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Advocacy Affordability Broadband Availability Buncombe Cable Cloud Digital Inequality Digital Literacy DSL Fiber Fixed Wireless Broadband Latency Microsoft OneDrive Telecom Industry

No DSL – Cable, Fiber, Fixed Wireless, or Satellite?

What is next when the DSL copper internet service is stopped?

Recently I helped a rural Buncombe County resident of 60+ years with a questions about ‘unexpected errors and messages’ she was receiving while working on her bookkeeping desktop computer.

The Excel spreadsheet occasionally created ‘auto-recovered’ versions that confused her. Then she could not find the file on her local computer’s file system.

Noteworthy: Excel will attempt to autosave and create a recovery version of a file if unexpected computer system events occur, like a power failure or closing the computer without saving a file.

Additionally Microsoft was defaulting to save files to ‘OneDrive’ or Microsoft’s cloud storage instead of the local computer.

Cloud or ‘OneDrive’ file storage needs dependable internet. If your internet speeds are of DSL copper wire or wireless latency, you have less confidence of a timely remote cloud-server save.

Microsoft OneDrive is the Cloud

If you have an older computer and DSL speeds, saving a file the the cloud can be questionable if you are in a hurry. Slow download, upload, and latency can create uncertainty.

Additionally, if the system is trying to protect your local file by putting it to the cloud and you don’t know that ‘OneDrive’ is the cloud; your file could become orphaned from your workflows.

Fiber Broadband 12-Month Promotion

As it turns out, the client’s home had recent street-side digging of a fiber installation. Soon after, the client received a letter offering to get a ‘500Mbps speed’ service for $45 per month for up to 12 months.

The client claimed “$5 higher per month than her current service” from the same major provider.

Features and Benefits of AT&T 500Mbps speed

This client has several major features and benefits with fiber, including these listed on AT&T’s website:

  • 500Mbps equal upload and download speeds
  • Faster speed and more bandwidth for the always connected household
  • 20x faster upload speeds than cable
  • Power even more devices so everyone can enjoy their own screen
  • AT&T Internet Security included

What the promotional USPS promotional letter did NOT Indicate:

  • How much do you pay for monthly fiber broadband service after 12 months?
  • What are the taxes and equipment fees?

AT&T Shelving DSL

In October of 2020 AT&T indicated they would start shelving DSL.

“We’re beginning to phase out outdated services like DSL and new orders for the service will no longer be supported after October 1,” a corporate statement sent beforehand read.

“Current DSL customers will be able to continue their existing service or where possible upgrade to our 100% fiber network.”

USA Today’s Rob Pegoraro 2020

Monopolistic Fiber Broadband

This client has 5 options:

  1. Stop copper DSL internet (and phone service) and leverage there cell phones.
  2. Upgrade to cable internet.
  3. Investigate wireless home internet options (slower and less dependable internet than cable)
  4. Consider satellite connectivity, low-earth orbit
  5. Purchase fiber broadband service from the one and only provider in their area

The consumer has no ability easily to benchmark or compare internet service provider pricing options. Likely, the one-year plus pricing for fiber service will be much higher than $45 per month.

Reasonable and Protective-Pricing

Although this client appears to have the financial means to upgrade to fiber, who is advocating for reasonable and protective pricing schemes for this elderly client?

  • What happens to neighbors that may not have the financial ability to pay for upgraded fiber?
  • Who provides credible and secure digital education specific to the user’s needs?
  • What happens to the client’s service if the DSL service fails?
  • Who advocates for the not-so-current digital tech user?

“AT&T Fiber – Unlimited Internet Data | AT&T Internet.” 2021. AT&T. 2021. https://www.att.com/internet/fiber/

“Understanding Internet Speeds.” 2020. AT&T. 2020. https://www.att.com/support/article/u-verse-high-speed-internet/KM1010095

Pegoraro, Rob. 2020. “AT&T Shelving DSL May Leave Hundreds of Thousands Hanging by a Phone Line.” USA TODAY. USA TODAY. October 3, 2020. https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2020/10/03/att-dsl-internet-digital-subscriber-line-outdated/5880219002/

Categories
Broadband access Digital Inequality Fiber Watauga

Watauga County

$7 Million Project Building Out Fiber-Optic Internet Access to Underserved Areas

We salute the growth of quality broadband to the underserved areas of Watauga County North Carolina.

The lack of high-speed internet access in the High Country has been one of the things that the COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered, especially with lots of folks moving to the area and finding out that large, rural parts of the county do not have access to high-speed internet. 

HCPress.com – Nathan Ham

Fiber is the future-proof solution!


Watauga County Commissioners Approve $7 Million Project Building Out Fiber-Optic Internet Access to Underserved Areas of the County. High Country Press. Published August 20, 2021. Accessed September 4, 2021. https://www.hcpress.com/front-page/watauga-county-commissioners-approve-7-million-project-building-out-fiber-optic-internet-access-to-underserved-areas-of-the-county.html

Categories
Broadband access Digital Inequality Low-income Access

Digital Deserts

Broadband Drought Locations

Drought in the Western NC Mountains

For those of us who drive west, you quickly realize the quality and availability of cellular access points becomes more and more remote. The residents and businesses in these areas are also likely to have poorer fixed internet options.

