AT&T to Make Mobile 5G a Reality in at Least 21 Major Cities this Year, including Minneapolis and Chicago

The latest from AT&T…

AT&T to Make Mobile 5G a Reality in at Least 21 Major Cities this Year, including Minneapolis and Chicago

FEB 13, 2019 – It’s been about 50 days since we’ve introduced our mobile 5G+ mmWave network and a 5G capable mobile hot spot to customers. As the 5G leader in the U.S., we are pushing the industry and driving network and device performance improvements with our suppliers quickly.

In fact, due to a number of incremental improvements on both the network and device side, some of our early customers using 5G delivered over millimeter wave spectrum, which we call 5G+, have experienced speeds in the range of 200-300 megabits per second – and even as high as 400 megabits per second.* And we’ve recently observed wireless speeds surpassing 1.5 gigabits per second in field testing on our 5G+ network using a test device. **

Given this encouraging start to our 5G launch, we are moving forward in bringing 5G+ to parts of more cities in the coming months. Today, we’re adding Minneapolis, MN and Chicago, IL to our 2019 deployment roadmap.

We expect 5G+ customer performance and speed to continue to improve in the coming months as we gather learnings from our real-world, commercial network, giving us a head start relative to others still looking to roll out 5G. In addition, we’re on track and expect to have a nationwide 5G network using sub-6 Ghz spectrum by early 2020.

“Getting to mobile 5G first meant pushing the industry and ourselves faster than ever before, but we did it right and blazed a trail for others to follow,” said Jeff McElfresh, President, AT&T Technology Operations. “Now that we’ve had a few weeks to let the network breathe and look at real world results, I’m very encouraged by what we’re seeing. We can’t wait to drive forward and bring 5G+ to even more consumers and businesses in the coming months.”

“It is exciting to see AT&T as one of the world’s leaders in these early innings of 5G”, says Mark Lowenstein, managing director, Mobile Ecosystem. “This promises to be an exciting year, as we learn about initial mmWave deployments, expand coverage to more cities and across additional bands of spectrum, and see more 5G devices.”

Insights from One of the First 5G Customers 

Many of our first mobile 5G customers have been small to medium sized businesses. We think 5G technology has great potential to disrupt and improve many industries and provide a direct benefit to American consumers as a result. To support this, we laid out our strategy for 5G in business last month.

We’re already working with businesses to implement 5G. The first business we connected is Deep South Studios, a full-service motion picture, television and digital media production facility in New Orleans.

“We jumped at the chance to work with AT&T as an early adopter of 5G” said Mick Flannigan, Executive Vice President, Deep South Studios. “We’re interested to see how the technology will handle transferring large amounts of HD video, including high-resolution graphics and video effects. A video production studio can really stand out because of its technology. And if you look at the capabilities of 5G, it feels limitless.”

More Cities to Get 5G this Year 

Given this encouraging start to our 5G launch, we are moving forward in bringing 5G+ to parts of more cities in the coming months. Today, we’re adding Minneapolis, MN and Chicago, IL to our 2019 deployment roadmap.

They will join our previously announced 2019 launch cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose.

Learn more about our path to 5G at att.com/5Gnews.

Better federal broadband coordination is needed – is MN a good model?

The New York Times posted an column from Christopher Ali, professor at University of Virginia on the need to better coordinate federal funding for rural broadband…

Despite the large amount of funding coming from the Rural Utilities Service and the F.C.C., rural America has not seen broadband deployed and adopted at the same speed and effectiveness that it had with electricity and telephone service almost a century ago. The reason for this lag is a lack of coordinated federal policies, which in turn has allowed major telecommunications companies to receive a large portion of these funds without much regulatory accountability. An opaque set of grant and loan stipulations make it difficult for communities to apply for funding, and in some states, a series of laws actively prohibit or inhibit towns and cooperatives from wiring their own communities.

Ali points out that investment is being made but not in a coordinated way that is accessible to smaller providers. But he points to Minnesota as a model worth considering…

I recently traveled to the Midwest to find out where and how federal broadband policies have failed rural America. I spoke with residents, business owners, broadband providers, farmers and officials, and they all told me about the need for high-speed connectivity and a renewed federal strategy.

