Harford County, in northeast Maryland, is planning to bond for an $8 million wireless network to service local government, public safety, education, health care, and both commercial and residential needs. It will be called the Harford County Metro Area Network - HMAN.
The current plan envisions a free tier as well as a low-cost tier intended for residential access.
The network builds on fiber connections built with stimulus dollars, likely the OneMaryland network that touches every county in the state. This project will make those connections available to far more people and businesses.
But the Baltimore Sun is asking some difficult questions - including whether it makes sense to use long-term bonds for wireless networks, where the technology may change significantly in a few short years.
The problem for Harford County is that while the wireless technology may change rapidly, the private sector is not meeting their needs and they need better access to communications now.
We are generally skeptical of solutions that envision wireless as the sole delivery mechanism for broadband to the home or business, given the much higher capacity and reliability of fiber-optic connections, but as long as the County is already building a network needed to ensure public safety departments and other local government mobile needs are met, it may certainly make sense to spend a little extra to offer residential and business access.
Shining a light on bond-backed municipal broadband projects is the recent announcement that ECFiber, Vermont's first Communications Union District (CUD), obtained a BB rating from Standard & Poor Global, the nation’s preeminent credit rating agency. In what ECFiber officials describe as "a historic moment,” the bond rating will allow ECFiber to pay lower borrowing costs to complete a network expansion project now underway.
Waterloo, Iowa’s municipal broadband project has taken a major step forward after nearly two decades of planning. Waterloo Fiber officials just launched their first limited fiber trial, will connect their first commercial customers in February, and are on target to deploy affordable fiber at speeds up to 10 gigabit per second (Gbps) to every last city resident by 2026. Construction of the network began last summer at a groundbreaking ceremony hosted by Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart. Last month the city connected the first of four participants in a limited pilot project.
We are pleased to announce an exciting lineup of Tribal Broadband Bootcamps (TBB) scheduled for 2024. Bringing together new learners and folks with decades of experience, the bootcamps create a unique opportunity for people across Indian Country to share strategies, challenges, and successes.
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) recently published rules for its broadband nutrition label provides a partial victory for Internet subscribers and a potential marketing advantage for fiber providers – but may pose a challenge for wireless Internet service providers. Though the new rules were finalized in October, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have until 2024 to publish their broadband labels.
The Tribal Business of Broadband webinar series, a virtual extension of the Tribal Broadband Bootcamps, continues later this month with a focus on wireless Tribal networks. Next one is slated for December 19 at 2 pm ET.
California has an ambitious $6 billion proposal to shore up affordable broadband access throughout the state, which includes a $3.25 billion plan to build an open-access statewide broadband middle-mile network backers say could transform competition in the Golden State. But while the proposal has incredible potential, digital equity advocates remain concerned that the historic opportunity could be squandered.