Independent Communications News - 2021 Issue 3

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Independent Communications Serving ACA Connects Members

December 2021 - Issue 3

ACA CONNECTS IS READY FOR SUCCESS IN 2022 "ACAC has the right team in the right place."





Independent Communications News is an ACA Connects Publication.

Features: Adara Technologies Inc. • Atlas Digital Group • Calix • Crown Media • Kelley Drye • Minerva Networks

• NCTI • NuTEQ Solutions • OpenVault • Power & Tel • SCTE • Technetix • A+E • Broadpeak • INSP

38 / Cable TV Pioneers

16 / ACACommunities




4 / Getting ready to meet the new year

6 / editor's note: 8 / ACA CONNECTS don't make it IS ready for a blockbuster success in 2022 night


10 / You Thought 2021 Was Active? Just Wait for 2022





13 / 2022 AMP Program Launches with New Opportunities

22 / Mapping New Broadband Coverage Data Submission Requirements in 2022

26 / New Programs On the Way to Help Close the Broadband Adoption Gap

30 / Congress Attempts to Close Out Difficult Year, More Challenges Ahead

12 / Adara

Transitioning to IP Video: Initiating Services, Migrating Customers, and Generating Revenue

14 / Atlas Digital

Winning eCommerce Strategies for Independent Operators

15 / Calix

The Fiber Revolution Helping Bridge the Digital Divide

19 / Crown Media

Crown Media Provides a Dose of Comfort and Connection

20 / Kelley Drye

24 / NCTI

33 / Technetix

25 / NuTEQ

35 / A + E

Networks Are Swimming

Transforming the Customer Experience

28 / OpenVault

Make EBB Reporting a Snap

29 / Power & Tel

Stop Being Exhausted: Relieve Fiber Exhaust in the Harshest Environments

32 / SCTE

1.2GHz High Split Ready NOW

A+E Networks Heads into 2022 with an Exciting Line Up of New and Returning Series & Specials

36 / Broadpeak

TV Delivery in 2022 – The Sky Isn’t Falling

37 / INSP

An Independent Leads the Way: INSP Provides a Trusted Viewing Experience

Pivoting into the New Normal with New Ways to Learn

The Future of the Universal Service Fund

21 / Minerva

New Year. New Dangers. New Opportunities.



CAC’s 2022 agenda will feature many activities designed to help our Members in a number of ways. Let me start by saying you will be seeing a lot more of us as it appears that travel is returning somewhat to normal after a long pause brought on by COVID-19 and its variants. Our Team plans to get out more to visit ACAC members in person to explain, among other things, our approach to handling the big issues in Washington, D.C.: Net Neutrality, broadband infrastructure subsidy programs, federal funding of state broadband deployment programs and much, much more. John Higginbotham, ACAC’s Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, and I plan to see you not just in your places of business, but also at state and regional industry gatherings in addition to doing inperson ACAC and NCTC events, whether it’s the Independent Show or meeting with ACAC staff at NCTC's IdeaXchange regional member meetings. John and Nathan Penrod, ACAC’s Digital Media Specialist, did a fantastic job launching the ACACommunities video series in 2021. John and Nathan went around the country to visit ACAC Members in the field to document their tireless efforts to deliver broadband to their communities, with an emphasis on the fiber-to-the-home architecture. John and Nathan are looking for more opportunities to tell Members’ stories in videos and through social media. Let us know if you are up for a visit! The new year will also have ACAC Members visiting Washington, D.C., inperson and virtually to meet lawmakers on Capitol Hill. We are planning smaller in-person “fly-ins” (as the COVID variants


December 2021 - Issue 3

Getting Ready to Meet the New Year By Matt Polka

ACA Connects President and CEO


allow) and a “virtual fly-in” too, giving our Members one-on-one time to tell your stories and share your concerns with Washington. Our new Associate Member Program (AMP), now wrapping up its first year, was a major success. To the extent we sought to bring ACAC operator Members in closer touch with our fabulous vendor community, the AMP was a big hit. We hope to build on these early gains in 2022. The ACAC website has a wealth of information. The public-facing content is deep, allowing for extensive research on ACAC issues that go back many years. The ACAC website’s passwordprotected Member Lounge defines the term “valueadded.” It is the home to content that no ACAC member should go without, including all webinar replays (the list is long!), resource pages on many

issues (C-Band, EBB, Retrans, etc.), and a host of Member Advisories and Regulatory Updates. In 2022, I expect to see the website expand into new areas with an updated look to the entire layout. Let me conclude by thanking ACAC Members for your support as we work hard every day on your behalf to show the public and public policy leaders all of the energy and resources you devote to equip your communities with the finest communications services on the market. In 2022, we will stay focused on the job and make the best possible use of the funding that you provide for our advocacy on your behalf. YOU are our mission! Onward and Upward Together in 2022! ■

Editor's Note: Don't Make it a Blockbuster Night By Ted Hearn ACA Connects VP of Communications


ook at this photograph. Wait, that’s Nickelback ... Please study this photo. I hit the brakes every time I see it because it always makes me think. I dwell on things like the pace of change, tipping points, the power of market forces, and the triumph of individual grit over collectivist conceit. So, what are you looking at? The man is Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and he’s peering into a defunct Blockbuster outlet, doors locked, shades drawn, shelves empty. Hastings saw the future in


December 2021 - Issue 3

video streaming and jumped. Blockbuster’s effort to morph from a strip mall video chain into an online streamer was halting and came up more than a bit short. Call it one more painful lesson in first-mover advantage and how quickly a seemingly open runway can turn into a field of quicksand. As you will see in these pages of Independent Communications News (ICN), the ACA Connects community is ready for disruption, is not standing still and is not just letting the time flash by.

For example: Steve Augustino, Partner and Chair of Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice, discusses how the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) financial support mechanism is coming under stress and how broadband ISPs need to be prepared to respond to reform proposals that could come at the expense of their subscribers. Jeff Brown, Director of Product and Field Marketing at Calix, documents that broadband ISPs are pushing

fiber deeper and deeper into their networks, helping bridge the digital divide by relying on such technologies as fiberbased passive optical networks (PON), which enables broadband ISPs to quickly go to market with new highspeed symmetrical services, new tier packages, and other customized offers. The linear video business – via cable, satellite, telco, or Internet-delivered vMVPD - is still working for millions of Americans. Leichtman Research Group just found that 71% of TV households nationwide have some form of pay-TV service. Why is this still the case? John Roos, INSP EVP of Corporate Communications and Research, says INSP is going strong and delivering year-over-year growth built on a lineup of Western and Western-adjacent series and films. Hallmark Channel and A+E Networks leaders also report on how their brands continue to earn strong consumer loyalty. Matt Cuson, VP Product and Marketing, Minerva Networks, puts in a good word for the power of so-called FAST (Free Advertising Supported Streaming Television) Services, which he describes as a “new

term for old fashioned TV -- free with ads. Except with thousands of channels.” Cuson says to aim FAST offers at broadband-only customers at the start. And, as usual, the ACA Connects policy team provides a nuanced look at recent activity in Washington, D.C., with contributions from Ross Lieberman, Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs; Brian Hurley, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs; and Mike Jacobs, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. Congress just passed an historic infrastructure law, which includes $42.45 billion in grants to states for broadband projects. ACA Connects members can count on the ACA Connects policy team to keep you fully informed on the rollout of this key spending program. So, needless to say, Team ACA Connects is on the move and prepared to respond to new challenges and opportunities, whether delivered by the marketplace or the political arena. ACA Connects is ready to move with the consumer and deliver progress across the map that will improve the quality of life in America. In other words, we are not Blockbuster. We know about the quicksand. ■

Ted Hearn is Vice President of Communications of ACA Connects. He is responsible for interacting with media representatives as well as preparing and distributing nearly all ACA Connects external communications. These communications include: Press releases, statements, speeches, the ACAC Daily Media Sweep, and the biweekly ACAction Brief.

Independent Communications Serving ACA Connects Members

Publisher John Higginbotham 502.330.4057 Editor Ted Hearn 202.713.0826 Advertising/Business Stacey Leech 724.971.6388 Creative Director Nathan Penrod 412.715.2494 Subscriptions

ACA CONNECTS STAFF President & CEO Matthew M. Polka Assistant to the President & CEO Tomeika Slappy EVP & COO John Higginbotham SVP Government Affairs Ross Lieberman VP Communications Ted Hearn VP Regulatory Affairs Brian Hurley Mike Jacobs Sr. Director of Administration and Finance Karen Yochum Sr. Director of Meetings/Industry Affairs Stacey Leech Grassroots Manager Caroline Persinger Digital Media Specialist Nathan Penrod ACA Connects Headquarters: 7 Parkway Center Suite #755 Pittsburgh, PA 15220 412.922.8300

ACA Connects is Ready For Success in 2022 By Chairman Patricia Jo Boyers ACA Connects Chairman


s the saying goes, 2021 is in the books. Now about 2022, let’s just say I have a few concerns and comments because I expect the next 12 months to come with some new challenges. But I’ll get to that in a minute! It was another great year for ACA Connects with regard to our advocacy in Washington, D.C. We led the way in providing lawmakers with an abundance of unchallenged, intellectually deep data on the scope of the broadband issue in terms of Availability and Adoption. We also provided a bottom line on the costs involved, both today and in the future. All of this came together with the ACA Connects team led by Ross Lieberman, Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs, working with a group of data specialists at Cartesian. Ross! Wonderful job! The full report, titled “Addressing Gaps in Broadband Infrastructure and Service Adoption: A Cost Estimation & Prioritization Framework” can be found here for download on the ACA Connects


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website. Judging from the headlines I read in the indispensable ACA Connects Media Sweep, ACA Connects Members continued to invest around a billion dollars annually in deploying robust broadband service in some of the most rural parts of our great country -- despite the considerable economic costs associated with new builds in areas that lack urban density. I know I’ll get into trouble by singling out a few of these rock star folks, but I’ll run that risk by giving “Shoutouts to a few Standouts”: Shentel, MetroNet, TDS, GCI and Cable One were true leaders in 2021 by showing us how to establish and implement fiber broadband projects. These projects provided their consumers with access to future-proof technologies that will vastly improve the ability to work and learn from home or even just kick back and stream a movie. Hats Off! Keep up the good work! America is counting on you!

