$55 million in rural broadband grants cancelled by FCC

3 February 2015 by Steve Blum
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FCC avoids a “resource-intensive effort”

The FCC chopped 16 more applicants from its rural broadband experiment program. By removing uncertainty as to the outcome, FCC staff is making a mockery of the experiments, creating the appearance that they want an easy ride, rather than a rigorous process designed to test prospective rural broadband systems and business models. Without the possibility of failure, it’s not an experiment and the lessons learned will be meager.

Last month, 37 winning bidders in the subsidy competition were announced.… More

FCC needs to recognise that paying for knowledge isn't the same as buying service

26 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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Negative results can be a positive benefit.

Thirty-seven companies and other organisations were on the list of winning bidders vying to take part in the FCC’s rural broadband experiments. Of those, six are already off the list because they “either withdrew from consideration for rural broadband experiments funding or did not submit the required information by the Friday, December 19 deadline”, according to the FCC.

Another 15 have asked the FCC to waive some of the rules, in particular one that requires certification of technical plans by a professional engineer and another that asks for audited financial statements.… More

The FCC can't make 25 Mbps a genuine national broadband standard by itself

9 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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Click for the big version.

Raising the FCC’s definition of acceptable home broadband from the current 4 Mbps down/1 Mbps up level to 25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up would certainly be symbolic. The practical effect, though, depends on what the FCC and other agencies – state and local – do with it.

An article on Ars Technica says that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has a draft report under review that would raise the bar to 25/3.… More

FCC crushes old limits on rural broadband speeds

15 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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The minimum download speed for FCC-subsidised broadband projects and services in rural areas is now 10 Mbps. The commission raised the standard on Thursday. Required upload speeds haven’t change, though…

The FCC will now require companies receiving Connect America funding for fixed broadband to serve consumers with speeds of at least 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads. That is an increase reflecting marketplace and technological changes that have occurred since the FCC set its previous requirement of 4 Mbps/1 Mbps speeds in 2011.


FCC blocks ViaSat's end run around rural experiment standards

13 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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You’ve got to hand it to the people at ViaSat. They don’t give up. If FCC tests – correctly – show that satellite Internet service has both advantages and disadvantages, then shout the good news loud enough to shake the rafters and browbeat the FCC into suppressing the bad. If the FCC wants to conduct an experiment to see if there are technologies and business models that can deliver urban-quality broadband service to rural customers, try to duck the quality requirements when no one is looking.… More

California beats the odds in FCC rural broadband experiments

10 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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Sometimes things turn out better than you might expect.

California came out pretty well in the FCC’s provisional rural broadband experiment decisions. Of the 40 bidders that were accepted, 3 proposed a total of 9 projects in California. That’s 11% of the total number of accepted projects. In dollar terms, projects in our state did even better, claiming $16 million of the $99.5 million, 16% of the money tentatively awarded by the FCC.

There wasn’t much information given about the projects or the bidders by the FCC, just names, number of bids selected, total amount of the grant requested and total number of census blocks covered.… More

FCC's chosen rural broadband experiments likely skew heavily towards wireless

9 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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The FCC has provisionally blessed 86 project bids submitted by 40 different companies for the rural broadband experiments program. The total tab is $99.5 million, just inside the $100 million limit for the program’s kitty. The companies selected have 10 days to submit the rest of the required financial, technical and other information.

It’s hard to tell much from the information released by the FCC – just total dollars and census blocks for each company.… More

There's still interest in rural broadband experiments, but no way to judge feasibility yet

24 November 2014 by Steve Blum
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If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Hundreds of companies, communities and miscellaneous organisations, representing just a touch shy of a thousand projects, told the FCC last March that they wanted to take part in its rural broadband experiment program. When it came time to actually submit a bid – it’s effectively an auction process – only 181 applications were received by the 7 November 2014 deadline.

The FCC hasn’t released a list of the bidders.… More

FCC rural broadband experiments become 10% more cost effective in California

12 September 2014 by Steve Blum
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Any Californian ISP that gets funding from the FCC to build out and operate an experimental rural broadband system can also get money from the California Advanced Services Fund. The California Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved a blanket 10% match of any federal funds an ISP might win via the FCC’s program.

The hope is that the extra CASF subsidy will buy down the cost of pursuing those rural broadband experiments in California, making them more cost effective in the eyes of the FCC and giving them a competitive edge against proposals from other states.… More

CPUC considers making rural broadband experiments 10% sweeter

14 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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Proposals for FCC-funded rural broadband experiments in California will get an extra, and automatic, 10% subsidy, if the California Public Utilities Commission approves new draft rules released earlier this week.

As currently written, the resolution

Pre-authorizes CASF monies for any California projects that the FCC selects and provides for such projects to be subject to the FCC Rural Broadband Experiments rules, not the CASF program rules. California applicants interested in participating in these Experiments must file with the FCC by October 13, 2014.