Oct 2021 MN County Ranking for gig speeds. How does your county rank?

The Office of Broadband Development has released the county broadband maps and numbers; the data was collected by October 2021. For archival reasons, I’ll do three different posting looking at:

Turns out the gig ranking is where all of the excitement is in terms of change in ranking. I’ll paste the numbers below but they’re available in a spreadsheet too. It’s worth nothing that the top county shows 99.59 percent of households have access to Gig access; the bottom 10 counties have less than 1 percent coverage.

Top Ten Gig Counties

County Percent ranking last year
Ranking
Clearwater 99.59 1 5
Beltrami 99.23 2 1
Stevens 96.79 3 2
Cook 94.5 4 3
Red Lake 93.85 5 6
Lake 93.23 6 4
Pennington 92.86 7 46
Lincoln 88.88 8 45
Steele 86.73 9 11
Olmsted 80.56 10 33

Worth noting that all of these are rural counties! Big congrats to the new counties on this short list, especially to Pennington, Lincoln and Olmsted.

I hear policy makers talking about ways to use public funding to build networks only required to get to speeds of 25/3 and I think about the deepening divide between those areas and these counties. These counties, especially given rural standing, make the case that we can aim higher.

Bottom Ten Counties

County Percent ranking Last year Ranking
Benton 0.79 78 73
Anoka 0.13 79 75
Faribault 0.09 80 80
Isanti 0.06 81 79
Pine 0.01 82 86
Kanabec 0 83 82
Martin 0 84 84
Mille Lacs 0 85 85
Ramsey 0 86 81
Washington 0 87 76

There’s not much change in the bottom list. Harder to go lower than 1 percent. But it’s interesting to look at the counties on the list. Ramsey County ranks third for access to 100/20 and lands 86 for Gig access. Anoka is number 11 with access to 25/3 and number 79 here.

Looking at these reports for several years, I’ve seen the leap-frogging that can happen when a community is focused on (or limited or funded) to a specific speed. Usually I’ve seen it with access to 25/3. A community aims and succeeds and they are top of the game for a limited time. More recently we’ve seen that those “successful” communities become ineligible for funding for improvement. The thirst for broadband is ever increasing with new applications and post pandemic reliance on remote access. The once successful communities get left behind like the Little League baseball player who stops practicing. I think the top of the Gig chart are the communities that are ready.


County Percent ranking
Clearwater 99.59 1
Beltrami 99.23 2
Stevens 96.79 3
Cook 94.5 4
Red Lake 93.85 5
Lake 93.23 6
Pennington 92.86 7
Lincoln 88.88 8
Steele 86.73 9
Olmsted 80.56 10
Kittson 80.13 11
Lac qui Parle 79.23 12
Winona 76.09 13
Wadena 75.89 14
Grant 71.99 15
Jackson 68.84 16
Itasca 67.64 17
Dodge 65.96 18
Wabasha 65.86 19
Freeborn 65.15 20
Marshall 55.33 21
Goodhue 54.73 22
Hubbard 54.15 23
Big Stone 52.94 24
Cottonwood 50.2 25
Houston 49.76 26
Mahnomen 49.14 27
Rock 47.94 28
Rice 47.52 29
Swift 47.52 30
Morrison 44.24 31
Sibley 43.92 32
Crow Wing 42.54 33
Polk 40.95 34
Norman 40.7 35
Pope 39.91 36
Scott 39.06 37
Roseau 36.59 38
Todd 36.06 39
Carver 34.8 40
Becker 33.9 41
Douglas 32.35 42
Cass 31.28 43
Fillmore 26.94 44
Renville 26.93 45
Waseca 26.12 46
Wilkin 26.04 47
Mower 25.1 48
Lake of the Woods 22.81 49
Otter Tail 20.76 50
Watonwan 18.58 51
Hennepin 17.62 52
Nicollet 17.47 53
Clay 17.12 54
Chippewa 15.86 55
Aiktin 15.58 56
Nobles 14.96 57
Traverse 14.57 58
Pipestone 12.85 59
Stearns 12.31 60
Meeker 10.72 61
Wright 9.59 62
McLeod 8.81 63
Chisago 7.7 64
Koochiching 7.51 65
Lyon 7.11 66
St. Louis 6.97 67
Redwood 6.47 68
Le Sueur 5.16 69
Dakota 4.96 70
Murray 4.66 71
Brown 4.01 72
Carlton 4.01 73
Sherburne 3.6 74
Blue Earth 2.79 75
Kandiyohi 1.73 76
Yellow Medicine 1.25 77
Benton 0.79 78
Anoka 0.13 79
Faribault 0.09 80
Isanti 0.06 81
Pine 0.01 82
Kanabec 0 83
Martin 0 84
Mille Lacs 0 85
Ramsey 0 86
Washington 0 87

Source: Connected Nation, Oct. 2021.