"ACAC HAS THE RIGHT TEAM IN THE RIGHT PLACE." I also wanted to congratulate ACA Connects Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer John M. Higginbotham on the creation of the ACACommunities video series. Working with ACA Connects Digital Media Specialist Nathan Penrod, John has produced some wonderful video shorts that spotlight the many achievements of individual ACA Connects Members across the United States. Click here to see their fine work. Also deserving praise is ACA Connects Senior Director of Events & Industry Affairs Stacey Leech, who did an amazing job in launching our new Associate Member Program (AMP). It’s been a HUGE success. Just look at how many AMP Members contributed to this edition of Independent Communications News. Well done, Stacey! Let me wrap up here by thanking our entire ACA Connects Team members for their outstanding work this year in leading our trade association. One of the things I value most is preparation, and I greatly appreciate that our Team never lets us down on that score. Their skill at seeing around corners keeps ACA Connects ready to shake hands

with the next friend and figure out a way to find common ground with a potential foe. Now about 2022... We expect that Washington, D.C., is going to reconsider its “light-touch” approach to broadband regulation because those in power believe consumers are at risk of harm due to a lack of competition, among other reasons. Of course, we do not believe the facts justify such a policy shift, especially when you consider all the headlines about 5G wireless and fixed wireless and fiber overbuilding...and let’s not forget satellite broadband coming from a disrupter like Elon Musk and his Starlink service. But of this FACT I am most certain: ACAC has the right team in the right place. We have invested decades in building our brand and our relationships --- instilling integrity, character and good ol’ common sense into the discussion both on Capitol Hill and at home. When you have “done so much for so long with so little,” I believe that we are prepared to meet ANY CHALLENGE coming our way! Here 2022, hold my beer! I’ll keep you posted! ■ Patricia Jo Boyers is President and CEO of BOYCOM Vision located in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

Independent Communications News


You Thought 2021 Was Active? Just Wait for 2022 By Ross Lieberman ACA Connects Sr. Vice President of Government Affairs


e will look back on 2021 as an eventful year in Washington, DC, for ACA Connects Members. We saw the launch of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and Emergency Connectivity Fund, two multi-billion-dollar subsidy programs that provided opportunities for ACA Connects Members to deliver much-needed broadband connectivity to lowincome households and to students during the pandemic. In addition, this past March, Congress passed stimulus legislation that allowed State and local governments to use some of the $350 billion they received in block grants for broadband deployment.

And, on November 15th, the President signed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that allocates $65 Billion to close broadband deployment and adoption gaps. This is an unprecedented level of government investment that will shape broadband service and policy for years to come. Never has more been done by government to eliminate the nation's digital divide than what's been done in 2021. While executive agencies, like the Treasury Department and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), were unexpectedly active in allocating and overseeing the use of new broadband funding in 2021, the Federal Communications



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Commission (FCC) was surprisingly quieter. For the entire year, the FCC was deadlocked 2-2, requiring all votes to pass on a bipartisan basis, and meaning any new rules were generally non-controversial. But, that is about to change. President Biden has nominated acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to serve as permanent Chair and Gigi Sohn to fill an empty seat on the Commission. Assuming these two Democratic seats are soon occupied, ACA Connects will be very active at the FCC in 2022. Of greatest concern for ACA Connects, we expect the Democratic-majority FCC will move forward with a more partisan, much more regulatory agenda.

At the top of the list, the FCC is expected to pursue reclassification of broadband as a “telecommunications service” governed by Title II of the Communications Act and impose regulations—including net neutrality rules—on the reclassified service. Perhaps it goes without saying, but ACA Connects will vigorously challenge these efforts. While ACA Connects and others in the industry support Congress enacting bright-line net neutrality rules, we oppose Title II regulation of broadband service, which would provide the FCC with far-reaching authority to regulate broadband rates and practices. Experience proves that competition is the best way to protect consumers’ and edge providers’ interests and build worldleading broadband networks — and as ACA Connects members know, broadband markets are highly and increasingly competitive. Moreover, regulation is not cost-free, and the costs are especially burdensome for smaller providers and new entrants. In 2022, ACA Connects will devote all necessary resources to protecting members’ interests as the FCC moves down the path of broadband regulation. There’s plenty more activity at the FCC that will keep us busy in 2022. For instance, we expect the FCC to adopt rules for the new Affordable Connectivity Program. This program, which will be funded with $14.2 billion, will replace the existing Emergency Broadband Benefit Program that provides financial support to lowincome households to subscribe to broadband. We also expect the agency to pursue requirements to promote competition in multitenant environments and new E-rate rules that could allow schools and libraries to deploy their own broadband networks into communities to reach the homes of students and library patrons. The FCC may also consider network

resiliency obligations for wireline providers. We will also spend significant time at NTIA, focusing on the implementationofnewinfrastructure programs. The centerpiece is the $42.5 Billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, which will allocate funds to States/territories to administer as

mapping that the FCC is producing pursuant to the Broadband DATA Act, and States/territories will hold challenge processes to further ensure the accuracy of the data. The FCC is working to create the public-facing interface where broadband providers will submit the more granular data for these maps. Once the FCC announces

"AS BUSY AND AT TIMES, THREATENING TO MARKETS, AS THIS YEAR HAS BEEN, WE’RE EXPECTING 2022 TO BE MORE INTENSE WITH MUCH MORE AT STAKE." deployment grants, targeted largely at unserved and underserved areas. We will engage extensively with the agency through the first half of 2022 as it develops requirements for States and territories to follow in obtaining and disbursing these funds. We will also provide members with information to help them to participate effectively in States’ and territories’ grant programs, and to mitigate the risks of being overbuilt. A related issue we’ll need to contend with in 2022 is broadband mapping. The BEAD program will determine unserved and underserved locations using the new, location-specific broadband

the filing process, ACA Connects will educate members about the new rules and how to file. It’s important for ACA Connects members to do this, and do this right—not only to avoid FCC penalties, but to protect your networks from subsidized overbuilds. As busy and at times, threatening to markets, as this year has been, we’re expecting 2022 to be more intense with much more at stake. To stay on top of it all, we’ll need your help. In the past, we’ve either called or worked with you to join with us as we undertake our advocacy. So, stand by. You will be hearing from us in 2022. ■

Ross Lieberman is Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for ACA Connects. He leads the development and execution of the trade association's advocacy before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies, and the courts.


Industry News

Transitioning to IP Video Initiating Services, Migrating Customers, and Generating Revenue


By Mark Guerrazzi VP Sales & Business Development, Adara Technologies Inc.

ransitioning to IP Video involves a great deal of thought and planning. First, the operator has to think through the key strategic considerations and benefits for transitioning to IP video. Then it has to find the right partner (see Adara 9/21 ICN article). There’s more: The next step is to determine how best to initiate these services, entice existing customers off of legacy platform/s, and target and win new broadband and video customers. This should draw them to the portability of content across all their existing Mark Guerrazzi devices and ubiquitous search and curation capabilities across all linear, VOD and SVOD/ OTT services. Advertising zone capability within the IP video solution can deliver a host of new marketing opportunities to all of the mobile/TV screens. It will give operators the ability to do the following: Drive key marketing messages, promote partners and community initiatives, brand-build and, most importantly, self-promote and give their broadband services a public “face” by delivering constant, branded visual customer engagement for many hours every day. This ad-zone capability can be leveraged as a Trojan horse to win new broadband customers away from a broadband-only competitor by first winning the customer’s video business, thereby driving up customer conversion and driving down customer acquisition cost. New monetization opportunities exist with tiered Cloud DVR (CDVR) services as well as tiered stream/ device usage levels. Whereas legacy DVR set top rental has offered beneficial ROI through ongoing rental revenue, tiered CDVR pricing structures aligned with total storage, duration of storage, and number of simultaneous streams/devices supported elevate this revenue/profit opportunity to a new level and scale in ways that traditional video services could never do. Because CDVR storage is shared and not CPE-based, CDVR pricing offers can be more easily delivered (via ad zones), experimented with, monitored and tweaked to maximize subscriber uptake, revenue and incremental profit/ROI. There are numerous CDVR revenue/ partnership models, and the solution partner should make recommendations on the best approach for each operator. Understanding how to market and position the service is critical. IP Video can, for example, be delivered as a mobile/TVE augmentation to existing STB-based video services, encompassing only the most-watched content, or it can be delivered as a full line-up service. While the former approach can help minimize the initial investment and still significantly build the customer value proposition and brand awareness, the latter approach may be a prerequisite for new markets/customers. The IP video solution must have the ability to curate OTT/SVOD apps and all online content inside the operator TV app. Ensuring that universal search “hits” include OTT/SVOD content on Netflix, Disney+, Prime, Hulu, etc. as well as on the operator’s own linear/VOD content is critical. In this way, the operator earns the “credit” from customers for being a one-stop destination, without the need for the operator executing separate, extremely onerous business relationships with each of the OTT/SVOD providers. Furthermore, having the ability for the operator or the subscriber to easily add links to non-traditional and/or personal entertainment options such as photo albums, gaming and lesser-known OTT streaming URLs enhances the operator’s “one-stop” value proposition and further favorably differentiates to make the service the best among all competitive offerings. ■


