The rural broadband divide: An urgent national problem that we can solve | Microsoft On The Issues

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Photo Credit: Microsoft

My favorite US-based tech company, behind Canada’s Corel and Norway & Iceland’s Vivaldi, is at it again. Just because you live in the hinterlands should not determine that you are a second-class digital citizen. Or for that matter, certain urban neighborhoods not unlike where I live in Charlotte and similar cities. This has to be done by large tech companies not tied to mobile bandwidth due to its data cap limitations via its business model. Below comes from Microsoft President Brad Smith in a blog post:

Every day the world is becoming more digital. Cloud computing combined with new productivity, communication and intelligent tools and services enable us to do more, do it more quickly and in ways that were simply unimaginable a generation ago. But participating in this new era requires a high-speed broadband connection to the internet. While it’s a service that is as critical as a phone or electricity, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband is unavailable to roughly 25 million Americans, more than 19 million of which live in rural communities. That’s roughly the population of New York state.

 

The broadband gap is a solvable issue

 

At Microsoft we believe this is an urgent national problem that can and must be solved. In the summer of 2017 we called for a national effort and set an ambitious goal — to eliminate the country’s rural broadband gap by July 4, 2022. Closing the broadband gap will require a focused and comprehensive solution that combines private sector capital investment in innovative technologies with targeted financial and regulatory support from the public sector.

 

For the past 18 months we’ve contributed to this effort through our Microsoft Airband Initiative, a five-year commitment to bring broadband access to 2 million unserved Americans living in rural communities. During this time, we’ve accomplished and learned a lot.

 

Raising our ambition as a company, and a country

 

While we’ve made significant progress, we know there’s a lot more to do to bring broadband to every American. That’s why we are raising our ambition as a company and encourage the federal, state and local governments to do the same.

The post The rural broadband divide: An urgent national problem that we can solve appeared first on Microsoft on the Issues.

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Will 5G be the answer for underserved rural America? | Android Central

This is the main reason behind the purchase of Sprint by T-Mobile, it’s their spectrum holdings, not necessarily their customer base. Disclosure: A current T-Mobile customer, a former customer of Sprint in the 3G data only when I was an OTR trucker.

Also interesting, as much as the story itself is the comments. Mostly on topic, but demonstrates a wide gap between perceived coverage and actual coverage, even in some cases one county removed from a major or mid-sized city.

It’s been touted that 5G is the answer to get broadband internet service to rural parts of the U.S., but like everything else, it isn’t that simple. 5G has the potential to cover everyone in the United States because it’s deployed so differently to current broadband solutions like cable and satellite (and fiber, but that’s still a pipe dream for most of the world), and the equipment used for a cell “tower” is much smaller and cheaper to build and deploy than running wire.

 

This will allow for planning a 5G network not only in places like Chicago or Los Angeles but Western Washington and Appalachia, too. Narrowband 5G can also connect up to 100-times more clients than existing tech and has 10-times the range. It sounds like the answer.

 

To become the answer, though, a few other things need to be discussed. The biggest hurdle, according to industry partners ready to profit by providing 5G access, is spectrum licensing. While the narrowband 5G mentioned above does have 10-times more range than existing services can provide, a more realistic look using the spectrum available and messy standards we have now mean you would need a small-site 5G station spaced only a few hundred feet apart according to NTCA Senior VP of Industry Affairs Michael Romano.

 

via Will 5G be the answer for underserved rural America? | Android Central

FCC seeks comments on Broadband mHealth

FCC seeks comments on Broadband mHealth

The linked article below spends time talking about POTUS45’s FCC that is led by Ajit Pai. After his stance on Net Neutrality that is the subject of much controversy, some would question his commitment to an expansion of mHealth to serve everyone, regardless of location in America. Matters are not helped when a distinct beneficiary of the changes he proposes is one of his former employers. This used to be called a conflict of interest; now it is business as usual.

