In this update, I wanted to talk about how providers who do not operate much in rural areas attack programs that help to stimulate and sustain broadband investment in rural areas. While such opponents tend to dress their claims up in terms like “avoiding overbuilding,” these claims don’t hold much water once you check the facts about where they serve and what these programs actually enable in terms of much broader, wider investment.
Stepping back, NTCA has been no big fan of the National Broadband Map. It is riddled with errors that we’ve noted time and again. But at least at a macro level in terms of assessing who generally tends to serve where, it can certainly provide some value. And, boy, what a story it tells when it comes to who really serves most of rural America—and who really doesn’t.
Let’s start at the 50,000-foot level—the continental United States. The National Broadband Map tells a story of two countries when it comes to nationwide cable broadband coverage. At first glance, it sort of reminds me of that old New Yorker magazine cover where everything more or less stops at the Hudson River and then you end up right in the Pacific Ocean. It’s not quite that bad, of course. If you happen to live in Dallas or Houston or Chicago, or other metropolitan areas like Santa Fe or Salt Lake City or Boise, or even a scattering of smaller cities and larger towns between the coasts, you might be lucky enough to have the choice of getting broadband from a cable company. But get outside of the more densely populated areas, and you’re largely out of luck. Read more
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that ESPN is looking into toll-free data plans for mobile broadband users viewing its content online. If it comes to fruition, a consumer using their mobile wireless device to stream ESPN content would not have that data usage count towards their broadband data cap. ESPN would pay the mobile wireless provider a fee under this arrangement.
According to the report, ESPN is already in negotiations with one nationwide U.S. wireless carrier. However, ESPN has refused to comment, and the Journal article states that an agreement is not imminent.
Arrangements such as this have recently been a topic of discussion by the heads of the major U.S. wireless carriers. Speculation on the topic has encompassed all sorts of content providers. Read more
Earlier this week, I attended the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Broadband Summit & Expo, an annual gathering of internal public safety communicators and industry personnel in Washington, D.C.
With the presence of FirstNet — the congressionally mandated independent operating authority housed within NTIA responsible for developing our country’s first interoperable, nationwide, public safety broadband network — the event has grown, reaching a sold-out capacity of more than 275 attendees.
About half of the sessions at the summit focused on the nuts and bolts of the network, including LTE technology, cybersecurity, and the launch requirements for the nationwide public safety broadband network. Read more
According to a newly-released NTIA report, in 2012 98% of all Americans had access to basic broadband availability, defined as service of at least 3 Mbps downstream/768 kbps upstream.
The NTIA report, entitled “U.S. Broadband Availability: June 2010-June 2012,” is the first in a series of Broadband Briefs that uses publicly available data collected by the Department of Commerce to examine broadband availability in greater detail.
The report also finds that just over 93% of Americans have access to wireline broadband at advertised speeds of at least 3 Mbps/768 kbps, and nearly 93% have access to at least 6 Mbps. Ninety-one percent have access to 10 Mbps, and 78% to 25 Mbps. Read more