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2022 AMP Program Launches with New Opportunities By Stacey Leech

Sr. Director of Meetings & Industry Affairs, ACA Connects


or more than two decades, ACA Connects has offered a program for vendors to join our association and partner with us in networking events while promoting their company to our operator members. During that time, there was minimal change to the program from year to year. When the pandemic began, and all in-person events were put on hold, we decided it was time to revamp the program and develop new opportunities that would allow interaction between our solution providers and our operator members. We also acknowledged that each company is unique, with circumstances and initiatives varying from year to year, so a onesize-fits-all program really didn’t meet the needs of vendor partners. The end result was a newly redesigned Associate Member Program (AMP) that launched in early 2021. The AMP program was based on a tiered approach so companies could decide which level of membership most directly aligned with their goals and budgets. Almost a year later, we can say that the redesign was a success! Our level of participation and engagement between our AMP partners and operator members was higher than ever before -- a great accomplishment in a year with few in-person networking opportunities! Now, as the year-end is quickly approaching, we are launching our 2022 program. This program contains new benefits included at no additional

cost, plus (finally!) in-person sponsorships opportunities! Some examples of benefits included with membership are participation in association webinars, complimentary banner ads in ACA Connects Daily Media Sweep, and submission of content and advertising in our Independent Communications News (ICN) – just to name a few! All participants in our 2021 program will be receiving an email containing information on renewals, but any company interested in partnering with ACA Connects in 2022 or learning more about the program is welcome to reach out to me at You can also view all of the membership levels on our website! We are excited for the opportunities that await us in 2022 and look forward to providing even more options for vendors and operators to connect in the upcoming year! Won’t you join us!■ Stacey Leech is ACA Connects Senior Director of Events & Industry Affairs. Shee serves as the liaison between the association and ACA Connects AMP vendor partners. Stacey works to develop marketing plans that maximize membership benefits and leverage sponsorship opportunities.


Industry News

Winning eCommerce Strategies for Independent Operators


By Mark Mihalevich Founder and CEO, Atlas Digital Group

here are many advantages to driving sales through ecommerce, especially as demand and competition in the fiber and cable industry heats up. Online shopping is preferred by most consumers and a good online shopping experience improves customer loyalty and retention. It also grows revenue by converting the large number of online shoppers who do not shop through other channels (this can be as high as 40%). Finally, it is an efficient channel that delivers sales 5X – 20X cheaper than any other sales channel. To maximize these advantages, it’s important to have a high-performance eCommerce Mark Mihalevich platform. And this is where independent operators often see a big disadvantage: It’s hard to do. Independent operators often run into several hurdles when trying to stand up an ecommerce platform. The good news is that we have seen them all. Here are three common hurdles and practical strategies to minimize them or avoid them altogether: Order automation: Automation is often the first thing people think of with eCommerce. However, efforts to automate orders typically stand in the way of growing the business. Outdated billing systems, lack of development resources, expensive and time-consuming integrations, and bad customer experience all make order automation a challenging hurdle for small operators. To avoid this hurdle, you must first recognize that eCommerce is the way customers want to shop, while automation is only the way orders are processed. When setting up an eCommerce solution you must focus first on capturing orders using a good sales experience, not on automation. Have agents enter orders and tackle automation only when the benefit of improving efficiency outweighs the cost of implementation. Serviceability: Serviceability failures can represent 50% of the lost eCommerce opportunities and are often the worst-case sales scenario: Telling prospective customers they cannot be serviced when in fact they can be. Address matching to determine serviceability is tricky and there are several reasons why addresses entered by customers may fail to match up with addresses in homes-passed data. The simple solution is to avoid restricting serviceability to “exact matches,” meaning the address entered by the customer must exactly match the address in the database. Addresses that are near matches should also be allowed to place orders. This strategy will “open the door to the store,” allowing more prospective customers to enter and shop for services. Data & Analytics: A common challenge with analytics is finding the “Goldilocks Zone”: Too much data and complexity are not useful; too little or missing analytics are not informative. Luckily, there are simple and readily available solutions for independent operators. The Google Marketing Platform offers a powerful set of tools, particularly when Google Analytics Enhanced eCommerce is enabled and UTM parameters are used for campaign tracking. Best of all, it’s FREE. Ecommerce is win, win. It’s good for the customer and good for the business. These three simple solutions can help independent operators avoid the pitfalls and hurdles that often stand in the way of success with ecommerce. To learn more, visit or call (314) 690-8907. ■


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Industry News

The Fiber Revolution Helping Bridge the Digital Divide By Jeff Brown Director of Product and Field Marketing, Calix

“Glass is King” -- it’s a phrase you hear a lot when talking to people involved in designing, building, and operating broadband networks. Getting that glass, more commonly known as fiber, deployed across America has been a challenge. Fortunately, we’re at an inflection point in our industry where government funding opportunities, combined with an insatiable appetite for fiber assets from the investment community, are driving an unprecedented level of fiber builds deep and wide throughout our country. What’s driving the explosion in fiber deployments, and how does this impact our communities?

Jeff Brown

The pandemic has accelerated behavioral changes that drive increased bandwidth consumption, especially upstream traffic. Work from home and e-learning applications require high-speed symmetrical broadband that can most easily be delivered via fiber-based services. Access and aggregation traffic forecasts were moved up significantly, prompting the saying “2021 is the new 2031” from a network traffic perspective. Our customers, the broadband service providers (BSP’s) who serve consumers and businesses many of whom are ACA Connects operator members -- have increasingly viewed fiber-based passive optical networks (known as PON) favorably, choosing to deploy PON overlay networks in their existing markets. This enables the BSP to quickly go to market with new high-speed symmetrical services, new tier packages, and customized offers to meet the growing bandwidth needs of their customers. It also simplifies their operational efforts, as they can minimize outside plant disruption of their existing infrastructure and move higher bandwidth customers or neighborhoods nearing saturation over to the PON overlay network. While this is tremendously impactful to the operator, those who benefit the most are communities that have traditionally been underserved from a broadband perspective. BSP’s are leveraging private and government funding to reach under- and unserved communities. Communities are recognizing high-speed broadband service as a key tool to attract new residents and Americans choose to “work from anywhere,” rural communities are using their new high-speed broadband capabilities to lure remote workers, which results in greater revenues flowing to those communities. None of this would be possible without the tremendous work ethic, creativity, and community responsibility exhibited by our member operators and their employees. Despite all the challenges posed by COVID-19, BSPs have increased their pace of fiber builds, new subscriber turn-ups, and current subscriber upgrades. Operators have developed innovative approaches to subscriber installations during the pandemic. Embracing solutions that promote subscriber self-install has safeguarded customers and our operators’ employees. Programs increasing mobile app adoption have resulted in subscribers moving to a digital experience. Adoption of cloud-based data analytics platforms by operators has given them insight into their subscribers’ in-home broadband and wi-fi experience. This resulted in their customer support and operations teams more quickly resolving issues and preventing trouble tickets and support calls, which reduced the number of truck rolls and in-home visits. As we head into 2022, let’s recognize the hard work our member operators have gone through to help pave the way to bridging the digital divide. ■

Independent Communications News


John Higginbotham, EVP and COO of ACA Connects, interviewing John Cinelli, President and CEO of MetroNet


Spotlighting achievements of ACA Connects Members across the United States.


opefully, you’ve had the opportunity to watch ACAC’s new member video series ACACommunities this year. Nathan Penrod (ACAC Digital Media Specialist) and I have endeavored to highlight the operations of ACAC members in their home community. Our goal is to illustrate how members are making investments in fiber and what this investment means to the local business community, local governments, schools, and residents. Part of what makes ACAC unique are


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the differences in the make-up of the membership, so we’ve made a concerted effort to highlight MSOs, private equity members, municipalities, telephone companies, and electric co-ops in the ACACommunities series. Enabling the members to tell their specific stories -- and through these stories provide examples of how to meet and overcome challenges in planning and executing superior service to customers -- is what Nathan and I hope to deliver to you. As we plan for new ACACommunites

"Coming up in the next few months will be stories featuring MetroNet and its systems in Lexington, KY; LUS Fiber in Lafayette, LA; and Vexus Fiber and one of its systems in Hammond, LA." Nathan Penrod and the Lafayette sign in Lafayette, LA

Chad Governale, Regulatory Compliance & Gov't Affairs, LUS Fiber

videos in 2022, please let us know if you’re interested in sharing your story with ACAC members. We typically require a planning call or two with your team, we share a few questions ahead of time, and then we’ll need about three hours on-site at your office. It’s not that complicated and we promise not to take too much of your time. Coming up in the next few months will be stories featuring MetroNet and its systems in Lexington, KY; LUS Fiber in Lafayette, LA; and Vexus Fiber and one of its systems in Hammond, LA. To see all of the released ACACommunities videos, visit the link to the ACACommunities series https://acaconnects. org/digital-events/acacommunities. In the meantime, please let me know if we can visit and highlight your member company in 2022. You can reach me at jhigginbotham@ Happy Holidays and thanks for allowing all of us at ACAC the opportunity to represent you! ■

Elaine Partridge, VP of Special Projects, Vexus Fiber

Nathan Penrod eating his first ever beignet at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.

