This edition of Broadband Bytes includes articles on fiber penetration in U.S. market, a new definition of broadband speeds, RDOF and impact on BEAD, municipal broadband and broadband “nutrition” labels.

  1. Fiber now passes about 51.1% of US households, and fixed wireless access continues to make inroads. But cable is still the top tech for delivering broadband. Fiber network deployments have reached a milestone as they now pass more than 50% of US households, according to recent data from the Fiber Broadband Association and RVA Market Research and Consulting…fiber lines now pass nearly 78 million U.S. homes, up 13% from a year ago. Read more.
  2. After nearly a decade, the FCC is finally raising the bar with a new definition for broadband of 100/20 Mbps. The upgraded definition for fixed broadband service could influence billions in federal and state broadband funding…and marks a substantial departure from its old benchmark of 25/3 Mbps, set in 2015. Read more.
  3. The German news outlet Handelblattis reported that T-Mobile is about to enter a joint venture with Lumos Networks to build fiber networks in the U.S.  T-Mobile would invest at least $1 billion in the joint venture (JV), according to Handelsbatt’s sources at T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom. Initially, the JV plans to build fiber-optic connections in Virginia. Read more.
  4. RDOF defaulters hinder state BEAD programs. There is a lot of talk about how the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) might make a mess of things with the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment (BEAD) program. That’s because if a location is covered by an RDOF award, then it’s ineligible for a BEAD grant. Read more.

Unfortunately, many RDOF awardees have officially defaulted on their obligations to build fiber, or they just haven’t made any progress in deploying the fiber. As a result, the locations that were supposed to be covered by RDOF could be left empty-handed. Read more.

  1. Altice USA has joined a growing list of companies that have told the FCC they will not deploy high-speed broadband to areas for which they won funding in the 2020 Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction. The company said it will relinquish 18 census block groups in Louisiana. …Altice already had deployed service in parts of the area for which it won funding. The company said in a letter to the FCC that it was making the move to ensure that remaining unserved areas would be eligible to receive funding to receive symmetrical gigabit service through federal programs such as the BEAD program. Read more.
  2. Municipalities can apply for BEAD. Will it matter?  Despite (those opposed to) public broadband, municipalities will be allowed to vie for money from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. Whether they’ll win BEAD grants or even bother trying, however, is still anyone’s guess… Public networks have seen oppositionfrom incumbent providers and political adversaries. According to Broadband Now, 16 states have legislation that either restricts municipal broadband or bars it entirely. Read more.
  3. And here is a municipal public broadband success story: Longmont Colorado Municipal Network Now Connects Customers Outside the City.  Longmont’s fiber-optic internet service NextLight has now…expanded to serve customers beyond the Longmont city limits.  When Longmont residents first voted in 2011 to let Longmont provide municipal internet service, the ballot issue allowed it to be built anywhere in the Longmont Power & Communications electric service area, which included some outlying neighborhoods. However, the bond issue that funded the initial build from 2014-2017 could only be used for construction within Longmont city limits.  Colorado widened the potential options for growth in 2023 when it repealed the state’s restrictions on municipal broadband, allowing communities to explore all their choices and permitting municipal networks like NextLight to grow without being limited to a particular service footprint. Read more.
  4. The FCC’s new broadband ‘nutrition’ labels are designed to inject clarity into the often confusing process of shopping for broadband. As previously reported, The FCC has introduced a new regulatory requirement for internet service providers (ISPs) to display “broadband nutrition labels.” The initiative is a key component of the wider Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and mirrors the concept of nutrition labels on food products, providing a standardized format for ISPs to present critical information about their broadband services… The labels aim to enhance transparency and promote fair competition. ISPs with more than 100,000 subscriber lines are required to comply with the new labeling regulations by April 10, 2024. Smaller ISPs have a slightly extended timeline, with a compliance deadline set for Oct. 10, 2024. Read more.

Here is an example of Verizon Labels 3-20-2024. 

David Levine of UCL Swift headshot

Broadband Bytes is a regular feature by David Levine. David is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, a certified BICSI RCDD, and a 35-year industry veteran in fiber and copper solutions. He currently works as a Business Development Manager for UCL Swift.

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