PSC webinar: What about rural broadband in WI 4.17.14


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Internet Service Providers, and UW Extension Broadband & E-Commerce Education Center staff discuss WI rural broadband options.

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  • While it is commonly understood that broadband is less available in rural communities and more available in urban communities, a simple two-way, rural-urban comparison masks the fact that there is considerable variation in availability of broadband within these two general categories. The problem with using terms is that they mean different things to different people. What I think of as a “rural” might be quite different then what you think of as rural. And….this issues is complicated by the fact that just about every state and federal agency uses a different definition. However, one thing is clear to me. Broadband is very much determined by population density (people per square mile) and the proximity to major urban markets. These chart shows us what we are dealing with….less than 20% of the population lives in areas with population densities of less than 37 residents per square mile. About 81% of the population lives in areas with a population density of more than 1,447 residents per square mile. Those areas are obviously easier to serve because there are more potential customers. And unfortunately, the unpopulated areas of this country don’t have a lot of political support because they make up less than 20% of the voters.
  • Let’s start off taking a look at download speeds by these 5 populations areas. No real surprise here other than as you move up the continuum of speeds, the “exurbs” or areas with a population density of 37 residents per square mile actually have some better offerings than the areas with a population density of 1,447 residents per square mile. Another thing that you might be surprised by is the size of the gap. If we look at just basic broadband offering 3 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload, only 65.3% or the very rural populations have access to this level of service. Virtually everyone in the central cities and suburbs has access to this basic level of broaband. That gap of 33.7% is the urban/rural divide that I think we should be concerned about. proximity to a metropolitan area is more important than population density in correlating with broadband speed.Finally, at the bottom of the heap, are Very Rural areas – rural communities that are located outside both a metro county and small town.The rural disadvantage grows bigger as you look at higher broadband access speeds. That’s important, because the threshold for what constitutes adequate broadband speed continues to increase; businesses, community institutions (like schools, libraries, medical clinics) and families continue to need greater speeds as more information and services move online.
  • The gap is more pronounced if you look at upload speeds
  • Now let’s talk about wireless. A lot of people think that wireless is the answer for rural areas even though it has little ability to provide the large bandwidth that is needed by many users. In the most rural areas, about 81.9% of the residents have access to basic broadband of about 3 Mbps/768 kbps compared to 98% of the population in highly populated areas. That gap of 16% is certainly about half the gap for the wireline solution (34%). However, if you look at the kind of cellular service that most people want, LTE (Long Term Evolution/Next generation) wireless delivering about 10 Mbps, the gap gets even larger.4.2% of the population vs. 79.5%.Let us also recognize that there are some very legitimate reasons for why we have challenges in providing broadband to rural areas, and why we have challenges in competing in the global market place on broadband. Population densities is the most obvious answer, and yet we are starting to see some real successes in getting parts of rural Wisconsin the kinds of connectivity that are commonly available in urban markets. You will hear about some of those today.
  • The adoption of technology has not been the issue. When we look at rural/urban differences in the use of computers and cell phones for example, there isn’t much difference. When you are isolated, there may be an even greater demand for these kinds of technologies that connect us with the broader world.
  • Even the difference in the percentage of Internet users is small….a 5% difference between urban and rural. But when you start to look at things like smart phones that require next generation wireless connectivity and other applications requiring big bandwidth, you start to see some differences. For example, only 43%of rural households had smart phones compared to 64% of urban residents.
  • Farms in Wisconsin probably represent our most remote businesses in the state. When you look at the Ag Census data regarding their use of technology and the Internet the trend is positive. And yet, its concerning that we still have 24% of the farms that do not have access to a computer, and 28% that do not have Internet Access (even minimal connectivity)
  • Agriculture represents a significant economic engine in our state and need broadband just as much or more than the average business in our state (Lorie will mention a few examples).
  • Same map showing wireline coverage providing a minimum of 25 Mbps download to a map of population density (Ave 86.9 people per square mile)
  • I hope by now that all of you have utilized the PSC Link Wisconsin data. If we look at that data based on Maximum Advertised download speeds for wirline providers, we can visualize what is obvious to most of us. The urbanized areas of the state are fairly well served while the rural areas lag behind. The red areas on this map indicate download speeds greater than 25 mbps. The areas that are less red, have speeds lower than that. You
  • RS Fiber is a little unique, it is neither a telephone or rural electric cooperative. It was formed specifically to deliver fiber broadband. They are currently in the engineering phase and expect build out to begin in 2015. Sibley County, the city of Fairfax and four townships around Fairfax.