John Higginbotham is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for ACA Connects.

Independent Communications News



Mediacom Communications

ImOn Communications

In this video, ACA Connects chats with Corey Bowman, Area Director for Mediacom’s Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, lowa, market. Although Cedar Rapids might be best known as a giant in the corn-processing business, the community has a lot going in terms of high-speed broadband access owing to large and sustained investment by Mediacom, an ACA Connects member.

In this video, ACA Connects visits ACAC member ImOn Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Under CEO Patrice Carroll, ImOn continues to deploy fiber and extend the advanced network into new communities. ImOn’s fiber-deep, passive HFC network means the broadband ISP can offer very reliable service and very high speeds, with the goal of adding additional addresses to the ImOn footprint.

>> Read More / Watch Video

>> Read More / Watch Video


TVS Cable

In this video, ACA Connects checks in with the HolstonConnect team led by General Manager James Sandlin. The ACAC Member is a broadband provider based in Rogersville, Tenn., a town in, and the county seat of, Hawkins County, Tenn. HolstonConnect launched broadband service in October, 2018. Today, it is serving 9,200 customers while offering up to 300/500/gig symmetrical speeds.

In this video, ACA Connects visits Member Company TVS Cable. The company was started in 1966 with 40 cable systems in a hilly and rocky region of southeast Kentucky, a place that gets about as rural and rural can get. With years of patient investment, TVS Cable has bet on the future by providing voice, video and data to all customers.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Rogersville, Tennessee

>> Read More / Watch Video

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Hindman, Kentucky

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Industry News

Crown Media Provides a Dose of Comfort and Connection Ongoing Partnership with ACA Connects Takes Center State Amidst Company's Path Towards More Caring and Inclusivity


By Patrick Van De Walle Senior Director, Distribution, Crown Media

n an ever-changing media universe, one thing remains true: Crown Media’s quality, feel-good storytelling resonates deeply with viewers. Rooted in the 100+-year legacy of the Hallmark brand, Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama are driven by warmth and positivity, meaningful connections, family gatherings, celebrations, and seasonal traditions -- a winning recipe that sets Crown Media’s networks apart from all other cable programmers. Hallmark Channel’s appeal is universal. Over the past few years, the company has made great Patrick Van De Walle strides in creating content that reflects a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, religious beliefs, lifestyles, and perspectives. In 2020, Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas saw remarkable success with The Christmas House, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. This very weekend, the network is rolling out a sequel, The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls, which reunites the original installment’s cast, including Robert Buckley, Jonathan Bennett, Ana Ayora, Treat Williams, Sharon Lawrence, and Brad Harder. Looking ahead to 2022, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will launch Mahogany, a new programming initiative that reflects the universal values that unite people around the Hallmark brand – family in all its many forms, community, human connection, kindness, positivity, and the transformational power of love – while also celebrating the bonds, complexities, history, and experiences unique to Black culture. Rooted in the rich, 34-year legacy of the Hallmark card line of the same name, Mahogany is a new content initiative that will kick off next year with a quarterly slate of movies that will feature dynamic stories through the distinct lens of the Black experience. Further, the company’s new executive vice president of programming, Lisa Hamilton Daly, is dedicated to putting her innovative and exciting ideas into play and refreshing the programming lineups for all three networks. We aren’t able to announce anything just yet, but we can say that scripted series on Hallmark Channel will be a major focus. All of the work we put into developing quality content would be fruitless if we didn’t have distribution partners to bring it into peoples’ homes and onto their screens. Ultimately, it is through our longstanding relationships with partners like ACA Connects and NCTC that we are able to reach viewers and lift spirits with our special brand of programming. Thank you for your longstanding support over the years; we truly value you as partners. ■

Independent Communications News


Industry News

The Future of the Universal Service Fund


By Steve Augustino Partner and Chair of Kelley Drye’s Communications Practice

colleague recently said COVID-19 has changed everything. While COVID-19 cannot affect the simple joys of watching a summer rainstorm from your porch, much of our business, social and personal life has been upended by the virus. The FCC’s Federal Universal Service Fund is no exception. A confluence of events suggests that major changes may be on the way for the 25-year old program. For years, the USF contribution factor has been under strain. A declining contribution base Steve Augustino has caused the factor to rise, even when USF program expenditures remained relatively constant. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the USF contribution factor rose from 19.6 percent during the second quarter of 2020 to a high of 33.4% in 2021. While this trend preceded COVID-19, the rise in the use of Zoom, Teams, WebEx and other remote collaboration tools has further strained USF contributions. The result of this strain is a renewed focus on reforming the USF contribution system. In 2019, AT&T argued that Congress should directly appropriate money for the USF, rather than rely on end user assessments. More recently, three trade associations released a detailed study of USF contributions and proposed that end user broadband revenues be added to the base. Others have argued that “big tech” should pay a share. Several states are experimenting with assessments on “connections” to the network instead of end user revenues. Whatever the method, it is increasingly likely that we will see an overhaul of how the USF is supported fairly soon. Another thing happened during the COVID-19 emergency that may have the most profound effect on the goal of universal broadband service. In the two COVID-19 stimulus packages, Congress directly appropriated money to increase broadband availability and broadband adoption. Over $13 billion was appropriated for three “USF-like” programs administered by the FCC: the Emergency Broadband Benefit for low income consumers, the Emergency Connectivity Fund for remote learning and library services and the COVID-19 Telehealth program to fund telehealth equipment and services. These temporary programs served purposes similar to the USF, but did not rely on USF funding to do so. Funding also has been appropriated for broadband grants for infrastructure and adoption, with more to come upon adoption of the bipartisan Infrastructure bill. This could represent a sea-change in how universal broadband is funded. First, the legislation moves oversight to the Department of Commerce’s NTIA, with significant control from states. Second, the legislation supplements infrastructure funding with adoption funding to lower the digital divide. Finally, the legislation provides several targeted programs, like a Tribal Broadband fund and a fund for broadband to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and similar institutions. It is not clear whether these funds represent one-time universal service boosts or will become more permanent supplements to, or perhaps even replacements for, the USF. For those providing broadband services, all of this means that we may have to adjust to the way in which we approach subsidy programs. COVID-19 may, indeed, change everything. ■


December 2021 - Issue 3

Industry News

New Year. New Dangers. New Opportunities.


By Matt Cuson VP Product and Marketing, Minerva Networks

arkets are a bit like viruses. Just when you think you have them figured out they change! Change comes quickly. And without remorse. So taking proper actions is critical. Here are some key trends to get ready for in 2022. FAST Services Free Advertising Supported Streaming Television (FAST) is the new term for old fashioned TV - free with ads. Except with thousands of channels. With so much content in search of too few eyeballs, and premium distribution channels already crowded, content owners need Matt Cuson alternative ways to promote and monetize their content. Operators benefit by cutting very low or no cost content deals and sharing ad revenue. Because targeted ads bring higher rates, and an ad view counts the same regardless of what’s being watched, even niche content on FAST channels can generate good revenue for service providers. Opportunity: Make a pre-emptive strike with FAST services targeting broadband-only subscribers to build scale quickly. Then, through on-screen promotions and purchases, upsell them to full TV services. Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) A critical piece of the FAST puzzle is also critical for regular Pay TV. One to many TV broadcast advertising is dead. With FAST channels create new advertising opportunities DAI, the ad targeting and data analytics so popular with and can be the starting point for upselling broadband only subscribers to PayTV services. advertisers on mobile and social apps are now available on TV. By leveraging Cloud infrastructure and efficient digital ad markets, DAI can be deployed quickly with low upfront investment. And, as an added bonus, DAI does not limit you to your local ad inventory. Operators can generate ad revenue from any brand that wants a relationship with their subscribers. Opportunity: Higher ad rates. More ad buyers, even on niche content. Cloud. Get on-line fast. Innovative Services as a Content Wrapper With so much of the traditional TV content now available from multiple sources, operators must add unique value to the content in order to attract and retain subscribers. While content might still be king, user engagement is the glue that keeps them coming back. With the right tools, operators can now extend their DVR capabilities to allow subscribers to enjoy custom highlight reels of their recorded sports events. Focus on plays, or players. Or just compress a game into 2, 5, or 10 minutes based on the time available. Your subscribers could watch a whole weekend of games in an hour! Also, TV is best enjoyed with family and friends. Thanks to new group viewing services, subscribers don’t have to watch TV alone. They can enjoy their favorite shows and share the fun with friends and family. Opportunity: Add value to your content with services that enhance the viewing experience. Keys to Success in 2022 Expand your reach with a FAST service targeting all broadband subscribers. Use the freemium business model to upsell premium services that include innovative features for content discovery, consumption and sharing. Change is coming fast. FAST is how you change. ■ Independent Communications News


Mapping New Broadband Coverage Data Submission Requirements in 2022 By Mike Jacobs ACA Connects Vice President of Regulatory Affairs


ver the last few years, the FCC and Congress have taken steps towards improving the granularity and accuracy of the FCC’s broadband deployment data, and precision of the maps depicting the data. The crux of the new requirements, known as the Broadband Data Collection (BDC), is that fixed broadband providers will have to submit to the FCC either shapefiles of their service territory or lists of addresses or locations, and respond to challenges to their submitted data. The FCC has not yet established a start date for the new requirements, but it is highly likely that the first submissions will be due sometime in 2022.


