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.”
The Information Technology Council of North Dakota (ITCND), a coalition of North Dakota business, government and education leaders, has announced an initiative to provide state-of-the-art broadband service to all state residents.
The undertaking, dubbed the Dakota Fiber Initiative, evolved out of a challenge issued by former Great Plains Software/Microsoft executive Doug Burgum at a conference earlier this year. Burgum challenged the government, industry and citizens of North Dakota to work together to create the highest quality broadband service in the world.
At a recent meeting, ITCND’s board agreed to take on Burgum’s challenge. The multi-phase project will begin with a broadband supply and demand assessment for downtown Fargo, examination of the economic impacts, and development of an implementation plan and budget for downtown Fargo. Future Phases of the Initiative will include a Fargo pilot program, and consideration of how to apply any lessons learned in Fargo statewide.
There is probably little doubt that the phrase “buzz kill” was invented to describe Washington, D.C. At a Nationals game last week, the ceremonial first pitch was tossed by…the acting administrator of the EPA. To be fair, it was Earth Day, and I do not intend any personal or professional affront to the acting administrator. But, only in Washington would bureaucracy be confused with celebrity.
I experienced another brush with the concept of substitution last week, also at Nationals Park. I took my family to the Nationals-Reds game, mostly because my former “hometown” Reds were in town. But, my enthusiasm for the Reds had dipped during a period of soulless management that coincided with the 1994/1995 strike, and the rebirth of baseball in D.C. over the past several years (and also energized by the Nats’ stunning regular season and wrenching post-season last year) made me somewhat ambivalent as I entered the first base gate. To the accurate meaning of the word, I had strong feelings in both directions: the white “C” on the Reds caps still affects me, yet on daily basis I still check for the Nationals scores first. An economist might ask whether (for me, at least) the Reds and Nats are effective substitutes. Read more
In a recently published letter, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office denied Apple’s request to trademark the term “iPad Mini,” ruling that “mini” merely describes small things.
It is an interesting piece of news, and also reminiscent of the fact that while many users identify their device correctly, many others refer to any tablet as an iPad, much the way we often seek a Kleenex for a runny nose or a Band-Aid for a bloody thumb: products that capture great shares of their respective market often become eponymous with the product.
Such confusion can become a double-edged sword. Manufacturers enjoy loads of “advertising,” but risk consumer confusion of second-rate products with the original.
A similar risk attend current FCC proceedings addressing IP-enabled networks. Within the industry, those with whom we agree and those with whom we do not agree recognize the distinction between “IP-enabled” and the Internet — the former refers to technical protocols and the latter refers to the interconnected system of networks and, colloquially, the apps, contents, and services that run across it. But more casual observers who deal in telecom regulation as well as any other number of legal or regulatory issues across multiple industries may from time to time equate “Internet Protocol” and the Internet. Read more
The FCC held a workshop last week focused on Gigabit Communities, with the goal of outlining how broadband providers can work with local and state leaders to deploy networks capable of delivering speeds of at least 1 gigabit per second to end-users. The workshop included proponents of privately owned systems, in addition to those involved in municipal systems and those deployed through public-private partnerships. Many of the issues discussed dovetail closely with matters highlighted by the Smart Rural Community initiative that NTCA has pursued for the past year.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski opened the workshop, noting that he had issued a “Gigabit City Challenge” in January while speaking to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. In that address, the Chairman challenged service providers and community leaders to establish at least one community with a gigabit-capable network in every state by 2015. Toward that end, the Chairman promised last week that the FCC would: Read more
Three-quarters of respondents to NTCA’s most recent broadband survey cited regulatory uncertainty as an impediment to broadband deployment, second only to deployment cost overall.
In spite of the uncertainty, 74% of respondents indicated they currently offer fiber to the home to some portion of their customer base, up from 64% in 2011. The pace of future deployment, however, may be in jeopardy.
The results of the survey of NTCA’s membership are collected in the “NTCA 2012 Broadband/Internet Availability Report.” Twenty-five percent of NTCA’s pre-OPASTO unification members responded to the survey, which was conducted in late 2012.
Rural communications providers are finding it increasingly difficult to gain access to fairly priced “must-have” video content. Every single respondent to the survey cited difficulty obtaining video programming at a reasonable cost as an impediment to the provision of video services.
There were some promising findings. Seven out of ten of respondents’ customers can receive broadband service of up to 6 Mbps; 51% between 6 and 10 Mbps; and 40% in excess of 10 Mbps. The overall broadband take rate for survey respondents was reported to be 69%, up from 66% in 2011.
Think Broadband draws our attention to as survey recently conducted by Halifax, which finds that 30% of UK residents report access to a “good” broadband signal is likely to affect their decision on whether to buy a home in a particular area. The survey defines “good” broadband at a minimal speed of 2 Mbps.
Thirty-two percent of people in urban areas say it is likely to affect their decision, compared to 25% of people in rural areas. Younger people are more likely to say it is likely to affect their decision, with 40% of 18-24 year olds compared to 24% of those aged 65 and over. And there is also a clear split along gender lines, with men (34%) more likely to say it is likely to affect their decision than women (26%).
Also of note, one fifth (20%) report that they would be prepared to pay more for the same home if it had good broadband. Read more