Independent Communications News - 2022 Issue 6

Page 10

Independent Communications Serving ACA Connects Members September 2022 - Issue 6 CONGRESSIONAL CRUNCH TIME WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ACA CONNECTS FEATURE WITH MEMBER GCI ALASKA INSIGHT FROM ACA CONNECTS PRESIDENT AND CEO GRANT SPELLMEYER COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES BROADBAND DATA COLLECTION THE FALL AGENDA Features: Cinnamon Mueller • CoBank • Discovery • Evolution Digital • Mobia • NCTI • Power & Tel • Technetix Independent Communications News is an ACA Connects Publication.
4 / THE FALL AGENDA MESSAGE FROM GRANT 6 / FALLING INTO PLACE WITH A NEW ICN EDITOR'S NOTE 20 / WHIRLWIND SEPTEMBER TRAVEL MESSAGE FROM JOHN 32 / VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT 10 / ACA CONNECTS FEATURE WITH MEMBER GCI ALASKA 8/ ACAC CHAIRMAN PATRICIA JO BOYERS' CABLE HALL OF FAME INDUCTION ACCEPTANCE SPEECH ACAC CHAIRMAN September 2022 - Issue 62
24 / A FEW THINGS WE DO KNOW... FEDERAL FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES 28 / THE FIRST BDC FILING IS IN - PHEW! - NOW WHAT? ACA CONNECTS IS HERE FOR YOU BROADBAND DATA COLLECTION 36/ CONGRESSIONAL CRUNCH TIME BEFORE THE MID-TERM ELECTIONS ALPINE GROUP 38 / STAND FIRM FAREWELL MESSAGE FROM MATT 30 Years of Retrans - Where Do We Go from Here? 19 / Cinnamon Mueller All Eyes on Black Women: How OWN is a Game Changer in the Diverse Content Space 22 / Discovery Best-of-Breed is Key in Broadband & Wireless Communications 26 / Mobia Consistent and Reliable Video Experience is Paramount to Success 23 / Evolution Digital A Sign of Distinction: How employee development can kick in the front door 27 / NCTI Creating Brand Equity through a Uniquely Positive Customer Experience 30 / Power & Tel The Technetix rOLT - Great Things Come in Small Packages 31 / Technetix How Co-ops Can Lead the Way for DIY On-Farm Broadband 40 / CoBank 41 / TIS22 PHOTO GALLERY

THE FALL AGENDA

So,

I’m the new guy – only the second President and CEO in ACA Connects’ three-decade history. I started my new job in June. Everything has exceeded my expectations. The Independent Show came at the perfect time in that it allowed me over a few days to soak in a vast amount of knowledge from the wonderful people and companies that compose the ACA Connects family.

As my first note to you in Independent Communications News, I wanted to take a moment to highlight a few items that I expect to focus on in the near term. So here we go:

ACA CONNECTS MEMBERS: We will continue to highlight the great things you are doing to strengthen your communities by providing the most advanced communications networks in the world. Washington, D.C. policymakers need to hear your stories and your commitment to closing the digital divide, enabling work and learning from home, and supporting our great anchor institutions, including schools, libraries and health facilities.

The day-to-day work of ACAC Members is nothing short of stunning. Using private risk capital, rural broadband providers such as Shentel, Metronet and Vexus Fiber are carpeting local communities with fiber technology and offering world-class service at affordable rates. Government money is also assisting ACAC Members’ broadband deployment initiatives. Shentel, for example, recently received a $10 million grant to extend its 7,600-mile regional fiber network, Glo Fiber, to about 3,000 unserved homes and businesses in Frederick County, Md. Shentel is contributing $8 million in private capital.

Elsewhere in this issue of Independent Communications News, you will read about the most amazing broadband deployment project I’ve ever come across. I’m referring to GCI’s rollout of its 800-mile subsea fiber project to serve remote communities in the Aleutian Islands, stretching from Kodiak Island to Unalaska’s Dutch Harbor, for decades the busiest fishing port in the country as viewers of the Discovery Channel series "Deadliest Catch" will know. GCI plans to initiate 2 Gig service in six Aleutian markets later this fall. The $58 million project was supported by a $25 million grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

September 2022 - Issue 64

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS: ACA Connects has a recipe for success that needs no new ingredients. For decades, ACA Connects has taken a non-partisan approach to the issues most important to its members. Our philosophy has been to stress the need for a fair hearing, an impartial referee and then accept the results of an honest process. That’s how we think things should run in America. On some issues, Democrats might be more helpful than Republicans, and on other issues the opposite may be true. And then on occasion, we’ll find that both parties are in our camp. Doesn’t get better than that, I’ll admit. Our goal is to be always receptive to new ideas and constructive in the search for the best public policy outcomes. Under my leadership, I will continue to favor this approach as one ultimately in the best interest of ACAC Members.

NET NEUTRALITY: At some point, the Federal Communications Commission will likely have three Democrats seated, and that will very likely mean three votes in favor of Title II (common carrier) regulation of broadband ISPs. Obviously, we view this as singularly bad policy certain to drive away private capital and undermine the public perception that broadband service only gets faster and cheaper. We fought Title II the first time in 2015 and lost. In 2017, we supported thenFCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s decision to restore the status quo of an essentially lightly regulated ISP market, which is where we have been for the past five years. Some think Net Neutrality and common carrier rules under Title II are basically the same thing. They are not. Title II gives the FCC nearplenary authority to order unbundling of networks and the setting of retail service rates. On the other hand, Net Neutrality has traditionally meant three things: No blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization. Although ACA Connects supports Net Neutrality, we oppose the FCC’s direction of key business decisions from every ISP in the country. We do support legislation codifying Net Neutrality. We think this makes the most sense and would, in our view, end the 20-year struggle to determine the rules of the road related to the onramps of the information superhighway. As a footnote, I would add that a new Supreme Court decision could make it more difficult for the FCC to adopt Title II if courts rule that the agency lacked explicit authorization from Congress to intervene with heavy-handed regulation of ISPs. We’ll have to see how that plays out.

BROADBAND EQUITY, ACCESS, AND DEPLOYMENT (BEAD) PROGRAM:

Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is to allocate $42.45 billion among the 50 states, territories, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, for projects that support broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption. This firehose of money under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program will not start until after the FCC releases location-based maps of broadband availability and that identify areas considered unserved and high-cost. The FCC just said the first maps will come out in November. ACAC will, I assure you, devote considerable time and resources to tracking decisions by NTIA and the states in the coming years to protect the taxpayers from the funding of overbuilding. What is critical is that the billions invested in new broadband networks are utilized fairly and efficiently. The worst possible outcome would be reliance on faulty maps to the extent that the challenge process is a complete failure and rampant overbuilding becomes the norm, not the exception. We’ve been promised this will not happen. I hope so. But ACA Connects will keep a very careful eye on it.

A FINAL WORD: Of course, our agenda includes much more than what I have just outlined, and we are always prepared to pivot with changes in the political climate. Eternal vigilance is our duty. Fatigue is never on the agenda. ■

Editor's Note

Falling Into Place with a New ICN

In the fall 2022 issue of Independent Communications News (ICN), the quality of the content has never been higher, starting with our fantastic cover designed by ACA Connects’ multi-talented Digital Media Specialist Nathan Penrod.

Here are some more highlights:

ACA Connects President and CEO Grant Spellmeyer provides an overview of ACAC’s agenda for the balance of the year. Spellmeyer also underscores the outstanding achievements of ACAC Members as they continue to deploy fiber in some of the most economically challenging locations to serve in an effort to be part of the solution in closing the digital divide. ACAC’s efforts in Washington, D.C., will center on ensuring that this progress can continue within a free-market context as much as possible.

ACA Connects Chairman Patricia Jo Boyers shares her acceptance speech remarks at the Cable Hall of Fame dinner in New York City on Sept. 15. Mrs. Boyers is President/CEO & Co-Founder of BOYCOM Vision in Poplar Bluff, Mo., with about 5,100 video and broadband customers. She built the business with her husband, Steve, over three decades. “We have done everything with brains, balls and borrowed money, and not necessarily in that order! I’m not going to tell y’all that it has been easy - nothing worth having ever is,” she said. The Cable HOF is an elite institution – only 147 inductees since 1998 and only 26 have been women. Congrats, Patty!

September 2022 - Issue 66

Cinnamon Mueller law firm Managing Partner Bruce Beard notes that Oct. 5, 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the 1992 Cable Act, which included retransmission consent. “Retrans,” as we industry types call it, has been a windfall for TV station owners. “A Pew Research Center report notes that retransmission fee revenue was $214.6 million in 2006, growing to $11.887 billion by 2019, with projections it would grow to $12.636 billion by the end of this year,” Beard writes. IMPORTANT FOOTNOTE: The 1992 Cable Act, especially its rate regulation provisions, prompted a group of agitated small cable operators to form something called the Small Cable Business Association, which today goes by … ACA Connects!

