Our World is changing
has become essential
It must be inclusive
It must be affordable
It's what we do*
*and have been doing for over 40 years
...In my nine years of serving as Leelanau County Commissioner, I believe that our board’s decision to contract with DCS Technology Design to manage our current broadband project has been the single best contract decision of my tenure...
Ty Wessell, Leelanau County Commissioner, District 4, Chairman
The key to assuring all homes and businesses throughout an area have access to Broadband services is having precise and trusted data about where high-speed Broadband Internet exists, and more importantly, where it doesn't. With accurate data, you can make informed business decisions when planning on how you get Broadband to all of your Rural Areas. DCS Technology Design has developed the most precise mapping system in the industry, helping to take the mystery out of the process, and maximizing the available funding to assure inclusiveness across your entire community.
Getting them right
There has been a tremendous effort by different entities, including the FCC, NTIA, USDA, various states, and the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to improve their reporting systems for where Broadband Internet Service exists, and where it is not available. Rather than blindly create more confusing and redundant mapping information, we begin with all publicly available mapping resources and assess the viability of each data set. This requires extensive field validation with our seasoned OSP engineers. We will then challenge all mis-reported data and make sure it is in conformance with the new FCC Broadband Fabric reporting requirements, which is planned to be the basis for all future grant programs.
Inclusive - To assure that all homes and businesses within a geographic area are included
in the funding models for broadband internet planning. Isolated areas or individual locations are not left out due to higher construction costs.
Getting the Funding
Once a clear and accurate database has been developed, a funding strategy can be developed. There are several options for a county or municipalities to engage with ISPs and support a grant application process with the state or federal agencies. There may be a competitive process required through an RFI or RFP process to identify qualified ISP’s and develop a public-private partnership for the grant applications. Community support and endorsements may also be necessary, which will be part of the requirement development. Additional pre-engineering may be required to forecast construction costs depending on how the grants are structured.
Getting them right (cont)
A key to getting the maps correct are the FCC challenge processes. There are two types of challenges; Location, or "Fabric" (see sidenote →), and "Fixed Availability". We focus on the fixed availability since that is what determines whether a location is serviceable by a fixed service technology with at least 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload available speeds. That service also needs to be scalable to 100 Mbps symmetrical (same speed up and down), and future speeds of 1 Gbps symmetrical. This can only be provided by the most current Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) networks, and any Passive Optical Fiber (PON) network architecture (GPON, EPON, etc.), which is more commonly known as Fiber to the Home or Premise (FTTx). Our mapping studies identify what is available at each address and marks all addresses that do not have these minimum technologies available as "unserved". If an address is reported on the BSL map as having service at 100/20 or above, and it does not, we will flag it and file the challenge as part of a "Bulk Challenge" for the entire area (Township, County, etc.). Service Providers then have 60 days to dispute the challenge or concede. Most of the challenges are clearly just mis-reported serviceability that needs correcting to make the parcel eligible for grant funds. But occasionally, there are parcels that have been found un-serviceable due to other situations, mostly high-cost installation requirements or outside of the technical limitations of the technology. (← see sidenote). Below is a running tally of our challenge program
The most common challenge we make in an area that appears to be serviceable is due to additional installation requirements; high construction costs leading to the provider requesting more than a standard installation fee, and not being able to complete an installation within 10 days. The FCC has provided several guidelines that can be used for individual homeowner challenges. Follow the ideabulb for the complete list of FCC guidelines.
Broadband Serviceable Location (BSL) Fabric - Simply put, it is the map of every building that could need
access to the Internet. It is not meant to include unoccupied buildings, such as barns or garages, but if the structure is used as a residence or business with its own address, and might require a dedicated internet connection, that could be considered a BSL location. The "Fabric" or location challenge process is available for individuals or groups to file corrective information to assure their BSL is included on the National Broadband Map, or to make sure unoccupied structures that don't need internet connections are removed from the database. Click on the ideabulb above for more information.
Parcel Challenges - Total fixed availability challenges filed through the BDC portal.
Upheld - ISP has conceded that the BDC system had wrong information and would be corrected, resulting in that address now being eligible for funding.
Withdrawn - ISP response to challenge is that the address is serviceable within the guidelines set by the FCC (← see sidenote). Results in this bubble generally means that residents that had not been able to get service before, due to high installation costs, now have availability to services for a standard installation fee and within 10 days.
Pending - Challenge still in the review process by the ISP
Michigan is our home, we are proud to serve and assist so many of our communities
Muskegon has a lot of densely populated areas as well as areas that can become inaccessible during winter months. The need for reliable communications to these isolated corners is as important as ever today.
Van Buren is largely farmland so broadband services supporting agricultural operations is vital to the county's economy. Outside of agricultural needs, the county was found to be nearly 25% unserved by Broadband. Strong community partnerships are changing that.
Washtenaw is home to the University of Michigan, major healthcare, manufacturing, tech and research. The idea of working and learning from home, or other social obligations, didn't seem could be a problem in the sixth most populated county in Michigan. But, as Covid 19 highlighted, more than 8000 homes across the county still had no reliable access to Broadband at home.