BBWN Bites: Survey says Congress should fund broadband
Also in this roundup: thousands more get fiber in rural UK; Halifax County, Virginia, finds $2M in CARES Act for broadband; NCTA builds "K-12 Bridge to Broadband."
In an otherwise polarized nation, Americans apparently agree on one thing: that the US Congress should fund broadband. That’s according to a new poll by Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) and Morning Consult showing that 90% of US voters support using Congressional funds to expand Internet access for those currently living in areas not serviced by a broadband provider, with 88% saying they support Congress funding those who cannot afford broadband. Additionally, 62% said Congress should take immediate action to close the digital divide.
While we wait for miracles to happen, more states and localities are doing what they can to figure it out on their own. This week Halifax County, Virginia, allocated just under $2 million in CARES Act cash for broadband. According to the Gazette-Virginian, $1,228,000 was allocated for broadband and an additional $750,000 for towers. (Stats from BroadbandNow show Halifax County with under 50% broadband coverage.) And in North Carolina, the USDA announced a $21.6 million federal grant for Pender County, with the government agency specifying that Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation (ATMC) will deploy a FTTP network to connect "17,424 people, 209 farms, 285 businesses, 19 educational facilities, nine health care facilities, seven fire stations, and seven post offices to high-speed broadband internet in Pender County."
Meanwhile, the cable industry is pitching in a bit as well. This week NCTA – the Internet & Television Association, a broadband technology trade association, in partnership with EducationSuperHighway (ESH), launched a new K-12 Bridge to Broadband initiative to help increase home connectivity solutions for students. According to the announcement, the initiative will "scale innovative solutions that are helping public school districts and states identify and potentially connect students in low-income families, enabling more students to participate in remote or hybrid learning." Participating cable providers include Comcast (Xfinity), Charter (Spectrum), Cox, GCI, Mediacom, Midco, Sjoberg's and Vyv. The release affirms that participating members will create a "sponsored service," whereby school systems purchase broadband on behalf of low-income students at a discounted rate.
In the UK, Openreach and Virgin Media proceeded with ongoing fiber rollouts. Virgin Media announced it has connected 5,600 homes in New Rossington, Doncaster, as part of its FTTP Project Lightning, with average top speeds of 516 Mbit/s. BT's Openreach announced that it's 25% of the way done with its fiber build in the three Cambridgeshire locations of Ely, Glinton and Helpston. The company says work will continue for the next year to make "gigabit-capable" broadband available.
— Nicole Ferraro, contributing editor, Light Reading