  • The Norvado web site notes that they still have 2700 miles of copper cable but have also recently laid 300 miles of fiber optic cable with assistance from the federal government (note second home owners).Others:Cochrane Cooperative Telephone Company (Buffalo County)Tri-County Communications Cooperative (Trempealeau/Jackson/Eau Claire County)Citizens Telephone Cooperative (Barron County)Mosaic (Washburn County)
  • Vernon County (Viroqua is the County seat), is one of those examples. There are certainly wholes in coverage, but this county his highly agricultural, sparsly populated, has incomes lower than the state average, and is in the heart of the driftless region…..the very hilly portion of S.W. Wisconsin that was by-passed by the last glacial movement
  • Increased investment in infrastructure that can actually deliver what consumers need, or will need shortly, is not limited to Cooperatives. There are other examples that can be identified by looking at the Link Wisconsin Maps. I am really not trying to promote any specific Cooperatives or broadband providers, but am simply giving you a few examples:The Baldwin Telephone Company for example is providing up to 1 Gbps service in portions of their service area. They partnered with the Town of Troy on a fiber to the premise project in rural N.W. Wisconsin (note commuter traffic to twin cities) that also tapped federal ARRA funds. There are many others that can be explored on the Link Wisconsin map. (Bill Esbeck Presenter slides here?)
  • Some people dismiss satellite because of issues related to cost, latency, speeds, down time in bad weather, and slow upload speeds but its important to also consider satellite broadband for some consumers. The presumption is that virtually everyone in Wisconsin has access to satellite broadband if they have a clear line of sight to the southern hemisphere. For that reason, satellite services are not mapped on the PSC Link Wisconsin maps, but there are links to satellite services.
  • PSC-WI has received 24 applications for Broadband Expansion Grants requesting a total of $2.57M in grants. A panel has met to screen the applications and is now preparing a memo to the Commission regarding its recommendation for grant awards. All of the applications would improve broadband service in specific areas of the state. The Commission has not yet determined the dates but there will be another round of funding ($500,000) this fall.
  • PSC webinar: What about rural broadband in WI 4.17.14

    1. 1. The Wisconsin Public Service Commission Introduces: What About Rural Broadband? April 17, 2014
    2. 2. Presenters: Andy Lewis, Broadband & Economic Development Specialist UW-Extension, Broadband & E-Commerce Education Center Rod Olson, CEO Vernon Telephone Cooperative Sid Sherstad, General Manager, Siren Telephone Company,
    3. 3. Presenters: Lori Vergin, President Mpower Consulting, LLC Adam Holroyd, Partner SonicNet
    4. 4. Andy Lewis, Broadband & Economic Development Specialist UW-Extension Broadband & E-Commerce Education Center
    5. 5. Today’s Objectives • What Can We Learn from the Data about broadband in rural Wisconsin? • Why Rural Broadband is Important • Technologies for use in broadband delivery, and why some might be more likely applied in rural Wisconsin • Lessons learned from successful rural initiatives • PSC Opportunities
    6. 6. Source: Broadband Availability Beyond the Rural/Urban Divide, NTIA, 2013, ty_rural_urban_june_2011_final.pdf 37 rpsm = 9.6% 11 rpsm = 9.5%
    7. 7. Source: Broadband Availability Beyond the Rural/Urban Divide, NTIA, 2013, e_2011_final.pdf
    8. 8. The Web at 25 in the U.S. • Use Computers %(2014) • Cell Owners % (2014) The Web at 25 in the U.S., Pew Research Center, 2014, anniversary-of-the-Web_0227141.pdf
    9. 9. The Web at 25 in the U.S. • Internet Users %(2014) • Smart Phone Owners %(2014) The Web at 25 in the U.S., Pew Research Center, 2014, 02/PIP_25th-anniversary-of-the-Web_0227141.pdf
    10. 10. 2003-2013 ual_Statistical_Bulletin/bulletin2013_web.pdf
    11. 11. Share of Total Employment: Farm and Ag Processing
    12. 12. Where are the Urbanized Areas?
