Archives for Broadband

Governmental Solutions to the Question of Rural Connectivity

Internet equality is severely lacking in rural areas in the United States, where the price of service costs significantly more than in cities, and where connectivity and speed are much worse. The Federal Communications Commission found that – as of 2018 – less than 70 percent of rural Americans have access to broadband connection. Although the advent of 5G should reduce some of this inequality, finding solutions is still challenging. Here are some examples of effective responses to the lack of internet access in rural America.

In an article discussing the challenge of bringing highspeed broadband to rural Virginia, The Roanoke Times succinctly depicts the central problem with relying on telecom companies to provide adequate services in rural communities.

“It’s hard to blame the telecom companies,” the article reads. “They’re for-profit entities, but that black ink starts turning into red ink if they have to lay miles and miles of fiber across rural America.”

So often, the solutions to the challenge of rural internet access come not from the telecom companies, but from governments or the communities themselves.

For example, the state legislature of Virginia passed a bill that “would allow utilities – such as Dominion Power and Appalachian Power – to install cables that would carry broadband into hard-to-reach areas.”

Another bill would allow localities to “create a ‘service district’ that can contract with internet service providers to extend broadband into underserved areas… this gives local governments a tool to take matters into their own hands.”

In the example of Virginia, which is seeing bipartisan efforts taken to bring all of its residents broadband connectivity, the onus is on the state government to take responsibility where telecoms can’t or won’t. In other instances, municipalities have taken charge.

Take, for example, the case of Tuttle, Oklahoma, which completely lost its internet and cable service after the local telecom provider went bankrupt, becoming the largest city in the United States – with a population of 6,000 – without service. Private telecom providers were concerned about the lack of profit and weren’t interested in providing their services to Tuttle. The only solution for the city, along with other rural Oklahoma communities, was to set up municipal broadband networks.

But while making broadband a public utility might sound like a great solution for plenty of rural communities and under-serviced towns, it isn’t that simple. As Voice of America News (VOA) writes, “At the moment, more than two dozen states have limitations on city-run broadband – from restrictions on parameters to entire bans.” Attitudes against government interference have made this trend pervasive, leaving small towns in the cyber-dust.

However, there are some legislatures that are seeing the error in this.

“Arkansas, for example, passed a law in 2011 stating ‘a government entity may not provide, directly or indirectly, basic local exchange service,’” VOA explains. “Earlier this year, the Arkansas Legislature unanimously voted to repeal that ban.”

Explaining the state’s decision, Arkansas state senator Breanne Davis told Citylab, “We were one of the five states that had the most restrictive laws [on municipal broadband] in the nation, and [ranked] almost last in broadband [access].”

So far, municipally run broadband networks have been a success. In Tuttle, excess revenue is even being directly reinvested into better connectivity for rural residents. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, Mayor Andy Berke enthusiastically promotes the municipal fiber optic network which has “exceeded all expectations.” Berke believes the new network is responsible for the city’s low unemployment rate.

It can be expensive and unrealistic for private telecom providers – even the big-name companies with exorbitant wealth – to create highspeed broadband networks in small towns and rural communities. However, problems arise when a large portion of America’s population is excluded from the ever-increasing amount of services that are exclusively offered online. The onus, then, is on the government – whether it be federal, state or local – to step in and create a solution for its citizens. The equity of quality of life is at stake.


Pacific Underwater Cable Internet Goes Live

cableinternetA massive underwater cable internet project to link Japan to the west coast of the United States is ready to go live. It marks the end of the two-year build that saw several companies, including Google, invest $300 million.

The cable is 5,600 miles long and connects Oregon to the coastal Japanese cities of Chiba and Mie. The cable is nicknamed “Faster,” which is fitting considering the connection will run 60 terabits per second. To put it in perspective, that is 10 million times faster than the standard cable.

Along with Google, the cable project was funded by Global Transit, China Telecom Global, Singtel, China Mobile International, and KDDI. Japan’s NEC handled the construction.

This cable will do a lot of good by improving internet speeds throughout Asia, but also have a positive impact in major west coast cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle.

*Source: CNET

2015 Was a Big Year for the Internet

earth2015 was a big year for the Internet. Reports show that the number of people online rose 6.7 percent, to 3.2 billion humans with Internet access. That is roughly 200 million in 2015 alone. While this number seems like a lot, 4.1 billion people or 57 percent of the world population is still not connected.

