Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2017

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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32 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | MARCH/APRIL 2017 RURAL BROADBAND Breaking Telecom Monopolies In many rural areas, traditional operators have failed to invest in telecommunications infrastructure. Strategic investments by property owners, groups of owners, local associations and local governments can jump-start competition. By Andrew M. Cohill / Design Nine Inc. T he current state of broadband in the United States can be described as two very different markets. Many urban areas and larger towns have cable internet service considered adequate based on current uses, and a few communities have some fiber. Very few places have fiber widely available throughout the community. In contrast, smaller communities and rural areas struggle with inadequate service, including mediocre DSL, expensive satellite and wireless broadband with limited availability. is bifurcation of service has perpetuated the digital divide. At one time, people usually discussed the digital divide in terms of who could afford broadband and who could not. But today, one way of viewing the digital divide is by geography or location. Some areas of the country have adequate broadband and internet access, and other areas do not. is new digital divide is leading to unanticipated consequences. e availability of broadband (or the lack of it) is beginning to drive land use decisions, including where people want to work and where they want to live. Quality of family life is also affected. Where adequate broadband is limited or simply not available, families with school-age children are heavily impacted as more K–12 school systems make increased use of online learning resources that require children have internet access at home. Design Nine hears frequent complaints from mothers who have to drive their children several times a week to local libraries or even to fast-food restaurants. A common sight today is a minivan or an SUV in the parking lot of a McDonald's at 4 p.m., with a mother and two or three children all working on laptops or tablets. When Design Nine surveys internet use, we see a rapidly rising percentage of people who report that home is their primary workplace for either full-time or part-time work. An even higher percentage of workers who commute to office locations during the day report that they work from home on nights and weekends. What I predicted more than 15 years ago has come to pass: Neighborhoods have become business districts. Broadband is now beginning to affect zoning, land use, real estate values and quality of life. Millennials, who grew up with the internet, smartphones, tablets and computers, simply are not interested in living in places that have inadequate broadband. In populous areas, some incumbent and/ or competitive service providers are deploying fiber in limited amounts. Google's fiber initiative was cut back, and Verizon all but stopped deploying Fios. In many markets, fiber is being installed only to deliver services to institutional customers, such as schools, medical facilities and local government facilities, and to large business customers. In many cases, that institutional-market fiber passes residential neighborhoods without offering any fiber-to- the-home service. In rural areas, despite improvements in wireless technology, the physics of radio

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