Broadband Communities

JUL 2018

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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CONFERENCE COVERAGE 1 6 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | J U LY 2 0 1 8 News From Fiber Connect The Fiber Broadband Association's annual conference, held in Nashville in June, offered many fiber community success stories. By Steven S. Ross / Broadband Communities A long with technology news highlighting increased bandwidth and service flexibility, this year's annual meeting of the Fiber Broadband Association highlighted the successes of communities that found ways to build fiber networks with little or no federal aid. Attendees described FCC policies with mixed feelings, even though the industry is enjoying record fiber deployment growth, with five straight years of annual increases in homes gaining access to fiber. With a quarter of all rural children growing up in poverty, prospective and existing rural operators worried about how the policy pieces would fall into place. More than a year into the Trump Administration, they still judge federal regulatory and funding frameworks as a work in progress: • Non-telco broadband providers expressed happiness about being freed from state-level Title II regulation thanks to the repeal of net neutrality rules that had to be issued under Title II. • Many operators complained about price gouging by national carriers for interconnects and about pole attachment rules that were partially rectified under Title II and are now being rewritten by the FCC. • ere was annoyance about long delays – often years – for federal officials to review seemingly benign fiber deployments along federal highway rights-of-way. e promised easing of federal regulations governing these deployments – a process started by the Obama administration – is finally occurring, but the reviewing agencies have suffered major personnel losses. Ben Moncrief of C Spire said he had trouble laying fiber along a highway that ran through a national forest: "It took 27 months to dig a hole in an 8-mile right-of-way that had been there 80 years. e biologist luckily did not find gopher tortoises. It was the last step in a 200-mile total build. We want the OK to be automatic within 50 feet of an existing highway right- of-way." • Attendees were happy about new funding for rural broadband through the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and about the general performance at RUS's parent agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, they were annoyed that the new funds won't flow until 2019; regulations must still be written for the new rural broadband programs Congress created and funded. • Several expressed annoyance that the FCC seems more concerned about avoiding any possible trouble for major carriers rather than about actively promoting good broadband in unserved and severely underserved areas. • Many were hopeful that fiber-fed 5G wireless would prove to be a game changer and enable more business cases for building networks. • Others expressed hope that the FCC's Connect America Fund (CAF II) auction for prospective service providers in high- cost areas would help address the digital divide, but they worried that barely adequate satellite service would substitute for terrestrial broadband in many areas – as has

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