Oct 2021 MN County Ranking at speeds of 100/20. How does your county rank?

The Office of Broadband Development has released the county broadband maps and numbers; the data was collected by October 2021. For archival reasons, I’ll do three different posting looking at:

The speed goal for 2026 is ubiquitous access to speeds of 100 Mbps down and 20 up. Rankings are posted below but also available as a spreadsheet.

Top 10 Counties include: 

County percent Ranking last year ranking
Rock 99.93 1 1
Lac qui Parle 99.83 2 3
Ramsey 99.74 3 2
Clearwater 99.59 4 4
Beltrami 99.24 5 6
Lincoln 99.03 6 7
Hennepin 98.51 7 8
Pennington 98.19 8 10
Big Stone 98.05 9 9
Swift 97.45 10 5

As you can see the competition is holding it’s own. There’s some movement within the top 10 as a few gain incremental increases but they hold down the fort. Rock County is still at top! And while I live in Ramsey myself, I’m pleased to see a more rural county eke in for number two spot.

Bottom 10 Counties include:

County percent Ranking last year ranking
Murray 54.37 78 77
Aitkin 52.77 79 78
Carlton 52.04 80 79
Traverse 50.97 81 80
Isanti 50.43 82 81
Todd 48.38 83 82
Yellow Medicine 48.07 84 83
Redwood 45.21 85 85
Pine 39.72 86 86
Kanabec 25.81 87 87

Again this is very little change. Except for Faribault; percentage of access in Faribault went from 43.95 (rank 84) to 65.51 (rank 72). Congrats to them! That left one space one for Murray County, they dropped from 77 to 78 this year.

Big Changers

The Most Improved award this year goes to McLeod. They went from 58.09 (rank 74) to 77.65 (rank 49). Brown County moved up 16 spots and Houston moved up 15. I’m saddened to see Le Sueur and Kandiyohi Counties lose ground. Le Sueur went from 76 percent (rank 49) to 71.32 (rank 62) as a result of new data reported by MetroNet (that differed from what Jaguar had previously reported).

Kandiyohi went from 74.82 (rank 53) to 69.86 (rank 66). This reflects a change from census block data to more granular data from Charter/Spectrum. So they counties haven’t lost ground, there’s just been some correction happening. Other counties may have also seen changes due to the more granular reporting from CenturyLink and Charter/Spectrum.


County percent Ranking
Rock 99.93 1
Lac qui Parle 99.83 2
Ramsey 99.74 3
Clearwater 99.59 4
Beltrami 99.24 5
Lincoln 99.03 6
Hennepin 98.51 7
Pennington 98.19 8
Big Stone 98.05 9
Swift 97.45 10
Anoka 96.92 11
Dakota 96.89 12
Stevens 96.79 13
Wadena 95.7 14
Cook 94.5 15
Washington 94.28 16
Red Lake 93.85 17
Lake 93.32 18
Olmsted 92.98 19
Scott 91.92 20
Polk 91.71 21
Carver 91.16 22
Hubbard 90.85 23
Clay 88.83 24
Benton 88.66 25
Sherburne 88.12 26
Steele 87.77 27
Itasca 86.65 28
Freeborn 85.6 29
Roseau 85.23 30
Winona 85.13 31
Crow Wing 84.24 32
Rice 84.06 33
Brown 83.27 34
Stearns 83.22 35
Houston 83.16 36
Mower 82.47 37
Wright 81.79 38
Lyon 81.45 39
Nobles 81.24 40
Dodge 80.59 41
Chippewa 80.27 42
Kittson 80.13 43
Pipestone 80.11 44
Blue Earth 79.01 45
St. Louis 78.28 46
Nicollet 78.07 47
Goodhue 77.84 48
McLeod 77.65 49
Marshall 77.39 50
Wilkin 76.73 51
Lake of the Woods 74.31 52
Pope 74 53
Becker 73.6 54
Waseca 73.55 55
Koochiching 72.85 56
Chisago 72.55 57
Morrison 72.47 58
Grant 71.99 59
Douglas 71.94 60
Mahnomen 71.73 61
Le Sueur 71.32 62
Renville 71.01 63
Meeker 70.73 64
Wabasha 70.35 65
Kandiyohi 69.86 66
Watonwan 69.78 67
Jackson 68.84 68
Otter Tail 67.6 69
Cottonwood 67.44 70
Martin 66.66 71
Faribault 65.51 72
Sibley 63.8 73
Cass 61.04 74
Mille Lacs 60.44 75
Fillmore 56.36 76
Norman 55 77
Murray 54.37 78
Aiktin 52.77 79
Carlton 52.04 80
Traverse 50.97 81
Isanti 50.43 82
Todd 48.38 83
Yellow Medicine 48.07 84
Redwood 45.21 85
Pine 39.72 86
Kanabec 25.81 87