    13. 13. Where Do We Have Robust Broadband > 25 Mbps Download? Source:
    14. 14. Max Adv. Download Speed, Wireline
    15. 15. Minnesota Fiber Cooperative For more information see Blandin Community Broadband Program: detail.php?intResourceID=26552
    16. 16. Norvado Telephone Cooperative
    17. 17. Cooperatives Cooperatives have been changing the face of doing business for over 150 years. That's because when you join a cooperative, you're choosing a business that is organized, owned and controlled by the very people who use it. And those people can actually help shape and grow their cooperative to meet the changing needs of members. Over 100 million people are members of more than 48,000 cooperatives in the United States today. They've organized themselves to provide goods and services in nearly every sector of our economy. But that isn't all. Cooperatives are partners in our community, investing in economic development and human involvement that will keep our hometowns and rural areas alive and well in years ahead. Working together, cooperative members are reaching goals they never could have attained on their own. Source: Norvado, about-what-is-a-cooperative.php
    18. 18. The Vernon County Telephone Cooperative
    19. 19. Mosaic: Chippewa Valley
    20. 20. Other Examples of Next Generation Broadband in Rural Wisconsin (Baldwin Broadbad LLC)
    21. 21. Siren Telephone Company
    22. 22. The Wireline Story Rod Olson, CEO Vernon Telephone Cooperative Sid Sherstad, General Manager, Siren Telephone Company,
    23. 23. Lori Vergin, President Mpower Consulting, LLC
    24. 24. Beyond traditional connectivity… • Aging in Place –Technologies delivered over or accessed by broadband extend & enhance independent living –Numerous case studies around the US offering understanding of integration of smart services for the aging population
    25. 25. Areas of opportunity • Healthcare – Access to medical specialties without physical travel or where they are not readily available – Device monitoring and maintenance – Exercise, physical therapy, brain stimulation – Access to and delivery of medication • Smart home/Security – Fire, burglary, CO2 & emergency response are just the tip of the iceberg – Wellness checks, service coordination, activity monitoring
    26. 26. Areas of opportunity • Cost Reduction – Telephone, video, etc. • Communication & Socialization – Web cams – Email – Social Networks – Education – Ministry – Community participation
    27. 27. Areas of opportunity • National Aging in Place Council • Examples outside the US – Rally Round in the UK – Good Robot in Canada – Molli in Sweden • Limited only by human imagination
    28. 28. Opportunities in Agriculture • When we think about Wisconsin, agriculture comes to mind • Livestock & crop monitoring • Property security • Weather monitoring • GPS services • Inventory management • Communication • Education • And that’s just the beginning…
    29. 29. Adam Holroyd, Partner SonicNet
    30. 30. Max. Adv. Download Speed Wireless
    31. 31. SonicNet Examples of Community Partnerships
    32. 32. Working With Broadband Providers Adam Holroyd, Partner SonicNet • What Communities could do better to work with rural broadband providers • Leverage Assets to influence ROI • Examples of Community Partnerships
    33. 33. What Communities could do better to work with rural broadband providers • o Be willing to be educated on the technology. • o Have realistic expectations based upon the information the provider has given you, not on what Google Fiber is doing in Kansas City. • o Communicate to the provider exactly what you are looking for. Ask general questions and you will get general answers, ask specific questions you will get specific answers.
    34. 34. Leverage Assets to influence ROI o Land o Influence o Technology Fairs o Surveys
    35. 35. Examples of SonicNet Community Partnerships o Town of Minocqua o Town of Cloverland o Town of Winchester o Vilas County
    36. 36. Questions?
    37. 37. Satellite Coverage
    38. 38. PSC Initiatives: BAT
    39. 39. Questions?
    40. 40. Coming Up… APRIL 24: UWEX High Speed Bits “Broadband and K12” with guest Kurt Kiefer, WI DPI 2—2.30PM CST Toll Free 1-866-244-1129 Passcode 7668 732# JULY 8: PSC 2014 Broadband Planning Symposium Monona Terrace
    41. 41. Available for Questions: Webinar archive: Andy Lewis, UW-Extension , Lori Vergin, Mpower Consulting, LLC, Rod Olson, Vernon Telephone Cooperative, Adam Holroyd, SonicNet, Matt Sparks, Baldwin Telephone Company, Wendy Boese, Mosaic Telecom, Sid Sherstad, Siren Telephone Company,