As you will see, ACA Connects Member GCI in Alaska is giving the phrase “rural broadband deployment” an entirely new meaning. In a report from GCI Rural Affairs Director Jen Nelson, we learn how GCI’s ambitious and ongoing AU-Aleutians Fiber Project came together. The details are astonishing: A subsea fiber line deployment stretching 800 miles from Kodiak Island to Unalaska to deliver 2 Gig Internet speeds to about 7,000 Alaskans. The $58 million project, funded with $33 in GCI capital and $25 million in USDA ReConnect money – expects to light up its first home later this year. It’s an amazing story from the Last Frontier totally worth your attention.

Finally, let’s not forget that ICN would not be the star performer it is without key contributions from ACAC staff members, including EVP & COO & ICN publisher John Higginbotham; Regulatory Affairs VPs Brian Hurley and Mike Jacobs; and Stacey Leech, Senior Director of Events & Industry Affairs.

And let’s always remember all the informative and entertaining contributions from ACAC Association Member Program (AMP) participations, who, as a group, serve our sector so well and deserve our gratitude for their support. I’d like to name names but there are too many to do justice to each one in this limited amount of space. Best for you to dig into your new ICN and see for yourself what I mean. ■

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 jhigginbotham@acaconnects.org Editor Ted Hearn 202.713.0826 thearn@acaconnects.org Advertising/Business Stacey Leech 724.971.6388 stacey.leech@acaconnects.org Creative Director Nathan Penrod 412.715.2494 npenrod@acaconnects.org Subscriptions aca@acaconnects.org ACA CONNECTS STAFF President & CEO Grant Spellmeyer Assistant to the President & CEO Tomeika Slappy EVP & COO John Higginbotham VP Communications Ted Hearn VP Regulatory Affairs Brian Hurley VP Regulatory Affairs 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 www.acaconnects.org

ACAC Chairman Patricia Jo Boyers' Cable Hall of Fame Induction Acceptance Speech

On Sept. 15, 2022, ACA Connects Chairman Patricia Jo Boyers joined the Cable Hall of Fame in recognition of her dedication to the video and broadband industry for more than three decades. The Cable Hall of Fame honors those for their “outstanding dedication to and impact on the industry.” Mrs. Boyers, who is President/CEO & Co-Founder of BOYCOM Vision in Poplar Bluff, Mo., joined an exclusive group – since 1998, only 147 people have made it into the Hall and she is only the 26th woman. Mrs. Boyers’ induction ceremony was held in New York City’s Ziegfeld Ballroom. Following is a transcript of Mrs. Boyers’ acceptable speech:

HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL! The Clampetts have arrived in NYC! I cannot believe that I am here, being inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame and am only the 26th woman inducted! I am so glad I shaved my legs! Most old women would have given up by now…but I can assure you that I AM NOT MOST OLD WOMEN!

I begin by congratulating my fellow inductees. I am humbled to be included among such industry giants; we run the gamut from Chair of the FCC, R&D, Network presidents and operational whizs at the top of their games. Now just a footnote, there are only two ol’broads in this line up, but we can work on fixing that next year! My biggest shout out goes to ACA Connects for being THE VOICE for us small, rural operators on that cutting edge of this great rural digital divide and allowing me to be

September 2022 - Issue 68

their loudest voice! I accept this on behalf of all members of ACA Connects! We have arrived, been recognized, have a seat at the table and not going home!

But I must tell y’all, this is “our” journey. I share this award with my husband and partner of 44 years: Steve Boyers. We have done everything with brains, balls and borrowed money, and not necessarily in that order! I’m not going to tell y’all that it has been easynothing worth having ever is. I suppose that is when I learned early that if you are walking a tight rope without a net, you better learn how to keep your ass up there! We have fought this fight together, hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm and sometimes fist-to-fist.

My proudest moment tonight is that our only son Matthew and his family are with us! Our daughter Amber (I hate the term daughterin-law; she’s our daughter married to our son and we’re not even from Arkansas); and granddaughters Jillian, Evelyn and Vivianne! They get to see tonight that their Ol’Granny can do something else besides make the best chicken and Dumplins in the world! But I also want to recognize Matthew’s two battle buddies - brothers from other mothers! These young men were known as the “Tripod” for 6 deployments in Afghanistan. NCO Sargent 1st Class Andrew Thomas Eiseman, Captain Stephen Zachary Marusa and NCO Sargent 1st Class Matthew Ray Boyers. (You boys stand up!) You see, most folks never get to meet their hero….I raised mine!

My folks would never believe this! My sister is here to attest that our folks were simple, Great-Depression generation farmers in SE Missouri. Hard work was all they knew and they passed those traits on to us. My dad once told me, “Patty Jo, you have no backup in you.”

I do understand that my personality is about 5 notches bolder than most and that my “spiritual gift” is confrontation, but I truly believe that GOD IS in control, but I also believe that He doesn’t expect you to lean on a shovel and pray for a hole!

Everyone defines success differently. Personally, I don’t take myself too seriously, but

TRUE success is NOT how much money you accumulate, how many adoring fans you have at your feet, how many military victories you have achieved, how much education you have. It is NOT how much fame has come to you, how much power over others you have. TRUE success is what you DO with these emblems of success. If we want to truly succeed in life-we will humbly accept the “emblems” of material success, asking GOD to help us USE them fully in the arenas of life where things matter the most-WITH GOD, with FAMILY, with other folks in our lives-always reaching down a rung on that ladder to help someone else coming up behind us. TRUE success is not so much what you HAVE, as what you DO with what God has given you.

I leave y’all with a favorite quote: “I do not want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

Thank you. ■

Patricia Jo Boyers is President and CEO of BOYCOM Vision located in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.

Patty's son, Matthew, introduces Patty to the Cable Hall of Fame
Independent Communications News 9

AU-ALEUTIANS FIBER PROJECT

AN

The Aleutian community of Unalaska (pictured) is located approximately 800 air miles away from Anchorage, Alaska’s largest community.
ACA CONNECTS MEMBER FEATURE
10

GCI is one of Alaska’s most important and impressive private companies. The ACA Connects Member is demonstrating yet again its commitment to the communications needs of Alaska’s residents, no matter how remote the task. Just take a look at its $58 million project to bury into the ocean floor 800 miles of fiber along the Aleutian Peninsula to deliver world-class broadband service to about 7,000 people living in Unalaska and Akutan, Sand Point and King Cove, and Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay. GCI – which is contributing $33 million of its own capital -- was supported by a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program. Lastly, NTIA just announced a new $29.3 million grant to help GCI extend the subsea fiber project to seven more Aleutian communities. For an update on GCI’s Alaska United (AU)Aleutians Fiber Project and learn some of the fascinating details associated with it, Independent Communications News recently checked in with GCI’s Rural Affairs Director Jenifer Nelson. By the way, Nelson has a direct connection to the fiber project because her hometown is King Cove, which is expected to have 2 Gig broadband up and running by the end of 2023. So, for Nelson, closing the digital divide is quite personal. Nelson’s observations about the subsea project follow:

Our “why” is pretty straightforward – to close the digital divide in Alaska. It has always been GCI’s goal to deliver the best-possible connectivity to Alaskans, and through the AU-Aleutians Fiber Project we are deploying the gold standard of connectivity to some of the most-remote communities in the nation. This is going to be huge for these communities and a boom for their local economies. The Aleutians are home to the nation’s busiest fishing port by volume, and with maritime traffic growing each year, these communities are critical. And this is also a particularly special project to me because it will bring digital equity to my own hometown of King Cove. That means my family and thousands of other Alaskans will soon have access to things that those in urban Alaska have long taken for granted.

It’s difficult to articulate just how massive an impact 2 gig service will have on the residents of these communities. Going from 2-10Mbps to 2,000Mbps is going to be transformative.

This project will deliver lightning-fast residential 2 gig Internet speeds to more

Q: GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project has to rank as one of the most complex broadband deployment efforts ever. Why did GCI take on such a difficult job?
Q: How big an impact will 2 gig broadband service have on the residents of these remote Aleutian Islands?
Q: Some of the communities are quite small. How many people total do you expect will be able to connect to this blazing fast network?
GCI passed out specially made T-shirts to celebrate a major project milestone.
GCI AU -ALEUTIANS FIBER PROJECT - ACAC MEMBER FEATURE
Independent Communications News 11

than 7,300 underserved Alaskans in six remote communities, the largest being Unalaska with a little more than 4,300 residents and the smallest being Larsen Bay with only 80.

