Thursday, August 26, 2010

Biden announces $1.8 billion broadband stimulus awards

I think the operative word here is begin: because we still have a long way to go and it is now clear that the stimulus money will run out long before all of America's rural communities have access to true broadband connectivity (i.e. something other than over-priced satellite service with its crippling latency and crushing usage caps):
“Today’s investment in broadband technology will create jobs across the country and expand opportunities for millions of Americans and American companies. In addition to bringing 21st century infrastructure to underserved communities and rural areas, these investments will begin to harness the power of broadband to improve education, health care, and public safety,” said Vice President Biden. -- Biden announces $1.8 billion broadband stimulus awards | MuniWireless
Don't get me wrong, I truly appreciate the Obama-Biden Plan putting rural broadband on the national agenda. But until the regulators get serious about making telecommunication companies give more back to the communities they run their cables through, but whose needs they by-pass, well the future will continue to look bleak for millions of rural homes and businesses.

The Cost of Digital Exclusion: Rural Minnesota waits for high-speed Internet

Some great coverage here of how the America's telcos are choking off business for rural Americans:
Bruce Kerfoot summed up an equally pressing issue at the summit. He owns Gunflint Lodge near Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area.

Kerfoot said his family recently decided to vacation in a remote Swiss village. It took them two minutes to make an online reservation at the resort they had chosen. "There is not one person in Europe who can make an online reservation with me," Kerfoot said.

Further, Kerfoot said he hasn't had a foreign visitor all year while half the customers at Canadian wilderness resorts in the Rockies have come from Asia where travelers overwhelmingly prefer to book online.

Living in remote and rugged northeastern Minnesota, Kerfoot is among some 100,000 households in the state that don't have broadband. And he can't get it even if he wants to pay for it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Federal Government Buys Into a Telco-sponsored Oxymoron: Satellite Broadband

Here's how the federal government perpetuates the myth that satellite internet service is broadband:
Just as satellites orbiting the earth provide necessary links for telephone and television service, they can also provide links for broadband. Satellite broadband is another form of wireless broadband, and is also useful for serving remote or sparsely populated areas. [Satellite is NOT broadband]

Downstream and upstream speeds for satellite broadband depend on several factors, including the provider and service package purchased, the consumer’s line of sight to the orbiting satellite, and the weather. Typically a consumer can expect to receive (download) at a speed of about 500 Kbps and send (upload) at a speed of about 80 Kbps. These speeds may be slower than DSL and cable modem, but they are about 10 times faster than the download speed with dial-up Internet access. Service can be disrupted in extreme weather conditions. [And you cannot use it for real-time commodities trading, VPN, VoIP, or watching videos, movies, TV, etc.]

Types of Broadband Connections - Broadband.gov

List of Rural Broadband Projects Funded August 5

This week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the funding of 126 new Recovery Act broadband infrastructure projects to help create jobs and provide rural residents in 38 states and Native American tribal areas access to improved service.

The announcement is part of the second round of USDA broadband funding through the Recovery Act. A complete list of projects receiving Recovery Act broadband grant awards today can be viewed in full by clicking here. PrecisionAg.com - More Rural Broadband Projects Funded

Monday, August 2, 2010

Rural Poor to Get Poorer? 14 to 24 million Americans lack access to broadband

From International Business Times:
"In March, the FCC introduced the comprehensive National Broadband Plan. The FCC says somewhere in the range of 14 to 24 million Americans lack access to broadband internet connections. Most live in poorer, sparsely populated rural communities." -- FCC's National Broadband Plan Comes Under Fire
Those poorer rural communities are only going to get poorer if they don't get broadband. No broadband = lower property values; apart from the Amish, very few Americans want to live or work or raise a family without broadband. Lower property values = declining tax base = fewer services = poorer schools, and so on in a cycle of decline.

Read the full article for a detailed look at the issues involved. We have to say that between inter-agency wrangling and the lobbying might of the big telcos (who want $20,000 per mile to connect rural users) the outlook is not good.