Student teams compete on plans to expand broadband in NW Missouri

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Register now for free Aug. 20 event.

  • Published: Friday, July 22, 2022

MARYVILLE, Mo. – Teams of students from across the University of Missouri System are competing to develop plans for supplying access to affordable high-speed internet to residents and businesses in northwestern Missouri.

The teams will present their plans 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Mozingo Event Center, 1 Fall Drive, Maryville. The event, which will also be livestreamed, is free and open to the public.

“These students are taking on a real-world challenge — an actual community facing the problem of inadequate broadband access — and coming up with potential plans for workable public-private partnership (P3) models,” said Anthony Luppino, a member of the UM System Broadband Initiative(opens in new window) steering committee and director of Entrepreneurship Programs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

The three teams comprise students from various disciplines, including engineering, business, law and computer science. Prior to the presentations, a five-person panel will judge the proposals on their quality and feasibility.

Proposals must address strategies for increasing adoption of internet-based technologies and include a plan to finance expansion of the community’s broadband infrastructure. The teams’ plans may be used by the community in their broadband expansion efforts.

“The P3 Competition is a creative way to get the next generation of students to engage with communities to solve real-time challenges and improve economic opportunities, while building skills necessary in today’s globally competitive market,” said Kimberly Mildward, economic development planner with the Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments.

Using an approach outlined in the UM System Broadband Initiative’s Digitally Connected Community Guide(opens in new window), the student teams hope to provide useful ideas for bringing affordable high-speed internet to the region and encouraging the use of broadband applications.

Attendance at the Aug. 20 event, in person or via livestream, is free. Register in advance at umurl.us/P3Event(opens in new window). On-site registration starts at 8:30 a.m.

The event and student competition are sponsored by the H&R Block Foundation and the City of Maryville.

Contacts for more information on the competition and broadband planning in northwestern Missouri:

Writer: Katherine Foran

Fixed Wireless Technologies and Their Suitability for Broadband Delivery

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Written by Andrew L. Afflerbach, Ph.D., P.E.
CTC Technology & Energy

As state and local governments and their partners plan to invest billions of dollars in federal funding to build broadband infrastructure, choosing the best technology will have significant long-term implications. Federal policymakers have addressed this subject to some degree: For example, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program’s notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) preferences fiber over fixed wireless.

To aid state and local policymakers, this report offers an engineering analysis of fixed-wireless technologies and their suitability for delivering broadband service in various environments. The report addresses a range of critical technology and cost considerations related to fixed-wireless networks—and, as a point of comparison, to fiber-to-the-premises networks.

At a high level, the report concludes the following:

  • Fixed-wireless technologies will continue to improve but will not match the performance of fiber-optic networks—primarily because the existing and potential bandwidth of fiber is thousands of times higher than wireless. Also, fixed-wireless networks have inherent capacity limitations that sharply limit the number of users on a network using a given amount of spectrum.
  • Fixed-wireless network coverage is adversely affected by line-of-sight obstructions (including buildings and seasonal foliage) and weather. While a fiber network can physically connect every household in a service area (and deliver predictable performance), it is significantly more complex for a fixed-wireless network to deliver a line of sight to every household in a service area.
  • Scalability is a critical challenge to fixed-wireless deployments, both technically and financially. A given amount of wireless spectrum is capable of supporting a given amount of network capacity. If the number of network users increases or users need more bandwidth, the network operator must increase the spectrum (which is both scarce and extremely expensive—and may not be possible), upgrade the technology, or add antennas. It is challenging to design a fixed wireless network that will provide sufficient, robust upstream and downstream capacity and reach all the addresses in unserved areas.
  • The fastest fixed-wireless technologies (such as those that use millimeter-wave spectrum) are effective in delivering short-range service to closely grouped households in urban and suburban settings. These technologies are largely unsuitable for serving rural communities because of the typical geographic dispersion of addresses and the lack of mounting structures (such as towers or building rooftops).
  • Fiber is sustainable, scalable, and renewable. It offers greater capacity, predictable performance, lower maintenance costs, and a longer technological lifetime than fixed-wireless technologies. Fiber service is not degraded by line-of-sight issues and is not affected by the capacity issues that constrain fixed wireless networks.

To further illustrate the relative strengths and weaknesses of fixed-wireless technologies, this report presents an analysis of capital and operating costs for a candidate fixed wireless network as compared to a candidate fiber optic network in the same real-world settings. The candidate networks were each designed to deliver complete coverage to unserved residential locations.

While the cost analysis illustrates that fiber’s upfront capital costs are higher than those of fixed wireless in many circumstances, the total cost of ownership over 30 years is comparable for fiber and fixed wireless.

Given the above analysis, fiber offers the greater long-term value as compared to fixed-wireless technologies because of fiber’s long life, capabilities, scalability, and flexibility. In the event that a state funds technologies other than fiber, such as in circumstances where the capital cost to build fiber is cost-prohibitive or the need for service cannot wait for fiber construction, the state should take steps to protect its investment—such as by requiring grantees to guarantee the long-term maintenance and operations of the fixed wireless network. This could be accomplished by requiring a 20-year performance and budget roadmap, and a viable strategy for full service where line-of-sight is a challenge.