Q: What is the project’s total cost? How much is GCI putting into it?

The AU-Aleutians Fiber Project will cost approximately $58 million, which includes a $25 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program and $33 million of GCI’s own capital.

up with an accurate project cost estimate that’s still holding strong today.

Projecting and forecasting costs for a project of this magnitude certainly are not easy, especially in the midst of unexpected supply chain shortages and other issues caused by COVID-19. But thanks to the years of planning and due diligence, our team was able to come

It was crucial. Massive infrastructure projects are expensive in easy-to-reach urban areas. The cost goes up significantly when building in extremely remote areas like what’s currently underway in the Aleutians. GCI invested $33 million of its own capital, but it’s very difficult to make a business case for a $58 million project to serve a little over 7,000 people. Federal funding is critical to developing a sustainable business model. It’s also one of the reasons fiber makes so much sense for these projects. This is 25-year plus project, at least. That means we don’t plan to replace the fiber, and maintenance and operations expenses are quite low when compared to the cost of maintaining a microwave network or purchasing capacity on a satellite network.

Q: Was it difficult to come up with an accurate dollar estimate given all the challenges involved?
Q: In deciding to go forward, how important was the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $25 million grant under the ReConnect program?
GCI staff were joined by local leadership for a buoy signing to commemorate the fiber landing in Unalaska.
September 2022 - Issue 612

the Aleutians, GCI’s infrastructure is key to all these efforts.

The USDA RUS granting process is pretty efficient. GCI is familiar with working with this agency to get similar large infrastructure projects off the ground. There was a substantial amount of work that went in to compiling the application but once submitted for review it didn’t take long to get the award and get the work started. We had an aggressive two-year timeline, and we are on track!

Q: Is USDA monitoring the deployment?

Absolutely. Anytime a company receives a federal grant, there’s a significant amount of reporting that must be done every step of the way throughout the project. GCI works hard to be a good and trusted steward of federal funds and we are working closely with the USDA to ensure we abide by the terms of the grant. Our partners with the USDA Rural Utilities Service program have been fantastic to work with. They are truly interested in the project, eager to visit the project and talk to the team and have been very supportive of all our public outreach and community engagement events. It’s been a pleasure to work with them.

Though it’s not for everyone, it’s not as difficult to find someone willing to be at sea for weeks or months at a time as you might think. Alaskans are an adventurous bunch at heart and GCI employees are no exception. In fact, we have a few who jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this massive undertaking. And, of course, we can’t forget about the dedicated crews from our contractor, IT Marine, who have been key parts of our team throughout the project.

As is the case with most large projects, there are always challenges along the way, but our project team is working hard to keep the project timeline and budget on track.

The Aleutians – Unalaska in particular – are a strategic location often referred to as the gateway to the Arctic. And with an increase in activity in the Arctic and the world, particularly in the maritime industry, there’s also an increase in national security interests in the region. And as the soon-to-be first and only provider of fiber optic connectivity in

The ship and crew are equipped to handle most anything mother nature will throw at them, but like most construction in Alaska, it can be extremely weather dependent. We

Q: Is it difficult to recruit personnel who will need to be at sea for weeks or months at a time?
Q: Can the crew aboard the C/S Intrepid laying the fiber work during the worst weather months in Alaska?
GCI
Q: How long did it take to hear from USDA that GCI’s grant had been approved?
Q: Has it been difficult to keep the original budget of $58 million?
Q: GCI CEO Ron Duncan mentioned a national security component to the project. What is that?
Crew from the C/S Integrity pulled up a section of telegraph cable from 1908 from the bottom of the Gulf of Alaska as it cleared debris from the route for GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project.
AU -ALEUTIANS FIBER PROJECT - ACAC MEMBER FEATURE
Independent Communications News 13

plan our timelines around seasons where we’re most likely to have the best weather. But even with the best plan in place, Alaska has a way of throwing curveballs that require the crews to pause work occasionally.

Q: How does the C/S Intrepid communicate with GCI HQ in Anchorage?

Our crews on board the C/S Intrepid are able to communicate using satellite connectivity. It’s not fiber, but it still allows them to check in by phone or over email and even attend video conference meetings.

Q: Have you run into any supply chain issues?

Though we have run into some minor supply chain challenges along the way, we’ve actually been quite fortunate overall during the AUAleutians Fiber Project and have been able to keep everything on track. This isn’t just a happy accident, though. That good fortune can be largely attributed to all the GCI employees who contributed to the extensive long term strategic planning that happened before we even submitted our grant application.

Q: When will the first customer get 2 Gig service?

The residents of Unalaska will be the first in the Aleutians to have access to 2 gig service, which GCI expects to launch in the community by the end of 2022.

As our subsea fiber expert, Bruce Rein, says, you might call the pace at which the vessel moves during subsea fiber deployment “glacial.” The target is to bury the cable one meter into the seafloor to help protect it. To do that, the vessel used a 12.5-ton plow and has a maximum tow tension of 30 tons as its pulled along the seabed. That means the ship can only move between 0.3 mph and 0.9 mph. For reference, normal walking speeds average around 3 mph.

Cameras, a suite of sensors and forwardlooking sonar on the plow and the configuration of the plow can be controlled to obtain the best mix of cable burial depth, tow tension and plow speed. Between the ship and plow there are three vital cables that must be managed to avoid entanglements that would lead to a failure of one of the cables -- these are the tow wire, the umbilical cable (power and controls) and the submarine fiber optic cable. The ship crew uses dynamic positioning to maintain a precise course to tow the plow along the engineered route no matter where the weather may be pushing the vessel all the while applying up to but not more than 30 tons on the plow tow wire. A slew of factors must align to allow for a successful plow burial of submarine cable and several of these are outside of anyone’s control.

Q: Just curious: Does anyone know the weight of 800 miles of fiber?

More than 3.7 million pounds! That’s almost 2,000 tons!

Q: Laying fiber on the ocean floor is more complicated than it sounds. Can you discuss the deep seabed trenching a bit?
A diver helps guide the subsea fiber from the C/S Intrepid to its landing in Unalaska.
GCI AU -ALEUTIANS FIBER PROJECT - ACAC MEMBER FEATURE
September 2022 - Issue 614

It takes a highly specialized facility to build hundreds of miles of armored, sealed fiber specifically designed and made to order for large-scale infrastructure projects. There aren’t many companies in the world capable of meeting the material needs of a project like AU-Aleutians – and even if they can, it doesn’t happen overnight.

Once we submitted our order for the fiber, NSW Cable, in Nordenham, Germany, began sourcing materials – and for 800+ miles of subsea fiber, that’s a process that takes several months. After they acquired the necessary materials – like fiber optics, steel wire for armoring, and copper for the buffer tube –they were able to build the fiber segments, including one single length segment that will be the longest non-repeatered fiber span in Alaska, once installed.

The C/S Intrepid began deploying subsea fiber in Unalaska and is working its way toward Larsen Bay. A second ship, the C/S Integrity, is laying the final segment of fiber that’s needed to connect Larsen Bay and the other five AUAleutians communities into GCI’s existing network infrastructure in Kodiak.

Before the fiber deployment started, the Integrity also made a run from Unalaska to Larsen Bay doing what’s called a “pre-lay grapple run,” which clears man-made debris from the fiber route. During the run, the Integrity’s crew found and pulled up and moved old cables, lost crab pots, and even an old telegraph line from 1908. While this process is crucial to ensuring the safety and longevity of our new subsea fiber, it’s also important that while we’re clearing the debris,

Q: Did you start laying the fiber in Unalaska and move toward Kodiak or is it the other way around?
Q: Was there some special reason or two for importing the fiber from Germany?
Crews in Germany load subsea fiber onto the M/V Vertom Thea for its more than 12,000 mile journey to Unalaska.
Independent Communications News 15
The C/S Intrepid deploys subsea fiber to the landing spot in Unalaska.
16

we meticulously document what we find and that we take special care to take care of Alaska’s wildlife and natural resources and ensure the safety of Alaska’s rugged, but delicate marine ecosystem.

Q: Does the fiber network have branches to serve the islands or will the one fiber line come out of the ocean, connect to the island and then go back into the sea?

Of the six AU-Aleutians communities, five are connected along the fiber’s main line and one, in Akutan, will be connected using a branching unit. Though only Akutan is slated to be connected by a branch in the current list of AU-Aleutians communities, the crew is installing four other branching units along the way near communities that could be connected in a future expansion.

fiber route is well mapped and readily available to mariners, and we’ve taken steps to further protect the fiber and mitigate potential damage. We also attend annual maritime events to make sure to educate, inform, remind folks to be aware.