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More granular data submission requirements inevitably mean more work for broadband providers; however, it is important to remember that there are also benefits to ACA Connects Members from the collection. As Acting FCC Chair Rosenworcel wrote recently, “[w]ith better data we can target our policymaking efforts and financial resources . . . to those unserved and underserved areas of the country where support is needed most. Better data will also help other federal agencies, state and local governments, and Tribal entities target their own efforts.” To illustrate, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted last month appropriates


$65 Billion toward broadband investment, with nearly two-thirds of that sum devoted to the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program to be administered by NTIA. Under the BEAD Program, NTIA will provide grants to States primarily to fund deployments to unserved and underserved locations. Notably, the law specifies that determinations of what constitute unserved and underserved locations depend on the maps that will be created under the FCC’s BDC. In other words, the data collected pursuant to the BDC will help to ensure that billions of dollars in BEAD Program funding are targeted toward deployment to unserved and underserved locations, not overbuilding alreadyserved locations. Although broadband providers’ staffs will need to devote substantial time, and perhaps financial resources, to adjust to the substance and processes of the BDC, after the initial data submission, subsequent, semi-annual reports should be less onerous to produce. To assist ACA Connects Members, ACA Connects will be issuing a Member advisory and conducting webinars, and, as always, ACA Connects staff will be responsive to individual questions.

Once the FCC provides notice that it is ready to accept BDC submissions, they will be due each March 1 and September 1, just as Form 477 data submissions are now. In fact, it is likely that after a transition period, the BDC will supplant altogether the Form 477’s broadband deployment reporting. As with most new obligations, complying with the BDC will be an adjustment. But as the BEAD Program example illustrates, the benefits of doing so are direct and readily apparent. As such, ACA Connects Members would be well served by focusing on these benefits and putting their best feet forward in their BDC submissions. And know that ACA Connects will be there to help you along the way. ■ Mike Jacobs is Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for ACA Connects. He represents small- and medium-sized broadband, video, and voice providers before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other federal agencies.

Independent Communications News


Industry News

Networks Are Swimming


By Von McConnell Curriculum Developer/Subject Matter Expert, NCTI

s service providers, we have many network probes and systems collecting data in every part of our networks, from the modems and devices, to transmission systems and data centers. We are adding even more probes and reports as we further enhance our networks. To complicate matters, as many of us have multiple types of networks (such as cable, wireless, DSL, fiber, and even managed Wi-Fi networks), similar data is coming simultaneously from multiple networks. This raises the question whether you are drowning in the rivers of data or using it to improve customer satisfaction and grow revenue. To keep our customers happy, we must begin to be vigilant in our efforts to capture, classify, analyze, and map problems to existing and predictive solutions. We can no longer wait for feedback and/or complaints from customers because everyone will have competition very soon from new government-funded competitors.

Von McConnell

Every service provider needs to define and evolve one or more data plan(s) to capture, analyze, and react to problems from the end-user perspective. In turn, once operations start executing their data plan, other groups such as product development, marketing, and sales will start developing their plans to determine how to use similar sets of data to define which customers have the highest likelihood of churn, or which end users may want or need new products. How may a company dive in to develop a network data plan so it can successfully swim in all available data: 1. Become literate in data analytics and be able to talk with, and about, the data and the possible ways to analyze them; 2. Find out where (and what types of) data can be collected; 3. Collect and catalog data variables and their definitions and understand all network dependencies per system and software version (e.g., develop a catalog and keep it updated); 4. Put all the data together in a usable way in an expandable database. It can be homegrown or you can use a vendor’s application; 5. Find a way to be aware of trends and track the various problems and actions historically; 6. Find ways and systems to start forecasting problems and dependencies; 7. Overlay the forecasted data and trends on top of the historical trends; 8. Document all root-cause analyses and make them part of the information reviewed in data analysis and preemptive actions; 9. Develop ways to make preemptive changes and continually use automatic tools or scripts. In short, Network management has the largest repository of data for service providers, and companies need to start using it to reduce customer complaints and boost revenue streams. ■ 24

December 2021 - Issue 3

Industry News

Transforming the Customer Experience


By Craig Corbin VP of Sales, NuTEQ Solutions

ustomers are the lifeblood of any industry. And while the concept of nurturing customer relationships to enhance satisfaction and loyalty should be a logical approach, countless customer experience horror stories show that such logic is elusive. Far too many organizations seem content to interact with their customers in ways known to cause “friction” - an approach almost certain to result in needless churn. Ever heard the old southern colloquial expression “losing my religion?” Long before the R.E.M. single of the same name, it meant being so exasperated that you were pushed right to Craig Corbin the brink. How many of us have attempted to engage service providers resulting in frustration to the point of “losing your religion?” Far too many. Transforming the customer experience begins with the simple decision to change how your organization perceives the customer experience, and more importantly, how you value your customer relationships. Wait... what!? WE have to change? Yes, yes we do. Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Defining any customer experience begins with “communication”; how providers communicate with customers (and more importantly) how easily customers can communicate with their service provider. What a concept! If only there were tools available to streamline that interaction. Thankfully, there are. NuTEQ defined the customer experience from the customer’s perspective. How does the customer want to resolve an issue? Over which channel – SMS, social media, chat, email or phone - does the customer want to interact? If the customer uses a different channel on each contact, will there be a continuous customer record? How can the customer have confidence that they won’t be transferred from agent to agent, forced to repeat a synopsis of their issue ad nauseam? Customers now have a choice in selecting which communication channel suits them best, and can quickly complete a range of tasks, from reporting a service interruption to making a payment. Of course, all service providers have email, webchat, social media, phone, and maybe SMS channels. BUT, do all of those channels work together interchangeably – as a unified communication tool? Imagine providing your customer service agents with a comprehensive account “journey” at a glance, seamlessly integrating an array of disparate systems and defaulting customer inquiries to the agent who handled prior inquiries for that account. That’s a combination that will strengthen team collaboration with greater first contact resolution, fewer transfers and faster resolution of customer inquiries, and most importantly it will lead to a better customer experience. The industry is changing. New investment is measured in "billions of dollars" attracting new entrants and more competition. In an age where dependence on communication services has never been greater, a commitment to enhancing the relationship with customers should be just as great. Differentiate your operations on the customer experience, not on price. Let’s get busy! It’s time to truly transform the customer experience. ■ Independent Communications News


New Programs On the Way to Help Close the Broadband Adoption Gap By Brian Hurley ACA Connects Vice President of Regulatory Affairs


here’s a lot for ACA Connects members to unpack in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. In addition to the $42 billion allocated for broadband deployment grants, there are important new programs—and billions more in funding— aimed at improving broadband adoption, affordability, and digital equity. Congress was wise to dedicate substantial resources to addressing these concerns. Indeed, as ACA Connects pointed out in our joint report with Cartesian, the adoption gap is the most significant driver of the digital divide: There are more households that choose not to subscribe to available broadband


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options than households that lack any options in the first place. Many of these households face financial barriers to adoption: 36 percent of non-subscribers have an annual income below $20,000. But even where broadband is made available for free, other barriers remain, ranging from lack of connected devices to low digital literacy. The infrastructure bill takes major steps forward in addressing these challenges. Most significantly, it places the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on sound financial footing to provide broadband subsidies to low-income households for many years to come. The bill appropriates $14.2 billion in


additional funds for the program and extends it beyond COVID-19. Going forward, EBBP will become the Affordable Connectivity Program— or “ACP” for short. The transition from EBBP to ACP will involve more than a name change. There will also be changes to how the program operates, some of which involve new obligations for participating providers. For instance, providers will be required to permit ACP-eligible households to apply the benefit to any of their service offerings, on the same terms available to non-ACP households. Also, the maximum monthly benefit available to most eligible households will shrink, from $50 to $30. The FCC is in the process of implementing these new requirements, among others specified in the bill. The agency is also considering further changes to improve the program’s efficiency and value for consumers. New rules implementing ACP are expected early next year. ACA Connects is engaging closely with the FCC as it completes this transition. We will keep members informed of major developments, just as we did during the launch of EBBP. Stay tuned for more! In addition to ACP, the infrastructure bill establishes the Digital Equity Act, a $2.75 billion program aimed at improving digital literacy and inclusion. Under this program, NTIA will

allocate funds to States or their designees to develop and administer State Digital Equity Plans in collaboration with community anchor institutions, educational agencies and other stakeholders. Grants will also be provided on a competitive basis directly to local governments, Tribes, community anchor institutions, and other eligible entities for projects that promote digital equity and inclusion and spur broadband adoption among disadvantaged populations. ACA Connects is looking forward to the implementation of these important new programs, which will create unprecedented opportunities to close the Nation’s broadband adoption and digital inclusion gaps. Our members have a critical role to play in meeting these challenges, and we look forward to supporting their efforts. ■

Brian Hurley is Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for ACA Connects. He leads ACA Connects’ advocacy at the Federal Communications Commission in a wide variety of regulatory proceedings—on broadband deployment and adoption, public safety, robocalls, and more.

