Orbitel Accelerates Broadband Speeds
Orbitel Communications announced that they recently completed a system-wide broadband speed increase. The broadband speed increases are in effect for the following packages at no additional charge:
- The 150 Mbps broadband services is now 250 Mbps
- The 300 Mbps broadband services is now 500 Mbps
- The 600 Mbps broadband services is now 800 Mbps
Five New Mexico pueblos among recipients of more broadband grants
By Robert Nott firstname.lastname@example.org
Sep 19, 2023 Updated Sep 20, 2023
A state-driven program providing federal funding to create or expand broadband services has recently awarded more than $66 million in grants to 10 entities, including five pueblos, in New Mexico.
The state’s Office of Broadband Access and Expansion announced the third round of funding, funneled through its Connect New Mexico Pilot Program, last week. In all, the office has awarded about $117 million to 19 companies, cooperatives and pueblos through the program to date, said Sandeep Taxali, broadband program adviser for the office.
The funding for the program comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, he said in an interview.
Taxali called high-speed broadband access a “critical utility, a necessary ingredient” that residents need to communicate and access resources such as telemedicine programs and distance-learning opportunities.
Without functional internet, he said, “we can’t work, can’t engage in distance learning, can’t communicate and we can’t take part in telemedicine” programs.
Tomas Barela, broadband manager for the Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, which received nearly $6 million in grant money through the program, said his organization will be able to lay down about 105 miles of fiber-to-home lines to more than 3,000 dwellings in its service area, including parts of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Los Luceros, Velarde and part of northern Española.
That will give New Mexicans with little or no internet options “a world of opportunity that they have been lacking for their entire life,” he said.
In a state where about one in five New Mexicans — about 400,000 people — do not have internet access, Barela said, many people can now come into “the current century” in their business, educational, health care and social lives.
New Mexicans who have easy access to broadband “don’t understand what it’s like not to have it,” Barela said.
New Mexico ranks 39th in the country when it comes to affordable Internet access, according to a report from the policy organization BroadbandNow.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state lawmakers have been pushing in the past few years to bridge service gaps, leveraging both federal and state funds.
The Connect New Mexico Pilot Program also gave out grants to the pueblos of Santo Domingo ($9.22 million), Jemez ($8.56 million), Nambe ($5.23 million), Santa Ana ($2.66 million) and Laguna ($9.05 million).
Jim Hooper, CEO of the Laguna Economic Corp., which will manage the broadband project on behalf of the pueblo, said the grant money will “allow us to run fiber to everybody’s house so everybody on the pueblo can access reliable high speed internet, which they have never had in the past.”
He said this will be a boon for a community that has primarily relied on cellphones to connect to one another and the internet. The pueblo hopes to start the one-year design phase of the project, which will entail laying down 193 miles of fiber, in October. Construction should take an additional two years, Hooper said.
Taxali said his office hopes to finalize the agreements with all 10 recipients by the end of October. The grantees have three years to complete the projects from the time they sign the agreements, he said.
Other grant recipients under the program include Oso Internet Solutions ($5.78 million), Comcast ($15.5 million), Tularosa Communications ($4.24 million) and the Peñasco Valley Telephone Cooperative ($486,000).
How Comcast’s ‘Lift Zones’ help New Mexicans stay connected
by: Audrey Claire Davis
Posted: Sep 19, 2023 / 03:11 PM MDT
Xfinity by Comcast is one of the nation’s largest video, internet, and phone providers; in addition to those services, Comcast also offers mobile wireless, home security, and automation services. As one of the state’s largest providers, Comcast focuses on giving back to the community and has invested over $13.5 million to support New Mexico organizations and nonprofits.
As part of Comcast’s efforts to support and uplift New Mexicans, the company has equipped over 50 locations in the state with WiFi-connected “Lift Zones.” These spots provide internet access on the go so that underserved families can find locations with connectivity. This program allows those who may not have reliable internet, for a variety of reasons, to get online access when needed for work, school, etc.
Not only is Comcast providing “Lift Zones” for New Mexicans, but its affordable options allow community members to get internet access at a variety of price points. Comcast’s Internet Essentials program provides internet starting at just $9.95 per month.
Going even beyond that, the company participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program, which allows eligible households to receive funds monthly to help pay for their home internet service; this federal service provides up to $30 off home internet every month, so when the Affordable Connectivity Program is paired with Comcast’s Internet Essentials option, internet access can be provided at no cost.
To find the closest “Lift Zone,” click this link; to learn more about Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, click here; to learn more about the Affordable Connectivity Program, click here.