Subsea fiber is expected to last for decades. And throughout the AU-Aleutians Fiber Project, GCI has taken steps – including extensive surveys, careful route planning, the pre-lay grapple run, and seafloor trenching – to mitigate potential damage to the armored subsea fiber and extend its life.

Q: What are the time projections for passing homes and businesses with 2 gig FTTP service?

The project is scheduled to deliver urban-level speed, service and reliability for the first time to the communities of Unalaska and Akutan by the end of 2022, Sand Point and King Cove by the end of 2023, and Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay in late 2024.

Ha! There are reports of sharks gnawing on subsea fiber, but that’s not a big concern for us. By the end of 2022, GCI will operate more than 6,000 miles of subsea fiber that stretch nearly around the entirety of the state’s Gulf of Alaska coast, from Unalaska to the Lower 48. We deployed our first segment of subsea fiber more than 20 years ago and rarely experience breaks or interruptions to service. When it happens, it’s usually caused by subsea earthquakes or landslides. Sometimes fishing gear. The

We’ve been at this for a few years, so I bet our team would probably like to celebrate with a big nap! But no rest for this team. We’ll be launching new fiber projects across Alaska. Luckily, our team loves the work we do and we really enjoy working with each other. GCI is like a big family. We love our jobs. And we’re all committed to connecting Alaska. ■

Q: Are you planning a special celebration after the fiber build is finished later this year?
Q: How many years do you expect the fiber to last? Do ocean conditions degrade the fiber line over time?
Q: Do you have to worry about sharks and whales gnawing on the fiber?
GCI Rural Affairs Director Jenifer Nelson - from King Cove, Alaska, which will be connected by the AU-Aleutians Fiber Project - has played a key role in moving the project forward.
GCI AU -ALEUTIANS FIBER PROJECT - ACAC MEMBER FEATURE
Independent Communications News 17

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!

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.

SUBSCRIBE

Industry

30 Years of Retrans— Where Do We Go from Here?

October 5, 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the enactment of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, and the establishment of retransmission consent. What a difference 30 years make!

In 1992 the cable industry was one dimensional - delivering video programing to subscribers. Many operators provided service in a manner which begat the industryproviding service to areas which could not pick up an over-the-air broadcast signal. In 1992, while working in the federal regulatory group at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, I chided a friend in the cable industry that their business would change now that they had to pay for the stations. He replied, “We aren’t paying, if they want our distribution then they can choose must carry, or a non-cash based deal.”

The development of direct satellite broadcast systems and additional competition from new providers, however, created a new paradigm. Broadcasters demanded payment with the threat of withholding carriage which would place the operator at a competitive disadvantage over other providers. Retransmission fees grew and as did ownership consolidation, adding greater leverage for the broadcasters. Broadcasters claim increases are fueled by “reverse retransmission fees” that networks extract from them and the networks blame increased programming costs and sports rights fees. Regardless, retransmission rates soared far above the rate of inflation.

A Pew Research Center report notes that retransmission fee revenue was $214.6 million in 2006, growing to $11.887 billion by 2019, with projections it would grow to $12.636 billion by the end of this year. Unfortunately, the consumer pays the increased rates and there is no end in sight.

So where do we go from here? Consumers have a limit to what they will pay and some may eventually drop subscription cable service. Many are discovering the wonders of an OTA antenna for broadcast signals. This is not “cord cutting” as consumers inevitably retain an Internet connection, often provided by their cable provider, for streaming services. Nielsen reported that, in July 2022 for the first time, streaming surpassed cable viewership. Keeping the customer as a broadband customer is paramount--if they want subscription cable service all the better.

Next year is another “cycle year” meaning many retransmission agreements will be up for renewal, or as the broadcasters say a “reset” in rates. Operators respond in various ways to unchecked retransmission fee increases. Some abandon video, concentrating on broadband. Those remaining will battle broadcasters, despite little leverage, and the cost will be passed to the consumer. Many are keeping their subscription cable offering but noting that their broadband speeds will support a multitude of streaming services if the customer would rather choose streaming services. Thus, they are embracing the streaming services rather than looking at them as competitors. Educate your base, note the value in the cable bundle as compared to multiple streaming services and promote broadband. Remember, your provision of robust broadband places you in a position far better than you previously were to handle the loss of a subscription cable subscriber due to rising retransmission costs. ■

Bruce Beard
News
Independent Communications News 19

Whirlwind September Travel

Whata September it has been for ACA Connects staff as we have traveled to meet up with ACAC members and celebrate milestones and accomplishments. ACAC CEO Grant Spellmeyer, ACAC Regulatory Affairs VP Mike Jacobs and I had a great time in Tulsa, OK., at the Mid-America Cable Show, visiting with members and our Associate Member Program friends. Mike moderated a fantastic panel of state broadband office leaders and legislators centered on NTIA’s BEAD program funding in 2023 and 2024. ACAC looks forward to participating in the 2024 Mid America Cable Show scheduled for Omaha, NB.

Toward the front of this issue of ICN, you’ll find ACAC Chairman Patty Boyers’ acceptance speech delivered at her induction to the Cable Hall of Fame. Grant, Assistant to the President & CEO Tomeika Slappy, and ACAC VP of Regulatory Affairs Brian Hurley and I were delighted to be in attendance to support Patty on her special night – along with our friends at Alpine Group and retired ACAC CEO Matt Polka. If you haven’t read Patty’s truly inspiring speech, please flip back to page 8 and take a look!

Onward to Philadelphia for the SCTE Cable-TEC Expo to close out Summer and roll into Fall 2022. Like many trade shows and conferences, Expo was back in-person for the first time since 2019 and everyone was happy to meet old friends face-to-face. The 56th Class of Cable TV Pioneers was inducted at the historic Union League of Philadelphia, and ACAC was there in support of all of the newest Pioneers. ACAC

hosted a breakfast update for our Members and later a reception with our partners at NCTC.

In October, look for Grant, Brian and me at the Calix ConneXions conference in Las Vegas and at the NCTC’s Idea Exchange in Denver on October 19th & 20th. If you haven’t yet registered for the NCTC conference, there’s still time at https://www. nctconline.org/index.php/ events/ideaxchange-denver.

We’re always looking for opportunities to connect with ACAC Members, so let us know if we can help. Grant and I are available to speak to your team and board of directors about the important matters that affect your business.

Thanks again for the opportunity to serve your interests in Washington, D.C.■

Celebrating ACAC Chairman Patty Boyers and her induction into the Cable Hall of Fame. From left: Grant Spellmeyer, Rhod Shaw, Patty Boyers, Matt Polka
September 2022 - Issue 620
Networking with industry colleagues at the SCTE Cable-TEC EXPO22. From left: NCTC CEO Lou Borrelli, Cable Center President & CEO Diane Christman, and ACA Connects President and CEO Grant Spellmeyer. Industry friends and colleagues celebrating Cable TV Pioneers 2022 honorees in New York. Grant Spellmeyer speaking at the Mid-America Cable Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma Patty Boyers giving her acceptance speech at the Cable Hall of Fame Spending time with our friends and Associate Member OpenVault at SCTE Cable-TEC Expo22
Independent Communications News 21

All Eyes on Black Women: How OWN is a Game Changer in the Diverse Content Space President, Own TV Network & OTT Streaming

WhenI look across today’s ever-changing entertainment landscape, I’m energized to see a new era of expression and leadership for Black women in front of and behind the camera. These women are truly making their mark in TV and film and letting their creative voices shine. Here at Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), we are proud to create entertainment for Black women, and we are honored to be a platform where the diversity of this expression can be shared, celebrated, and amplified.

From the moment when Ms. Winfrey partnered with Discovery and launched OWN in 2011, it has been the network's mission to uplift and reflect the lives of its audience. A decade later, we are at the forefront of programming that truly embodies all facets of the Black female experience. It’s vital to us that Black women not only see themselves while watching our shows, but also have a hand in shaping that content.

From Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed “Queen Sugar,” now in its landmark seventh and final season, to Dee Harris-Lawrence’s “All Rise,” starring Simone Missick, we are building towards an even stronger future where representation of Black characters in scripted storytelling will thrive and become the norm. “Queen Sugar’s” show mission of hiring women and people of color behind the camera are setting higher industry standards. Over seven seasons and 88 episodes, the contemporary drama has been directed by nearly three dozen women filmmakers, an initiative DuVernay set forth at the outset of production in 2016.

This year, we were honored to revive “All Rise,” at a time when Black women’s voices are rising to new heights - from the White House, to the Supreme Court, and a myriad of places. “All Rise” is exactly the type of series that belongs on television: one that puts a strong and intelligent Black woman front and center as the lead.

