Is Wireless Broadband Overrated?

Broadband expansion is a hot topic in government circles, many communities and now in the news headlines, as the telecommunications industry is pushing wireless communications and a sea of cell antennas over fiberoptic expansion throughout the country.  There is concern for industry consolidation, with just a few telecommunication giants controlling the market, causing a lack of competition among carriers that could lead to higher prices and less local control.  A 2017 lawsuit filed against Crown Castle International Corporation, the U.S.’s second largest operator of cell towers, accused  the company of defrauding the state of New York for utility pole fees.

The news that revolves around this technology is broad and includes broadband networks, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, cell towers, health effects of wireless and corporate consolidation and misconduct.

Citizens who have never spoken out before are attending government meetings for the first time to oppose the proliferation of small cells in their neighborhoods and loss of local control. See Cell Towers and City Hall.  Open access fiberoptic networks may be the solution as discussed below.

The Book of Broken Promises

Telecom Analyst, Bruce Kushnick has been investigating telecommunications companies for many years. He documents the estimated $400 billion dollars Americans paid for fiberoptic cables to the premises (FTTP) replacing existing copper wires, through rate increases on telephone service.  Much of the fiberoptic was not delivered and telecommunications companies then switched their efforts to wireless broadband via cell towers throughout neighborhoods, as this was a cheaper option. In his report, The Book of Broken Promises”, here, Mr. Kushnick uncovers and discusses the Federal Communications Commission(FCC), who regulates all telecommunications,  and

  • Fatal flaws in all FCC proceedings
  • Preemption of local laws
  • Treats to Net Neutrality
  • Financing irregularities
  • Title II of the 1943 Communications Act
  • Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act 

Reinventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks  

An important roadmap for cities called Re-Inventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks, from the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy in Washington D.C., highlights both the many problems from wireless expansion and the benefits of wired and fiberoptic connections.

Broadband Competition

Timothy Schoechle, PhD, the author of the  2017 white paper Reinventing Wires, points out that 21 States have restrictions on municipal broadband (Fiberoptic networks)  in the name of competition. ,Re-Inventing Wires.  These laws have stated that local municipalities that could purchase and run fiberoptic networks cheaper and remove the digital divide would cause unfair competition for services. Should states remove these laws to regain control of their municipalities?

California Broadband Law Restricts Municipal Broadband

California has no specific law against a community building its own broadband network, but it does have SB 1191, which states that, if a city builds its own network and then a private company shows up “ready, willing, and able to acquire, construct, improve, maintain, and operate broadband,” the city has to turn it over or lease it to that company.

Open Access Fiberoptic: The Solution For Municipalities Not Cell Towers

“Open-Access Network: Wikipedia Definition-  An open-access network (OAN) refers to a horizontally layered network architecture in telecommunications and the business model that separates the physical access to the network from the delivery of services. In an OAN, the owner or manager of the network does not supply services for the network; these services must be supplied by separate retail service providers. There are two different open-access network models: the two- and three-layer models.

“Open Access” refers to a specialised and focused business model, in which a network infrastructure provider limits its activities to a fixed set of value layers in order to avoid conflicts of interest. The network infrastructure provider creates an open market and a platform for internet service providers (ISPs) to add value. The Open Access provider remains neutral and independent and offers standard and transparent pricing to ISPs on its network. It never competes with the ISPs.”

Open-Access Fiberoptic Solutions

Open access fiberoptic solutions can be built for “middle-mile” infrastructure or last-mile infrastructure to bring high speed internet to homes through publicly funded effort by cities.  This would give self reliance and true competitive choice to consumers-MuniNetworks Because any ISP provider can use it there is no legal competition argument to derail the projects unless states pass such a bill as they have tried to do. Open Access Broadband Solutions.  Many think that 5G will be the answer in rural areas however the cost and capacity will make this a much less desirable option. 5G Is Not The Answer for Rural Broadband

Fiberoptic to the Home Network

Citywide, Municipal Fiber-to-the Home networks are being placed throughout the United states.  San Francisco is one of the latest to pledge for their residents a safe, fast, reliable internet  connection. This will have superior connectivity, faster speeds and support local economies with local investments. Here is a list of Municipal Fiber-to-the -Home (FTTH) networks in the United States. FTTH Networks in United States

The criteria for networks to be featured on the MuniNetworks site are:

  • The network must cover at least 80% of a city.
  • A local government (city, town, or county) owns the infrastructure.
  • It is a Fiber-to-the-Home network.
  • It is in the United States.

Open Access Fiberoptic- What Cities are Doing this?

Cities are taking progressive steps towards providing open access broadband through fiberoptic networks throughout the city.  Fiberoptic is being placed from California to Alaska to Virginia. Broadband internet providers such as Comcast and CenturyLink have indirectly fought again municipally owned broadband. With all ISP’s able to use the network there is no basis for anti-competition lawsuits.

 

Opposition to Wireless Broadband Expansion

Two New Maryland Bills:  HB 1767 and SB 1188 –

New proposed bills in Maryland, HB 1767 and SB 1188,  regarding permitting and siting of wireless facilities, aim to rapidly deploy broadband cellular antenna networks and limit local control with a long list of provisions. http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2018RS/bills/sb/sb1188f.pdf

WHEREAS, Encouraging the deployment of small wireless facilities and other next–generation wireless and broadband network facilities will attract new investment in  wireless infrastructure technology that supports enhanced network and next–generation smart cities and other solutions and is a matter of statewide concern and interest  Maryland bill SB 1188 

New Michigan Bill:  SB637

Senator Patrick Colbeck of Michigan, an aerospace engineer,  gave an articulate and impassioned plea to oppose Michigan’s SB637 which proposes to streamline placement of cell antenna based on health risks.

In the NEWS

Artificial Intelligence in the News

Broadband in the News 2018 

Broadband in the News 2017

Broadband in the News 2016

Broadband in the News 2015

Broadband in the News 2014

Corporate Consolidation

Self Driving Cars in the News