Source: Connected Nation, Oct. 2021.

Oct 2021 MN County Ranking at speeds of 25/3. How does your county rank?

The Office of Broadband Development has released the county broadband maps and numbers; the data was collected by October 2021. For archival reasons, I’ll do three different posting looking at:

Top 10 Commentary

The speed goal for 2022 is ubiquitous access to speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 up. Rankings are posted below but also available as a spreadsheet. The good news is that the top 9 counties have more than 99 percent covered. There has been little change in the top 10 counties since last reporting.

Bottom 10 Commentary

The bad news is that the bottom 10 have less than 70 percent coverage. The bottom ranking is also pretty similar with one exception: Isanti went from 78.8 percent coverage to 59.75 coverage this year, which drops them from 66 to 84 ranking. This is because of a change from census block data to more granular data from CenturyLink. (Both CenturyLink and Charter/Spectrum went with more granular reporting and that has had an impact on numbers.)

Biggest Changers

A couple of counties saw big movement. Faribault went from 35 to 17 rank – although the percentage of coverage didn’t increase much, the competition for those with over 90 percent coverage is close. That’s a good sign! Redwood went from 73 to 62. Again, a little percentage gain can mean a lot. Like Isanti mentioned above, a few counties lost percentage and ranking – possibly due to the change from census block to location reporting. Those counties with greatest change in rank include: Rice, Sherburne, St Louis, Wright, Stearns and Swift. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t reflection a change in coverage as much as a correction/change in reporting.


County percent ranking
Red Lake 99.99 1
Ramsey 99.95 2
Rock 99.93 3
Lac qui Parle 99.84 4
Clearwater 99.72 5
Beltrami 99.43 6
Lincoln 99.33 7
Pennington 99.24 8
Stevens 99.22 9
Hennepin 98.97 10
Anoka 98.23 11
Big Stone 98.22 12
Swift 97.72 13
Dakota 97.48 14
Washington 96.45 15
Hubbard 96.36 16
Faribault 96.32 17
Wadena 95.88 18
Grant 95.35 19
Cook 94.50 20
Olmsted 94.48 21
Clay 93.80 22
Lake 93.34 23
Scott 93.29 24
Houston 92.65 25
Polk 92.55 26
Cass 92.48 27
Itasca 92.38 28
Sherburne 92.25 29
Carver 92.11 30
Otter Tail 91.50 31
Becker 90.29 32
Benton 89.74 33
Rice 89.58 34
Stearns 89.10 35
Winona 88.59 36
Steele 88.22 37
Douglas 88.20 38
Mower 87.51 39
Wright 86.72 40
Crow Wing 86.68 41
Freeborn 86.62 42
Kandiyohi 86.54 43
Roseau 85.84 44
Dodge 84.84 45
Brown 84.66 46
Nobles 83.74 47
Lyon 83.57 48
Nicollet 83.40 49
Mahnomen 83.24 50
Wilkin 83.02 51
Chippewa 82.93 52
Pope 82.73 53
Blue Earth 82.48 54
St. Louis 81.95 55
Pipestone 81.52 56
Martin 81.45 57
McLeod 80.56 58
Goodhue 80.32 59
Kittson 80.20 60
Norman 79.43 61
Redwood 78.90 62
Marshall 77.90 63
Watonwan 77.17 64
Waseca 76.36 65
Koochiching 75.94 66
Chisago 75.86 67
Le Sueur 75.59 68
Lake of the Woods 75.18 69
Morrison 74.67 70
Meeker 74.42 71
Wabasha 73.90 72
Cottonwood 73.80 73
Renville 73.48 74
Todd 72.94 75
Mille Lacs 70.53 76
Fillmore 70.35 77
Jackson 69.33 78
Traverse 67.87 79
Aitkin 62.36 81
Sibley 67.32 80
Carlton 62.07 82
Yellow Medicine 61.90 83
Isanti 59.75 84
Murray 57.83 85
Pine 46.01 86
Kanabec 36.41 87
Source: Connected Nation, Oct. 2021.

