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DSL/vectoring/G.fast

Defining Broadband

5:00 PM -- The Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) for the broadband portion of the Recovery Act was released today. In that 121-page document, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) -- the two agencies charged with doling out some $7.2 billion in broadband grants and loans -- have determined that basic broadband really doesn't have to be fast or very useful at all.

From the NOFA:

RUS and NTIA conclude that "broadband service" should be defined as the provision of two-way data transmission with advertised speeds of at least 768 kilobits per second (kbps) downstream and 200 kbps upstream to end users...

RUS and NTIA favor this broadband speed threshold because it leverages the FCC's 2280 expertise, utilizes an established standard, facilitates the use of many currently common 2281 broadband applications (e.g., web browsing, VOIP, and one-way video), allows for consideration of cost-effective solutions for difficult-to-serve areas, and is the most technology-neutral option (because it encompasses all major wired and wireless technologies).


It's amazing that they set the hurdle so low here. Most cable companies don't even sell Internet connections that slow.

The RUS and NTIA have opted to do what's easy to document and process, rather than what's good for consumers and what makes sense for the next decade. They seem to be making this Recovery Act nothing more than a process that prolongs the pain.

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:01:35 PM
re: Defining Broadband

Like I said, I was just wondering out loud about the fact that there might be places so remote or so geographically challenged that 768K is the best effort. Since the main idea for these funds is to bring broadband to where it ain't, perhaps 768K is just a first step. Hard to tell without seeing any actual proposals on the table. But should those projects be excluded just because they're not "fast enough" for outside "expert" observers who have no skin in the game?


I just don't see the criticism of low-speed qualifiers as valid without taking the entire program's objectives into account. If the minimum speeds were set too high, new providers might not even try to get any of the funds and then folks here would criticize the feds for setting the bar too high for economic sense. You can't win, so the best thing to do is just try.


Is anyone here complaining about low speeds offering better ideas on how to get faster speeds delivered more cheaply to challenging environments? Or just whining about the gubmint? Remember, the rules don't stop potential providers from offering faster speeds -- in fact they encourage it and theoretically will favor faster bids over slower. Hard to understand why such a plan warrants instant criticism.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:01:35 PM
re: Defining Broadband

Like I said, I was just wondering out loud about the fact that there might be places so remote or so geographically challenged that 768K is the best effort. Since the main idea for these funds is to bring broadband to where it ain't, perhaps 768K is just a first step. Hard to tell without seeing any actual proposals on the table. But should those projects be excluded just because they're not "fast enough" for outside "expert" observers who have no skin in the game?


I just don't see the criticism of low-speed qualifiers as valid without taking the entire program's objectives into account. If the minimum speeds were set too high, new providers might not even try to get any of the funds and then folks here would criticize the feds for setting the bar too high for economic sense. You can't win, so the best thing to do is just try.


Is anyone here complaining about low speeds offering better ideas on how to get faster speeds delivered more cheaply to challenging environments? Or just whining about the gubmint? Remember, the rules don't stop potential providers from offering faster speeds -- in fact they encourage it and theoretically will favor faster bids over slower. Hard to understand why such a plan warrants instant criticism.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:01:35 PM
re: Defining Broadband

You will.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:01:35 PM
re: Defining Broadband

re: Don't deny those on dial-up the "jump" to at least 768k.


I think settling for 768k denies the folks who need broadband the most a chance to realistically participate in the 'Net's massive and unstoppable shift to video-based communication.


These folks&nbsp;were&nbsp;left behind before the ARRA was signed into law.


They'll still be left behind when this so-called Recovery is complete.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:01:34 PM
re: Defining Broadband

re:&nbsp;Since the main idea for these funds is to&nbsp;bring broadband to where it ain't, perhaps 768K is just a first step


The main idea for these funds is to create jobs. I think setting the threshold higher would require telcos to do some hard(er) work. And hard work, in the outside plant, especially, would be welcome right about now.


re:&nbsp;&nbsp;Hard to understand why such a plan warrants instant criticism.


