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 throughout the country, instead of safer, more secure, less energy intensive and cheaper fiberoptic/cabled networks. There is also 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 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, adverse health effects of wireless and corporate monopolization along with 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.
North Dakota Has the Best Internet in the United States- All Fiberoptic
An investigation into why about 70% of rural North Dakota citizens have the fastest, most secure and cheapest broadband network revealed that they fought for local community fiberoptic networks, after being shunned by telecom giants such as AT&T. The May 2020 report, How Local Providers Built the Nation’s Best Internet Access in Rural North Dakota, by the Institute For Local Self Reliance (ILSR) notes that typically only 20% of rural areas have broadband, however North Dakota has not only more broadband but faster gigabyte speeds.
The Book of Broken Promises
Telecom analyst, Bruce Kushnick has been investigating telecommunications companies for many years. He published the “$200 Billion Broadband Scandal” report in 2006. Over the last 2 decades he has documented an estimated $400 billion dollars Americans paid for fiberoptic cables to the premises (FTTP) replacing existing copper wires, through questionable 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”, Mr. Kushnick uncovers and discusses the involvement of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who regulates all telecommunications, and reveals:
- Fatal flaws in all FCC proceedings
- Preemption of local laws
- Threats to Net Neutrality
- Financing irregularities
- Title II of the 1943 Communications Act
- Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act
The Irregulators vs the Federal Communication Commission
The FCC was recently sued by a group called “The Irregulators” to expose the financial shell game by large telecom companies that made it appear that local state-based utilities were unprofitable. Because of the information brought forward in the lawsuit, which ended March, 2020, states can now proceed to ask for refunds of billions of dollars that was overcharged, stop wireless cross subsidies for fiberoptic that is going to benefit wireless companies and now use that money to close the digital divide with safer and more secure fiberoptic, which is critical in emergency situations. The group has provided a “Deep Dive into AT&T 2002-2019”.
Reinventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks
In 2018 the National Institute for Science Law and Public Policy wrote a seminal report and roadmap for cities called Reinventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks. Their well written and informative report highlights both the many problems from wireless expansion as well as the benefits of wired and fiberoptic connections. The report states, “first and foremost, the public needs publicly-owned and controlled wired infrastructure that is inherently more future-proof, more reliable, more sustainable, more energy efficient, safer, and more essential to many other services. Wireless networks and services, compared to wired access, are inherently more complex, more costly, more unstable (subject to frequent revision and “upgrades”), and more constrained in what they can deliver. “
In the report, Dr. Schoechle, cyber-security faculty member of Colorado State University-Global Campus asks, “Why has the Internet been growing in an inefficient, insufficient, and unsustainable direction? Is wireless access being oversold? Why are existing copper phone lines being abandoned when current protocols allow them to deliver data at gigabit speed?”
PODCAST REINVENTING WIRES Commonwealth Club Podcast of Reinventing Wires: The Future of Landlines and Networks. https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/commonwealth-club-radio-program/e/53322564?autoplay=true
- Limiting Broadband Investment to “Rural Only” Discriminates Against Black Americans and other Communities of Color. June 2020. Angela Siefer and Bill Callahan. https://www.digitalinclusion.org/digital-divide-and-systemic-racism/
- Why North Dakota Has the Best Internet in the United States: Local communities fought cooperatively against telecom monopoly domination in the 90s. Now rural North Dakotans have better, faster broadband than many U.S. cities.
May 6, 2020. Karl Bode. Motherboard. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/wxqegb/why-north-dakota-has-the-best-internet-in-the-united-states
- IRREGULATORS BIG WIN: WE FREED THE STATES FROM THE FCC. Press Release. March 16, 2020. Bruce Kushnick. http://irregulators.org/irregulators-big-win-we-freed-the-states-from-the-fcc/
- Expose: AT&T California Fiber Optic Scandal: Billions Charged for Broadband that Never Showed Up. August 28, 2017. Bruce Kushnick. Huffington Post. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/expose-att-california-fiber-optic-scandal-billions_b_59a4ce47e4b0b234aecad1c7?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAEoAFEoUVrXyaaB-KoAKDSXURj7pJF9NWrjDMXKbgdsf8QxW5hxeyzhIE4gsKr0HBjVDSsK2QM3S8Jg4JuNsp2oUJc6KENBAwiGAEShcq1Gao1yAFdrQDUu3cbG0qCojeP1ZoE4rjZu6x8LV2ITHIwXX4lu-xu0h_lMyNIvcDdfU
Broadband Competition and Local Public Internet Services
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. Here is a list of 35 state laws that hold back public internet investment. that Should states remove these laws to regain control of their municipalities?