On the trip, I learned how high-speed broadband keeps professionals living and working in rural America, like the insurance agent I met in Rock County, Minn., who no longer has to lease a second office to digitally file paperwork. It keeps rural businesses competitive, like the radio station in Rock County that no longer needs to subscribe to two Verizon accounts, paying over $1,000 per month for internet service. And it keeps rural students studying, since around 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires an internet connection. Rock County is one example of how communities in rural America can take advantage of the opportunities afforded by broadband.

Almost every state has a broadband deployment plan, Minnesota foremost among them. With so many plans, however, come as many definitions of broadband, target speeds, eligibility requirements for grants and a host of unique priorities. To ensure that high-speed broadband is available for all rural Americans, regardless of state, we need a national rural broadband plan. Standardizing state rural broadband policies isn’t enough: We need a plan to identify and galvanize stakeholders — not just the major telecommunications companies — to inspire change in our current policy approach and democratize the funding process, and to champion the cause of rural broadband across the country. President Franklin Roosevelt and the Rural Electrification Administration did it in 1936 with electricity. We can do the same today.

He ends by pointing out that we need to make changes to who gets the federal funding if we want to serve rural MN…

Last, this national rural broadband policy would show the United States is serious about global competition in community connectivity, agriculture, data processing, telemedicine, education and a host of other industries. Our lack of universal broadband means we are losing that competition. We are losing because we are not taking all stakeholders into account. We are losing because of a lack of coordinated and coherent policies. We are losing because major telecommunications companies get the bulk of funding and fail to deliver. We are losing because the agencies in charge of rural broadband do not even know who has broadband and who does not.

Rochester City Council approves new broadband provider – Metronet

KTTC reports

A new high-speed internet provider is getting the go-ahead to break into the Rochester market after Monday nights city council meeting.

It’s a service called “Metronet.” City leaders hope it gives residents an affordable option for internet access.

Metronet now has up to five years to supply fiber optic cable to 80 percent of Rochester.

The broadband will come to town in preexisting poles and where there’s not a pole, they’ll add underground lines.

This comes after an unanimous vote from city leaders.

The city will get direct benefits…

According to the contract, Metronet service will also provide service for Rochester schools and other public buildings, free of charge.

CenturyLink Misses FCC Connect America Fund Milestones in Minnesota

The Benton Foundation reports…

Earlier this month, CenturyLink and Frontier updated the Federal Communications Commission on the companies’ progress deploying broadband service using support from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund. In 2015, both CenturyLink and Frontier accepted Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II support to deploy broadband service. CenturyLink was to deploy service to over one million locations in 33 states; Frontier to over 774,000 locations in twenty-nine states. But the funds came with obligations to hit deployment milestones. CenturyLink now says it reached December 2018 in twenty-three states, but has not reached the deployment milestone in 11 states: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin. Frontier met the milestone in 27 states, but hasn’t met the CAF Phase II sixty percent interim deployment milestone in Nebraska and New Mexico.

The obligation is to serve a certain number of locations broadband at the speed of 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up by a certain date.

And here’s what the letter from CenturyLink to the FCC says…

In August 2015, CenturyLink accepted Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II support to deploy broadband service to over one million locations in thirty-three states. Using that support, CenturyLink has now enabled broadband service at speeds of at least 10/1 Mbps or higher to over 700,000 locations in CAF II census blocks in those states. This constitutes more than sixty percent of the company’s national CAF II commitment. On a state-by-state basis, CenturyLink’s current year-end data reflect that it met or exceeded the program’s December 31, 2018 interim broadband deployment milestone in twenty-three states.

At this point, however, the data also reflect that CenturyLink may not have reached the deployment milestone in some states. Thus, in accord with 47 C.F.R. § 54.320(d),1 CenturyLink provides this notice that, based on preliminary year-end data, it may not have met the CAF Phase II sixty-percent interim deployment milestone in eleven states. Those states are Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin.

CenturyLink continues its process to review, validate and confirm the data. By March 1, we will provide the vetted requisite information to the HUBB portal in accord with 47 C.F.R. § 54.316.

CenturyLink continues to deploy broadband to CAF II locations under the program, anticipates reaching the sixty-percent milestone in all thirty-three states soon, and remains committed to meeting its CAF II obligations. In accord with section 54.320(d), CenturyLink is also providing this notice to the Universal Service Administrative Company and to state commissions and relevant Tribal Governments in the impacted states. Please contact the undersigned with any questions regarding this notice.