With more and more interactions being required online from governments and related businesses, broadband or high-speed internet can starve individuals and communities of life-necessities of internet connectivity.

Community Broadband Access Points

To connect and communicate through the internet requires internet service providers. Wireless service providers facilitate some coverage, however this is usually at a premium of having a smartphone and sometimes expensive monthly cellular plans, most with contracts. Additionally our mountainous region has geographic limitations for WISP or wireless internet service providers.

Municipalities do provide public access points in their buildings and schools, medical facilities provide public access at most locations, many restaurants provide public access points, and my favorite are communities centers including public libraries.

Escape the Digital Desert for Seniors

School age students have the benefit of digital stewardship at public schools. But what about the senior demographic in Western North Carolina? What do they do if they don’t have a partner, spouse, children, or a community member to steward their digital needs?

Barrier to entry is really high for seniors in order to start using or feel comfortable using devices or the internet.

Deirdre Lee, Program Coordinator of Senior Planet Colorado

It appears significant Federal and State infrastructure monies are coming, including funding to grow digital connectivity and water the digital deserts. How will computer equipment and digital literacy be planned as part of the changing our digital deserts?

Digital Navigator Marc

Digital Navigator – Marc Czarnecki, alias Web Tech Czar

The author of this article, Marc Czarnecki, alias Web Tech Czar; is a member of the WNC Broadband Project Leadership team with a role of a Digital Navigator for the Digital Literacy Network and facilitates computer-tech education at NCWorks Career Center of Asheville, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Meet-the-GeeksAsheville SCORE, UNC Asheville Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and the Experienced Workforce Initiative of WNC.

Marc leverages 4G and 5G hotspot technologies from Verizon, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and area community WiFi access points.

Contact Marc with your ideas to change our WNC digital deserts:


NaBeela Washington. Escaping the Digital Desert – Senior Planet digital desert. Senior Planet. Published August 5, 2021. Accessed August 15, 2021. https://seniorplanet.org/news/2021/08/04/escaping-the-digital-desert/

Categories
Digital Divide Digital Inequality Digital Redlining

Digital Redlining

Digital redlining is a term where decision makes deny electronic equipment growth in processes or policies to people and housing in low-income areas.

Digital opportunities could include discriminatory marketing, financial, or residential opportunities.

Is investing in high-speed internet is yet another digital exclusion?

Roots of a Digital Divide

A bill introduced last Friday tackles broadband underinvestment in low-income areas with hopes to address exclusivity agreements between providers and residential buildings.

Could the United States Government and the Federal Communication Commission take action to prohibit digital redlining?

On August 4, 2021 Representative Yvette Clarke of New York started an inquiry on the topic of digital redlining.


Uhunoma Edamwen. Bill to Address Digital Redlining, Exclusivity Agreements Between Providers and Buildings. Broadbandbreakfast.com. Published August 4, 2021. Accessed August 5, 2021. https://broadbandbreakfast.com/2021/08/bill-to-address-digital-redlining-exclusivity-agreements-between-providers-and-buildings/

Nally CW. Redlining in a Digital Age | Burke Costanza & Carberry LLP. Burke Costanza & Carberry LLP. Published August 31, 2018. Accessed August 5, 2021. https://www.bcclegal.com/2018/08/31/redlining-in-a-digital-age/

Text – H.R.4875 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): To require the Federal Communications Commission to issue a notice of inquiry related to digital redlining, to prohibit digital redlining, and for other purposes. Congress.gov. Published 2021. Accessed August 5, 2021. https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/4875/text

Categories
Digital Divide Digital Inequality

Digital Divide Decisions

Don’t replace the digital divide with the “not good enough divide”

Broadband of 25 Mbps down / 3 Mbps up; is a current FCC standard that is definitely NOT future-proof.

With strategic decisions being made to a magnitude not see in the history of the internet, what should the benchmark become?

Congress must prioritize spending public funds for high-speed service, not simply good-enough service.

Tom Wheeler – Brookings

Wheeler, T. (2021, June 21). Don’t replace the digital divide with the “not good enough divide.” Brookings; Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2021/06/21/dont-replace-the-digital-divide-with-the-not-good-enough-divide/

Categories
Broadband access Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Inequality Fiber NTCA

#FIBERDelivers

WNC Needs To Build Big and Bold Broadband Infrastructure

Why does Western North Carolina need to build big and bold broadband infrastructure?

#FIBERDelivers

  • Fastest internet
  • Best investment
  • More connected education
  • Essential healthcare
  • 5G access
  • More jobs
  • Better gaming
  • Faster streaming
  • Robust teleworking

With a once-in-a-generation infrastructure opportunity ahead of us, now is the time to aim higher, do better and invest in technology built to last. For broadband, in many cases that means fiber. Fiber delivers not just what we need today but also holds promise for what will be needed in the future, as more Americans engage in teleworking, remote learning and telehealth, and as our country pursues 5G superiority.