Independent Communications News


Industry News

Make EBB Reporting a Snap


By Josh Barstow Chief Revenue Officer, OpenVault

ore than six months and six million households after launch, the national Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) initiative is off to a good start. Leveraging temporary subsidies initiated by Congress and the existing resources of the broadband industry, the program has made it more affordable than ever for households of limited means to participate in today’s connected environment. As the program expands going into the new year, a big challenge for many of the nearly 1,200 broadband providers taking part will continue to be the need to provide the information needed to audit the program. OpenVault has stepped up to simplify this task by using its SaaS technology solutions to provide operators with a single, turnkey source for all of the required data.

Josh Barstow

Using an analytics and reporting solutions set that has been beefed up by OpenVault’s newly expanded R&D capabilities, broadband providers not only can gain unprecedented visibility into network traffic and usage at a granular level -- they also can quickly isolate such EBB reporting needs as MAC addresses and billing accounts, as well as upstream, downstream and total usage by month. In addition, OpenVault customers can access a data repository providing multiple years of history. Here’s why this is important: The broadband industry already has built a powerful communications infrastructure that has revolutionized the way we live, work and play, and tools such as those from OpenVault already exist that help providers ensure better experiences for every subscriber. To make EBB reporting as seamless as possible, operators can use those same tools to collect the EBB-specific data that they need to bring connectivity to an entirely new subscriber base. As you’ll recall, the Emergency Broadband Benefit program was instituted by Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic to help families and households struggling to afford Internet service. The initiative allows eligible households to receive monthly discounts of $50 – or up to $75 on Tribal lands – on broadband service. Some providers also are offering households a one-time $100 discount on a computer, laptop or connected device. For the 6 million households that already are participating in the EBB program, the reward has been fuller participation in the broadband economy – such as remote work and education, telehealth, videoconferencing with friends and family, and access to online entertainment and shopping. As OpenVault combines existing solutions with new intellectual property, a key goal will be to help the broadband industry connect the remaining 29 million households that are estimated to be eligible for EBB – but that have not enrolled. Broadband is the connective tissue across every element of society, but it cannot achieve ultimate success unless every element of society has the ability to participate. EBB recognizes that the optimal way to achieve that goal is by providing underserved households with the resources they need to take advantage of our industry’s awesome deployment accomplishments. As we head into the new year, we look forward to leveraging the power of OpenVault solutions to help our customers complete that task. ■ 28

December 2021 - Issue 3

Industry News

Stop Being Exhausted:

Relieve Fiber Exhaust in the Harshest Environments


By Melissa Seibring Director, Marketing of Power & Tel

s consumers demand higher speeds and better reliability, innovative solutions are needed to provide dependable service for the customer and fast, cost-effective deployment for the service provider. This is true more so for the MTU (Multiple-Tenant Unit) than in any other network area. Space limitations and varying building layouts offer some unique challenges. Brownfield installations can require technicians to become creative with fiber routing. Network designs in greenfield buildings must focus on future-proofing the network as well as lowering the cost of maintenance. Once the MTU is built, the ability to provide simple, fast, nondisruptive upgrades and maintenance is imperative. For each of these, no one fiber network design will fit all. The model of a reenterable pathway is the best option from both a deployment and maintenance perspective. With that, common themes and similar product concepts/solutions can be utilized.

FieldShield microduct provides a rugged pathway that allows the pre-connectorized fiber to be pushed or pulled in easily. Eliminate the need to splice with pre-connectorized drops, consequently saving time and Melissa Seibring money. This also means no added costs to equip each technician with fusion splicers. Additionally, due to its high column strength, FieldShield Microducts can be deployed as a rod directly within a larger occupied duct that was previously thought exhausted. WaveSmart components can aid in those areas where fiber is scarce. Whether you need to split the fiber to service multiple units or utilize Wavelength-Division M u l t i p l e x i n g ’s (WDM) these optical components provide superior performance in the harshest environments and perform as desired. No two networks are exactly alike so no matter what your business customers need, you can meet and solve those challenges with this rugged, easy-to-use and cost reducing solution. Let Power & Tel deliver the

Combining Clearfield FieldShield pathways with FieldShield fiber assemblies and WaveSmart optical No matter what your business customers needs, you can meet and solve components gives those challenges with this rugged, easy to use and cost reducing solution. you a comprehensive portfolio of fieldsolutions you need. tested solutions designed to reduce the costs associated with fiber deployment and management. Learn more about our full range of products and This will make sure service availability is never services: visit or email info@ptsupply. compromised. com ■ Independent Communications News


Congress Attempts to Close Out Difficult Year, More Challenges Ahead By Curtis Philp Vice President, Alpine Group


ongress seeks to put an end to a year fraught with trials and tribulations as it looks to the new year and the mid-term elections. With all of the highs and lows of this year, it is hard to believe that the Biden Administration and current Congress have been in place only since January 2021. We’ve seen a whirlwind of battles both politically between the two parties and politically within each party over passage of legislation important to the President. And yet, we also saw passage of a bipartisan, traditional infrastructure bill that will provide $1 trillion for investments in roads, bridges, water infrastructure, and $65 billion



December 2021 - Issue 3

for broadband buildout and affordability programs. How did this happen? In the Senate, a few key lawmakers from both sides of the aisle took over control of the process from party leadership, gained buy-in from the President, and worked together to craft a package they could stomach. With a bipartisan core of Senators and support from the President, they were able to get more than the 60 votes they needed from their colleagues to make it a reality. In the House, passage of the infrastructure package proved equally complicated, but for different reasons. Democrats were unified in

their support for the infrastructure bill, but many progressive Democrats demanded that the House pass a massive multi-trilliondollar reconciliation package focused on “Human Infrastructure” in tandem with voting for the bipartisan infrastructure package. With Democrats having a narrow majority in the House, and few House Republicans willing to vote for either bill,

operational. This may come in the form of passage of a couple of extensions that kicks the can down the road to the first quarter of 2022. And Congress will need to approve the annual defense policy bill before heading home for Christmas. Legislation addressing these two matters seem likely to be the only bills of significance to pass before the holidays.


to appease the progressives, House leaders needed reluctant moderate Democrats to vote for the reconciliation package, and reluctant progressive Democrats to downsize their expectations for the size and scope of the bill. After many starts and stops, an agreement was reached between the different fractions of the Democratic party a couple of weeks ago, and the House was able to move both bills, allowing President Biden to sign the infrastructure package on Nov. 15. As a tired and beleaguered Congress heads into December, there is still much to do. To pass a reconciliation bill out of the Senate, Democrats will need support from all 50 Democratic Senators, including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV ) and Krysten Sinema (DAZ) who will want the bill to better reflect their state’s more moderate views than the House-passed version. Expect congressional leaders to pressure the Senate to finalize any changes by the end of the year, which still might take longer. In addition, Congress will have to extend federal funds to keep the government

But do not expect more bipartisan kumbaya moments. The intraparty primary elections will start in early 2022, forcing politics ahead of policy for both parties. Democrats will argue that they have made significant strides on behalf of Americans to support them during a pandemic and deliver trillions of resources to improve their lives. Republicans, who are getting more confident in their ability to regain control of at least the House, have shifted focus to more local and personal issues of inflation and parental rights over local school districts in a time when families have been stretched economically and emotionally. 2022 is setting up to be another tumultuous year. ■ Curtis Philp was deputy chief of staff to former Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) and a staff member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Independent Communications News


Industry News

Pivoting into the New Normal with New Ways to Learn By Robin Fenton Vice President of Membership and Learning Operations, SCTE


ow more than ever, the telecommunications and cable industries value an understanding of how to increase the capacity of your company’s network and deliver next-generation services. As we approach a new normal, we can meet the needs of the learner in new ways. Maybe if the learner needs a flexible schedule and wants to learn in his or her own time, then an online flexible class model would be a good fit. Maybe the learner wants a more hands-on approach; as we open back up, a classroom bootcamp might be the right approach. The learner has only five minutes; we have more than 50 microlessons for that learner. A learner who wants to study and learn more can earn a course certificate. A learner who wants to show proficiency can earn a certification. SCTE®, a subsidiary of CableLabs®, offers all of these options.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) that offer a multi-layered approach to e-learning are focusing on content and better data reporting to support innovative training methods toward building the workforce of tomorrow. And technology is facilitating knowledge retention in ways that were envisioned only five to ten years ago. Here at SCTE, we are focused on delivering engaging education -- whether online or in person -- that empowers our members to apply solutions and services across a vast array of software and hardware. Unleashing the Power of Limitless Learning

SCTE just completed another successful Cable-Tec Expo®, where we shared new L&D approaches. The Learning & Development theme was “Unleash the Power of Limitless Learning” and our conversations on the topic provided a strong foundation for how best to ensure success with L&D efforts as we pivot into the new normal. We recognize our mandate to help our members stay competitive and were excited to hear from our


December 2021 - Issue 3

signature speaker at this year’s Expo, Dr. Jim Kirkpatrick, a visionary and an expert in training evaluation and the creator of the New World Kirkpatrick Model. His insights supported the message that the greatest proficiencies in skill levels could be achieved when learners are engaged in innovative ways.

