Historic $2 Billion CAF II Auction Will Provide Broadband Expansion Funding
The FCC is in the middle of planning a historic broadband funding opportunity. This initiative will provide as much as $2 billion in funding for broadband carriers who elect to bring broadband services to unserved and underserved areas of the country. Hailing myself from rural Kentucky, I am especially eager to see the benefits realized from these communities being broadband-enabled, just like those hailing from other densely populated communities. "Closing the digital divide is my number one priority, and through this innovative Connect America Fund auction, we are poised to take the next big step in reaching that goal," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a press release announcing the auction. "In rural America, broadband opens the doors of opportunity by connecting remote communities to global markets, jobs, education, health care and information."
Operators selected from these auctions will be required to deliver 10/1 Mbps broadband to thousands of census blocks https://www.fcc.gov/maps/caf2-auction-final-areas/ across the country. These are high-cost areas, and winning broadband providers agree to build broadband facilities at the lowest cost, among all the bidders. Winning bidders must also offer at least one voice and one broadband service. Service fees must be reasonably comparable to similar offerings in urban areas.
There are timeline requirements as well. Service must be offered to:
The exact deployment schedule is determined by the carriers themselves, not the FCC. Winning operators will receive support over a 10-year period, payable monthly. There is a $146.10 per-location-per-month support cap.
Recipients will be required to file annual reports and build-out milestone certifications, and submit the locations where they offer qualifying service on a rolling basis.
Broadband carriers of all types and sizes are encouraged to participate. The FCC expects to see participation from customary providers like RLECs, but also from electric cooperatives, wireless ISPs, and other non-traditional broadband carriers.
Final auction rules and locations were voted on by the FCC in late January. Interested parties can visit this CAF II Auction website for more details https://www.fcc.gov/connect-america-fund-phase-ii-auction.
History has shown how potential becomes artificially restricted with the presence of imbalance. The world we live in is forever evolving, with the old being replaced by the new.
Production and distribution models are being flipped on their heads, while the marriage of creation and consumption is being blown apart. The access networks that underpin much of this change will themselves be permanently altered by it. The good news is next generation platforms have the potential to capitalize on this new reality and shift the balance back in favor of their owners.
Symmetry: The Dominant Design in Evolution
Before we detail how symmetry can disrupt the telco industry, let’s take a closer look at its beginnings and how it’s disrupting other industries.
As availability of Gigabit services increases across cities and communities nationwide, over 50 million (18%) Americans now have access to Gigabit services. With cable MSOs and telcos expanding coverage, it’s becoming common to see multiple Gigabit providers and, as a result, broadband speeds are becoming less of a competitive differentiator. So how can service providers innovate to win in this highly competitive broadband battle?
In a recent USTelecom webinar, Jeremy Harris, ADTRAN Director of Subscriber Experience Solutions, pointed to a powerful analogy about innovation in the Audio Industry taken from The Harvard Business Review’s article on Technology Innovation. While the Audio industry was focused on delivering higher audio quality (Super Audio CD vs. DVD Audio), MP3s revolutionized the music industry by focusing on music portability and file sharing, at a lower audio quality.
by: Dieter Kortmann, Director, Partner Management Europe and Harald Bock, VP, Network & Technology Strategy
Broadband fixed and mobile network operators can’t compromise. They must be able to scale quickly to meet capacity demands for new services and applications. They must escalate operations to run mobile, residential, and enterprise on the same infrastructure to address the evolving requirements of IoT and cloud computing. But how do they meet these demands while reducing space, power, and footprint? Coriant and ADTRAN are committed to delivering best-of-breed open, programmable, and scalable solutions. Merging highly scalable CORD-based physical layer agnostic SD-Access architectures with high performance, low power 100G+ aggregation and transport affords our customers cost-effective rapid service innovation while providing the highest QoE and optimal service choices for subscribers.
Earlier this month, the SDN use case for broadband access progressed further within the open networking consortiums. AT&T submitted the first version of Virtual Optical Line Termination Hardware Abstraction (VOLTHA) software-defined access (SD-Access) specification into the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). VOLTHA provides a framework to support broadband access in the cloud, pairing nicely with the Central Office Rearchitected as a Datacenter (CORD) initiative. Regarding CORD, it was AT&T, again, and other forward thinking service providers that partnered with ON.Labs several years ago to develop the architecture. The goal of CORD is to provide a reference architecture for SD-Access evaluation platforms for field trial on commercial operator networks. It should be noted that ON.Labs was folded into ONF around a year ago, so CORD, VOLTHA and (Open Networking Operating System) ONOS all fall under the purview of the ONF.