OWN’s unscripted success further reaches the Black audience by sharing real-life stories of Black women and their journeys navigating family, love, and business. In 2022, we franchised our smash-hit series “Love & Marriage: Huntsville,” introducing new power couples in “Love & Marriage: D.C.” This summer, we welcome back “Belle Collective,” exploring successful and vibrant Black female entrepreneurs in Jackson, Miss. and celebrating 100 episodes of our groundbreaking dating show, “Ready to Love.”

Black women have never been more powerful as a demographic and the time is now to pay attention to what they are watching and engaging with across media and entertainment. These women gather around OWN because they trust they will find the stories, characters, and personalities that reflect who they are, who they want to be, and where they see themselves going. The OWN audience is comprised of African-American women of now and tomorrow. They are successful, dynamic, bighearted, powerful, loving, family-oriented, funny, fierce, and strong. We are proud to provide them with a television home where they can see themselves, and we are excited to continue to help share so many more of their stories. ■

Tina Perry
Industry News
September 2022 - Issue 622

Consistent and Reliable Video Experience is Paramount to Success

It’s no secret that the way that users consume video has changed over the last 20 years. Gone are the days of a DTA with a coaxial cable kit and a single video platform where all TV content is available. Navigating the changing times of IP video is a unique experience for every service provider.

According to TiVo’s most recent video trends survey in Q4 2021, viewers use an average of 9 streaming services. But navigating the content aggregation landscape can be challenging for end users, which is why it is so critical that video providers offer a consistent user experience.

Some video providers have steered toward a ‘bring your own device’ model, where users find the applications that they want to stream in an application store on the third-party device of their choice. The challenge with this deployment model is that the video provider has no control over the device nor the end user’s satisfaction, and is unable to assist when the customer needs help troubleshooting. The customer, in turn, is more likely to churn.

Offering a managed device solution, such as Android TV, gives control of the customer’s overall experience back to the video provider. Android TV offers content flexibility with its Google Play Store, where users can download their favorite OTT streaming apps. And, not only is the video provider able to control the first-time install, but it also has powerful management actions available to their call service representatives 24/7 and 365 days of the year, such as being able to remotely troubleshoot and diagnose problems – no need for a costly truck roll! Is the user seeing buffering on a live or Video on Demand channel? The video provider can remote into the device to see Wi-Fi RSSI strength, Wi-Fi frequency, SSID name and ethernet MAC address, as well as take corrective actions such as sending a reboot command.

Operators have a choice for providing a stunning, graphic-rich interactive viewing experience for their customers. Our suite of Android TV devices is designed to deliver superior 4K Ultra-HD resolution with four times greater image resolution.

To learn more about Android TV managed solutions, please visit https://evolutiondigital.com/estream4k/ or reach out to sales@evolutiondigital.com.

Marc Cohen
Industry News
Independent Communications News 23

A Few Things We Do Know...

Staying on Top of New Regulatory Obligations and Funding Opportunities As We Head into 2023

Noone quite knows what the future holds in Washington, D.C. The November elections will determine the balance of power in both houses of Congress and are likely to have far-reaching ramifications, including for the FCC and other Federal agencies. Right now, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen.

However, there are a few things we do know with certainty. For instance, we know that last year’s infrastructure bill launched a multitude of new digital divide funding programs and other initiatives of relevance to ACA Connects Members. We also know that FCC Commissioners and other policymakers in both parties have been able to find common ground on such matters as defeating unlawful robocalls and advancing public safety.

What this means for ACA Connects Members is that much of the future is known. Regardless of what happens in November, ACA Connects Members should

get themselves prepared to seize a variety of new opportunities and deal with a number of obligations that include (but are by no means limited to) the following:

Staying on Top of BEAD. Heading into next year and beyond, once the NTIA finds the FCC maps are sufficiently accurate, the States will take steps to implement the $42 Billion BEAD program. Members that may be interested in participating should follow the action in their States closely. Be sure to take advantage of our BEAD State/Territory Implementation Tracker and other resources available from ACA Connects.

Creating Broadband “Nutrition Labels.” The infrastructure bill directed the FCC to adopt rules by Nov. 15 of this year that require broadband providers to display “nutrition labels.” The purpose of these labels is to help consumers comparison-shop among broadband providers and offerings. The details are still being worked out, but developing,

September 2022 - Issue 624

compiling, displaying, and maintaining these labels will no doubt be a significant undertaking. Stay tuned for more information.

Reporting Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Subscriber Data. This is another FCC proceeding with a Nov. 15 deadline. By that date, the FCC must adopt rules establishing an annual collection of data about the “prices” and “subscription rates” of broadband offerings being provided through ACP. This is another new obligation that ACA Connects Members participating in ACP will need to tackle.

Implementing STIR/SHAKEN. The deadline for facilities-based small voice providers to implement the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication framework in their IPbased voice networks is set for June 30, 2023 — about nine months from now. The time has come for providers subject to the deadline to begin preparing for implementation, if they have not already. ACA Connects will provide more information in the coming months to assist members with compliance.

A Focus on Emergency Alerting. The FCC is set to adopt new rules for cable operators and other Emergency Alert System (EAS) participants and is considering the adoption of yet more requirements, including with regard to cybersecurity. We also expect the FCC and FEMA to conduct another nationwide EAS test, possibly early next year.

In sum, ACA Connects Members will have a lot to keep them busy, no matter what happens in November. As our Members tackle all of these proceedings and initiatives, one more thing is certain: ACA Connects is here to help every step of the way.

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 25

Industry

Best-of-Breed is Key in Broadband & Wireless Communications

Whenit comes to deploying broadband and wireless networks, there’s a lot of speculation about the best technology. Industry leaders have extolled broadband, MEC, edge, cellular, and many others as superior solutions. But regardless of the network they choose to deploy, one question remains top of mind for communication service providers: How do you future-proof your network?

Drawing on the expertise of our skilled engineers, technicians, and technical support staff, we at MOBIA have come to understand that the key to building a reliable network that can adapt to the demands of the future is to forge strong partnerships with “best-of-breed” solutions providers spanning a range of functional areas. Over the past year, we’ve worked with select partners who can offer this level of expertise for the solutions we build. Together, we offer end-to-end solutions complete with private equity to fund public and private ventures. Unlike larger systems integrators, we apply the right partner to fulfill a specific need, regardless of technology.

We believe that working with great companies that understand their swim-lanes allows us to offer superior solutions. It’s my pleasure to introduce these partners over the coming months:

Alma Global Infrastructure is an independent infrastructure investment manager that structures, establishes, and manages private equity investment platforms for institutional investors supporting world-class infrastructure developers and operators and their communication, renewable energy, transportation, and social infrastructure project pipeline across OECD countries. In partnership with Alma Global Infrastructure, we can help our clients get private funding for their broadband and wireless projects.

Ciena is a networking systems, services and software company driven by the relentless pursuit of network innovation. We make it possible for our customers to adapt to an ever-changing environment to deliver richer, more connected experiences for their businesses and end users. Ciena creates best-inclass networking technology that allows us to design, deploy and operate open, scalable and automated network infrastructure for broadband, cellular, enterprise and cloud connectivity applications.

VMware, founded in 1998, is a market leading provider of multi-cloud services for all apps, on any hardware configuration. With one simple platform, the solution enables ecosystem innovation to control networks from core to customer edge.

VMware designs reflect the responsibility and the opportunity to build a sustainable, equitable, and secure future for all. Leveraging TCP 5G and TCP RAN in conjunction with the RAN Intelligent Controller, VMware’s solution meets customers where they are in their journey to a programmable RAN. Our partnership with VMware enables us to offer businesses of all sizes the flexibility and choice they need to progressively build the future.

As we introduce more of our partners, we encourage you to keep this in mind: When you begin FTTP, MVNO, MNO or other related projects, it’s beneficial to get input from experts who provide the bestof-breed solutions across all areas of the project. MOBIA brings all this together with design services, construction, program management and operations. Let’s talk! ■

Jim Cannon
News
September 2022 - Issue 626

A Sign of Distinction

How employee development can kick in the front door

visited a store that had an interesting sign out front. Normally, these signs are plastered with enticing sale prices, irresistible deals, and amazing “never before and never again” closeout prices intended to stampede traffic into the store. But this one was entirely different. Why would someone put this message on a sign, out front, for the world to see? How in the world could this increase my interest in what I’d find inside? As I changed direction and began walking toward the store, this sign caused me to ponder the value of employee development. (Hang in there. I’ll get to the message in a bit.)

Irecently

Sure, it’s always been important to provide employees with training that enables them to perform the job with a high level of quality and competence. None of us would willingly throw money at untrained technicians to “figure it out” on their own while they damage the company’s reputation and revenue along that learning curve. My brow furled as I dodged cars with this uncomfortable thought in mind.

