Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Inclusion Economic Development Education FCC William Sederburg

Broadband Future in WNC

by Dr. William Sederburg

Western North Carolina Broadband Project Chair Dr. William Sederburg talks about broadband and the situation of broadband maps from the FCC and the actual situation of broadband service as detailed in his letter to the FCC.

WNC Broadband Future – Dr. Sederburg

YouTube Video Outline

00:00 – Organized through University of North Carolina Asheville
01:36 – Former FCC Officials Stagg Newman & Greg Voyt in WNC
02:21 – FCC Presentation
03:00 – WNC Broadband Project’s start
04:42 – ‘Future Proof’ Broadband
06:11 – ‘Lack of broadband infrastructure is NOT just a rural problem’
07:19 – Buncombe County Map – No Services offered in red, white areas do not have adequate broadband
08:21 – Conclusion, Federal policy changes, WNC short-changed services, WNCBP offer to help FCC with maps (see the letter below)

Because broadband is a critical need for economic growth, education, tele-health, and more; the WNC Broadband Project is here to advocate for broadband improvements for our communities.

Categories
Broadband in WNC REA - Rural Electrification Act RUS - Rural Utility Service

Roots of a Broadband Revolution

What did the implementation of electricity and the telephone do to local economies and communities?

With the telephone financial loan program roots of the Rural Electrification Act (REA) in 1946 only 39% of rural Americans had phone service and communities banded together to serve themselves.

Roots of REA and RUS

Federal infrastructure programs in the United States have a foundational element to the current broadband needs. How did the REA and RUS create roots for a broadband revolution?

Rural Electrification Act

REA provided federal loans for the installation of electrical distribution systems to serve isolated rural areas of the United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_Electrification_Act

Rural Utility Service

RUS implemented programs to provide infrastructure or infrastructure improvements to rural communities, including water and waste treatment, electric power, and telecommunications services. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_Utilities_Service

Creating the Architecture

Like the WNC Broadband Project with the roots of two former FCC builders, Stagg Newman and Greg Volt; community-based programs are working towards creating the architecture; to get the broadband job done!

Support the WNC Broadband Project for digital inclusion in Western North Carolina.


Thanks to @sbloomfield15 for this blog inspiration.

Categories
Asheville Basics Broadband access Buncombe Digital Literacy Free WiFi Hotspot Internet Library Low-income Access

Digital Options

Pack Library in Downtown Asheville

Located at 67 Haywood Street, the Pack Library and is the main branch in the Buncombe County Public Library System.

The first Pack Library was built and named for George Willis Pack in 1911.

This newer, 56,000-square foot facility was built in 1978 and renovated in 2012.

Digital Resources

It includes digital resources including:

  • Desktop Computer Access in the building
  • Popular resources
    • NC Live a statewide library cooperative, supporting 200+ public and academic libraries across North Carolina
    • NC Digital Library powered by OverDrive and Kindle software
    • Story Line and BiblioBoard hybrid software dedicated to keeping libraries at the forefront of their communities in an increasingly digital age. BiblioLabs offers patrons unlimited, multi-user access through BiblioBoard, the PatronsFirst® digital library, and provides tools that empower libraries to thrive as influential centers for creative community engagement.
    • Tax Help
  • WiFi for your own smartphone, tablet, or laptop
  • Online events by age and by type
  • Printing & Copying

What is your favorite digital resource at Buncombe County libraries; and why?


Libraries – Pack Memorial. Buncombecounty.org. https://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/library/branch-locations/pack-memorial.aspx

Categories
Buncombe Digital Divide Hotspot Laptop Library

Buncombe Library Laptop or Hotspot Loan

With a Buncombe County library card in good standing, a laptop and/or a hot spot can now be checked-out thanks to grant funding from the State Library of North Carolina through the CARES Act, Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

Call ‘Ask-a-Librarian’

Call the Ask-a-Librarian line at (828) 250-4700 to request a device. There is no charge for the service but charges may be incurred for late returns or losses.

Read More Details About Laptop or Hot Spot Checkout

More details are linked in the articles below.

