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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M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 | 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 | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | 3 5 10/1 Mbps or some other speed without latency and capacity factors, because the subcommittee's intent is to eliminate digital divides. Urban customer uses and the requisite broadband characteristics for those uses drove the standards adopted for rural residents. During the State Model Code Working Group deliberations, a major point of contention was whether municipal broadband systems should be encouraged or prohibited. ough there was a separate BDAC Municipal Working Group, the State Model Code Working Group recognized that rural residents are much more likely to have interests similar to those of residents of smaller towns and regional cities than to residents of major metropolitan areas. Several state legislatures have enacted laws prohibiting municipal broadband systems, and others have either defeated such efforts or have not addressed the issue. Rural subcommittee members recognized the interdependence of rural and small-town residents and saw that connectivity is a shared need. MUNICIPAL ISSUES Broadly speaking, working group members believe municipalities should not be permitted to unduly restrict the use of public rights-of-way, issue moratoriums on the deployment of broadband facilities or unduly delay consideration of applications. ey agree that costs associated with an applicant's filing must be commensurate with actual municipal costs, and they endorse statewide broadband franchise capability. ese proposed limitations on municipalities reflect a diversity of interests among working group members. Some with a strong commitment to rural communities and residents view access to municipal rights- of-way and infrastructure as a means to reach rural residents cost-effectively. Others perceive this access as a way for private-sector broadband providers to more easily enter new markets. e working group's preference is that private-sector companies build, own and operate broadband networks. However, the group recognizes that in rural areas, the economics of building such networks may be economically less viable than in more populated areas; consequently, private industry interest in deploying broadband facilities may not exist in time frames or at prices that municipalities find acceptable. Prior to establishing a fully funded and operated municipal broadband network, the working group recommends that municipal officials evaluate at least four other options for providing broadband services for feasibility and sustainability: 1 Privately led investment with public assistance – a private entity constructs, maintains and operates the broadband network, and the municipality assists by facilitating permitting, promoting customer sign-ups and providing other services. 2 Balanced public-private partnerships – a municipality provides some or all of the capital funds to construct the network, and one service provider is granted an exclusive franchise for a finite period of time. 3 Public assets, open access – one or more broadband providers contract for access to a community-owned infrastructure that is developed through a local improvement district, fees for services, donations, grants or other non-tax-revenue sources. 4 Publicly led contracting – the community serves as the lead entity and broadband provider by constructing, financing and owning the network, and a private-sector partner provides crucial network operations and other negotiated services. At the time of writing, the FCC commissioners and staff have not received or reviewed these recommendations. Congress is also considering legislation to address broadband expansion, but it has not yet acted on any of it. On January 30, 2018, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee held hearings on rural broadband and closing the digital divide. Twenty- five resolutions addressing broadband expansion to unserved and underserved areas are before the committee. Members of both political parties representing most of the states have been quoted as saying that without funding, there will be no broadband expansion. NEW PROPOSALS FOR KANSAS In the absence of FCC or congressional action, I proposed several rural broadband measures in the Kansas House of Representatives. HB 2563 presents two funding options that can be considered separately or in combination. e first option reduces the existing contributions for voice services provided through the Kansas Universal Service Fund (KUSF) and uses the "savings" to invest in rural broadband support. is is a very traditional approach, similar to the FCC's approach in creating the Connect America Fund. It has elicited opposition from telecommunications providers that receive support from the KUSF and will not raise more than $20 million per year. e more innovative proposal requires all advanced telecommunications service entities to contribute to the KUSF to help deploy broadband to unserved and underserved rural areas. ese entities include not only broadband internet service providers, such as telephone and cable companies, but also providers of A bill before the Kansas legislature requires broadband subscription-based services to help fund rural deployments.

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