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, TCA

#WeAgree at the WNC Broadband Project.

Thanks to the @NTCAconnect – the Rural Broadband Association and their Chief Executive Officer @sbloomfield15 Shirley Bloomfield for advocating for #rural #broadband!

We can remove the #digitaldivide.

Categories
Broadband access Buncombe Community Development Digital Inequality Local Government Senate Bill Terri Wells Tim Love

Buncombe Government Can Not Help

The reality, the needed broadband infrastructure to reach all homes; is not in Buncombe County and other Western North Carolina communities; and our local government can’t currently build and lease the infrastructure to providers. Could Senate Bill 689 pass to allow local governments to help?

Love, Wells and others hoping to tap the arriving federal aid are watching various legislative proposals, especially Senate Bill 689, which would allow local governments to build the infrastructure and lease it to providers. The bill would also allow the use of grants, such as the rescue plan.

Citizen Times

In the mountains with low populations density and a low customer count, like when rural electrification was implemented; our state needs to allow local governments to create the needed infrastructure where it is geographically too expensive to build broadband networks.


Burgess, J. (2021, May 6). 35,000 Buncombe homes, businesses don’t have broadband, and NC law says the county can’t help. The Asheville Citizen Times; Asheville Citizen Times. https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/2021/05/06/state-law-stops-buncombe-county-helping-households-broadband/4958393001/


‌Also See

2021 Broadband State Legislation

Categories
Broadband access Broadband funding Broadband Technology Digital Inequality

Top 10 Broadband Stories of 2020

Drew Clark – Telecom Attorney, The CommLaw Group. Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Broadband Breakfast has provided continuous text and video content in 2020 on the topic of broadband in America.

As we approach the end of the year, it is good to revisit broadband stories of 2020.

Drew’s ‘top 10’ Broadband Topics

10 – The fall of China, ZTE and Huawei broadband manufacturers

9 – Spectrum sharing, new technologies are enabling radio frequencies to be used in new and more innovative ways

8 – Open access networks, new fiber networks

7 – Traditional telephone network future

6 – Broadband is infrastructure that needs valid maps

5 – Reverse-auctions and rural broadband / RDOF – Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

4 – Big tech lawsuits, consumer & innovation balance

3 – COVID Teleworking / Working and Learning

2 – Digital Inequality

1 – Federal Government & infrastructure investments

In Western North Carolina, state and federal broadband topics will continue to drive how and when broadband improvements will be made.

Please contact a member of our WNC Broadband Project Team with any questions you may have.


Clark, D. (2020, December 30). Drew Clark: The Top 10 Broadband Stories of 2020, and What They Mean for 2021. Broadbandbreakfast.com. http://broadbandbreakfast.com/2020/12/drew-clark-the-top-10-broadband-stories-of-2020-and-what-they-mean-for-2021/

Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Divide Digital Inclusion Digital Inequality Economic Development Education

Homework Gap

Now a Learning Gap In Rural America

I am already shocked. As a father of two digitally-connected children, I know first hand of the significant value of having broadband available. The digital value is having computers available, the knowledge of how to apply computers, with broadband being available on demand, to engage with society for knowledge, communication, health, and more.

Additionally, having volunteered at several area schools and community centers, I see the digital divide. If students don’t have broadband available at home, immediately the student is disconnected from our digital world of learning opportunities.

The pandemic has made getting computers and internet connections to households with school-age children a priority. The “homework gap” is sizable. Before the pandemic, some 16.9 million children under the age of 18 lived in households without wireline internet service and 7.3 million live in homes without a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer. What was a homework gap is now a learning gap.

John B. Horrigan

Digital Tools & Learning. (2020, December 10). Benton Foundation. https://www.benton.org/blog/digital-tools-learning

Also See


The author of this article, Marc Czarnecki; helps to minimize the rural divide in America by supporting the WNC Broadband Project.

The WNC Broadband Team advocates for the necessary broadband improvements for our #digitallives.

Categories
Broadband in WNC Digital Inequality Policy

No Internet

Many in NC Can’t Adequately Learn, Get Healthcare

Locked out: Without internet, tens of thousands of North Carolinians can’t adequately learn, get health care

Nearly a third of all North Carolina households lack high-speed internet, essentially cutting them off from crucial education and health care services; most of these areas are rural and often in communities of color.

Report by the Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force

Sorg, Lisa. “Locked out: Without Internet, Tens of Thousands of North Carolinians Can’t Adequately Learn, Get Health Care.” NC Policy Watch, 7 Dec. 2020, www.ncpolicywatch.com/2020/12/07/locked-out-without-internet-tens-of-thousands-of-north-carolinians-cant-adequately-learn-get-health-care/. Accessed 8 Dec. 2020.