The paper and linked article both cover seven points that the publication aims for:

  1. Promote Effective Policy and Regulatory Solutions That Encourage Broadband Adoption and Promote Health IT
  2. Identify Regulatory Barriers (and Incentives) to the Deployment of RF-Enabled Advanced Health Care Technologies and Devices
  3. Strengthen the Nation’s Telehealth Infrastructure Through the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program and Other Initiatives
  4. Raise Consumer Awareness About the Value Proposition of Broadband in the Health Care Sector and its Potential for Addressing Health Care Disparities
  5. Enable the Development of Broadband-Enabled Health Technologies That are Designed to be Fully Accessible to People With Disabilities
  6. Highlight Effective Telehealth Projects, Broadband-Enabled Health Technologies, and mHealth Applications Across the Country and Abroad—To Identify Lessons Learned, Best Practices, and Regulatory Challenges
  7. Engage a Diverse Array of Traditional and Non-Traditional Stakeholders To Identify Emerging Issues and Opportunities in the Broadband Health Space

(mHealthIntelligence, 2017) & (“2017-09309.pdf,” n.d., pp. 3–9)

2017-05-13-redux.jpg

All of these initiatives are all meaningful and comprehensive. However, one very important aspect was missing from all of this: No mention on how to pay for this. I searched through the entire document, and nothing came up for either Medicare or Medicaid; Therein lies the problem. The very constituency that is most at risk for mHealth and can derive the most benefit from it have few means of actually paying for it. This is not to say that the underserved and rural populations do not resources, but a glaring omission of this magnitude makes for inept policy. A comment period is posted, so the odds of this being addressed are pretty good.

The dominant medical provider in my market has a Virtual Visit service that is $49, requires a Credit Card, and not covered by Medicare/Medicaid. (“Virtual Visit | 24/7 Online Urgent Care | Carolinas HealthCare System,” n.d.) There is one other important requirement, you must physically be in North Carolina at the time of visit. A reasonable assumption is the system has geofencing capabilities to enforce this.  DMCA and other issues arise if using a VPN to spoof locations; have not and will not tempt fate here. The other medical provider has a similar setup and pricing, however, you must already be in their network/system. Either way, the costs remain a barrier, not the technology.

via FCC Seeks Input on Broadband Expansion for mHealth, Telehealth


2017-09309.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-05-10/pdf/2017-09309.pdf

mHealthIntelligence. (2017, May 11). FCC Seeks Input on Broadband Expansion for mHealth, Telehealth. Retrieved May 13, 2017, from http://mhealthintelligence.com/news/fcc-seeks-input-on-broadband-expansion-for-mhealth-telehealth

Virtual Visit | 24/7 Online Urgent Care | Carolinas HealthCare System. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2017, from http://www.carolinashealthcare.org/virtualvisit

Democracy for $ Broadband edition

One of the towns listed in this article is some 215 miles NNE of where my story originates. It is one of the few relatively populated places that I haven’t visited in North Carolina. While it’s not surprising that the North Carolina General Assembly passes laws in direct conflict with most of the constituents, this one seems especially egregious. There are some opinionated hints to why this may be the case.

https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml


As you can see, this is a smallish type of community. Also one that is majority minority, according to official government numbers. A bill that is being debated on address this: http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/Senate/HTML/S208v1.html. Now that the recent #HB2 “semi-repeal” got done, there may be hope full that it, with a Democratic governor will pass as well. However, the legislature is still in the control of the party that opposes such measures, so don’t hold your breath for change just yet.

http://www.infoworld.com/article/3189828/internet/only-in-the-usa-isps-get-tax-dollars-to-build-weak-broadband.html#tk.twt_ifw

The Digital Divide: A Quarter of the Nation Is Without Broadband

This is unacceptable in what is supposed to be the greatest country on Earth.

One-quarter of the nation does not have broadband. It’s time to finally close the digital divide

Source: The Digital Divide: A Quarter of the Nation Is Without Broadband | Time.com