If You Build It, They Will Subscribe

By deploying fiber further out into their networks, NTCA member companies are able to offer their customers higher broadband speeds than ever before, a recent NTCA member survey shows.

According to NTCA’s recently released 2014 Broadband/Internet Availability Survey Report, 45% of those respondents currently deploying fiber serve at least 50% of their customers using fiber to the home (FTTH), up from 41% last year. As a result, 83% of respondents’ customers are able to receive broadband service in excess of 10 Mbps.

The overall broadband take rate for survey respondents was 70%.  The most popular speed tier offered was 10.0 Mbps and above, the choice of 34% of responding companies’ customers, a dramatic increase from 8.5% last year.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents’ customers are served by FTTH, while 31% are served by copper loops, 18% by cable modem and 12% by fiber to the node (FTTN).

Seventy-four percent of survey respondents indicated that regulatory uncertainty remains a barrier to fiber deployment, second only to cost (92%).  Read more

FCC Workshop on Broadband Privacy Begs for Clever Headline

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hosted a public workshop on consumer privacy in the broadband marketplace. The event featured panels moderated by FCC and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff, as well as introductory remarks by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and a keynote address by Matt Blaze of the University of Pennsylvania. The day-long event revealed deep yet predictable schisms in viewpoints regarding how consumer data should be managed. (In the interest of full disclosure, I sat on one the panels.)

The issue has emerged because the FCC (re)classified broadband Internet access service (BIAS) as a Title II offering. As such, BIAS is subject to Section 222 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, which governs privacy of telecommunications customers’ data. The statute is the basis for rules that address Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI). But, certain of the particular elements covered by CPNI rules do not exist in the BIAS world. And, the sort of consumer data that may be viewed as ripe for regulation under Section 222 may also be held by entities such as Facebook or Google, which would not be subject to common carrier regulation. In that result, an ISP holding certain data could be charged with protecting it, while another non-ISP holding the same data would be subject to FTC, rather than FCC requirements. Read more

Peeling the Broadband Onion

Recent studies of the barriers to broadband adoption show that lack of demand—i.e., not feeling as if the Internet has anything of interest to offer the individual—is among the top barriers to adoption, alongside lack of resources, lack of knowledge/experience, and lack of availability. In reality, however, broadband is one of those services that reveals more the deeper you become immersed in it. New adopters often discover numerous life-improving applications that they had never even known about, much less considered, before getting online.

Case in point: a recent study by Parks Associates shows that 25% of U.S. broadband households find the concept of a home energy monitoring service appealing. According to the report, entitled “360 View: Energy Management, Smart Home, and Utility Programs,” 26% of respondents would be interested in an HVAC monitoring service, and 22% an appliance management service.

“The connected home industry is really taking off as customers are seeing the value of added convenience and meaningful energy savings,” said Stuart Lombard, CEO at ecobee, a company that sells Wi-Fi enabled thermostats for residential and commercial applications. “With smart thermostats we’re seeing customers engage with their home’s energy use on a regular basis through an app….customers now have the tools to make smarter choices around their energy consumption.”

A large number of broadband non-adopters likely have no idea how the Internet can help them in their daily lives. Making customers aware of the numerous real world benefits available to them through a broadband connection can be a vital step toward overcoming the stubborn lack of demand barrier and ultimately increasing broadband adoption rates.

FSBC (the Flat Stanley Broadband Challenge)


See that yellow dome atop the John Deere cab? It enables everything from monitoring and diagnostics, to real-time repair assistance, to soil-sample tracking, to crop insurance record-keeping and more.

Stay tuned for more next Monday.


How to Crowdfund Broadband

I obtained a new BlackBerry last week, which I instantly dubbed my “2015 Crown Vic.” But, I didn’t select the BlackBerry when I entered a new wireless contract because I am old-fashioned (more on that later).

First of all, I’m not old enough to be “old fashioned.” And, second, even as I eschew use of the word “impact” as a verb (and I shudder every time I hear someone say “impactful”) and “invite” as a noun, those reactions have more to do with my proclivities toward the traditional use of the English language than my disdain for trendiness.

Which, I suppose, renders me “old fashioned.” Read more

Nebraska Study: Broadband Access Creates Job, Revenue

A study out of Nebraska confirms broadband access creates jobs and helps drive the local economy. The report is based on a survey, which was sent to 10,000 businesses and conducted by Strategic Networks Group, a group of broadband economists for the Nebraska Broadband Initiative,  a partnership of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska Information Technology Commission, Nebraska Department of Economic Development and AIM Institute.

The 1,124 survey respondents reported a net increase of 654 jobs due to using the Internet; as such, more than 50% of net jobs were attributed to online connections. Additionally, broadband use is also having a positive impact on business revenue with respondents reporting 25-45% of revenue from the Internet. It has also allowed businesses to achieve a cost savings averaging 4%.

Read more

KY Governor, Congressman Plan to Increase Broadband Availability in Commonwealth

At a joint press event held last week, Kentucky governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers announced the first steps in an initiative to bring high-speed broadband service to unserved areas of the Commonwealth.

The project, dubbed “Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway,” will be funded by $60 million in state bonds and $40 million from federal and private sources.

Phase I of the project will create an additional 3,000 miles of middle-mile fiber infrastructure. It is anticipated to take two to three years to complete. The project will make use of existing fiber infrastructure and has a goal of bringing speeds of up to 100 Gbps to the middle mile.

Kentucky currently ranks 46th nationwide in broadband availability, and nearly one-fourth of residents do not have access to broadband service.

“Access to high-speed and high-quality Internet is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity in the 21st century economy,” said Governor Beshear. “Our communities that lack reliable high-speed access will lag behind in economic development, distance learning and advanced health technologies, and that’s unacceptable.”

“The new ‘Super I-way’ will level the playing field,” said Congressman Rogers.  “It takes away our historic barriers to better jobs, the difficult terrain, and isolation.  All of a sudden, the world is flat and the famed superior work ethic of our people will be able to compete with the world from home.”

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