Connecting all Arizonans to digital opportunities continues to be vital
By Susan Bitter Smith//July 14, 2023
In a world increasingly driven by digital connectivity, access to the internet is no longer a luxury, it is a fundamental necessity that allows Arizonans to communicate, learn, work, socialize, and access essential services. The Covid pandemic only magnified the challenges faced by those in our state who still lack access to high-speed internet.
Fortunately, there has been leadership from both private providers and public leaders to allocate significant investments to provide for infrastructure to move forward to bridge our state’s digital divide and ensure connectivity reaches every corner of our state. We must now work together to make sure that these critical broadband investments are put to their best use so that no community is left behind.
There is certainly more work to be done to achieve a fully connected Arizona, but we have already made considerable progress in the past few years. Critical work has been done in our tribal communities, in rural areas in the central part of our state, and in our towns on our southern border. Now with more than $993 million allocated to Arizona from Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) grants, we have the historic opportunity to fully transform unserved communities across our state.
The transformational BEAD grants and the ongoing private investment in broadband will play a significant role in bringing connectivity to the rural, often hardest to reach communities in our state. Resources themselves, however, are not enough to bridge the broadband gap. Our state leaders must guarantee these investments are maximized for reliable connectivity efforts. One way they can do that is to partner with reputable, proven broadband providers that have already demonstrated a commitment and a track record of success in connecting our communities.
This includes our state’s cable broadband providers that have built, and are continuing to build, the future ready networks that already connect millions of homes and small businesses across the state, including many in rural, difficult-to-reach regions.
For years, we have envisioned a fully connected Arizona, in which every resident has equitable access to reliable high-speed internet, regardless of ZIP code. This vision will become reality if our state leaders work together with providers that have proven technical expertise, resources, and commitment to connecting all Arizonans to digital opportunity.
Broadband Stats: An American Industry
July 06, 2023
For decades, the cable industry has built world-class broadband networks and delivered award-winning television to consumers everywhere. These efforts have brought jobs, economic development, and critical infrastructure nationwide.
Cable Delivers High-Speed Broadband to Rural Communities
June 20, 2023
The recent release of the updated FCC National Broadband Map means that we are one step closer to the distribution of over $42 billion to close the gaps in our country's internet coverage. The FCC data not surprisingly reveals that these gaps exist primarily in rural and remote areas of our country.
What the data shows:
- 8.3 million locations (homes and businesses) are "unserved," which means they don't have access to internet speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream.
- 3.6 million locations are "underserved," which means they have access to speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream, but lack access to speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream/20 Mbps upstream.
- 7.8 million unserved locations and 3.1 million underserved locations are in rural America.
FCC data demonstrates cable's leadership.
- Cable broadband networks are available to 17.5 million rural locations, of which 94% now deliver gigabit speeds.
- Telecom broadband networks are available to 20.1 million rural locations, yet more than half of these have speeds that are below 25/3 and less than a quarter deliver gigabit speeds.
With unprecedented amounts of money being spent bridging the digital divide, success can best be accomplished by ensuring that funding is open to all providers, instead of limiting it to the "usual suspects." The FCC data convincingly shows that cable providers have successfully delivered gigabit speeds to rural areas and are now positioned to build next-generation 10G networks to even more rural communities.
The Impact of the Affordable Connectivity Program
June 12, 2023
The FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a monthly subsidy to eligible, low-income households to connect to broadband service, has been instrumental in getting broadband to more American homes and to advancing digital equity. Here are a few ways that it’s making a difference in getting broadband to those people who need it most.
- To date, ACP has helped connect more than 18 million households to the internet across all ages and across all 50 states.
- All major cable broadband providers, including Charter, Comcast, Cox, GCI, Mediacom, Midco, and Vyve all promote and participate in ACP--which is further helping to increase broadband adoption across America.
- ACP has more than doubled the number of participating households in just over one year of operation.
- ACP eliminates the unnecessary and often burdensome requirements of the past, like the Eligible Telecommunications Carrier requirement, resulting in a much broader range of participating providers that can help connect more Americans.
- Recent data demonstrate more adoption of high-capacity, wired connections at home.
- Through establishing strong partnerships with community organizations, state, and local governments, cable providers help to identify qualifying households and educate families about the benefits of broadband.
- Comcast's Digital Navigators program serves as an exemplary initiative, dispatching trained individuals to provide digital skills training to those without internet access, and to spread awareness about the positive impact that initiatives like the ACP can have on their lives.
- Applying for jobs online or accessing online education.