Robin Fenton

We also shared many conversations about how to extend the learning that organizations provide for their teams, including how organizations must adjust their approach to talent and the importance of cultivating a learning culture for the future of work. Finding a New Way to Learn Strategizing a better way to learn -- which considers the needs and capacity of the learner -- now include microlessons. These microlessons provide a cascade of more concise lessons in consideration of the shortened attention span humans have exhibited in the past decades. Today’s skilled technicians need to quickly identify and implement relevant solutions via tools and technology that are constantly evolving. Everyone in the telecommunications industry is challenged to constantly learn and apply the latest technology in order to best serve customers and stay competitive. We see our role as providing the insight, skills, and experience our members need to do that. And we’re happy to share what we have learned. ■

Industry News

1.2GHz High Split Ready NOW DBx the modular smart access platform from Technetix


By Paul Broadhurst CEO – Technetix

he constant drive for speed drives the operator to the next step, DOCSIS 3.1 high split. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is very aware of the increased pressure put on the upstream capacity of hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks since March, 2020. The move to 1.2 GHz high split will boost the downstream but quadruple the upstream capacity. Technetix has an outstanding solution NOW, which can address the needs of the market today and tomorrow. The DBx modular open amplifier platform for the access Paul Broadhurst network is designed to reduce the TCO and support DOCSIS 3.1. The DBx field upgradeable platform can be an RF amplifier, an optical node or a Remote PHY node with options coming in the future for MACPHY. The software in the unit will automatically readjust the settings and hinge points after changing the DPF and software updates. More than 1 million of the proven DBx 1.2GHz high split smart platforms are installed in networks across the globe. This state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, money-saving platform meets the current DOCSIS 3.1 standards but can already accommodate the next generation of technologies as detailed in the DOCSIS 4.0 standard. It is possible for the upstream to be increased from 42/54 to 85/102 to 204/258 to 300/380 to 396/500 MHz. DBx smart RF strand mount amplifiers • DOCSIS 3.1 ready • Modular platform – easy to upgrade your network • Operate to 1218 MHz with a forward gain of up to 44 dB • Digital control and alignment – reduce installation time by half • Lower power consumption • Smart configurable • REDUCES TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP – lowest in industry Digital broadband compact (DBC-1200S) - single active output

Digital broadband edge (DBE-1200S) - triple active output

About Technetix: Technetix works in partnership with broadband cable network operators. Technetix through its 31 years of experience in cable networks provides breakthrough solutions for your cable network. Our access network solutions enhance signal quality, reducing operator callouts and minimizing maintenance costs. Our connected home solutions enable high quality signals to be received at multiple points within a home, reducing or eliminating operator installation and maintenance costs. For further information email: ■ Independent Communications News


ACAC Communications

DAILY MEDIA SWEEP There isn’t a publication -- print or digital -- that covers the unique concerns of ACA Connects Members on a daily or even weekly basis. But ACA Connects fills that void with distribution of its Daily Media Sweep, edited by ACAC VP of Communications Ted Hearn. Filled with a smart collection of articles, charts, Tweets and news from ACA Connects, the Daily Media Sweep is designed to inform the people who operate America’s independent video and broadband networks. Although the Daily Media Sweep is a quick read on any device for the time-constrained reader, it also offers the ability to dig beneath the surface by calling up full stories and linked documents, such as FCC filings, legal briefs and court decisions.

ACTION BRIEF Here’s an ACA Connects publication you don’t want to miss! It’s the ACAction Brief, which is produced for, and distributed to, ACA Connects Members and Associate Members every two weeks all year long. The ACAction Brief is a digital product sent via email and packed with lots of great information. Among other things, the ACAction Brief includes Member Advisories on such matters as Copyright Statements of Account, the C-Band transition, robocall regulation and cybersecurity issues. It also includes notifications on ACACsponsored Webinars and ways to access archived webinars on the ACAC website. The ACAction Brief also provides the ACAC legal community with frequent regulatory updates provided by the Cinnamon Mueller law firm.

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Industry News A+E Networks Heads into 2022 with an Exciting Line Up of New and Returning Series & Specials By John D'Antonio Senior Director, Distribution, A+E Networks

A+E Networks heads into 2022 with a continuous pipeline of engaging content. Rooted in entertaining, diverse storytelling and true to our brands - A&E, Lifetime and The HISTORY Channel - A+E Networks features the most sought-after content in media. The HISTORY Channel tells the most compelling and unexpected stories through epic, world class documentaries, industry-leading non-fiction series and multiplatform experiences and was recently recognized as the Factual Entertainment TV Brand of the Year.* Partnering with world-renowned historians and the biggest names in Hollywood, The HISTORY Channel seamlessly blends entertainment and credibility to bring history John D'A ntonio to life. Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman profiles history’s greatest escape masterminds and their plans, from inspiration to execution through the harrowing manhunts that followed. Lincoln, executive produced by Pulitzer Prizewinning author Doris Kearns Goodwin, is an upcoming documentary event that tells the story of Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States and Commander-inChief of the Union armed forces during America’s bloodiest conflict. Lifetime is a brand that champions diversity - inspired by, created by, and powered by women. With weekly premieres and the most new movies every weekend, Lifetime’s renowned original movies are part of the cultural conversation, while award-winning unscripted programming, like Married at First Sight, serves its passionate fan base. Lifetime’s annual It’s A Wonderful Lifetime programming event kicks off the holidays with 35 new movies, headlined by Reba Hosted by Morgan McEntire’s Christmas in Tune, co- starring John Schneider (Dukes Freeman, The History of Hazzard), the first of Reba’s new two-movie deal with the Channel explores the details of real-life prison network. breaks from Alcatraz to Dannemora. Janet, a two-hour documentary event, bows in January 2022 and marks the 40th anniversary of Janet Jackson’s first album. This Lifetime and A&E collaboration was filmed over three years and features archival footage including Jackson’s home videos, along with interviews offering an intimate look at the story of a true music icon. A&E embraces provocative themes, takes bold swings, and delivers leading-edge It’s a Wonderful Lifetime content, with a unique mix of emotion, adrenaline, and entertainment, while striving to Holiday celebration is back with 35 premiere give purpose to every story told. movies including Reba A&E’s celebrated Biography franchise explores the lives and accomplishments of notable McEntire’s Christmas in Tune. figures and their impact on culture. A&E is the pioneer of true crime programming with genre-defining series franchises including The First 48 and Cold Case Files. The brand further taps its roots in crime and investigation with new seasons of iconic series like City Confidential, American Justice and Accused: Guilty or Innocent? that further establish A&E as the true crime destination. With storytelling at its core, A&E is also set to launch Secrets of Playboy, which explores the hidden realities behind the fable and philosophy of the Playboy empire, and Secret Origins of Hip-Hop, which delves into the inspiring origin story of some of hip hop’s most iconic stars, including Busta Rhymes, Ice T, and more. To learn and see more about A+E Networks’ world class brands and content in the coming year, visit *Based on the 2021 Harris Poll EquiTrend* Equity Score ■ Independent Communications News


Industry News

TV Delivery in 2022 The Sky Isn't Falling


By Doug Hull Broadpeak, peakVU.TV

ow is a very exciting time in our industry, there is a flurry of new OTT services being launched, and a lot more content being made available to new audiences. Covid-19 accelerated the adoption of streaming video in many households. While Netflix grew faster during the lockdowns and ended up about six months ahead of its growth plan, Covid-19 has also renewed the consumers interest in the quality of their broadband connection: Broadband became a lifeline for work, school, entertainment, and many subscribers upgraded their packages to get needed higher speeds. This means that larger pipes are now available to deliver new video services. Telcos and Cablecos are now launching pure streaming services, without the complexity of on-prem back office or expensive STBs but they are instead hosting in the cloud and streaming to connected consumer devices vastly reducing operating costs.

