Five rural broadband principles from Broadband Connects America

The Benton Foundation reports on the Broadband Connects America and their Principles to Connect Rural America. Here are the five principles:

  1. Funding should be simple and allocated directly to infrastructure needs, not directly to last-mile carriers.
  2. Closing the rural digital divide will require a combination of approaches that reflects the complexity of the challenges of deploying broadband to rural America.
  3. Deployment should be focused on achieving tangible, affordable universal service to all rural Americans rather than allocated based on profit per population density.
  4. Restoring net neutrality is essential to closing the rural digital divide.
  5. Rural Americans’ access to high-speed internet should not be disadvantaged because of geography.

The FCC is looking for comments on broadband service for veterans

The FCC is looking for comments

WC Docket No. 18-275
Comments Due: October 12, 2018
Reply Comments Due: October 29, 2018
In this Public Notice, as required by the RAY BAUM’S Act of 2018, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) seeks information and data for the Federal Communications Commission’s (Commission) report on promoting broadband Internet access service for veterans.1 Section 504 of the RAY BAUM’S Act of 2018 directs the Commission to, within one year, “submit to Congress a report on
promoting broadband Internet access service for veterans, in particular lowincome veterans and veterans residing in rural areas” and “provide the public with notice and an opportunity to comment” in preparing the report.2 In the report, the Commission is required to examine veterans’ access to broadband and how to promote such access, and provide findings and recommendations for Congress on
those issues.3
Broadband is critical to ensuring that veterans, like all Americans, have full and meaningful participation in society. It ensures that veterans in particular can
access the resources they need to connect with health care services, find jobs, get information on and apply for military benefits, and generally participate in modern
society. The Commission’s top priority remains promoting digital opportunities for all Americans, including veterans. For example, the Commission’s recent telehealth Notice of Inquiry sought comment on “developing a Universal Service Fund pilot program to explore how to promote the use of broadband-enabled telehealth services . . . [among] low-income veterans, with a focus on such services
. . . delivered directly to patients outside of brick-and-mortar health care facilities.”4 The Notice of Inquiry identified the significant obstacles faced by lowincome
veterans and veterans residing in rural areas to obtain healthcare, and noted that veterans living in rural areas are among the largest population of … (read more)

Minnesota PUC rules in favor of Charter limits state regulation by calling VoIP an “information service”

Ars Technica reports…

A court ruling that limits state regulation of cable company offerings was praised by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who says the ruling supports his contention that the FCC can preempt state-level net neutrality rules.

The new court ruling found that Minnesota’s state government cannot regulate VoIP phone services offered by Charter and other cable companies because VoIP is an “information service” under federal law. Pai argues that the case is consistent with the FCC’s attempt to preempt state-level net neutrality rules, in which the commission reclassified broadband as a Title I information service instead of a Title II telecommunications service.

The ruling was issued Friday by the US Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, following a lawsuit filed by Charter Communications against the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). A three-judge panel ruled against Minnesota in a 2-1 vote—the FCC had filed a brief supporting Charter’s position in the case.

You can find the decision online.

USDA to Implement Regulatory Reforms to Increase Access to Capital in Rural Areas

News on funding from the USDA. They are holding a few listening sessions and many are available online…

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2018 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is hosting listening sessions to solicit feedback on a plan to increase access to capital in rural areas by streamlining regulations for four Rural Development loan guarantee programs.

“At USDA, we know that for many rural communities the regulations that govern our programs can be outdated and difficult to navigate,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to simplifying our regulations and streamlining our program resources so we can be a better partner to rural leaders in building prosperity.”

The changes will simplify the application process for four Rural Development loan guarantee programs that provide funding to start, improve and expand businesses and build critical infrastructure. They also will incorporate modern lending practices, accelerate the loan approval processes and increase the amount of capital available in rural communities. The programs are the Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program, the Water and Waste Disposal Guaranteed Loan Program, the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and the Rural Energy for America Program.

The Rural Development Innovation Center is hosting listening sessions this month to solicit comments on the reforms.

Listening sessions will be held:

  • Sept. 10 in Denver from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. MDT at the Denver Federal Center. To attend virtually, visit:  Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 10 in Lexington, Ky., from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT at the USDA Rural Development State Office. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 12 in Lake Ozark, Mo., from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT at the Lodge of Four Seasons. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 14 in East Stroudsburg, Pa., from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at East Stroudsburg University. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 19 (virtually only, focus on Tribal areas) from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. To attend, visit: Attend virtually.
  • Sept. 20 in Washington, D.C., from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT at USDA Whitten Building, Room 107-A. To attend virtually, visit: Attend virtually.

National League of Cities releases model code for small cell equipment policies

Route Fifty reports…

The National League of Cities has released a model code that municipal leaders can consult when deploying small cell wireless infrastructure, emphasizing local needs over federal and industry interests.

Small cells form the backbone of fifth-generation wireless, or 5G, broadband service that internet providers have promised to begin rolling out in 2018.

Minnesota came up with a lot of statewide policies in 2017, in time to help smooth the path to 5G in and around US Bank stadium for the Super Bowl, but it still might helpful or at least interesting to see what the National League of Cities recommends.

CAF II auctions in MN: 16 winners of $38.3M for 12,000 locations

On Tuesday, the FCC released the winners of the Connect American Fund (CAF) II Auction. ECN Magazine reports…

The FCC on Tuesday revealed names of the winning bidders of its Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) auction, which concluded last week and will dole out $1.488 billion to internet service providers to expand fixed internet coverage in rural areas.

The winners span a variety of different service provider types, with satellite providers, electric cooperatives and WISPs filling out those receiving the most support in auction funds.

Here are the winners listed for Minnesota:

I’ve copied items from their table which included:
Bidder – FRN –Assigned Support over 10 Years – Number of Locations

  1. Broadband Corp – 0016419392 – $428,117.00  – 128
  2. Consolidated Telephone Company – 0003742467 – $934,933.80  – 358
  3. Farmers Mutual Telephone Company – 0003747722 – $ 348,991.60 – 163
  4. Federated Telephone Cooperative – 0003741576  – $1,431,038.80 – 808
  5. Fond du Lac Reservation Business Committee – 0027389550 – $55,010.80 – 13
  6. Garden Valley Telephone Company – 0002652519 – $880,346.00 – 95
  7. Halstad Telephone Company – 0003744224 – $19,635.20 – 7
  8. Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc. – 0003741550 – $552,329.60 – 209
  9. Jaguar Communication, Inc – 0004365961 – $510,587.60 – 672
  10. Johnson Telephone Company – 0004311304 – $81,272.50 – 47
  11. LTD Broadband LLC – 0020926788 – $1,104,440.80 – 840
  12. Midcontinent Communications – 0002621951 – $27,977,283.80 – 7,410
  13. Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative – 0002644953 – $1,313,542.60 – 315
  14. Roseau Electric Cooperative, Inc. – 0009568379 – $2,081,769.70 – 326
  15. West Central Telephone Association – 0002645612 – $611,934.40 – 532
  16. Wikstrom Telephone Company – 0004319372 – $532,556.80 – 56

Assuming I didn’t miss one – and please let me know if you notice I did, it looks like $38,331,234.20 for 11,979 locations.