Naturally, employee development has a direct impact on retention. A 2021 LinkedIn Learning study found that “94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning.” And, employees who spend over five hours per week learning are 74% more likely to know where they want to go in their career, and 48% more likely to have found purpose in their work (LinkedIn Learning, 2019). Clearly, if employees aren’t being developed, they start looking for other opportunities. Duh, the huge cost in recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, and training employees to basic proficiency -- on average $4,000 per employee (Business News Daily, 2022) -- alone should drive companies to put the smart money on continuing development. In fact, investing in developing your workforce can and should lead to cost savings and revenue growth! Research conducted by Accenture and cited in the book, Return on Learning, suggested that for every $1 they invested in learning, they were returned $4.53 (Return on Learning, 2006)! This thought alone caused me to markedly quicken my pace toward this intriguing sign.

Wait, what? As I stepped up on the curb to examine more closely the curious message – bereft of boringly standard sales pitches -- it hit me. This message had in fact caused ME to stampede to the store! Not by offering me a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but by promising me “confidence in high-quality capability.” Personal, prideful, without equal. The message:

The best technicians in the state: Cory, Keith, Drake.” Accented with a red block arrow pointing to the front door. That’s it.

“The best” simply can’t happen without strong, focused, purposeful development. It can’t happen without single-minded commitment to the growth of employees. And those employees, denied development, wouldn’t allow their names on that sign. I shouldn’t have been surprised – commitment to top quality employee development for the broadband industry is something NCTI has been doing for more than 50 years now. But this simple sign was a powerful reminder and drove me eagerly through the front door.

Jeff Gibson
Industry News
Independent Communications News 27

The First BDC Filing is in - Phew! - Now What? ACA Connects is Here for You

Good news: This must have been the most difficult Broadband Data Collection (BDC) filing you will experience. Your company now has a basis to see what worked well and what can improve. You have a better sense of timing and no longer need fear the unknown. Many of your companies have a better handle on their network coverage data, and hopefully the next iteration of the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric) will much better resemble real-world locations of which you’re aware.

The prospects of improving the next iteration in the areas you serve largely may rely on you.

Given their need to align all of their realworld locations with Location IDs in the Fabric, getting the Fabric cleaned up via the challenge process – adding missing locations; challenging Fabric locations that do not appear to exist realworld; correcting addresses and geocoordinates – is certainly a critical endeavor for location list

filers. But polygon filers also should consider engaging in the process, to help ensure the fidelity of your polygons and forecast with better precision where network expansion (perhaps aided by government funding) will cover the most new locations.

Timing is important. The earlier your company submits its Fabric challenges, the better the chance that successful challenges can be incorporated into the next version of the Fabric.

As we have been since our first BDC Member Advisory nine months ago, ACA Connects will be with you at every step.

Our mutual persistence pays dividends. A brief ACA Connects-Member case study illustrates.

Signal, Inc. has approximately 100 broadband subscribers in Lu Verne, IA. Its principal essentially volunteers running the system, occasionally getting some help from community members. With no real staff resources to speak

September 2022 - Issue 628

of, the prospect of having to do the BDC filing, and resulting FCC fines if he didn’t, so daunted him that he contemplated shutting the system down. This would have left Lu Verne with no broadband provider.

Over the first half of summer, he was frequently in touch with ACA Connects staff. We encouraged him to reach out to the FCC’s BDC Help resource – not fruitful. We suggested he contact a different office at the FCC – no response. In the midst of all this, in desperation, he made a brief filing with the FCC explaining his plight. Although ACA Connects staff informed him how remote the chances were of relief, we also acknowledged that with the choice of seeking it or shutting down, he had nothing to lose.

At the beginning of August, BDC Help suddenly reached back out to Signal, Inc. to schedule some extensive help. And then, on August 23, ACA Connects received the following: “I am happy to say that, with lots of help from a very patient person at the BDC Help

desk, I just have completed my submission.”

For 100 households in rural Iowa, the efforts of BDC Help and persistence of Signal, Inc. made the difference. ACA Connects is proud of the small supporting role we played in standing by Signal, Inc. until it could secure the help it needed.

ACA Connects staff cannot perform miracles, nor even do the earthlier work for you. But Members can count on us to help you ourselves, or try to help you find the resources you need. Your ACA Connects Membership has value; you are why we’re here. Don’t hesitate to call upon us. ■

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 29

Creating Brand Equity through a Uniquely Positive Customer Experience

in today’s ICT industry takes more than simply creating a network. More than running fiber and hanging ONTs, and more than top-line speed. Today’s end-user has come to expect more than raw speed and low latency. Differentiating your brand from the competition takes strong brand equity – in short, your ability to deliver rock-solid Wi-Fi is what defines their perception of your brand.

Competing

It takes more than just dropping fiber and handing the network over to the end-user – the strength of your brand equity comes from driving the overall customer experience. The upside is huge, packed with analytics and marketing gold, and recent innovations make it more possible than ever to earn the customer’s trust and build strong brand equity. We offer a wide variety of solutions that fit the bill, from the convenience and dependability of Wi-Fi 5 and 6 gateways with built-in SFP cages to the streamlined in-home install of the SDX 611 Micro ONT. But the hardware is just the beginning - it's the software that makes the difference. ADTRAN’s Mosaic One makes it easy to automate processes with integration across multiple network layers. By capturing data and analytics, Mosaic One lets you see into the end customer’s experience, simplifying and streamlining the process of gathering network intelligence.

Enabling your team with an end-to-end view of the network and the customer’s engagement with it gives you direct access to valuable data and insights for troubleshooting, problem-solving, and preventing future problems. A customer’s issue could be in the access layer, the router, or even the connected home – your team needs visibility into the network to find it. When they collect that data meaningfully and visualize it, the data can be a guideline to inform your ongoing improvements and anticipate the customer’s needs before they become issues. You can strengthen your brand by understanding suffer scoring and flight risks and reducing churn with targeted customer care calls. The inverse is also true – you can target promotional marketing to very satisfied customers and increase their Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). Your customer’s experience is your brand, and your team’s insight into it is indispensable.

Power & Tel supplies cutting-edge products that provide superior value to the customer. For almost 60 years, we have prioritized providing high-quality communications equipment while continually growing as an industry leader in supply chain management, innovation, and end-to-end solutions. Each network has its trait – let us help you find the perfect solution for your outside plant application and protect your fiber investment.

Together with Adtran, we deliver the solutions you need. Learn more about our full range of products and services: visit ptsupply.com or email info@ptsupply.com ■

Stephen Signaigo
Industry News
September 2022 - Issue 630

Industry

The Technetix rOLT – Great Things Come in Small Packages

High-speed fiber broadband should be available for everyone and not just those living in cities and urbanizations. Technetix has developed a modular remote optical line terminal (rOLT) offering a compact and environmentally hardened solution for delivering high speed fiber broadband to rural and hard to reach communities.

The rOLT offers up to four ports of 10G XGS-PON and includes fiber management and optical splitters, all in an IP68 rated field hardened compact housing. It is easy to deploy in nearly all locations, has low power consumption and provides a cost-effective solution for remote FTTH/P.

The modular micro OLT system architecture can transform the way networks are built from a cost accounting perspective, where the cost scales port by port (not by increments of eight or sixteen) and the expenditure can be closely aligned to service uptake and revenues. This is a departure from the typical chassis and ‘pizza box’ OLT systems that fully integrate the switching function alongside the PON MAC function in a single off-the-shelf system.

The new modular approach enables network builders to pace expenditure with customer take-up, only incurring the cost of the PON MAC and PON optics when customers are connected. This can save network operators 50% or more of the front-loaded OLT capital expenditure and improve cash flow by closing the gap between network build cost and service income. The traditional and modular OLT cost structure is contrasted in the adjacent graphic.

Network operators can now make their capital go further, widening the PON network footprint of OLT deployments and covering a larger addressable market, but only incurring the additional micro OLT cost when a street, zip code or small community is ready for high-speed fiber access.

The modular micro OLT system architecture can transform the way networks are built from a cost accounting perspective, where the cost scales port by port and the expenditure can be closely aligned to service uptake and revenues. This is a key concern for delivering high-speed fiber access service to rural and remote communitieshaving the right size OLT that can scale from one port upwards and that doesn’t require high-cost telco premises to host the equipment.

The rOLT equips network operators with a field deployable OLT that can be rapidly deployed to meet customer demand, which can be the difference when making the service delivery financially and operationally viable for the network operator and compelling to the customer. In a competitive market, FTTH/P's being agile for specific customer groups and demographics and its ability to deliver high-speed broadband services quickly can be a significant differentiator.

Looking ahead the modular architecture will enable graceful upgrades to higher speed 25G PON port by port, enabling network operators to target higher speed services to business customers, power users and for network applications while co-existing in the same host platform as 10G XGS-PON.■

News
Independent Communications News 31

It's Time To Vote For Your Favorite Community Service Project!

