March 16, 2017
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About 46% of total internet installations in people’s homes fall below download speeds of 25Mbps, leaving almost half of the homes in the United States with substandard internet services in comparison to the rest of the country. Many of these underserved homes fall in rural areas outside of the purview of major landline internet providers, where they have determined the cost to build the infrastructure necessary to bring fiber optic internet into homes is not worth what they would make in return.
Satellite internet company HughesNet is looking to even the playing field a little bit. In December, they launched their EchoStar XIX satellite, which is now safely in orbit with all systems go and ready to provide satellite internet plans featuring 25Mbps download speeds with their Gen5 service.
More from Forbes:
With this new expansion of their high-speed internet services, Hughes expects to be able to compete for a lot of people still using DSL, dial-up, and other older internet technologies.
“One are we think is a cause of great frustration is low-speed DSL,” said Hughes EVP Mike Cook. “It’s a copper-based technology that telcos are not investing in. We think for people who are on that, HughestNet Gen V is a tremendous upgrade in service capability.”
The expansion of the satellite network also allows Hughes to help shed data caps. Under its new service, Hughes customers will have “soft” data caps – once they hit their data limit, the service will downgrade their priority in terms of service (meaning things will slow down at certain times of day) rather than cutting off service completely. The latter is a source of some consternation to satellite internet customers. Customers will also get a free 50GB worth of data per month if that data’s used during off-peak hours.
The big perk of this is that DSL and satellite customer who previously weren’t able to use streaming services like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Prime will now have the opportunity. (Although Cook recommends sticking to standard def in order to avoid capping your data plan.) The plans are cost-competitive, too, with consumer plans starting at $49.99 per month and business plans at $69.99 per month.
While satellite internet does not offer all the benefits that some of the higher-level services in more urban and suburban areas offer, it is improving, and HughesNet is leading the way.
January 30, 2017
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Many students across the nation, especially those in rural areas, lack the access to high speed internet necessary for remaining competitive with students attending schools in areas that do feature high speed internet access. As more and more work, and applying for jobs, is done online, not to mention the amount of educational material available online for students to access, it is imperative to get students up to speed, as it were, no matter where they’re located.
The state of Virginia is making those advances. More from the Hampton Roads Business Journal:
Virginia has made significant progress in the ongoing effort to bring high-speed internet to more schools and students statewide according to a recently published report.
EducationSuperHighway’s annual “State of the States” report on K-12 broadband connectivity, found that 72 percent of Virginia school divisions now meet the Federal Communications Commission’s minimum Internet access goal of 100 kbps per student, which is up from 46 percent in 2015 and 33 percent in 2014.
In addition, this year’s report also found that 72 percent of Virginia school divisions meet the minimum connectivity goal of 100 kbps per student, a significant jump from 46 percent at this time last year, and 33 percent in 2014.
Stay up to date on the progress of EducationSuperHighway here at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.
December 27, 2016
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The United States’ neighbors to the north face many of the same problems as the USA when it comes to high speed internet. Urban and most suburban areas are served by high speed internet service providers, but rural areas lack the infrastructure necessary for the fiber optic cables that provide high speed internet, and because there are few potential customers in these areas, providers have no incentive to build the necessary infrastructure. Canada has recognized this problem, and is trying to rectify it with up to $750 million earmarked for wiring up rural areas.
More from The Verge:
As part of declaring broadband a “basic” or essential service, the CRTC has also set new goals for download and upload speeds. For fixed broadband services, all citizens should have the option of unlimited data with speeds of at least 50 megabits per second for downloads and 10 megabits per second for uploads — a tenfold increase of previous targets set in 2011. The goals for mobile coverage are less ambitious, and simply call for “access to the latest mobile wireless technology” in cities and major transport corridors.
The CRTC estimates that some two million Canadian households, or 18 percent of the population, do not currently have access to their desired speeds. The $750 million government fund will help to pay for infrastructure to remedy this. The money will be distributed over five years, with the CRTC expecting 90 percent of Canadians to access the new speeds by 2021.
The new digital plan also touches on accessibility problems, with CRTC mandating that wireless service providers will have to offer platforms that address the needs of people with hearing or speech disabilities within six months. Blais said this timeline was necessary, as the country “can’t depend on market forces to address these issues.”
More on this story as it develops from the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.