- Gaining digital skills to move up in the workforce.
- Closing the healthcare availability gap for rural Americans through telehealth services.
The 10G Future: Education
June 08, 2023
10G, the broadband network soon delivering superfast symmetrical internet speeds, has the potential to transform how we live, work, learn and play. Education is a field particularly ripe for fresh tech solutions, with new and emerging advancements helping to match a wide variety of learning styles.
NCTA partnered with the Future Today Institute (FTI), experts in researching trends and calculating how they will disrupt business, government, and society, to imagine what some cutting-edge changes might look like with 10G. The resulting report honed in on four areas: entertainment, healthcare, education, and agriculture.
How Will Education Be Transformed?New technologies will bring education beyond the classroom to engage students’ curiosity in the world around them, unleashing a lifelong love of learning.
In the ClassroomThe 10G platform will support new immersive technologies, with low latency enabling real-time conversations with virtual tutors and other digital tools.
- Augmented and virtual reality will allow students to travel around the world without leaving their desks, immersing students in foreign languages and cultures.
- Light field displays like holograms will bring history to life, allowing historical figures to appear before the class.
- Digital and virtual tools will expand the options for student creativity, bringing digital brushes and virtual canvases to life via wearable smart glasses.
- Robots and virtual assistants will serve as teachers' aides, helping to keep children on task while studying at home.
- Synthetic tutors will assist students with homework, helping kids get past obstacles they otherwise might not be able to without an instructor's presence.
- Parents and teachers will have access to their children’s developmental data, allowing them to work together to give students the focused attention they need.
- A.I. will power real-time translations of live-streamed discussions, enabling learning across language groups, geography, and backgrounds.
- During lectures, intelligent conversational interfaces will display additional information that is relevant or helpful.
- Digital assistants will also offer personalized support for students and weekly study groups with guided discussions.
Broadband Stats: A Continued Commitment to Sustainability
June 07, 2023
Environmental stewardship has been a priority for the cable industry for years, having voluntarily set energy-efficiency standards for equipment over a decade ago. Today, from industry-wide agreements to individual company initiatives, cable providers are working towards a more sustainable future.
Bridging the Digital Skills Gap
Article | March 22, 2023
As the United States continues to tackle the digital divide, the challenge involves much more than installing internet service—which is just one component of a holistic and much bigger issue.
More Than Just Access: While giving every American household the opportunity to gain access to the internet is critical, another barrier to broadband adoption often overlooked is the lack of digital skills in the workforce. Because if people don't possess the necessary digital skills to navigate the internet, access alone won’t open doors or unleash the limitless opportunities that broadband can provide.
A Snapshot of the Digital Skills Gap
A recent report by the National Skills Coalition yielded the following findings:
- One-third of U.S. workers lack opportunities to build digital skills
- 92% of jobs available today require digital skills
- 23% of jobs that require even one digital skill can earn an average of 23% more than jobs requiring no digital skills
A Solution to the Problem
Given the increased demand for digital skills, the report stresses that the public and private sectors must work together to equip workers with these skills to help them thrive. This would not only help to correct the structural inequities inherent in society, but also give a big boon to businesses and to the American economy.
The Cable Industry’s Role
That's why the cable industry has continually targeted efforts to bridge the digital divide over the past decade, not just through its investments in buildouts in unserved communities, but through its programs, partnerships and resources dedicated to teaching digital skills.
- Charter, Comcast, Cox, GCI, Midco and Mediacom have long partnered with schools, local governments, nonprofits, businesses, foundations, and trusted community organizations to encourage broadband adoption and to offer digital skills trainings and workshops.
- Comcast launched their Digital Navigators program last year in support of the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program. The program sends trained individuals out in the field to teach digital skills to unconnected people and to encourage them to sign up for programs like the ACP.
- Charter announced this month the expansion of Spectrum Community Center Assist. The program supports job training efforts at community centers across Charter’s footprint through providing funding, gigabit internet service, laptops, equipment, and job and digital skills training to help people improve their economic situation.
As the Biden administration distributes federal funds for broadband deployment and adoption, the cable industry continues to do its part in collaborating with the government, the private sector, and in fostering the public-private partnerships that give unconnected Americans the digital skills necessary to succeed.
The 10G Future: Healthcare
Article | March 21, 2023
10G, the broadband network soon delivering superfast symmetrical internet speeds, has the potential to transform how we live, work, learn and play. Recent years have demonstrated that healthcare is primed to benefit from super-fast broadband, as telehealth becomes more regular and as new technologies come to market.