I don't think expecting our government to do better qualifies as unwarranted criticism. Giving regulators a pat on the back for trying is just not acceptable for those of us who feel the rural markets deserve a chance to at least catch up to the rest of the nation.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:01:34 PM
re: Defining Broadband

Just FYI, from the NECA tariffs:


&nbsp;


General (Cont&rsquo;d)
Where technically feasible, ADSL Access Service is
available as two service options, i.e., ADSL
Voice-Data and ADSL Data-Only.
(A) The ADSL Voice-Data option provides transmission
of data signals using the Telephone Company&rsquo;s
existing local exchange service line at peak data
transmission speeds of 512 kbps upstream/6 Mbps
downstream, 1 Mbps upstream/6 Mbps downstream, (T)
3 Mbps upstream/15 Mbps downstream or 5 Mbps (C)
upstream/50 Mbps downstream. The ADSL Voice-Data
option may be used for simultaneous voice and
data communications.
(B) The ADSL Data-Only option provides transmission
of data signals using the Telephone Company&rsquo;s
existing local exchange facilities at peak
transmission speeds of 512 kbps upstream/6 Mbps
downstream, 1 Mbps upstream/6 Mbps downstream, (T)
3 Mbps upstream/15 Mbps downstream or 5 Mbps (C)
upstream/50 Mbps downstream. The ADSL Data-Only
option does not provide the ability to transmit
voice communications.


seven


&nbsp;

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:01:34 PM
re: Defining Broadband

Seven,


My guess is that most of the bids will probably mirror developments like those you cite -- especially with WiMax, it seems like the cost of operations are coming down quickly enough to allow for real broadband speeds in just about every situation.


That said, it's clear that *somebody* lobbied the NTIA and FCC to keep the speed barrier lower for some reason -- haven't heard one yet but I do know there are other locales perhaps more mountainous or vegetated than Texas that present additional last-mile challenges. Like I said, hard to figure out until we see some actual proposals.


And -- if the folks from Texas can scale those operations elsewhere, they can theoretically beat out the low-speed bids. After watching the debacle over the "D" block auctions at 700 MHz -- where the FCC did an incredibly poor, maybe purposely poor, job of trying to "mandate" a public good and it blew up in their face -- I'd rather see the government set low hurdles and let the market compete to aim higher.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:01:34 PM
re: Defining Broadband

Seven,


My guess is that most of the bids will probably mirror developments like those you cite -- especially with WiMax, it seems like the cost of operations are coming down quickly enough to allow for real broadband speeds in just about every situation.


That said, it's clear that *somebody* lobbied the NTIA and FCC to keep the speed barrier lower for some reason -- haven't heard one yet but I do know there are other locales perhaps more mountainous or vegetated than Texas that present additional last-mile challenges. Like I said, hard to figure out until we see some actual proposals.


And -- if the folks from Texas can scale those operations elsewhere, they can theoretically beat out the low-speed bids. After watching the debacle over the "D" block auctions at 700 MHz -- where the FCC did an incredibly poor, maybe purposely poor, job of trying to "mandate" a public good and it blew up in their face -- I'd rather see the government set low hurdles and let the market compete to aim higher.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:01:32 PM
re: Defining Broadband

re: "That said, it's clear that *somebody* lobbied the NTIA and FCC to keep the speed barrier lower for some reason."



This is pretty much a no brainer.&nbsp; Think of it this way.&nbsp; Imagine you are a college professor and the test results are in.&nbsp; A large group of students failed the class while only a few actually understood the material and passed.&nbsp; Now, you start getting word that some group is advocating that the failing grades be considered passing grades, i.e. the bar for performance should be lowered to meet the results (as opposed to holding the bar up and figuring out how to impart the knowledge.)&nbsp; It probably isn't the passing students that would advocate such a policy change but rather the ones that don't have the desire to do the work to make the grade.&nbsp;&nbsp;


Now with these loans it's not about grades but money.&nbsp; Lowering the bar rewards failed performances and maintains the status quo by giving them more money.&nbsp; One doesn't have to look too hard to see the long term outcomes when this becomes standard practice.

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:01:32 PM
re: Defining Broadband

Rural areas are truly the litmus test for government policy in that long term monies should go into long term infrastructure.&nbsp; In that context the vast majority of money should go into fiber outside plant construction.&nbsp; The equipment purchases don't have long enough life spans to be funded with this long term money due to technology churn.&nbsp;&nbsp; The proven model that solves the churn issue is customer owned equipment.

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