Companies like Facebook are pushing to increase connectivity worldwide. It has called governments, corporations and non-profits to action, encouraging them to increase connectivity in rural communities, developing nations and impoverished regions. However, the question remains of whether or not this goal is even possible to accomplish. Can we all be connected?

According to the same report, 1 billion people across the globe lack basic literacy skills and more than 66 percent of people living in countries without Internet connectivity have no grasp of what the Internet is or how it can change their lives.

Similarly, the Internet only covers about 55 languages with relevant content. That means, 55 languages have at least 100,000 Wikipedia articles. These apply to about 67 percent of the total population, who speak at least one as a first or second language. However, BBC said about 7,000 languages exist, and only 150 to 200 of them are used by over one million people. Knowing that, it seems hard to imagine that everyone would be able to use the Internet in their preferred tongue.

*Source: Information Week

Is Li-Fi the Future of Wireless Internet?

Li-FiYesterday we told you how Christmas lights could interfere with your Wi-Fi connection. Today, we’ll tell you about how a light bulb could be your Wi-Fi connection. Isn’t technology grand?

Li-Fi, a new Internet technology based on light has been in the works for a few years, but has now reached a new pinnacle in its development. A New Delhi start-up called Velmenni has recently used a Li-Fi enabled light bulb to transmit data at 1 GB per second, which is 100 times faster than speeds enabled by current Wi-Fi.

Velmenni used Jugnu smart LED bulbs to conduct its test, which saw the company transfer data through visible light. It posted a video of the test, in which the CEO Deepak Solanki holds a wireless device to the lightbulb and the device streams videos without any lag. However, the minute Solanki puts a hand in front of the lightbulb, the connection is broken.

Due to the limited span of Li-Fi, it has been slow to develop. It cannot travel through walls and it requires lights on at all times, which could get expensive. These limitations may be good for security reasons. It cannot be hacked by anyone who is not directly in the room. At the same time, it could be used to connect every device in an office.

In its report on the technology, the International Business Times said that the technology can theoretically reach speeds of up to 224 Gbps. Imagine downloading an HD movie in mere seconds. Incorporating Li-Fi into our daily lives could significantly improve Internet use but first developers need to find a way to integrate it with technology we already have.

Christmas Lights Could Interfere With Wi-Fi

Christmas lights could interfere with wi-fiYou’re in the middle of decking the halls when you hop onto Pinterest for a last-minute tree-trimming idea. Except the mission is anything but quick: you stare at your screen impatiently while waiting for it to load, wondering if you’re running off your dial-up connection from 1996.

Before you call your ISP to ream them out, take a look around your house. According to communications regulator Ofcom, your Christmas lights could be to blame. Overall, it estimates over 5 million homes in the UK could improve their Wi-Fi speed by simply rearranging their electronics equipment.

“It could be down to something as simple as interference from other electronic devices, such as a microwave over, baby monitor, a lamp – or even Christmas fairy lights,” states Ofcom, in a press release.

It has launched a new app allowing consumers and businesses to check their Wi-Fi set-up, test speeds and troubleshoot connection issues. It runs on tablets and smartphones.

The staff in ArsTechnica’s UK office took the app for a spin, and while they didn’t find it to be the best way to test a network, it did do a good job of identifying interference from outside sources.

“Using the app in the vicinity of a microwave, for example, data loss went from zero percent to eight percent,” wrote Mark Walton.  “That wasn’t enough to trigger a warning, although the app doesn’t offer any particularly useful advice when it does. Instead, it suggests some basic tips like moving the router, restarting the router, and ‘use an Ethernet cable,’ which most people are likely to have tried at one point or another already.”

Comcast Launches Unlimited Data in Atlanta

comcast1Love the Internet and live in Atlanta? Comcast’s new offering might be of interest to you. For an extra $35 per month, Comcast will remove the 300 GB cap and let you surf to your heart’s content under a new unlimited data plan.

The Atlanta pricing structure was announced over the weekend, but it isn’t the first of its kind – Comcast rolled out a similar trial in Florida last year where subscribers pay a $30 fee to go unlimited. According to the Washington Post, the company started toying with the idea last year after surveying heavy users. Sixty percent of respondents said they’d be happy to pay an extra $30 to $40 for unlimited rather than pay overage fees for every extra 50 GB consumed.

If people are willing to pay, Comcast could potentially have a nice new source of revenue.