California Broadband Law Restricts Municipal Broadband But Rural Areas Now Exempt
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. In Oct 2018 Governor Brown signed into law AB 1999 that removed these restricts for rural areas that have Community Service Districts (CSD) which are created to provide essential infrastructure for wastewater, garbage and broadband. Full Text AB 1999
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 for Rural Areas
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. 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. Broadband Communities Magazine Online lists the top 100 leaders and innovators for 2017, including companies that design, manufacture and distribute products essential for fiberoptic to the home.
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.
- San Francisco Just Took a Huge Step Toward Internet Utopia— https://www.wired.com/story/san-francisco-municipal-fiber/
- The Time Is Now for San Francisco Municipal Fiber, Says Report. http://www.govtech.com/fs/The-Time-is-Now-for-San-Francisco-Municipal-Fiber-Says-Report.html
- Will San Francisco’s City-Wide Fiber Optic Network Succeed? 10 Tech Pros Weigh In. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/01/09/will-san-franciscos-city-wide-fiber-optic-network-succeed-10-tech-pros-weigh-in/#303527125cda
- In wake of net neutrality decision, should cities build internet networks? Dec 2017. https://www.curbed.com/2017/12/27/16822140/internet-broadband-net-neutrality-high-speed-access
- King Celebrates Launch of Ellsworth Open Access Fiber Optic Network. Outlines Rural Broadband Roadmap to Connect Maine Communities and Close the Digital Divide. August 2017. https://www.king.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/king-celebrates-launch-of-ellsworth-open-access-fiber-optic-network
- New fiber-optic cable system to turbocharge North Slope broadband access. Alaska. Dec. 2017. https://www.alaskapublic.org/2017/12/05/new-fiber-optic-cable-system-to-turbocharge-north-slope-broadband-access/
- Roanoke Valley Broadband Authority. http://rvba.online/
Cable Companies Introduce 10Gbps Speeds Without Wireless
While wireless carriers are hyping 5G as the “fourth industrial revolution” with fast streaming and downloads, cable companies have introduced their own fast network capability called 10G– for 10 gigabytes per second (10 Gbps)-compared to 1 Gbps currently. CableLabs chief Phil McKinney said , “There’s nothing new that has to be invented…Everything has been specified. Everything has been designed. The technical work has been done and proven.”
LA Broadband Access With Fiberoptic: It’s Already There
Los Angeles Councilman Kerkorian proposed creating a new publicly owned and operated department to provide affordable broadband to residents. In the 2017 LA Times article the councilman stated the goal is to have an at-cost internet service and bridge the digital divide. Kerkorian said, “Los Angeles owns a network of fiber-optic cable that runs through every part of the city. I want to see if we can maximize its use and ensure that everyone has access to fast, affordable internet services.”
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.
Green Communications Policy: Is it Time?
A article by an East Indian Researcher (Kumar 2012) proposes to have a Green Communications Policy to prevent and reduce electrohypersensitivity symptoms with cell phone use, especially the most common which is headache. This concept could be enlarged to encompass not only cell phones and cordless phones, but all telecommunication equipment including cell towers and possibly satellites (as thousands are now proposed to go into orbit) as well as preserving and promoting the continued use of our reliable landlines and developing safer, faster and more reliable fiberoptic and cable networks (see below). Article- Green Communication- A Stipulation to Reduce Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity from Cellular Phone. (2012) Kumar N et al. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212017312003891
In the NEWS 2016-2018
Artificial Intelligence in the News
Broadband in the News 2018
Broadband in the News 2017
Broadband in the News 2016
- IPSs Try to Kill Open Access Fiber Network, Avoid Competition. Are Technica. 1/22/16
Broadband in the News 2015
Broadband in the News 2014
Self Driving Cars in the News