 

RAMS to sponsor MN statewide speed test

Big news for folks who like crowd source mapping – Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) is picking up the Statewide speed test mapping project. RAMS reports…

Today we are pleased to announce that the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS) will be the new host of the Minnesota statewide speedtest project. This map and initiative was previously hosted by the MN Rural Broadband Coalition. This crowdsourcing speed test will allow local governments, area partners, communities and providers to better identify underserved and unserved areas as well as help consumers see for themselves if they are actually getting the service (broadband speed) that they are playing for. RAMS is able to host this test with the help of one of our corporate members, GEO Partners, LLC who will be helping analyze the data and create usable maps and information. RAMS is also pleased that retired director, Steve Giorgi, has remained on Minnesota’s state broadband task force and is continuing to volunteer and help Minnesota communities gain access to affordable, high-speed internet. RAMS helped to start this testing process in April of 2020 and the information gathered directly from the end users (you) will be used is extremely important to further the development of high school internet for citizens of Minnesota.

Check your speed!

MN Tribal broadband maps are out – compare 2019 to 2020 coverage

I recently finished the MN County Broadband profiles – 87 mini reports on what’s happening in each county. I’ve been keep an eye out for an opportunity to update the profiles for MN tribal communities as well. The maps from the Office of Broadband Development are out, which show the coverage (served/underserved/unserved) but the numbers aren’t. From a macro level it’s hard to compare progress or gauge success without the numbers. When the numbers come out I’ll do a deeper dive, in the meantime I thought it might be interesting to at least see the maps from 2019 and 2020 for each tribal area. Side by side we can make some assessments in each community.

Key:

  • Served: Green
  • Underserved: Purple
  • Unserved: Pink

Bois Forte Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Fond du Lac
(get 2020 map)


Grand Portage Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Leech Lake Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Lower Sioux Indian Community
(get 2020 map)


Mille Lacs Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Prairie Island Indian Community
(get 2020 map)


Red Lake Reservation
(get 2020 map)


Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
(get 2020 map)


Upper Sioux Community
(get 2020 map)


White Earth Reservation
(get 2020 map)

Which providers in MN can get voice-only lifeline service support? CNS has a map!

Back in June (2021), the FCC announced the census blocks where providers could still receive financial support for voice-only lifeline services…

Today, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) announces those Census blocks where Lifeline support for voice-only service will continue at $5.25 per month from December 1, 2021 through November 30, 2022. These Census blocks can be found on the Universal Service Administrative Company’s (USAC) website here: https://www.usac.org/wpcontent/uploads/lifeline/documents/Data/voice_CB_blocks.zip.

In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) outlined a shift in the Lifeline program towards a greater focus on supporting broadband services for Lifeline eligible consumers.1 As part of that effort, the Commission adopted a transition period to phase down support for voice-only Lifeline services before reimbursement for such services would decrease to $0 on December 1, 2021.2 The Commission also adopted an exception to this complete phase-down in voice-only support and continued Lifeline support, in the amount of $5.25 per subscriber per month, for qualifying voice-only services provided to Lifeline eligible subscribers in Census blocks where there is only one Lifeline provider.3 The Commission directed the Bureau to identify Census blocks where there is only one Lifeline provider and to announce those Census blocks by June 1 of each year.