Broadband expansion happening in rural areas of Region Five

The Wadena Pioneer Journal reports…

Two area internet providers plan to hit the ground running this spring with expansion projects that will get folks in Todd and Wadena counties within reach of high-speed internet.

They’re able to lay fiber optic technology in these unserved and under-served areas thanks to millions of dollars in grant funding.

The projects are a cooperative effort involving regional telecommunications companies Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) and West Central Telephone Association (WCTA), with assistance from the Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) and Sourcewell.

CTC is involved in a $2.5 million project that will give about 500 residential homes the opportunity to tap into 1 gig speeds. This project area covers homes in the Sylvan Shores area south of Staples including homes around Philbrook, Fawn Lake, Moran Township and surrounding areas. It includes about 130 route miles of fiber.

WCTA is also working…

Meanwhile West Central Telephone Association is continuing work to the west and south of Wadena and southwest of Staples.

“We’ve completed the construction phase for the year, other than the final splicing crews,” WCTA marketing director Geri Salmela said of the Wadena project. “Our teams are following the splicing crews to connect customers now, and our office staff is busy scheduling installations for roughly 130 customers. When complete, these customers will have access to 1,000 Mbps broadband, also known as Gigabit service. …

The WCTA project comes at a cost of about $9,000 per premise or $26,000 a mile. It enters into areas that were not served before by high-speed internet.

Deployment started with a feasibility study…

Since 2015, Sourcewell has made a combined total of $500,000 of investments to complete feasibility and engineering for regional broadband projects. In partnership with CTC and WCTA, these substantial outlays have leveraged funding through the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Office of Broadband. R5DC’s Executive Director Cheryal Lee Hills stated in a news release, “Our region is extremely fortunate to have a partner like Sourcewell who offers unparalleled contract purchasing solutions, services to our schools; local units of government and communities, then continues above and beyond to invest in critical issues that make a difference in our quality of life.”

Broadband expansion in Lincoln County through Woodstock

The Marshall Independent reports…

An expansion of broadband Internet possibilities in Tyler is scheduled to take place this year.

The community will be offered city-wide broadband service through Woodstock Communications. It will become part of the company’s efforts to use 21st century fiberoptics and wireless networking on behalf of rural southwest Minnesota communities.

Woodstock Communications General Manager Terry Nelson said the concept of city-wide service for Tyler has been on the drawing board for the past several years.

The upcoming project will resemble existing city-wide Woodstock networks in Westbrook and Balaton. They are one component of an expansion process that has also included targeted broadband service to schools, hospitals and other organizations. …

Woodstock Communications plans to install infrastructure for Tyler city-wide broadband during 2019, with a service start-up scheduled to begin in December.

Woodstock will have some competition…

Woodstock will become the third provider to offer Internet plans to Tyler residents. The others are Frontier Communications and Mediacom, both of which rank in the top 10 of all providers in terms of total nationwide subscriptions.

The article also includes interesting histories of several providers in the area.

MN Watchdog take on Lake County Network sale

MN Watchdog has posted about the recent Lake County sale of Lake Connections

The project received $66 million in grants and loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) as part of President Barack Obama’s stimulus legislation. Including federal and local money, more than $80 million was sunk into Lake Connections.

After seven years of operations, Lake Connections has 2,500 customers, with 750 more interested parties waiting for service, and ironically the Board of Commissioners sought to sell its government network because it felt a private provider could do a better job of hooking up eager customers sooner.

The commission had hoped to sell the network for $20 million, but found that estimate grossly overvalued. Instead, according to a July 27, 2018, Lake County News Chronicle article, Pinpoint Holdings offered an initial bid of $3.5 million before a higher price was agreed upon. Taxpayers get to eat about $40 million that’s still owed on the debts. RUS agreed with the county that the sale price will fulfill the balance of the loan.

Freedom Foundation of Minnesota founder Annette Meeks previously told Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) that Lake Connections is one of the worst examples of the detriment effects of municipal broadband projects. Local taxpayers were forced to sink $17 million into the project, money that would have been better spent on other projects improving the quality of life of the area.

Research we did for the Blandin Foundation two summers ago found that people in Lake County were happy with the network and policy makers did not regret their decision. Each household with broadband reaps on the average a $1,850 economic benefit annually – at 2,500 homes that’s $4.6 million a year.