Fiber as a Moral Obligation

The idea that fiber is a piece of infrastructure that is so fundamental that it becomes almost a moral obligation was one of the take a ways from a couple of panels moderated by Calix's Geoff Burke. Burke was the moderator of panels that featured the FCC's Chief of Strategy, Jonathan Chambers and Kelly Drye Partner, Tom Cohen. The premise is that the bandwidth, reliability and low-latency of fiber is necessary to ensure equality of opportunity - whether in education, ensuring an informed citizenry or more efficient governance.

Chambers focused on the premise that opportunities for children that may have fiber to the school at varing ratios of bandwidth from 1 Gig per 1,000 students or more. When the children go home in the evening to prepare homework often times broadband is not available in rural America.  The unemployed would be able to look at jobs online and submit applications from home rather than a library.  Americans advanced in age should be able to have the accessibility to services and access to medical facilities to enable them to age in place.  America is better than our current low expectations.  Chambers added that "I think it's a time to build. Networks that connect communities." - FCC's Jonathan Chambers

Chambers noted that the next 3-5 years is the time to build these networks to deliver to rural America the tools to be productive in this world. An interesting comment he added was that we should stop trying to meet bandwidth objectives of 4:1, 10:1 or 25:3 and just build fiber everywhere. Between e-rate, community connect, lifeline, state and federal grant/loan programs there is enough money available. Rural America built copper networks from no-subscribers in the late 1940's and 50's to copper everywhere. We have done it once and we can do it again with all fiber.

The future of the digital communication age is upon us and the requirements for our country to succeed depend on these services. That makes the fiber availability to the children, the quality of life to all adults, economic development a moral obligation in rural America

The Connect America Fund (CAF) rules for Rate of Return (RoR) service providers are anticipated to be released prior to the first of the year. If the RoR funding is similar to the Price Cap models there should be a consistent window of High Cost Support based on creating or upgrading broadband. The planning process should begin immediately to be able to take full advantage of the opportunity and at the same time make truly high speed broadband a reality for rural America. Do we really want to leave a decade of students behind and not have access to the full broadband toolset to be successful in the world of tomorrow? 

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Written by Michael Beecher at 00:00

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