CNS has mapped out the areas, which is always a good way to take in this information, especially for policymakers. I have a screenshot here, the CNS map is interactive.

State speed goals and mapping are important – especially in Infrastructure Packages if states allocate funds

Fierce Telecom reports

Former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler argued incumbent cable operators are in prime position to scoop up federal broadband funding and have little to fear from potential overbuild activity.

Speaking about the looming congressional infrastructure package during a New Street Research event, Wheeler acknowledged each state will have discretion over how to allocate the broadband funding allotted to them, leaving some uncertainty about what their priorities in terms of speeds and access technology will be. However, he asserted incumbent operators are best positioned to help close the digital divide.

Wheeler said the idea that there are “massive areas of virgin unserved territory” in the U.S. is a “myth” and instead the reality on the ground is that there are “pockets of served areas surrounded by unserved.”

The article goes on to focus on the advantage that incumbents (or at least existing) providers will have. I am interested in the emphasis on state discretion. To highlight the highest need in the short term, to find the pockets of unserved areas, we need continual and granular mapping. To make the best investment for the long term, we need state speed goals that meet the needs of the next generation as well as for today.

2021 MN Broadband County Ranking for 25/3 speeds – how do you rank?

The 2021 MN County broadband maps are up on the Office of Broadband Development websites, showing percentage of each county with (and without) broadband access. Now I’m looking at the maps that reflect county access to wirelines broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up as of April 1, 2021. This is the speed goal for Minnesota for 2022. I’ll paste the full list below, but it might be easier to access the spreadsheet of the new speeds and ranking. (You can see the 100/20 ranking too.)

In the past, I’ve looked at the top and bottom 10 counties but I think we’re past the point of celebrating the counties for reaching speeds of 25/3. Unfortunately this is more of a wake-up call to the counties that aren’t poised to hit the 2022 goal. The good news is that almost half of the MN Counties (40 of 87) have more than 90 percent coverage of 25/3 access. The bad news is that leaves a lot of counties needing more, with a special nod to Pine and Murray Counties, which has less than 60 percent coverage.

You can get the details below – the map at the right is a clear look too at the areas that need help – the lighter the color, the more help you need.

county coverage 25-3 ranking
Aitkin 64.32 84
Anoka 98.72 13
Becker 92.53 34
Beltrami 99.49 7
Benton 92.88 31
Big Stone 99.48 8
Blue Earth 84.78 49
Brown 84.66 50
Carlton 72.79 77
Carver 93.32 26
Cass 94.02 24
Chippewa 86.26 46
Chisago 79.21 63
Clay 95.66 20
Clearwater 99.76 5
Cook 94.5 22
Cottonwood 71.12 79
Crow Wing 90.01 40
Dakota 97.98 14
Dodge 84.86 48
Douglas 90.94 38
Faribault 92.42 35
Fillmore 72.47 78
Freeborn 88 43
Goodhue 81.66 58
Grant 95.44 21
Hennepin 99.21 12
Houston 92.86 32
Hubbard 97.18 17
Isanti 78.5 66
Itasca 93.03 29
Jackson 69.86 81
Kanabec 60.34 85
Kandiyohi 88.68 42
Kittson 80.2 60
Koochiching 76.21 72
Lac qui Parle 99.84 4
Lake 93.34 25
Lake of the Woods 77.55 70
Le Sueur 79.35 62
Lincoln 99.33 10
Lyon 84.52 51
Mahnomen 87.15 45
Marshall 78.36 67
Martin 81.51 59
McLeod 82.86 56
Meeker 74.92 74
Mille Lacs 74.46 76
Morrison 79 64
Mower 90.13 39
Murray 58.05 86
Nicollet 83.87 52
Nobles 83.71 53
Norman 79.45 61
Olmsted 95.88 18
Otter Tail 90.97 37
Pennington 99.37 9
Pine 52.02 87
Pipestone 82.54 57
Polk 93.02 30
Pope 82.95 55
Ramsey 99.86 3
Red Lake 99.99 1
Redwood 76.12 73
Renville 74.48 75
Rice 94.18 23
Rock 99.93 2
Roseau 87.44 44
Scott 93.26 27
Sherburne 95.78 19
Sibley 70.05 80
St. Louis 85.5 47
Stearns 93.26 28
Steele 89.59 41
Stevens 99.22 11
Swift 99.54 6
Todd 77.01 71
Traverse 67.87 82
Wabasha 78.33 68
Wadena 97.36 16
Waseca 78.65 65
Washington 97.88 15
Watonwan 77.62 69
Wilkin 83.1 54
Winona 91.65 36
Wright 92.71 33
Yellow Medicine 64.65 83

