Thursday, January 31, 2019

C Spire Announces Consortium to Tackle Rural Digital Divide

RIDGELAND, MS — C Spire, in coordination with Airspan Networks, Microsoft, Nokia and Siklu, announced their collaboration that will test and deploy a variety of broadband technologies in combination with new service and construction models to advance broadband connectivity in rural communities. In addition, the consortium will advance new models for coordination with regional fixed and wireless internet service providers, utilities and other regional stewards. The consortium’s goal is a new blueprint on a shared way forward to close the broadband adoption and affordability gap in rural communities across America.

C Spire Tech Movement Initiative
As one of the nation’s leading regional fixed and wireless broadband providers, C Spire is positioned to disrupt the current approach to rural broadband and address these challenges. These efforts are part of the broader C Spire Tech Movement initiative, which is committed to moving communities forward through technology with a focus on broadband access, workforce development and innovation. “Access to and adoption of broadband technology is critically important to economically move rural communities forward and ensure they are not left behind in today’s new digital economy,” said C Spire President Stephen Bye.

The gap between cities and rural parts of the country is substantial. According to a 2018 report from the Federal Communications Commission, over 19.4 million rural Americans still lacked basic broadband at the end of 2017. This is having profound impacts on the nation’s rural communities.

Unfortunately, the problems are even more acute in states like Mississippi and Alabama where nearly a third of rural residents have no access to basic broadband. A 2017 Mississippi State University Center for Technology Outreach study found that the state’s rural counties lose millions of dollars a year in deferred economic benefits due to lack of availability and slow internet speeds. The report concluded that those same counties will lose billions of dollars over a 15-year period.

Scaling at the Edge
“Our nation’s broadband adoption gap is a solvable problem that will not be limited in the next few years by the coming breath of new technologies themselves, but rather how well we facilitate them to scale at the edge,” said C Spire Chief Innovation Officer Craig Sparks. “Hyperlocal collaboration and highly automated tools combined with these easy-to-deploy network technologies are going to be key enablers,” he added. “C Spire’s intent is to bring the thought leaders in this consortium together to disrupt our own thinking in these areas.”

Using the real-world testbeds of Mississippi and Alabama, the consortium will begin the work and share collaborative learnings through a series of studies and open workshops over an 18-month engagement. The shared learnings are intended to facilitate affordable broadband internet access and help drive further adoption through digital education and community outreach. The consortium intends to address these problems in ways that can scale not only in regional testbeds, but throughout the nation at large.

C Spire will initiate this rural broadband effort on Jan. 29-31, 2019 by hosting the International Wireless Industry Consortium’s “Enhancing Rural Connectivity, New Wireless Opportunities and Deployment Scenarios” workshop in New Orleans. While closed to the press, all consortium partners will attend, along with other industry experts, for technical discussions.

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Thanks to BBC Wires (see source)

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