
— 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.