Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 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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BROADBAND POLICY | 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 | N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8 When Nothing Is Better Than Something Your rural community may be blocked from receiving better internet service because of the availability of satellite or fixed wireless service. Here's what to do about it. By Jonathan Chambers / Conexon T he Connect America Fund II auction was largely a success. For less than half the money per location previously spent on 4/1 Mbps and 10/1 Mbps services, a large group of bidders in the auction agreed to build fiber- to-the-home networks to provide gigabit speeds. Another group bid for reasonable subsidies to offer fixed wireless at 25 Mbps speeds. en there were satellite and certain fixed wireless bidders who, if left unexamined by regulators and the public, will damage the interests of rural communities. SATELLITE VOIP SERVICE ViaSat, the only satellite bidder in the auction, won a total of $122,499,877 to serve 190,595 locations. Even where it didn't win, ViaSat bid as low as 1 percent of the reserve price during the auction, meaning that in some locations, it was willing to receive less than $10 in subsidies per year over a 10-year period to offer broadband. Such bidding was an attempt by ViaSat to block competitors from receiving funds to build terrestrial networks. On average, ViaSat will receive $64.27 per location per year, whether or not it has subscribers. at is less than 7 percent of the money per location made available to bidders for terrestrial networks. In other words, the FCC was prepared to invest more than $1.8 billion in the areas in which ViaSat was the winning bidder and now will spend just $122 million over the next decade. No other funds will be spent in those areas. From the perspective of some at the FCC, that is a great deal. ose FCC officials believe that satellite service is already adequate and the federal government need not spend any more public money to fulfill its mandate from Congress to ensure reasonably comparable service in the rural United States. To the more than half million Americans who will be left without adequate broadband service, it isn't such a good deal. e FCC has passed a digital death sentence. Good luck attracting new businesses, enjoying the latest in video entertainment, participating in the national cultural life, benefiting from advances in telemedicine or providing opportunity for youth. For that matter, good luck getting your kids and grandkids to visit, and good luck selling your home. ere are those who think something is better than nothing. However, this particular something restricts the opportunity for getting something better in the future. If you live in one of these communities, no further funds will be spent in your community, even though your internet service will be worse than the service in 99 percent of the United States. APPEAL TO STATE PSCS What can you do? Ask your state public service commission to do its job.

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