Arizona Telecommunications and Information Council

 
 

 

Summit Background Information

 Advanced Telecom & Broadband Deployment In Arizona

Based upon lengthy study and public discussion by industry leaders, economic development groups, and various telecom stakeholders from all parts of Arizona, ATIC and CIAC have identified barriers to deployment of advanced telecommunications services and broadband Internet access to rural and under-served communities. Subsequently ATIC and CIAC adopted eleven strategy and policy recommendations to overcome these barriers. Based upon these recommendations CIAC identified three priorities and created the following Task Groups:

  • Statewide Strategic Planning

  • Arizona Broadband Authority (Funding Strategies)

  • Rights-of-Way

  • Local Community and Tribal Planning and Policy Development

The recommendations are summarized on this web site and detailed in the Summit Briefing Document available for download from this web site.

Download the Summit Briefing Document

What is Broadband

The FCC defines broadband as an Internet connection at a speed of 200 kilobits per second (kbps) in either direction. In the Networked World, however, this basic broadband service is no longer adequate. ATIC and CIAC have recommended advanced broadband services providing a minimum of 1 Mbps to support services such as eCommerce, eHealth, eGovernment, and eLearning.

Broadband is Important For our Communities

Like water and roads, advanced telecommunications and broadband Internet access services have become critical infrastructure for the businesses that drive the local economies, community development, and for the health, safety, welfare, and educational advancement in Arizona communities.  It is essential for communities in need of economic development and revitalization that want to grow existing businesses and start or attract new businesses.  It is essential to support critical services such as police and fire, health care institutions, schools and government offices.

Status of Advanced Telecom and Broadband Deployment In Arizona

While broadband has become increasingly available and affordable in many larger communities, many smaller and rural communities are under-served or have no broadband access. The greater metropolitan areas have an increasing number of both basic (200 Kb) and advanced (1 Mbps +) broadband options. The majority of rural communities now have access to basic broadband last-mile services such as cable modem, DSL, or wireless. Unfortunately, many rural communities still lack consistent coverage of basic broadband services and they do not have the infrastructure to support advanced (1mps+) broadband deployment. Of the rural communities that have services, many still face middle and last-mile deficits, experiencing higher service costs, making it unaffordable to end users.

It is estimated that as many as 50% of Arizona citizens living in rural settings (about 10% of the State’s population) do not have access to advanced broadband connections.  Many rural communities also experience a lack of redundancy to and from their community in order to maintain connectivity in the event of network casualties

Primary Goals for this Effort

  • To accelerate deployment of a statewide advanced telecommunications infrastructure that will insure availability of advanced telecommunications services and affordable, high quality, high-speed Internet access throughout the State.

  • Develop voice, video and data applications that ride over the infrastructure that will link the Arizona community and support education, economic and community development.

  • Develop strategies to Bridge the Digital Divide

Infrastructure Development Deficits

There are three major infrastructure deficits that have been identified. These include the lack of:

  • Middle Mile: There are two primary telecom services required to deploy broadband into a community – Last Mile and Middle Mile. The Last Mile is the Internet connection between the Internet service provider (ISP) and businesses, homes, schools, etc. The Middle Mile is the high capacity trunk lines and associated infrastructure that connect communities to the Internet backbone points-of-presence in major metropolitan areas such as Phoenix and Tucson. Due to recent advancements in wireless, and other technologies, last mile deployment of broadband is becoming more cost-effective, even in rural and underserved areas of the state with distributed populations. A number of companies have expressed interest in providing last mile service in these areas. In order to deploy their networks, and charge reasonable rates, they must have access to sufficient and reasonably priced middle-mile connections. There is an estimated $80-$150M requirement to address the middle-mile infrastructure deficiencies in Arizona. If a common middle mile infrastructure is not available, at reasonable rates, communities, or last mile providers, must construct their own middle mile infrastructure. This increases the last mile costs that can significantly increase the end users monthly rates.

  • Interoperability: Interconnection between and among public and private providers of
    broadband services

  • Redundancy: More than one path for telecommunications transport to/from a community in order to maintain connectivity in the event of network casualties

Barriers to Resolving Broadband Deployment

There are a number of barriers to resolve the broadband deployment issue:

  • Lack of cooperation: There is a lack of cooperation among the telecom providers and lack of public and private cooperation.

  •  Return on Investment: Broadband deployment requires a balance between deployment costs, “affordable” monthly end user rates, and the length of time for the provider’s ROI, or Return on Investment. Today telecom providers are looking at an ROI requirement of 18 months - two years. Considering the cost of middle investment, this is often not a feasible model in rural and under served areas

  • Access to Rights-of-Way: Federal, tribal, state and local Rights-of-Way issues such as multiple jurisdiction permitting, delayed application approvals, and unequal and prohibitive fees have been significant barriers and disincentives for deployment of services.

  • Leadership, Planning and Coordination: While there are a number telecom related initiatives underway in Arizona, there is no coordinated statewide strategy. Through coordination and planning Arizona would more effectively leverage existing resources and be eligible for millions of grant dollars to benefit community development.

  • Funding: There is a lack of funding mechanisms such as a Broadband Universal Service Fund,  earmarked for broadband development  in Arizona

Recommendations

Arizona needs to remove barriers and develop public policies and market-driven strategies that will encourage competition, private-sector investment in, and rapid deployment of advanced telecommunications services and affordable broadband Internet access throughout the State. Therefore, ATIC and CIAC recommends the following initiatives:

  • Establish a Telecommunications Infrastructure Advisory Committee under the Governor’s Council on Innovation and Technology

  • Develop dedicated broadband infrastructure funding mechanisms and strategies such as creation of an Arizona Broadband Authority and an Arizona Broadband Universal Service Fund to help fund telecom infrastructure projects

  • Provide support for the development of a Statewide Telecom Strategic Plan that will enable the vision, framework and strategies for the deployment of a statewide telecom infrastructure.  

  • Convene a series of regional and statewide Telecom Roundtables

  • Provide state support to identify potential funding sources and provide grant writing assistance to help fund state and local telecom infrastructure projects

  • Implement a strategy to facilitate increased use of the federal E-rate subsidies in the state 

  • Provide ongoing funding for Community Telecommunications Assessments and Plans to identify community telecom assets, assess their needs, and develop and implement telecom infrastructure strategies and initiatives

  • Adopt an Arizona definition of Broadband to be a minimum of 1Mbps

  • Encourage access to local, state, federal and tribal rights-of-way  

  • Monitor legislative actions to ensure that explicit or de facto barriers to municipal participation in Broadband deployment are eliminated. 

Download the Summit Briefing Document