November 30, 2016
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In order to keep schools up to date with those in other states, Kansas is making moves to spread high speed internet to schools throughout the state, a potential $100 million initiative with nonprofit EducationSuperHighway in the works.
More from the Garden City Telegram:
Officials described EducationSuperHighway’s role as providing technical expertise. The organization will coordinate with districts and internet service providers to develop plans for upgrades.
Gov. Sam Brownback said Kansas may have to allocate upward of $10 million toward the program, which he said would come from the Universal Service Fund. The hope is that 80-90 percent of project costs can be paid for through the federal government.
“Our goal is simple: bring digital learning capabilities to every Kansas classroom,” Brownback said. “Technically speaking, that means we need fiber-optic connections to every school. We need Wi-Fi access in every school. We need connectivity that districts can afford.”
EducationSuperHighway aims to provide districts with analysis and technical resources to help with upgrades that are cost-effective. According to the Kansas State Department of Education, the organization’s services will be free.
Kansas is not paying the nonprofit for its services, Brownback said. EducationSuperHighway draws upon a variety of corporate and philanthropic funders, including foundations connected to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
A largely rural state, Kansas faces some of the problems of other states with widespread rural populations, in that service providers do not see money in building the infrastructure necessary to bring high speed internet to far-flung areas. Hopefully this initiative will benefit not only schools, but in the long run, the entire population.
November 7, 2016
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Google Fiber, Alphabet’s high speed internet program piloting in several cities across the United States, is putting its efforts to expand on pause, as well as laying off or reassigning about ten percent of its staff, with the company deciding to refocus its efforts on wireless rather than fiber optic service. The eight metro areas that already have Google Fiber will not be affected but those in the cities where the company was supposed to expand will have to keep their current high speed internet services.
More from Ars Technica:
Here are the details on where Google Fiber will and won’t be deploying Internet service. Google Fiber is already available in:
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Austin, Texas
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Kansas City in Missouri and Kansas
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Provo, Utah
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- The Triangle in North Carolina
Google Fiber is still publicly committed to building in Huntsville, Alabama; Irvine, California; San Antonio, Texas; and Louisville, Kentucky. Those plans are unchanged, the company says.
Eleven areas that Google Fiber listed as either “potential” or “upcoming” Fiber cities are subject to the “pause,” or have simply been removed from Google Fiber’s published plans entirely. That’s where employees will lose their jobs. The cities where the ISP’s fiber operations will be paused or ended are:
Los Angeles, California
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
Stay tuned at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog for more on this story as it develops.
October 31, 2016
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It’s been a big year for AT&T. They just agreed to acquire media giant Time Warner (not to be confused with Time Warner Cable, obtained earlier this year by Charter Communications), and now they have announced a streaming TV service that could change the game when it comes to how households consume TV. DirecTV Now, this new streaming service, will offer more than 100 channels at a price of $35 per month, well below the charges for many traditional cable TV services.
More from Wired:
Previously, the company said that DirecTV Now, due next month, wouldn’t undercut the steep price of cable television. But a $35 price tag is very much a shot across the bows of cable companies like Comcast, and in revealing the new strategy at a conference in Southern California, AT&T CEO Randall Stevenson said as much. “It’s clear what customers want. They want premium content in a mobile environment,” Stephenson said. “Our goal is to drive prices down.”
The move is also a way of bolstering support for the company’s $85.4 billion deal to acquire Time Warner. Regulators will heavily scrutinize the proposed merger of two such large and influential companies, but the pair are insistent that the deal benefits consumers. Certainly, internet television benefits consumers. The ideal is a world where consumers can watch whatever they want over the internet from any device, rather than bow to the restrictions of old-fashioned cable TV.
According to Stephenson, AT&T envisions DirecTV Now as service that will eventually operate not just over landline internet connection but across 5G wireless connections, which it plans to deploy by 2018 and expand in 2019 and 2020. In this way, Stephenson wants to directly compete with cable TV. “I border on evangelical about it,” he said.
By the time the new service hits the market, the price may have changed, and competitors like Comcast and Charter Spectrum may have their own alternatives at the ready. But for now, it looks like AT&T and DirecTV are ahead of the game, and appealing to cord cutters in their own way.