Facebook Will Use Satellites to Beam Internet to Africa

internetorgFacebook has announced it will be partnering with Eutelsat Communications – a French satellite operator – to deliver broadband Internet to the developing world. The social network is continuing its initiative by using a satellite to bring Internet access to over 14 nations in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa,” said Chris Daniels, VP of Facebook’s program. “We are looking forward to partnering with Eutelsat on this project and investigating new ways to use satellites to connect people in the most remote areas of the world more efficiently.”

Facebook and Eutelsat will be working with Spacecom on this project, a company specializing in satellite communications. An AMOS-6 satellite is scheduled to launch this year on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX. The satellite is expected to go online in the second half of 2016.

Despite criticism regarding net neutrality and transparency, has grown to operate in 19 countries in Africa since its launch is 2013. In addition to its latest plan to deliver Internet via satellite, the initiative is also looking into the potential use of solar-powered drones.

Ontario Government Sells Provincially Owned Telecom Company Ontera techonology imagesThe government of Ontario is receiving criticism for selling provincially owned telecommunications company Ontera. Why? The sale resulted in a loss of $61 million. Despite the controversy, Northern Development Minister Michael Gravelle says it was a “necessary decision” which will be positive for taxpayers.

Bell Aliant purchased the company in question for $6.3 million, whereas the Ontario government paid $6.5 million for the consultants, lawyers and others advising them on the sale alone. The loss, according to a Public Accounts report comes from a “disposal of shares of Ontera” because “the government provided a one-time contribution of $52,092,000 to support the sale” of the Crown corporation. Ontera provides local and long distance phone, data and Internet services to Northeastern Ontario.

“The decision to sell Ontera was made on the basis that there were costs involved in the short-term but in the long-term it made no sense from any point of view to maintain ownership of this telecommunications wing,” said Minister Gravelle. “It would have been far more costly in the long run to maintain it.”

Gravelle also promises Bell Aliant and the province are working together to improve access to fibre optics in Northeastern Ontario under Ontera’s jurisdiction. Together, the province and Bell have made a joint $15 million investment in this program.

Comcast Planning Nationwide Gigabit Internet by 2018

comcast1Comcast VP of network architecture Robert Howald recently told FierceCable that the company plans to offer gigabit Internet to all of its customers by 2018.

Comcast was already found to be the fastest nationwide ISP in the United States, according to In the not-too-distant future, things will be getting even faster.

Comcast plans to transition its DOCSIS 3 technology (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) to DOCSIS 3.1. Once the transition is complete, Comcast’s network will handle Internet speeds of at least 1Gbps, and potentially up to 10Gbps.

The rollout of Comcast’s DOCSIS 3.1 is anticipated to begin in early 2016. Comcast has said once fully deployed “every customer in our footprint will be able to receive gigabit speeds over our existing network (a combination of both fiber and coax).”

“We want to get it across the footprint very quickly,” Howald explained. “We’re shooting for two years.”

Once deployed, Comcast’s 300GB data cap will be a thing of the past. Early trials of DOCSIS 3.1 could begin by late 2015.

Bell Launches Fibre-Based Broadband Service

bell Bell Canada recently announced the first-phase launch of its 1Gbps-capable direct fibre-based broadband service called Gigabit Fibe. The service is now available across 1.3 million homes in Ontario and Quebec, and will enable access speed tiers of 15Mbps, 25Mbps, 50Mbps, 150Mbps, 300Mbps and 940Mbps.

In a press release, Bell’s CTO Stephen Howe announced Gigabit Fibe will be made available to a further 650,000 residences in Atlantic Canada by September, and 250,000 more in Ontario and Quebec throughout the year. Bell hopes to cover 2.2 million homes by 2016.

Customers in Ontario and Quebec who subscribe to a multi-service bundle can upgrade to Gigabit Fibe speeds for an additional $10 per month.

In Ontario, Gigabit Fibe is available in parts of Brampton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, Milton, Ottawa and Peterborough, as well as the Regent Park, Distillery District, Harbourfront and Willowdale neighbourhoods of Toronto.

Quebec City is the first city to be fully covered by fibre, but other locations in the province include Beloeil, Blainville, Chambly, Chateauguay, Gatineau, Joliette, La Prairie, Laval, Levis, Magog, Repentigny, Saint-Constant, Saint-Eustache, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Saint-Jerome, Saint-Luc, Sherbrooke, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Sorel-Tracy, Terrebonne and Vaudreuil-Dorion, along with more than 85,000 homes in Montreal.