The 3rd quarter has come to a close, which means so have nominations for the 2022 Community Champions Award! The following pages highlight the last round of submissions from member companies LUS Fiber, Service Electric Cable TV & Communications, and WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone. These are the final projects eligible for the 2022 Community Champions Award of $2,500. Now all that’s left to do is VOTE! Simply visit the Community Champions page on the ACA Connects website, take a moment to review all of the exceptional community service nominations, and then click on the link to vote for your favorite! Voting will continue the month of October. The winning entry will be named in November, presented with a $2,500 check from ACA Connects, and showcased in the December issue of ICN.

We encourage all of our members to vote early and often! We will keep you updated on the leaders through social media and other ACAC electronic communications!

Good luck to all of the nominated projects! ■

Senior Director of Meetings & Industry Affairs, ACA Connects
September 2022 - Issue 632

WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone

"Keris Kares Royal Run"

Since 2018, WOW! has partnered with Keris Kares, a Newnan, Georgia charity dedicated to the fight against pediatric brain cancer. Keris Kares provides supplementary financial assistance to families in need after a pediatric cancer diagnosis. Their Family Emergency Fund covers non-medical costs such as rent and mortgage payments, utility bills, car loans, and car insurance payments. Every year, WOW! supports the Keris Kares Royal Run which encourages community support and raises funds for families affected by pediatric cancer. This year, WOW! was out in full force as the presenting sponsor for the 2022 Royal Run. Named for a WOW! small business customer’s young daughter who bravely battled cancer, the Keris Kares Royal Run “Superhero Edition” was a family celebration, featuring games, a petting zoo, face painting, and food trucks in addition to 5K and one-mile races.

WOW! promoted the event with on-air commercials, helping raise awareness and drive a successful turnout with more than 400 runners participating. Additionally, WOW! field sales executives Elston Montford and Corey Lackey handed out water to runners during the race. Over the last five years 75 WOW! team members have participated and WOW! has contributed over $35,000 to the Royal Run, helping fight childhood brain cancer alongside Newnan community members. ■

"LUS Rural Broadband

LUS Fiber
Independent Communications News 33

at the Youth Mentoring Center.

USGA Senior Open ‘Charity Drive’: Service Electric arranged for 30 children from Valley Youth House, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and The First Tee to attend the 42nd Senior Open and work one-on-one with pros to learn the game of golf.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake: Service Electric sponsored and televised this event, which is the BBBSLV’s largest fundraiser with a goal of helping to create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.

September 2022 - Issue 634

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 NTIA's BEAD program, Copyright Statements of Account, the C-Band transition, robocall regulation and cybersecurity issues. It also includes notifications on ACAC-sponsored 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.

SUBSCRIBE

Congressional Crunch Time Before the Mid-Term Elections

Congress

is rushing to complete to-do items before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 before heading home for the November mid-term elections. But do not expect the federal legislature to accomplish much in such a short timeframe.

Despite some movement in Congress at the end of summer approving a pared-back bipartisan package addressing U.S. competitiveness with China and enactment of a Congressional Democratic budgetary package of priorities on drug pricing reforms, climate change, and corporate taxes – politics around the upcoming election is clouding negotiations this month and is expected to spillover into the post-election lame duck session.

It is safe to say, even with three months to go, that the single most impactful piece of legislation of the 117th Congress for ACA Connects members is the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was enacted last autumn. The more than $40 billion in investment for projects that go to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments for broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption via the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program will be implemented over the next couple of years.

The primary legislative item that must be finalized before the end of this month is a stop-gap funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), to keep the government running until December. The only question is what other items might catch a ride on the CR.

A general government permitting reform package is a possible addition to the funding bill as a vote was promised to its author, Sen. Joe

Manchin (D- W. Va.), when the Democrat partyline budget package was adopted in August. ACA Connects has been engaged in working to add possible reforms to reduce burdens on broadband deployment and cut regulatory fees and compliance.

Extension of the general spectrum auction authority will likely be added to the CR. It remains to be seen whether a continuation of specific auction authority for the 3.1 – 3.45 GHz band is also included in the package. The House of Representatives already passed a bill to put presumed proceeds of that band auction toward refilling the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) much needed “rip-andreplace” funds to cover the costs of removing prohibited Chinese telecom equipment and to pay for next generation 9-1-1 grants from the Commerce Department’s NTIA. Congressional committees are working to come to a consensus in an effort to prioritize the auction proceeds for telecommunications purposes before others policymakers earmark the funds for nongermane purposes.

Supplemental funding for the war in Ukraine -- as well as funds to address Covid-19 and the new monkeypox outbreak -- has also been requested by the Biden Administration. Some ideological differences and questions around prior-appropriated, but not used, federal Covid funds might hold up or alter those proposals on the CR.

Any item listed here that is not fully addressed before the election will be added to the list of items to address in December before the end of the Congress. This includes an end of the new-

September 2022 - Issue 636

fiscal-year funding package for the government or another short-term extension into early 2023.

If the control of the House flips to Republicans in the election, there is a strong possibility that the GOP will not want to enact a massive omnibus funding bill in December and instead kick the can into the new year where Republicans will have more say in dictating what is included in appropriations and related policies next year. In fact, if Republican control in the House is a large enough margin, expect a divided-government budget showdown from House Republicans that could drag well into 2023. The likelihood of the Senate majority switching control is more in question. Meaning the election outcome in the upper chamber might decide how contentious the process of keeping the government running is in the next few months and into the new year.

Aside from appropriations, the annual defense policy bill (referred to as NDAA) is the largest must pass legislation after the elections. The

potential size of the bill and the difficulty in Members of Congress voting against the package that funds our military services members pay and resources make NDAA a possible Christmas tree on which to attach extraneous items before the Congress adjourns. Remaining disaster relief from regional storms and floods, expiring tax provisions, and a federal consumer data privacy framework are all possible items that Washington is expected to consider after the elections.

The end of this year will set the tone for the new Congress and presidential-election cycle that will both begin in just a few months. ■

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 37

Stand Firm

Following are farewell remarks delivered by Matthew M. Polka as ACA Connects President and CEO. Matt, who retired earlier in the year, led ACA Connects for 25 years. Matt’s final speech occurred July 26, 2022 at a dinner in his honor at the Independent Show at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fl.

Over the last 25 years I have often wondered if someday I would wake up from my perfect dream of having the best job and opportunity a person could ever have, which is what I have been privileged to have at ACA Connects.

ACA Connects gave to me and to all of us the opportunity to build and create an organization for our Members and to do it the right way. Together we literally built the association from scratch, putting our own mark on things while doing what’s right for our Members every day. We were leaders, but we were servants first. Service before anything else.

We knew it would be difficult and we knew there would be storms from time to time, but we pressed on. I remember a phrase my Mom taught me when I was a teenager that helped me in those difficult times –“Storms bring out eagles; small birds take to cover.” And over the years our association has fully embraced the wise words of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln: “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, and then stand firm.”

Thank you for the privilege you have given me in working to do things the right way for you.

Thank you for your ever-present trust and support.

Thank you for your commitment to us every step of the way.

And thank you for allowing me to bring together a team that is second to none.

I am so very encouraged for our Members’ bright futures. For our team, I am encouraged for all that is ahead for each of you. And for ACA Connects President and CEO Grant Spellmeyer, I am so encouraged for him as he begins his own journey leading ACA Connects.

To our team at ACA Connects, I am so very proud of you and thankful to have been able to work with you and get to know you for so many years as we have served our Members together. As I look at Karen Yochum, I want you to know we have worked together for 31 years, and she’s still here! Thank you, Karen, and to Stacey, Caroline, Tomeika, Rob, Ross, Ted, Brian, Mike, Nathan, Tony, John and Grant, thank you for the blessing it was to work with you every day.

To our friends and counsel, I and we would not be here without your dedication and your commitment to ACA Connects. Rhod Shaw, my friend and brother, Curtis Philp, Tom Cohen, and Bruce Beard, you have been more than counselors, but rather invested partners in our success for our Members, doing things the right way.

To our ACA Connects Board, now led so wonderfully by Patty Boyers and Mike Bowker, as our Chair and Vice Chair, and our Immediate Past Chair, Bob Gessner, you represent our current Board and all of the

Former ACA Connects President & CEO Former ACAC President & CEO Matt Polka accepting the Cablefax Founders Circle Award.
September 2022 - Issue 638

people who served before you, and I thank you for your encouragement and your willingness to plant a firm foundation, allowing this organization to grow the right way for the long term and not for fleeting short-term success.

And to our Members, you have been an inspiration to me each day I was privileged to serve you, and I can’t thank you enough for what you mean to me and always will.