This publication was commissioned by the Communications Workers of America and prepared by CTC Technology & Energy in the spring of 2022.

Internet For All Initiative

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JUST ANNOUNCED: Biden-Harris Administration Launches $45 Billion “Internet for All” Initiative to Bring Affordable, Reliable High-Speed Internet to Everyone in America Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo will visit Durham, N.C., to announce the launch of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative, which will invest $45 billion to provide affordable, reliable, high-speed internet for everyone in America by the end of the decade. The initiative will be administered and implemented by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The Internet for All initiative will build internet infrastructure, teach digital skills, and provide necessary technology to ensure that everyone in America – including communities of color, rural communities, and older Americans – has the access and skills they need to fully participate in today’s society.
The Internet for All programs launched today with three Notices of Funding Opportunity: Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program ($42.5 billion)  Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program ($1 billion)  State Digital Equity Act program ($1.5 billion)  
 
Want to learn more about these historic programs?

The Internet for All Webinar series connects key stakeholders to the critical information they need to help ensure the programs’ success.

 
JOIN NTIA FOR OUR INTERNET FOR ALL WEBINAR SERIES


The programs are funded through President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will be administered and implemented by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

For more information, please visit InternetForAll.gov
 

Improve Internet Accessibility for Individuals with Impaired Vision

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The 2018 National Health Interview Survey found through estimating that more than 32 million adults nationwide have reported having some degree of vision loss. This figure includes people that cannot see at all and others that experience blurred vision despite using therapeutic eyewear.

The challenge for the millions of people with a visual impairment is how they can effectively use the internet for e-learning, shopping, remote working, business, and other key aspects of their everyday living.

So it’s clear that optimal web accessibility for many of them is vital for everyday life.

Read More

Why digital human capital is important in community building

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The pandemic revealed gaping disparities in broadband access and use in urban neighborhoods and rural communities alike. As residents were cut off from health information and telemedicine, students were unable to continue their studies online, citizens in need lacked access to government and nonprofit services, and furloughed employees were unable to search for work, the consequences weighed heavily in many communities.

See full article here

The Pew Charitable Trusts Launches Opportunity Broadband

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WASHINGTON—The Pew Charitable Trusts today launched Opportunity Broadband—an alliance of 5 companies, associations, and nonprofit organizations across the country working to ensure that our nation’s investment in universal, affordable broadband access strengthens communities and promotes equal participation in the economy.

Strong bipartisan support—illustrated by the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the American Rescue Plan Act, and many other legislative actions at the federal and state levels—has finally put high-speed internet, and the skills and tools to use it, within reach for all Americans. The programs created by these initiatives will lead to opportunities for improved economic mobility, access to health care, educational opportunities, and much more. Pew formed Opportunity Broadband to help ensure that the nation can deliver on those promises by helping communities prepare to leverage connectivity, skills, and devices to realize the long-promised outcomes of digital equity.     

“Now is the time to ensure that the benefits of connectivity are available to all communities. Universally available and affordable broadband, access to devices, and digital literacy are the first—not the only—steps toward achieving that goal,” said Kathryn de Wit, project director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ broadband access initiative. “But no single organization can take those steps alone. Delivering on the promises of digital equity will require sustained focus, investment, and partnerships that cross sectors and industries, which is why we’re thrilled to have these organizations and businesses joining this important work.”

Along with The Pew Charitable Trusts, the founding members of Opportunity Broadband include Heartland Forward, the James H. and Mary B. Quello Center at Michigan State University, Small Business Majority, and the XR Association.

“We have been working diligently since 2019 to support innovation, economic growth, and a better quality of life in the middle of the country,” said Angie Cooper, chief program officer for Heartland Forward. “Access to affordable high-speed internet is integral to those aspirations—it’s necessary for everything from online learning and running a business to getting health care and maintaining social connections. And yet millions of residents across the heartland can’t get online. It can’t be overstated: With the federal and state resources that are being marshaled to expand broadband access, we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to connect the heartland and the rest of America. We can’t afford to fail.”

One of Opportunity Broadband’s first steps is to identify the barriers between universal broadband access and technology-enabled advancements in health care, education, and economic opportunity. Over the next several months, the alliance will develop an action plan to help communities across the nation benefit from high-speed internet connections and intends to hold a conference in summer 2022.

For more information on Opportunity Broadband, visit opportunitybroadband.org and follow @Opportunity_BB on Twitter.

Internet Speed – MOST Policy Initiative

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Internet speed is the measure of how fast data is transferred. More specifically, internet speed encompasses many metrics including bandwidth, latency, and jitter which describe the overall capacity and smoothness of data transmission. Different users may require different speeds depending on the application, so some aspects of speed may be more important than others for users with specific needs. Internet access technologies (fiber, cable, DSL, satellite, etc.) place different limitations on these performance metrics.

Broadband and Telemedicine – MOST Policy Initiative

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Telemedicine is any kind of electronic exchange of medical information, including patient portals to access health records, phone and video visits, or remote monitoring of patients. Telemedicine is effective for many types of care and can improve access and convenience of care for patients. However, many patients that could benefit the most from telehealth (including rural residents, elderly, underinsured, and minorities) often have limited broadband access.