Doug Hull

For Telcos and Cablecos, video remains a solid tool to increase customer loyalty with live local channels, particularly live news and sports, and premium video packages. With video in the mix, broadband customers are simply less likely to leave for the competition. If we look at the more modern TV offerings from Operators, the current models tackle risk reduction by avoiding costly solutions and ever-growing content rights acquisition and transport headaches. Offloading much of the legacy operator video infrastructure to a shared national headend for processing and serving up more than 350+ channels -- (east and west feeds with services like VOD, pause TV, TSTV and NPVR) in IP ABR, including the rights to transport to the operators’ network for distribution -- is a dream come true. Your solution should be flexible, scalable, and cost effective. Choice is key, and you should have options that account for risk, control, and the user experience. Does your solution allow for an all on-prem deployment keeping you in complete control of video delivery? Does your solution allow for an all-hosted approach freeing you from the management of a video service? Does your solution allow for a hybrid approach where national channels are delivered from a hosted platform and your local channels stay local? Does your solution allow for choice in the UX/UI you prefer? Does your solution allow for a true partnership via shared success? Our industry has a rich history of adaptation, innovation, and prosperity. Video isn’t dead. Video isn’t on life support. A full IP video service without the need of heavy upfront investment is just the beginning of the next chapter and it is well within reach. peakVU.TV is an accelerator for Operators to pivot to IP video delivery. It provides a reliable and modern service to viewers on all the devices they now are accustomed to for consuming video. peakVU.TV checks all the boxes to the difficult questions and offers Operators a pay-as-you-grow approach to keeping video in the product portfolio. Nothing but blue skies ahead! p: 913.626.8486 ■


December 2021 - Issue 3

Industry News An Independent Leads the Way: INSP Provides a Trusted Viewing Experience


By John Roos EVP of Corporate Communications and Research, INSP

re linear networks dying? Some believe no one is watching. But INSP continues to defy the headlines, with consistently increasing audiences, with a lineup packed with Western and Western-adjacent series and films. Week after week, INSP has ranked in the top 10 in category after category: 24/7, commercial content, total entertainment day, fringe, primetime, weekend, late night, impressions, and ratings. Other networks may experience declines but INSP’s audience keeps growing. Perhaps most amazing is that INSP has done this as an independent network. John Roos “People simply love our programs!” said Mark Kang, INSP’s SVP of Worldwide Distribution. “Our content seems perfect for our times, with genuine heroes committed to do what is right. A refuge for people eager for stories packed with entertainment and adventure, but also safe for family members of all ages.” In fact, in 2021 INSP generated the highest average ratings in network history. “This has been the seventh straight year we’ve experienced year-over-year growth,” Kang commented. “We are the only Nielsen-rated network to have achieved this record.” INSP’s ratings are consistent, month after month. “The INSP audience is hungry for our programs. They don’t just find us. They become committed," Kang added. Because of loyalty, INSP consistently ranks among the leaders in “length of tuning” (time viewers watch without changing channels or turning the set off). “As one example, we ranked 7th out of all Nielsen-rated networks for the week of Sept. 6. We see that pattern week after week.” INSP also ranks near the top in total time viewers watch. “In July INSP ranked 3rd among all English-language basic cable networks. And 23rd among all 255 networks measured by Comscore.” Much of INSP’s success is a result of a library of classic Westerns and Western-adjacent movies and series. But Kang points out that the network recognizes the need for originals. Building on the success of its acquired Westerns, INSP has been developing series with compatible themes. “We recently finished the first season of Wild West Chronicles, a series telling the true stories about the Old West,” Kang said. “The results were so encouraging that we green lit two more seasons with spin-offs in the works.” Other originals included Ultimate Cowboy Showdown, a competition series hosted by Trace Adkins, which returns for a third season in 2022. “Particularly successful have been the feature-length films produced by our motion picture production subsidiary, INSP Films (and other associated partners). These have included holiday films (e.g., Christmas in the Smokies); dramas (e.g., County Line); and Westerns (e.g., The Warrant).” “The response to these films has been fantastic,” Kang reports. “These stories are packed with great entertainment. The kind of content and environment wanted by millions.” Exciting things are ahead for INSP in 2022, according to Kang. More original and exclusive series and films. More timeless Westerns. More of the qualities that have made INSP the perfect network for our times. Bucking the trends. Defying the odds. An ideal combination for audiences and MVPDs. ■ Independent Communications News






Matt Polka and Mike Pandzik

Patty Boyers and Matt Polka

Stacey Slaughter and Patty Boyers

John Higginbotham and Jim Holanda

Matt Polka, Tom Umstead, and Wonya Lucas

December 2021 - Issue 3

John Higginbotham and Chris Lammers

Patty Boyers, John and Jan Higginbotham, and Matt Polka

Patty Boyers, Amy Maclean, and Elaine Partridge

Independent Communications News






Matt Polka and Lou Borrelli

Matt Polka, Patty Boyers, Brad Mefferd, and Lou Borrelli

DMI Studio Staff 40

December 2021 - Issue 3

John Higginbotham and Matt Polka

Caprice Caster, John Higginbotham, Matt Polka, Lou Borrelli

Patty Boyers and Brad Mefferd

Lisa Miller, Tomeika Slappy, Stacey Leech, and Brian Dowell

Caprice Caster, Stacey Leech, Tomeika Slappy, Nathan Penrod, Lisa Miller, and Brian Dowell Independent Communications News



ACA Connects has always been known for its thought-leading and successful advocacy in Washington, D.C., for its Members. But more and more each year we have become known for the incredible level of indepth communications, resources, webinars, advisories and up-to-date information that we provide to our Members every day. The information we provide to our Members is the information you need to know, and you can find it all in our ACA Connects Member Lounge. The Member Lounge is the special Members-Only section of our ACA Connects website where we set aside our special updates as part of your ACA Membership. And it’s all free to our Members! To access the Member Lounge, go to our website at ACAConnects. org, and up in the top right-

hand corner look for the Member Lounge tab. There you will find a ton of information, such as our webinar replays, grassroots toolkit, retransmission consent toolkit, C-Band transition resources, robocall resources, details on the emergency broadband benefit program, Member advisories, regulatory updates, and all our regular communications to our Members in our Daily Media Sweep, Action Brief, and other publications. There is no source of information anywhere that matches these Member resources, and they are all FREE to you our ACA Connects Members! Check it out and let us know at if you have questions!

Robocall Resources

Grassroots Toolkit

C-Band Transition



City, State

January 5-8, 2022

CES 2022

Las Vegas, NV & Digital

January 12, 2022

ICBA Annual Meeting


January 19-20, 2022

WSTA Broadband Forum (Wisconsin State Telecom)

Stevens Point, WI

February 13-16, 2022

NTCA Rural Telecom Industry Mtg & Expo (RTIME)

Dallas, TX

February 23-25, 2022

Louisiana Telecom Association Annual Convention

New Orleans, LA

March 14-16, 2022

Minnesota Telecom Alliance Annual Convention & Trade Show

Minneapolis, MN

March 20-22, 2022

NTCA Telecom Executive Forum

Tucson, AZ

March 28-30, 2022

Iowa Communications Alliance Annual Meeting & Expo

Des Moines, IA

March 28-30, 2022

South Carolina Telecom & Broadband Assn Annual Convention

Charleston, SC

April 3-6, 2022

WTA 2022 Spring Educational Forum

Miramar Beach, FL

April 11-13, 2022

CCA Mobile Carriers Show

Tampa, FL

April 23-27, 2022

NAB Show

Las Vegas, NV

April 24-26, 2022

NTCA Legislative + Policy Conference

Washington, DC

May 23-25, 2022

Mountain Connect

Keystone, CO

May 23-26, 2022

WSTA Annual Convention (Wisconsin State Telecom)

Lake Geneva, WI

June 5-7, 2022

Illinois Broadband & Telecom Assn Annual Convention

St. Louis, MO

June 12-15, 2022

Fiber Connect

Nashville, TN

July 17-20, 2022

NTCA Summer Symposium

Myrtle Beach, SC

July 24-27, 2022

The Independent Show

Orlando, FL

July 30-Aug. 3, 2022

NTCA Summer Symposium

Branson, MO

August 9-11, 2022

Vexus Fiber Rodeo Roundup (invite only)

Sikeston, MO

August 14-16, 2022

SDTA Annual Conference

Sioux Falls, SD

September 6-8, 2022

ComPulse Telecom Assoc of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI

September 11-14, 2022

WTA 2022 Fall Educational Forum

Anchorage, AK

September 19-22, 2022

SCTE Cable-Tec Expo

Philadelphia, PA

September 25-28, 2022

NTCA Fall Conference

San Francisco, CA

September 27-29, 2022

CCA Annual Convention

Portland, OR

October 3-5, 2022

WSTA Fall Conference & Exhibits (Wisconsin State Telecom)


October 9-13, 2022

Cable's Diversity Week

New York, NY

October 10-12, 2022

Mid-America Telecom Showcase & Seminar

Kansas City, MO

October 11-13, 2022

KY Telecom & TN Broadband Fall Conference

Bowling Green, KY

October 16-18, 2022

NTCA Cybersecurity Summit

Kansas City, MO

November 3-4, 2022

South Carolina Telecom & Broadband Assn Fall Conference

Columbia, SC

November 6-9, 2022

National Exchange Carriers Assoc Expo (NECA)

Nashville, TN

Events subject to change. Please refer to the corresponding website for the most updated information.

Independent Communications News


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