ARPA County and Township Support Amounts Mapped by CNS

CNS has created a new map

As discussions with counties, townships, and cities ramp up, we mapped the ARPA funding amounts for MN’s Counties, Townships and Small Cities so you can see how much each entity is receiving in ARPA funding.

Layers include:

  • County Allocated funding
  • Estimated Township funding amounts
  • Disbursed Township and Small City funds
  • RDOF funded census block groups

Zooming in on the map will show more granular data.

We’ll continue to update the map as more data is released. According the state, not all Township and Small Cities have received their first-round funding yet due to incomplete applications. Note that two rounds of disbursements will be sent, one in 2021, one in 2022 – disbursed funds shown in the map are 50% of their total allocation.

FCC data shows growing fiber, need for upload

C|Net reports

Every six months, the Federal Communications Commission releases updated data on the respective coverage of every internet provider in the US. That includes coverage maps as well as metrics on the types of technologies being used, the number of customers that fall into each provider’s footprint, and the specific upload and download speeds available to those customers, should they choose to sign up. The latest update went live just last week, and brings the database up to date as of June 2020.

I have picked out the charts and notes they share that I think are most interesting…

Percentage of US Population covered by each ISP

  • by the nature of their technology, satellite providers cover a lot.
  • Starlink isn’t on the horizon yet – but this is from June 2020

Percentage of Provider’s Footrpint with access to FTTH

  • Fiber is increasing
  • The problem is that it isn’t available everywhere — for the most part, providers have focused on building out fiber networks in population-dense regions around America’s major cities, leaving rural internet customers out of the mix.

Percentage of provider footprint with access to each (upload) speed via technology

  • Of all of the internet providers that offer service to at least 10% of the US population (including satellite providers omitted from this chart), Verizon is the only one that offers upload speeds faster than 25Mbps to a majority of its customers.
  • upload speeds from most providers remain much slower than most customers would probably like. That’s largely because fiber is really the only mode of home internet capable of hitting triple-digit upload speeds, and as mentioned earlier, fiber is far from universally available.

US Senate has plans for better broadband maps but not for a while

Roll Call reports on the good and bad news about broadband maps…

The Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill makes a $42.5 billion bet that the government will overcome an obstacle that has long plagued efforts to connect most Americans to the internet: notoriously inaccurate maps showing where they can get a signal – and where they can’t.

That’s the amount of grant funding that the legislation, which the Senate passed earlier this month on a 69-30 vote, would provide to states to fund broadband projects in areas currently considered unserved or underserved. To qualify, proposals would have to comply with new broadband maps drawn by the Federal Communications Commission.

There’s one catch: the new maps don’t exist yet. And they may not be ready to go for one or two years, experts say.

Interactive map of RDOF winners and bids in default

Last week, the FCC announced some of the winners and losers of RDOF awards. CNS has created an interactive map that include that info. Specifically, as they reports. The maps include

  • Initially won RDOF block groups
  • LTD and AB Indiana bidders’ declined waivers
  • Bids ready to be authorized
  • Bids in default
  • Potentially previously served blocks within winning areas

OPPORTUNITY: Consumer Reports is asking for your home broadband speed and cost

Consumer Reports is launching a new initiative, Broadband Together

Consumer Reports today is launching a first-of-its-kind project to uncover what people really pay  — and what they are really getting — for their internet service. With the support of local and national partner organizations, CR is asking thousands of consumers to share their monthly internet bills at broadbandtogether.org so CR can analyze the cost, quality, and speeds that are being delivered to people in communities across the U.S., and to better understand the factors that affect price and why consumers pay different rates for the same service.