As cable MSOs plot their technology future, the concept of fiber deep takes on more prominence. Fiber deep has many benefits, all centered around giving cable MSOs the technology architecture required for relevancy in the Gigabit age Watch Video.
A deep fiber architecture removes electronics from the head end and places them at the network edge, closer to customers. In so doing, cable MSOs can better deliver gigabit capable broadband to a smaller subset of customers than if delivered from the head end, enabling a much better broadband experience – one that will be increasingly necessary.
Competition from FTTH equipped telcos for better broadband is on the rise. AT&T just announced their FTTH footprint now reaches 5.5 million locations, and they now have close to 2 million FTTH subscribers. They eventually will reach 12.5 million locations, and perhaps more. Verizon is ramping up aggressive FiOS promotions as well and potentially looking to expand their FiOS footprint through their One Fiber program Learn More.
Given the fast pace of progress with G.fast, it’s sometimes difficult to believe that the ITU gave its final approval for the ITUT-T G.9701 G.fast standard just three short years ago. Since then, G.fast has established itself as a key enabler of the Gigabit society, with 22 carriers in 18 countries having deployed or trialed the technology as of 2016. Ovum predicts 30 million G.fast subscribers by 2021.
Accelerating G.fast innovation is significantly contributing to this progress. This latest example includes lab trials of coordinated dynamic time allocation (cDTA) and 212 Mhz transmission. Deutsche Telekom (DT) is in lab trials with ADTRAN for these latest innovations, which promise to enable gigabit type performance over a single copper pair. DT is evaluating this technology for fiber-to-the-building applications, which will enable ultra-broadband access at lower cost than FTTP, and with less disruption to customers.
5G officially made it to Gartner’s hype cycle in 2017 and it promises more than just faster wireless Internet – from connecting billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to enabling self-driving cars, to delivering more reliable and secure wireless broadband, 5G is key to a smart connected world of the future. On the other hand, 5G involves a new Radio Access Network (RAN) architecture that involves 10 times as many cell sites, known as 5G densification. In turn, each of these 10s of thousands of cell sites require multi-gigabit, highly-reliable front-haul or back-haul connectivity.
In 2013, over 40 million Target customer accounts were compromised via a security breach. Target’s systems were not even to blame, as the breach occurred via an attack on one of their third party vendor’s IT systems. Other high profile attacks have followed, and there are countless others which don’t make national headlines. If maintaining tight security is an issue for a brand name such as Target, imagine how difficult it is for a SMB enterprise to ensure their systems are locked down.
Cybercriminals see SMBs as an easy target, and businesses are aware they need to do something to protect their sensitive data. With complex and expensive security solutions out of their reach, these organizations need something that is easy to deploy and manage, while providing top flight security features at an economical price. Enter the newest addition to ADTRAN’s ProCloud Subscription Services suite, NG Firewall Powered by Untangle, which provides a cloud-based approach that is changing the network security landscape for SMBs and the managed service providers (MSPs) who support them.
A total of 207 rural broadband providers accepted $5.283 billion in the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) program, which is a part of the broader Connect America Fund program. This funding will be provided in annual increments over the next ten years to support the expansion of rural broadband across America.
According to the FCC, this A-CAM funding will support bringing broadband to over 631K locations in 43 states. Many existing ADTRAN customers have chosen to participate in the A-CAM program and are planning broadband projects as a result. This funding infusion also provides added benefits to our customers by releasing capital for network upgrades and expansions in other areas. Some of those projects are already underway.
As a number of factors converge to herald a new software defined shift, and with SD access becoming mainstream, software defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) are increasingly working their way into the wider communications discussion.
But what does it mean for service providers? Why is now the right time to embrace it?
While the terms SDN and NFV are bandied around, the lack of industry education around them poses a potential barrier when trying to link the potential of this new technology and the way we do business more widely.
What this means for how we do business
As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s impossible to ignore how SD access might influence a large-scale shift to a much more inclusive, flexible and fair way of doing business.