Broadband Bites: State officials say 25/3 broadband definition must die
Also in this roundup: Virginia counties and co-ops team on rural fiber; Broadband Equity Partnership launches affordable housing broadband initiative; Nigeria's broadband penetration up 91.7%.
- The White House announced an agreement on a bipartisan infrastructure package on Thursday, which, according to a fact sheet, includes $65 billion for broadband ($35 billion short of what President Biden initially proposed). The package still has a long way to go before it gets to Biden's desk. For broadband, that includes ironing out a host of contentious details on speed mandates, municipal broadband and more. (The fact sheet only specifies an intent to: "Connect every American to reliable high-speed internet, just as the federal government made a historic effort to provide electricity to every American nearly one hundred years ago. The Framework will also drive down prices for internet service and close the digital divide.")
On the speed front, state broadband officials this week, speaking on a panel hosted by Pew Charitable Trusts, were adamant that the 25/3 Mbit/s speed standard has got to go for federal broadband funding to succeed in helping states close the digital divide.
"The reality is, as long as we continue to use a backward looking metric of 25 megabits down and 3 megabits up as the definition of broadband, then our federal agencies are going to continue to put it in this, you know, this bowling alley lane of where we can put investment and build infrastructure," said Teresa Ferguson, director of federal broadband engagement at Colorado's broadband office, explaining that the current standard doesn't allow states to build out to people who don't have adequate connectivity. "That 25/3 standard has got to die, it needs to go away. It is not serving my rural ranchers, my rural farmers and the kids that live in those communities," she said.
- A new partnership between Dominion Energy Virginia, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, Firefly Fiber Broadband and nine rural counties could see 25,000 additional Virginians get access to broadband. According to a Memorandum of Understanding announced this week, the partnership would see Dominion Energy install fiber across the nine counties, to be used for both access and operational needs, and Firefly will be able to lease the middle-mile fiber. The partnership is still subject to regulatory approvals, but in a statement, Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia, called it "a major step forward in ensuring that the communities we serve have access to quality, high speed internet that is critical to allowing homes, businesses and educational institutions to function in today's digital world."
- The Broadband Equity Partnership has teamed up with House New York (HNY), an affiliate of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH), to launch the Affordable Housing Broadband Initiative (AHBI), which is an effort to create a dataset of "building-based connectivity solutions" to support the city and state in achieving universal broadband adoption in its affordable housing. According to a press release, AHBI will work to achieve three stated goals: "1. Build a comprehensive dataset that identifies the State’s broadband service access solutions in subsidized affordable housing, categorized by building typologies, and the estimated costs to close service gaps. 2. Analyze the dataset to form key insights specific to each building typology to guide the building-based broadband retrofitting process more effectively. 3. Develop a novel statewide program that matches each building typology with a technical solution and associated funding needs and provides additional support to help ensure affordable housing residents have access to universal broadband." The launch takes place on Tuesday, June 29, and more information is available here.
- Nigeria has reportedly seen nearly 92% growth in broadband penetration in the last four years. The Nigerian Communications Commission revealed that the country’s broadband penetration increased from 40,481,570 million people, or 21.21% of the population, in April 2017, to 77,605,500 million people, or 40.66% of the population, in April 2021. According to Temitayo Jaiyeola writing for Punch, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, said the government's goal is to reach 90% broadband penetration in the country by 2023. The country's National Broadband Plan 2020-2030 targets 25 Mbit/s in urban areas and 10 Mbit/s in rural areas.
— Nicole Ferraro, contributing editor and host of "The Divide" and "What's the Story?" Light Reading