Barrows, K. (2021, April 18). Buncombe Co. libraries launch laptop loan program in an effort to “bridge digital divide.” WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/buncombe-co-libraries-launch-laptop-loan-program-in-an-effort-to-bridge-digital-divide

Barrows, K. (2021, April 18). Buncombe Co. libraries launch laptop loan program in an effort to “bridge digital divide.” WLOS; WLOS. https://wlos.com/news/local/buncombe-co-libraries-launch-laptop-loan-program-in-an-effort-to-bridge-digital-divide


WiFi Lot Maps‌

WiFi parking lots are also available.

Categories
4k Asheville Download Fiber Gaming Latency Television

Download Speed for Gaming

TV Display Might Not Get 4k Resolution

Epic Games of NC – Featured Games to Download, Play

Broadband or high speed internet provides many opportunities:

  • Telehealth
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Entertainment

But what if your community does not get broadband or internet speeds for the future? 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up would likely not be sufficient for 4k resolution large television monitors and definitely not enough speed for 8k resolution monitors.

The featured screen-shot (above) informed me that in my work location, my download speeds would likely not be sufficient for gaming on Google’s new Stadia platform at 4K resolution.

Let’s take this concept to the future.

Lost Broadband Opportunity

So if your broadband speeds are not fast enough for 4k resolution and current monitors?

What about the necessary internet speeds for other high speed internet benefits?

If you worked for a branch of North Carolina’s Epic Games, a huge global gaming platform; you’d likely not consider coming to Asheville or Western North Carolina to work remotely if very high speed internet is necessary for employment and entertainment.

Fiber is the Future

To future-proof our investments in broadband networks; DSL, cable, satellite, and sometimes wireless broadband services may likely not provide the gigabit speeds needed for our future. Fiber to the home or business is the future-proof investment needed for WNC!

Categories
ARC Broadband funding ERC Broadband Haywood County Skyrunner

Haywood County Broadband Expansion Efforts

The Education and Research Consortium of the Western Carolinas, Inc (“ERC”, also known as “ERC Broadband”) is proud to announce it has selected Skyrunner as the awardee of its Request for Proposal (“RFP”) to expand broadband in the Fines Creek and Crabtree communities in Haywood County. This award is pursuant to funding received by the Appalachian Regional Commission (“ARC”).

ERC Press Release, April 15, 2021

View the full PDF press-release with this link

View area on Google Maps

Thanks to the Southwestern Commission Regional Council of Governments, Region A; for sharing this emailed content.

Categories
Broadband access Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Inclusion Economic Development Education Gigabit NTCA Real Estate Shirley Bloomfield

WFH

Working From Home

How will the COVID-19 epidemic change the relationship from working in an office to working from home (WFH)?

How will WFH alter Asheville?

If 1/3 of Americans work from home, it changes transportation planning in a huge way.

Road Guy Rob

Transportation

In Buncombe County, we know the bottlenecks and high capacity of traffic on I-240, I-40, and I-26 as major interstates connect and bring-in or out employees. If work from home become permanent, the commuting demand shifts from vehicular traffic to broadband traffic.

Office Space

Yes, essential worker in hospitality, grocery stores, and other service industries in WNC will see needed transportation continue; but should an organization spend an enormous amount of money at their headquarter office to seat employees that cost $2.00 or more a square foot per month?

Land Use

How does the shift of working in an office to WFH effect home costs? Anyplace that has healthy broadband could become the new employment location. You don’t have to commute to work and there will be a ‘flight’ to smaller communities. Available land in the outskirts of WNC will become attractive home and workplaces.

Prerequisite

In the future there will be unprecedented availability of gigabit broadband which is available through fiber networks.

Urban cities can have 130 subscribers per mile. Rural communities can have 6-7 subscribers per mile. Fiber doesn’t get any cheaper based on where you are putting it in the ground. Yet in rural America it is even more important to bridge the digital divides.

Shirley Bloomfield, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association CEO (Human Resource office in Biltmore Park)

The Big Picture

America and WNC is returning to a decentralized economy. The world economy is replacing the suburb commutes with the internet at the speed of light. Communtable work distances in WNC is limitless. Additionally, our carbon footprint will be reduced. Political and socioeconomic landscapes will change. What will be the role of mass transportation in WNC?

Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband as a Utility Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Equity Economic Development

Bridging A Digital Divide

High speed internet should be available to everybody in Western North Carolina.

It is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, telehealth, and civic engagement.

Broadband Call-To-Action

Your call-to-action should be:

  1. Advocate for the timeless investment of fiber to replace copper and cable. It is likely the power company owns your neighborhood telephone poles and a right-of way is needed.
  2. Steward the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to your network. A Federal Subsidy of up to $50 per month is available. Additionally, a one time $100 per household for hardware.
  3. Provide the NC Broadband Office with information about the lack of dependable broadband at your location or a friend or neighbor.

Bridging The Digital Divide For All Americans. Federal Communications Commission. https://www.fcc.gov/about-fcc/fcc-initiatives/bridging-digital-divide-all-americans

Categories
5g Broadband in WNC Buncombe Cellular SpaceX Stagg Newman Wireless Wireline

5G Rollout in Buncombe County and Implications

by Stagg Newman*

Both T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular are offering 5G, the next generation cellular service in some parts of Buncombe County. That will certainly improve the mobile service offer. This article addresses the implications for fixed Home Broadband service.

5G – Fifth Generation Wireless

Because we see 5G heavily marketed by most carriers; it is important to revisit the definition of 5G.  

  • 5G define in Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5G 
    • 5G is the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019, and is the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cell phones.
    • 5G networks are cellular networks, in which the service area is divided into small geographical areas called cells. All 5G wireless devices in a cell are connected to the Internet and telephone network by radio waves through a local antenna in the cell. The main advantage of the new networks is that they will have greater bandwidth, giving higher download speeds, eventually up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbit/s).
    • Frequency bands – low, medium, and high. A 5G network will be composed of networks consisting of up to three different types of cells, each requiring specific antenna designs as well as providing a different tradeoff of download speed to distance and service area. 5G cell phones and wireless devices connect to the network through the highest speed antenna within range at their location:
      • Low-band 5G uses a similar frequency range to 4G cellphones, 600–850 MHz, giving download speeds a little higher than 4G: 30–250 megabits per second (Mbit/s).[5] Low-band cell towers have a range and coverage area similar to 4G towers. 
      • Mid-band 5G uses microwaves of 2.5–3.7 GHz, allowing speeds of 100–900 Mbit/s, with each cell tower providing service up to several kilometers in radius. This level of service is the most widely deployed, and should be available in most metropolitan areas in 2020. Some regions are not implementing low-band, making this the minimum service level. 
      • High-band 5G uses frequencies of 25–39 GHz, near the bottom of the millimeter wave band, although higher frequencies may be used in the future. It often achieves download speeds in the gigabit per second (Gbit/s) range, comparable to cable internet. However, millimeter waves (mmWave or mmW) have a more limited range, requiring many small cells.[6] They can be impeded or blocked by materials in walls or windows. Due to their higher cost, plans are to deploy these cells only in dense urban environments and areas where crowds of people congregate such as sports stadiums and convention centers.
  • 5G coverage maps
    • Speed tests in themselves are not enough information.  A notion of quality of needs to be associated with speed and coverage.  Quality includes many additional elements to download and upload speeds like latency, indoor/outdoor, time of day, search vs streaming, etc.  Mobile device speed test apps are starting to include indexes of a value of the quality.  These indexed value calculations vary by app developer.  

It should be noted that certain areas where 5G has been detected are not necessarily commercially open. Indeed, beforehand, technical tests can be carried out by operators (NPerf 5G coverage map).

Buncombe County Broadband Service

Today the situation in Buncombe County is approximately 90% of our residents are offered >100 Mbps wired broadband service. RiverStreet in the Central North offers > 100 Mbps downlink broadband service with Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) technology. Charter Spectrum in much of the rest of the county except for the southeast corner offers > 100 Mbps downlink broadband service with deep fiber Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) technology. French Broad Electric Member Cooperative (FBEMC), as result of winning state GREAT Grant funding, will offer >100 Mbps service in the far west of the county in the next couple of years with FTTH technology. Charter recently won federal Rural Development Opportunity Funding to build out in some additional areas of the county.