The findings from this major initiative will help CR in its effort to press internet service providers and government officials to deliver greater access to fair, affordable, reliable internet services. In a recent CR survey, 76 percent of Americans say that internet service is as important as electricity and running water in today’s world, and 86% say they rely on the internet at least five days a week.

Doug Dawson predictions in upload broadband discussion

Doug Dawson recently wrote about the “Looming Battle Over Upload Speeds” as a precursor to doling out funds to deploy broadband. Even I can find discussion about broadband speed tedious … until you put a dollar sign in front of it, then it’s not just academic and Doug does a nice job queueing up the discussion…

By next week we’re going to see the opening shots in the battle for setting an official definition of upload broadband speeds. You might expect that this is a topic that would be debated at the FCC, but this battle is coming as a result of questions asked by the U.S. Department of Treasury as part of defining how to use the grant monies from the American Rescue Plan Act. Treasury has oddly been put in charge of deciding how to use $10 billion of direct broadband grants and some portion of the gigantic $350 billion in funding that is going directly to counties, cities, and towns across the country.

Treasury asked for comments through a series of questions about the broadband speeds of technologies that should be supported with the grant funding. The questions ask for a discussion of the pros and cons of requiring that grant dollars are used to built technologies that can achieve speeds of 100/20 Mbps versus 100/100 Mbps.

Treasury is not likely to see many comments on the requirement that grant deployments must meet 100 Mbps download speeds. All of the major broadband technologies will claim the ability to meet that speed – be that fiber, cable company hybrid-fiber networks, fixed wireless provided by WISPs, or low-orbit satellites. The only industry segment that might take exception to a 100 Mbps download requirement is fixed cellular broadband which can only meet that kind of speed for a short distance from a tower.

And putting jerseys on the respective teams…

A recent blog on the WISPA website argues that argues for upload speeds of 5 Mbps to 10 Mbps. The blog argues that it costs more to build 100/100 Mbps networks (as a way to remind that fixed wireless costs a lot less than fiber).

We know the cable industry is going to come out hard against any definition up upload speed greater than 20 Mbps – since that’s what most cable networks are delivering. In a show of solidarity with the rest of the cable industry, Altice recently announced that it will lower current upload speeds of 35 – 50 Mbps down to 5 – 10 Mbps. This is clearly being done to allow the cable industry to have a united front to argue against faster upload speeds. This act is one of most bizarre reactions that I’ve ever seen from an ISP to potential regulation and a direct poke in the eye to Altice customers.

Back in March, we saw Joan Marsh, the AT&T Executive VP argue that 21st-century broadband doesn’t need upload speeds greater than 10 Mbps. This was an argument that clearly was clearly meant to support using grant funds for rural fixed cellular technology. It’s an odd position to take for the second largest fiber provider in the country.

New research shows: household of four requires 131/73 Mbps of bandwidth

Telecom Review reports

Research commissioned by the FBA and presented in the white paper indicates that in 2021, a household of four requires 131/73 Mbps of bandwidth and will grow to 2,141/2,044 Mbps by 2030. This makes today’s definition of broadband speeds unusable, as the FCC currently defines broadband as a mere 25/3 Mbps for Americans and 50/10 Mbps for Canadians. These antiquated definitions of broadband affect the rural populations of North America the most. FBA’s research found that 62% of the most rural areas have the lowest performing broadband with speeds for the lowest quantile at 4/1 Mbps.

To eliminate the rural digital divide, the white paper suggests attention and investment should be placed on the most effective rural broadband infrastructure. The research presents that, without exception, there is no communications medium nearly as effective or future proof as fiber optics. Fiber’s transmission capacity can be increased almost infinitely as needed to supply any level of bandwidth. Fiber is immune to electrical interference and requires fewer powered nodes, enabling it to serve as the most consistent and reliable technology option. Additionally, the cost to operate a fiber-to-the-home system is lower than other broadband methods.

“The investment in fiber networks in rural areas to close the digital divide has never been more important. Not only does fiber provide the necessary infrastructure needed for communities to work, learn, shop and play from home, it has the added benefit of creating jobs and fueling the economy in these rural parts of North America,” said Deborah Kish, Vice President of Research and Marketing at the Fiber Broadband Association. “As the federal government makes plans to spend billions of dollars towards America’s digital infrastructure, deploying fiber proves to be the soundest and cost-effective investment.”