Finally, to my wife, Sharman, and to my daughters, Molly and Annie, I am so very proud of you and thankful to be here at Disney once again where it is truly full circle for us, knowing how we have come to this conference together here six times, with the first twenty years ago.

Thank you for your support and encouragement when I didn’t deserve it.

Thank you for your sacrifices while I have been away.

And thank you for your forgiveness and for your love.

As I close, I want you to know that the memories I will never forget, the time I will always cherish, and that I will always be here for you whenever you call.

As it says in 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

With my sincerest gratitude, deepest respect, and abiding commitment, I remain…

Your friend always, Matt. ■

Matthew M. Polka was President and CEO of ACA Connects for the past 25 years before his retirement in July.

Independent Communications News 39

Industry

How Co-ops Can Lead the Way for DIY On-Farm Broadband

As American agriculture grapples with scarce labor and increasing costs, the solution could lie in the efficiency and efficacy of precision agriculture applications.

The Federal Communications Commission decision to make Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum available has enabled a wide range of organizations to build their own carrier-grade, high-speed private wireless networks at costs that were unthinkable a few years ago. The advent of CBRS essentially democratized building and owning carrier-grade wireless networks, enabling a wide range of entities and organizations to enter the wireless network business.

Cooperatives have an opportunity to build and deliver customized, carrier-grade, high-speed private wireless networks to their farmer members to help drive the adoption of precision agriculture applications and to establish a new, reliable source of revenue.

Private networks on the farm

Private wireless networks are an essential component to the growth of IoT and adoption of precision ag technologies for crop, dairy and livestock farming. On the farm, private networks can help facilitate the collection, transmission, storage and computation of large amounts of data in real-time. According to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, just one plant in a field can provide 18 GB of data, which means the average corn field has about 28 times the amount of data as the Library of Congress.

The Opportunity for Cooperatives

Agriculture cooperatives are in an ideal position to build and deliver carrier-grade, high speed private wireless networks to their farmer members. Not only can co-ops earn fees for facilitating the service, they can spur greater adoption of precision agriculture applications.

While the idea that agricultural cooperatives should take the lead in developing private wireless networks sounds aggressive, cooperatives are in a much better position than individual farmers to do so given their larger financial resources, domain knowledge and expertise and their need for revenue diversification.

We estimate the average up-front cost per farm to be $54,500 (see exhibit) with annual recurring expenses of $6,000.

Deploying a private 5G network for less than $55,000 and enjoying the operational and yield benefits are a compelling value proposition for farmers and ranchers. And given the vast amount of grant money that is available, it’s reasonable to assume that the actual per farm cost will be a good bit lower than that.

Conclusion

Precision agriculture applications have the potential to deliver significant operational and financial benefits to farmers and ranchers. And now that there is a lower-cost broadband solution to address the persistent connectivity issues, this is the time for agriculture cooperatives to embrace these new technologies. They have the financial resources and technical expertise to ensure their member farms are connected with private wireless networks in high-cost areas, enabling them to leverage the vast array of precision agriculture technologies. ■

Jeff Johnston Kenneth Zuckerberg
News
September 2022 - Issue 640

Events INDUSTRY AT THE INDEPENDENT SHOW - JULY 2022

ACA CONNECTS

Former ACAC President & CEO Matt Polka on stage at TIS22 with his family. Cablefax's Sara Winegardner and Amy Maclean presents Armstrong's Jeff Ross the Independent Operator of the Year Award. From left: ACAC President and CEO Grant Spellmeyer, Alpine Group's Rhod Shaw, and Kelley Drye's Tom Cohen Photo Credit: Kenneth Wajda
Independent Communications News 41
A bustling exhibit hall floor at TIS22 ACAC Chairman Patty Boyers conducting the ACAC 3rd Quarter Board Meeting Former U.S. Rep Greg Walden and former ACAC President and CEO Matt Polka discussing industry matters. Cinnamon Mueller's Bruce Beard and ACAC VP of Regulatory Affairs Brian Hurley From left: Mindy and David Hymas of GCI, Carla Framil-Ferrán of Liberty Puerto Rico, Marie Censoplano of Vyve Broadband, and Paul Hudson of Davis Wright Tremaine LLPand Paul Hudson
September 2022 - Issue 642
From left: Kraus Electronics Systems' Art Kraus, Former ACAC President & CEO Matt Polka, Cinnamon Mueller's Bruce Beard, and Conway Corp's Jason Hansen From left: ACACs' Brian Hurley, NCTC's Jeremey Southall, Breezeline's Leslie Brown and Thomas Gunerman ACA Connects President & CEO Grant Spellmeyer sporting his new shirt! ACAC Chairman Patty Boyers watching as Marty Carollo from All West Communications accepts the Lyn Simpson Grassroots Spirit Award From left: Norwood Light Broadband's Rich O'Reilly, ACACs' Mike Jacobs, and Norwood Light Broadband's Darryl Hanson.
Independent Communications News 43

Vendors: Have You Budgeted For 2023 ACAC Membership & Events?

Sr. Director of Meetings & Industry Affairs, ACA Connects

Ahhh, autumn. The temps are getting cooler. The leaves are turning colors. Football rivalries are in full swing. Name a better season – I’ll wait… But as the calendar flips to October, we know what that means for many of our vendor partners – BUDGETS!

So, when planning for memberships and events for the upcoming year, be sure to consider ACA Connects! Our AMP23 Program will be released in October and will include great opportunities to introduce or reinforce your brand, products or services to our cable and broadband provider members!

Plus, we’re excited to head back to Washington, D.C., for our 30th Anniversary Summit in late February! There will be numerous sponsorships available at varying price points. There’s sure to be one to fit your company’s budget and initiatives! And there’s plenty of other benefits and sponsorships available throughout the year like the ICN OpEd and ad submissions, Vendor Solutions Webinars, Media Sweep Banners and other in-person networking events!

All participants in our 2022 program will be receiving an email containing information on renewals and sponsorships, but any company interested in learning more about the program is welcome to reach out to me at stacey.leech@ acaconnects.org. Let’s partner together to make 2023 one of the best years yet!

Stacey Leech is ACA Connects Senior Director of Events & Industry Affairs.

She 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.

Ahhhhh. Congestion Relief.

Now there’s a quick-to-deploy dynamic congestion manager from OpenVault that maintains traffic flow without costly infrastructure investment.

Extend the life of your broadband network while reducing truck rolls and calls to customer care resulting in higher subscriber satisfaction. Find out more about our 100% cloud-based SaaS solution.

Unlock the power of your data openvault.com

ACA Connects' website, led by the Member Lounge, is an online platform providing access to key documents, studies, reports and filings that serve as value-added components to an ACA Connects Membership.

September 2022 - Issue 644

2022 UPCOMING INDUSTRY EVENTS

Date Event City, State

September 25-28, 2022 NTCA Fall Conference San Francisco, CA

September 26-28, 2022 CCSA Connect 2022 Mont-Tremblant, Quebec

September 26-28, 2022 MCCA Annual Meeting (Minnesota Cable Communications Assn) Brainerd, MN

September 27-29, 2022 CCA Annual Convention Portland, OR

September 29, 2022 Public Knowledge IP3 Awards Washington, DC

October 2-4, 2022 CyberShare Summit Kansas City, MO

October 3-5, 2022 WSTA Fall Conference & Exhibits (Wisconsin State Telecom) La Crosse, WI

October 5-6, 2022 MTA Fall Conference (Minnesota Telecom Alliance) Brooklyn Park, MN

October 9-13, 2022 Cable's Diversity Week

New York, NY

New York, NY & Virtual October 11-12, 2022 NAMIC Annual Conference New York, NY & Virtual October 12, 2022 Walter Kaitz Foundation's Annual Fundraising Dinner New York, NY

October 10-11, 2022 WICT Leadership Conference

October 10-12, 2022 Mid-America Telecom Showcase & Seminar

Kansas City, MO

October 11-13, 2022 KY Telecom Assn and TN Broadband Assn Fall Conference Bowling Green, KY

October 15-18, 2022 Calix ConneXions

October 19-20, 2022 NCTC IdeaXchange Regional Meeting

Las Vegas, NV

Denver, CO

October 23-26, 2022 Telecommunications Association of the Southeast Point Clear, AL

October 24-25, 2022 IAMU Fall Broadband Forum Waverly, IA

October 24-26, 2022 The INCOMPAS Show Denver, CO

November 6-9, 2022 National Exchange Carriers Assoc Expo (NECA) Nashville, TN

November 16-17, 2022 South Carolina Telecom & Broadband Assn Fall Conference Columbia, SC

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

Resources
Independent Communications News 45
ACA CONNECTS SUMMIT COMING SOON - WINTER 2023
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.