SkyRunner offers fixed wireless broadband service at speeds of 25 Mbps or higher in many parts of the county but only to homeowners who have a clean line of sight to one of the towers with SkyRunner radio equipment. SkyRunner, in addition to offering fixed wireless, is now starting to build out FTTH networks fed by Gbps fixed wireless backhaul to groups of homeowners in some micro-communities.

That leaves approximately 10% of Buncombe County households with the only choice of fixed Internet access as DSL (Digital Subscriber Line Services) from traditional telecommunications companies such as AT&T, Frontier, and RiverStreet in some areas where RiverStreet has not yet modernized the network of the old Barnardsville Telephone company, which they acquired. This DSL technology cannot offer >25 Mbps downlink broadband service and thus no longer meets the FCC definition of minimal acceptable service. These customer areas, where only DSL service is offered, create the “holes in the Swiss Cheese” network, i.e. they cannot obtain the high speed broadband needed for work at home, remote education, and good streaming services so urgently needed in the COVID-19 era. Note that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) now defines 25 Mbps as the minimum downlink speed for acceptable broadband service eligible for purposes of federal funding.

Buncombe County’s Swiss Cheese Network

Buncombe County Swiss Cheese Broadband Network
Buncombe County Map – No Broadband Service Offered (in red)

Unserved Households

Addressing the needs of the approximately 10% of unserved households is now urgent. Now 5G, the next generation of cellular service, can provide a viable alternative for >25 Mbps service where there is excellent or good signal strength. As the cellular operators further modernize their 5G networks, they will also offer options without stringent caps on monthly usage. The article “T-Mobile Takes Stab at 5G Home Broadband After Others Failed” by Scott Moritz from Bloomberg News, https://www.bloombergquint.com/onweb/t-mobile-takes-a-stab-at-5g-home-broadband-where-others-failed, provides an excellent description of T-Mobile’s plans to offer 5G Home Broadband. We know U.S. Cellular is working on similar plans. Given industry dynamics and Verizon’s response in other markets, I believe Verizon is likely to follow. If all of these firms develop such offers, this can fill in many of the holes in our “Swiss cheese” network not served by current broadband providers that offer at least 25 Mbps downlink broadband service. 

T Mobile Low Band Spectrum

The article about T-Mobile above does miss the importance of low band spectrum. The importance of low band spectrum is that low band connections do not require direct line-of-sight nor near line-of-sight. The signals bounce off of hillsides, buildings, etc. T-Mobile has excellent low-band spectrum in our area and is using this to offer 5G. The map below shows their current 5G offer in our area. Note that in some areas the signal strength is excellent and over 100 Mbps speeds are possible according to testing some of us have done. On the other hand in other areas, the 5G signal is good, which probably means between 25 Mbps and 100 Mbps service. In other areas the strength is only fair or poor and customers cannot obtain >25 Mbps service. Note that this is the outdoor signal strength. Indoor performance will be slower.

T-Mobile provides a coverage map. You can put in your address and see the coverage there. You can also scroll over the map to see how coverage changes.

Here is the link. https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/coverage-map

T-Mobile Coverage in Buncombe County Area

T Mobile Coverage in Buncombe County
T Mobile Coverage Check – Asheville Area

Low band spectrum allows the rapid implementation of 5G on the existing macro-coverage cell sites on high towers. These cell sites may have a radius of several miles or more and cover an area of 10 to 100 square miles. Deploying 5G on these existing cell sites enables a quick roll out. The one disadvantage of the low band spectrum is that the amount of frequency in each block is relatively small compared to other bands. This fact together with the large area covered by each cell site means there are more customers served by the cell site. This means the total capacity allocated for all of the customers, both fixed and mobile is limited. So initially at least, the cellular players using low band spectrum are unlikely to offer the type of unlimited usage promised in the fixed Home Broadband offers.

