Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 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 3 4 | 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 | M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 A Path Forward To Address the Digital Divide The FCC and a congressional committee are wrestling with recommendations to overcome the digital divide. Meanwhile, several innovative proposals before the Kansas House of Representatives offer simpler approaches to fund rural broadband. By Tom Sloan / Kansas State Legislature A ffordable, reliable, high-speed internet service is not a luxury – it is an increasingly necessary part of daily life. Rural and small-town students need access to teacher-provided materials, as well as materials on such diverse websites as NASA and the Library of Congress, to be competitive with their urban contemporaries. State government agencies increasingly require electronic filing of data; telemedicine and telehealth monitoring capabilities require broadband connectivity; and farmers, merchants and small-town businesses increasingly transact business electronically to reach national and international customers and suppliers. Unfortunately, even with the Connect America Fund, millions of Americans will not have access to affordable, reliable broadband. e touted 5G technology for wireless communications devices will not address the need for broadband services that adequately and affordably permit business, health care, education and government transactions. Soon after his appointment by President Trump, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai established the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) with several working groups to address the continuing digital divide and impediments to its resolution. e BDAC and working groups were composed of telecommunications industry officials, public utility commission representatives, broadband technology vendors, consumer advocates and a single state legislator – me. e State Model Code Working Group, in which I participate, was charged with developing a model code for states to use in addressing the digital divide. e model code was not intended to define best practices, because such practices change as technological capabilities and economics change. In addition, practices that might work in a state with miles of open space may not be appropriate for states with mountains, even if both have low population densities. Rather, model codes are paths for state legislators and other interested parties to consider as they develop legislation that reflects individual state policy preferences. RURAL DEPLOYMENT RECOMMENDATIONS e subcommittee's efforts addressed two types of digital divides: lack of access to any kind of broadband and lack of access to broadband as defined by technological capabilities and user needs. Broadband that met user needs was defined as 25/3 Mbps, less than 100 millisecond latency and at least 150 gigabits of monthly data capacity. A rural area was defined as having fewer than 100 people per square mile, excluding the county seat. e subcommittee has a strong commitment to the above definition of broadband, instead of

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