NCTA partnered with the Future Today Institute (FTI), experts in researching trends and calculating how they will disrupt business, government and society, to imagine what some cutting-edge changes might look like with 10G. The resulting report honed in on four areas: entertainment, healthcare, education, and agriculture.
How will healthcare be transformed?
The healthcare sector is poised to make big gains from next-generation networks, allowing healthcare to take place where a patient happens to be, not just in an examination room.
Smart healthcare is preventative healthcare
More secure networks will allow people to safely collect even more of their own health data.
- Wearables, smart home sensors, and personal smart devices will capture health and wellness data.
- Health data will be stored, monitored, and managed in the cloud.
- Patients will have access to all their data and control who can see it.
- With increased security measures that come with 10G, patients can feel comfortable collecting sensitive data.
Personalized in-home wellness
New technologies will utilize the 10G network to bring healthcare out of the doctor’s office and into the home as much as possible.
- Synthetic health coaches will advise on diet and exercise.
- Scent devices will replicate various smells by mixing olfactory elements to complete the experience.
- Spatial audio earbuds will create a realistic soundscape.
Next generation medicine
As super-fast networks connect more and more of the country, low-latency and increased network security will enable a healthcare revolution.
- A connected health management system will give first responders quick access to patients’ information.
- Expert surgeons will conduct procedures remotely.
- Rural hospitals will evolve into connected surgical centers.
- 10G’s super-low latency will enable remote surgery, giving surgeons the precision to operate from far away.
- Nationwide healthcare will make medical specialists’ expertise available to all.
As the 10G future gets closer to reality, most Americans already have access to gigabit networks and even faster speeds are just around the corner. To learn more about the ways 10G might impact key industries, the FTI’s complete report is available on 10Gplatform.com.
What is Latency and Why Is It Important?
Article | March 7, 2023
In today’s “always online” world, seamless network operation and a smooth connectivity experience is essential. Engineers have worked hard to reduce the latency (often referred to as lag or lag time) users encounter while relying on the broadband networks that power smart technologies. In fact, super low-latency is one of 10G’s primary benefits.
What Is Latency?
In general terms, latency is the time that elapses between a request for information and its arrival. Sometimes lag can happen on a network, on a device, or both at the same time. Anytime a signal is sent and processed, some degree of lag is to be expected. When accessing the internet, lag or latency is measured by the amount of time it takes for a “ping,” or sample signal, to travel from a source device to a server and back. Gamers often talk about ping rates, which is another term for latency or lag.
Managing Latency Is Key
Latency is an almost-guaranteed aspect of electrical engineering. Digital speeds might feel instant, but it takes time for a wave to travel. Combine that with slight resistance in many conducting wires, and there will always be some level of latency that comes with using a device or network.
Because of this physical reality, engineers look for all the places they can streamline in a network to cut down on all the small factors that can contribute to latency, like processing time and high traffic.
What Role Does Latency Play in User Experiences?
Users want a reliably low-latency experience, and get frustrated when lag gets in the way. According to CableLabs, people begin to detect delays at about 20 milliseconds.
- Every small improvement in a network counts.
- That’s why changes like prioritizing latency-sensitive data, more efficient Wi-Fi network management, and other improvements combine to drive down lag.
- To a gamer, it’s the difference between winning and losing.
- 10G (the next-generation network delivering speeds up to 10 Gbps) networks decrease latency to just one millisecond for many lag-sensitive applications.
Because latency is more urgent in certain instances than others, 10G technologies work by prioritizing latency-sensitive data. Plenty of industries rely on low-latency networks, and will do so even more into the future.
- The result is that a cardiothoracic surgeon can confidently complete telesurgery, as healthcare access expands beyond physical doctors’ offices.
- As automation and remote-operated machinery grows, low-latency technologies will ensure the precision needed for real-time sensing, be it agriculture or manufacturing.
- Video conferencing with low-latency allows conversations to flow seamlessly, making remote solutions more useful and allowing businesses to grow outside of their direct geographic area.
- Virtual reality, and all the uses it powers, depends on low-latency to make the immersive experience authentic. Some emergency services have begun using VR to train first-responders, who are faced with constantly changing scenarios that are often life-or death.
- A VR training that can respond faster than the human brain keeps trainees sharp and prepares them for dangerous real-world scenarios, without having to risk their lives first to gain that knowledge.
By utilizing new low-latency DOCSIS technologies, 10G will allow users to experience a seamless super-fast broadband network. As more of the 10G network rolls out, users will benefit from all the latest engineering that not only delivers gigabit speeds, but low-latency and enhanced security and stability as well.
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