As the cellular players also light-up the mid-band spectrum discussed in the article, they will have more attractive Home Broadband offers that will be more competitive with the offers of Charter, RiverStreet, and FBEMC and Skyrunner.

T-Mobile through their acquisition of the Sprint cellular network has excellent mid-band mobile spectrum in our area to complement their low-band spectrum.

Both U.S. Cellular and Verizon, which already have some mid-band spectrum, acquired considerably more mid-band spectrum in the recent FCC so-called C Band spectrum auction.

I have not investigated AT&T’s spectrum assets to know if they will be able to stay competitive with T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon in our area as 5G roll-out accelerates.

US Cellular Coverage

US Cellular has also started rolling out 5G in our area. Here is the map for the US Cellular Coverage in Buncombe County Area.

US Cellular Coverage Buncombe County Area
US Cellular Buncombe County Area Coverage – 5G in light green

Here are links to two articles that describe the plans and perspective of U.S. Cellular for Home Broadband offers.

  1. US Cellular Outlines Rural 5G Fixed Wireless Plans; CEO Says Other 5G Use Cases Remain Elusive – Telecompetitor. (2020, November 6). Telecompetitor.com. https://www.telecompetitor.com/uscellular-outlines-rural-5g-fixed-wireless-plans-ceo-says-other-5g-use-cases-remain-elusive/
  2. admin. (2019, March 27). The Future of Home Internet | U.S. Cellular®. U.S. Cellular Connected. https://connected.uscellular.com/live-home-and-family/access-anywhere-the-future-of-home-internet/

‌Implications for Buncombe County

The implication for Buncombe County is that essentially all homeowners in Buncombe County could have access to a high quality (>25 Mbps, essentially unlimited usage, low latency service) by the combination of:

  • Fixed wired last mile broadband from Charter, FBEMC, RiverStreet, or SkyRunner for about 90% of our customers, particularly if the RDOF and GREAT Grant build-outs are done and we can get a built-out in the Broad River basin
  • 5G Home broadband can serve most of the remaining area, if we can get one or more cellular operators to roll out 5G to many of the holes in our ’Swiss cheese” network
  • A Low-Earth Orbit Satellite (LEOS) system (e.g. SpaceX Star Link) can serve the remaining 1/2 % or so of really hard-to-serve households.

Therefore, Buncombe County, and other counties in WNC really need to help solve the cell site location, power, and fiber backhaul problem for the cellular operators to make the rapid 5G roll-out more attractive. Extensive 5G networks will complement the wired deep fiber networks. 5G will fill in the inevitable “holes” in these networks, i.e. the really high cost to build areas. 5G will also provide customers with competitive alternatives.

* Stagg Newman was former Chief Technologist at the FCC and Chief Technologist of the team that created Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan in 2010 for Congress and the President. He started his career at Bell Laboratories and worked for 4 decades as a technologist, technology manager, and the consultant on broadband, cellular, and Internet deployment around the world. The perspective in this article is the author’s and does not represent the official position of WNC Broadband nor any other organizations that he advises.

Stagg Newman

Categories
Asheville Content Live broadcasting Pixel 4a T-Mobile Hotspot

Go FB Live

Facebook Live with Cellular Broadband

A business, a cause, and a reason to go ‘live.’

Tell a story, be real and sincere.

Nowadays anybody can be a content broadcaster.

Going ‘live’ means having a mobile phone, tablet, or webcam laptop with fast, dependable internet; i.e. broadband (download speeds in excess of 25Mbs down and 3 Mbs up; with low latency).

On Location: WAKE by Mel Chin

Using my T-Mobile 5G hotspot and a WiFi connected Google Pixel 4a (5G) phone, and a lapel microphone; these are the Facebook live results from a ‘southside slope area’ of Asheville.

WAKE Facebook Live Event

Here are the results for a local RN Patient Advocacy business posting:

https://fb.watch/4IurhjQBKL/


Prepare you content, test the video/audio equipment including broadband, and you or anybody can broadcast ‘live’ to the world.

The WNC broadband has a speed test available at: https://wncbroadband.org/survey/speedtest.php