According to a recent FCC census from 2015, just over 15% of the state of Connecticut still lacks basic broadband access. If you look at each town in CT there appears to be access to the federal's basic standards for broadband: 25 Mbps when downloading and 3 Mbps when uploading. However, when you look at smaller geographic areas, the lack of broadband is revealed as shown by Jake Kara of TrendCT.org.
Kara does a masterful job of looking at the details in the data and uncovering that while most telecomm providers have well over the federal requirements for broadband speed in well-populated areas, there are still pockets, like the upper northwest and even coastal towns like Madison, struggling with basic access. According to Kara:
"Out of 66,099 Census blocks, 10,951 had maximum available speeds lower than the federal broadband definition. 10,486 of those had areas had maximum advertised speeds of 15 Mbps. North Stonington had the highest percentage of blocks with slow Internet speeds: 52 percent. While many of the towns with a large portion of slow-Internet blocks are less densely populated, Hartford had a relatively high 27 percent and New Haven had 23 percent."
According to RESOLUTE Partner's CEO Michael Blanco, "In today's fast paced technology driven environment, many people assume every resident of every state has access to high-speed broadband. The reality is that many don't and it's a struggle for many telecomm companies to justify the cost of running fiber to those residents."
The rural broadband issue is not one that's new to most states. Recently, U.S. News & World Report republished a piece from a professor at Oklahoma State University about rural broadband and noted that just 55% of Americans have what constitutes as broadband speeds. The FCC appears to be trying to help as it made a preempted ruling against states looking to limit municipalities from establishing their own broadband networks, which could help rural residents. This one preempted state laws restricting community broadband service in North Carolina and Tennessee and allowed expanded municipal broadband in two towns in these states, which were later revealed to be Chattanooga, TN, and Wilson, NC.
Funding is another way that the FCC is trying to help rural residents. The FCC announced in November of 2015 that it released another $16 million for rural broadband funding. The organization plans to distribute the funds to four carriers covering more than 2,400 census blocks across five states. The additional funding stems from the FCC's preliminary selections of its $100 million Rural Broadband Experiment.
The state of NY is also doing its part in helping under served residents. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated broadband for everyone is a top priority for economic development, education and safety. To back up his comments, he's pledged $500MM to help make it happen through the New York Broadband Program, which recently announced its round one winners. Resolute Partner's hopes to participate in the project. With the signing of a memorandum of understanding, Orleans County awarded Resolute Partners and Seneca Solutions (Formerly Seneca Telecommunications) its project to connect rural areas to high-speed Internet services. The broadband infrastructure and network will supply more than 4,000 under served homes and businesses in the two counties.
Blanco continues, "One interesting issue is the definition of “coverage”. Per the FCC, if one home in a census block has High Speed Internet Access (HSIA) the entire block is considered served. This is obviously not the case. Our clients in Niagara/Orleans (NORA) proactively went out and surveyed each home in their Counties to prove the FFC methodology is flawed and allow them to apply for, and secure funding based on the true coverage."
As a trusted partner in making complex wireless installations seem effortless, RESOLUTE Partners provides multi-tower wireless networks to deliver broadband Internet access to communities previously "off the grid." For example, current work with the Seneca Nation of Indians is bringing broadband connectivity to as many as 1,000 Seneca Nation homes in upstate New York. The coverage is approximately 24 square miles of rural, difficult to access terrain.
Building a broadband network requires pulling together many disciplines, such as engineering, construction, operations, finance and billing. If you're interested in learning more about Resolute's rural broadband capabilities, please contact us here.