August 23, 2016
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Each generation has a technology that changes lives, transforms communities, and connects people across the United States and across the world. In the past, it was electricity. Then, the telephone. Now, it’s high-speed internet, and just like with those previous innovations, people in rural communities throughout the United States are being left behind.
Sherman, Mississippi is one of those towns, where the cost for major high speed internet providers is too great to provide the infrastructure necessary to give every resident and business access. That is, without federal funding.
More from DJournal.com:
The FCC’s 2009 Broadband Task Force reported 70 percent of homework assigned by teachers required some use of the internet.
According to the Pew Report, roughly 69 percent of Americans indicate that not having at-home high-speed internet would be a major disadvantage to finding a job, getting health information or accessing key information, a jump from 56 percent in 2010.
For years, the Public Service Commission has approved funds that are subsidies to phone companies called the Universal Service Fund.
Thus, the need has been recognized, and the funding is there. But more and more communities are having to wait, and being left behind, and that is not a good thing.
August 17, 2016
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Last October, Google Fiber announced it would install its high speed internet service in Tampa, FL, with residents and officials excited about the development to provide internet roughly 30 times faster than the national average to the Florida city. Because providing the service is more expensive than initially thought, it is now on hold.
More from the Tampa Bay Times:
“We’re continuing to work with city leaders to explore the possibility of bringing Google Fiber to Tampa,” Google said in a statement emailed to the Tampa Bay Times. “This means deploying the latest technologies in alignment with our product road map, while understanding local considerations, which takes time.”
Tampa is among a handful of U.S. cities being considered for the high-speed service.
Russell Haupert, the city’s chief technology officer, said Google is continuing its engineering review in Tampa and is still in the exploratory phase.
The Journal reported that Google is now hoping to use wireless technology to connect homes, rather than cables.
The search-engine giant’s ultimate decision on whether to provide the ultra-fast service depends on a review of Tampa’s permitting regulations and city and state rules that govern utility providers. Cities are also judged on factors like the ability to use existing infrastructure and the topography of an area.
For now, Tampa and St. Pete area customers will still have all their previous options for high speed internet providers, but at 30 times slower speeds than they might have hoped.
August 9, 2016
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The state of Wisconsin’s Broadband Office released a survey last week to let homeowners and business owners in the Badger state air their grievances about the cost and availability of high speed internet in Wisconsin. The survey will be available until November 23 on the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin website, where there is more information as well.
According to WXPR.org, the survey is a followup to the Broadband Expansion Grant created in 2013 by Governor Scott Walker:
The program was awarded 2.4 million dollars and leveraged 3.9 million dollars in additional private investment.
Communications and Legislative Director for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Elise Nelson says the survey measures consumer views on broadband availability and will map locations where there is demand.
Nelson says the business survey collects the same information along with the kind of business using the internet and how many employees need it.
The PSC held statewide workshops earlier this year on how to apply for the broadband expansion grant. The application period closed June 16 and commissioners are considering 37 applications requesting 3.8 million dollars.
More on this story as it develops at the TV, Internet and Phone Blog.
July 5, 2016
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Google Fiber, the high speed internet service that currently is in its pilot stage in a few cities in the United States, has acquired another high speed internet provider, Webpass. This acquisition is planned to lead to expansion for Google Fiber and the ability to compete with other providers such as Comcast and Charter.
More from CNBC:
“By joining forces, we can accelerate the deployment of super-fast Internet connections for customers across the U.S. Webpass will remain focused on rapid deployment of high speed Internet connections for residential and commercial buildings, primarily using point to point wireless,” Charles Barr, president of Webpass said in a blog post.
Webpass said it as “tens of thousands” of customers across five major markets in the U.S. It operates in cities including San Francisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, San Diego, Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Chicago, and Boston.
Google Fiber is present in 55 cities, including San Francisco, and the acquisition will help the company expand its presence there. And the Alphabet-owned subsidiary has also targeted a few further cities it is aiming to be present in soon.
Webpass owns its own infrastructure meaning it doesn’t have to rely on phone and cable companies, something that it said has allowed it to grow quickly. Its focus is also on large residential and commercial buildings, something that is hard to for new players to get into because of the multi-year deals often signed by the larger players like Comcast and Time Warner Cable.
While it is not clear what this will mean for customers, more companies competing to provide better service tends to work out well for the end user in terms of quality of service and price.