The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the yawning gaps in broadband access throughout the country. Yet the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in its 2020 Broadband Deployment Report released on April 24, found that “advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis." The agency came to this conclusion despite years of concern over how the FCC’s flawed data collection method systematically overstates broadband coverage.
Glenwood working toward installing a new broadband system over the next two years by Matthew Bennett, Post Independent
Locally owned rural telcos establish hotspots to meet demand during pandemic by Toni Riley, Daily Yonder
Expanding wireless broadband hubs in unserved communities, Massachusetts Broadband Institute
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. (April 24, 2020) - The Federal Communications Commission has concluded that broadband is being deployed “on a reasonable and timely basis” across America.
The FCC has admitted on many occasions that it does not know who has broadband or where it is available. Congress has told the FCC to fix its failed data collection. States have had to develop their own approaches because they cannot rely on the FCC’s deployment data. Georgia found that the FCC massively overestimates rural broadband availability.
To connect students on the wrong side of the digital divide, school districts in a number of cities, including Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California, are working with Comcast to sponsor the cost of the company’s Internet Essentials program for low-income families in need of home broadband connections during the crisis.
Last week, Frontier Communications told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that there are 17,000 census blocks in which it is now offering 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. This means well over 400,000 Americans now live in areas no longer eligible for the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, a $20.4 billion program to expand rural broadband.
Schools across the country have moved instruction online in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, but many students are struggling to log in and learn. We’ve written before about how schools, libraries, and Internet access providers are taking steps to connect students with Wi-Fi hotspots. Still, many kids don’t have access to appropriate devices they can use to complete online schoolwork. According to PCs for People, a digital inclusion nonprofit and computer refurbisher, almost a quarter of students don’t have a computer.
There’s a belief out there that households don’t really want or need more than a basic broadband connection, much less gigabit connectivity. However, in our experience at MuniNetworks.org, demand for high-speed connectivity is actually quite robust in rural areas where the infrastructure exists. We’ve heard from rural cooperatives that many of their fiber network subscribers opt for higher speed tiers and that gigabit take rates near 30 percent in some instances. This suggests rural areas are much more likely than more urban areas to opt for tiers above the lowest cost option.
Earlier this month, more than 70 electric cooperatives joined consulting firm Conexon in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to speed up planned rural broadband funds in response to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Digital divide leaves rural and poor Sonoma County students with no Internet connection by Yousef Baig, The Press Democrat
Internet service in western Colorado was so terrible that towns and counties built their own telecom by Tamara Chuang, Colorado Sun
How do you study online without a computer or Internet access? It’s a reality for many Colorado kids by Erica Brenlin, Colorado Sun
In the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire, at least six towns have voted to issue bonds to construct fiber networks in partnership with regional incumbent telephone company Consolidated Communications. Chesterfield was the first municipality in New Hampshire to take advantage of Senate Bill 170, which allows municipal governments to bond in order to build broadband infrastructure in places not served by commercial broadband providers. Over the last year, the towns of Dublin, Harrisville, Rindge, Walpole, and Westmoreland have also voted to bond and are finalizing public-private partnership contracts with Consolidated to develop Fiber-to-the-Home networks.
Join the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Christopher Mitchell on Tuesday, May 5 at 12 p.m. ET for a webinar on broadband basics as part of Merit’s Michigan Moonshot Educational Series. The conversation will introduce various broadband solutions and technologies, giving participants the necessary foundation to start working on better Internet access locally.
Two more electric cooperatives recently announced plans to build Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks to connect their rural members in the southeastern United States with high-quality Internet access.
The co-ops, Mississippi County Electric Cooperative (MCEC) in Arkansas and Monroe County Electric Power Association (EPA) in Mississippi, will partner with Conexon to manage network design, buildout, and implementation. Conexon has worked with dozens of rural electric cooperatives across the country to deploy broadband access to better serve their member-owners.
The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting communities across the country in different ways. Recently, Christopher called up Scott Mooneyham, Director of Political Communications and Coordination for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, to find out how towns and cities in the Tar Heel State are faring.