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A compilation of posts from NRTC’s blog, Rural Connect.

World Traveling Photographer to Speak at NRTC Annual Meeting in Orlando

Steve Uzzell, a photographer who has gathered dramatic images from all 50 states and 30 countries, will be the guest speaker at the NRTC Annual Meeting for electric members on Feb. 22. The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. in the Chapin Theater at the Orange County Convention Center.

Uzzell’s work has appeared over 40 years in more than 100 publications and has attracted critical accolades and awards. He began his career as an assistant editor for National Geographic and a member of the photographic staff. Uzzell also provided the photography for two books, Maryland and The View From Sterling Bluff.

Following the annual meeting for electric members, NRTC will conduct its meeting and luncheon for telephone members on March 9, in Phoenix Ballroom C at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown in Phoenix, AZ. NRTC emailed a package of information about both annual meeting sessions on Jan. 13 to all active electric and telephone member general managers. The packet includes information about NRTC board elections and a schedule of NRTC activities outside the board meeting at both NRECA’s Annual Meeting and TechAdvantage Expo as well as NTCA’s Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & Expo (RTIME).

Any NRTC member companies that did not receive the information should contact Chris Martin at 703-787-7288 or cmartin@nrtc.coop.

Consider a Clevest Side Trip

In the time between the NRTC Annual Meeting and the opening of the TechAdvantage Expo the following afternoon, NRTC electric members should consider stopping by the Clevest 2015 User Group Meeting at the Orlando’s Rosen Center Hotel. The agenda features sessions focusing on Clevest location technologies and case studies from Clevest customers. Clevest, NRTC’s mobile workforce management partner, will open the meeting with breakfast at 8 a.m. on Feb. 23 (later on, lunch is also included) and finish it in time for the opening of the TechAdvantage show at the Orange County Convention Center. Online registration is open for the User Group Meeting.

CES 2015: Is Sling the Thing?

By Mark Chambers, NRTC Director of Sales for Telecom Products

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in early January was very interesting. I was dodging drones, seeing 3D printed guitars, and wowed by amazing car trickery. Everything seemed connected to everything.

For those of us in the video world, several publications declaring DISH-owned Sling TV “Best of the Show” drew a lot of attention. How could it have happened? Does it really offer viewers a good deal?

Why is ESPN breaking their carriage requirement rules – so onerous for us cable and IPTV providers – for Sling TV? How can DISH offer the service for $20 a month and include sports? All good questions.

First things first – what IS Sling TV? The product hasn’t officially launched and we’ll likely see future product changes based on trial user feedback. It is still available by invitation only to Sling subscribers. But based on my CES conversations, Sling TV advertisements and various other resources, here’s my best description:

  • $20 per month with no contracts
  • 12 sports, lifestyle, family and news networks like: ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN
  • Programming focused on the millennial male 18-25 audience
  • Some access to on demand and PPV content, not included in the monthly subscription
  • Multiplatform delivery including Roku, iPhone, Android and PC
  • Here is a further breakdown by Engadget.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.
 

Sensus Gen 3 Meter Passes Safety Trials

Sensus, NRTC’s smart meter partner, is sharing the results of recent Underwriters Laboratories (UL) field trials of its Generation 3 iCon A 2S meter. Two Canadian utilities, SaskPower and the City of Medicine Hat, Alberta, requested the independent, third-party tests after safety incidents arose involving the meters last summer. UL found that the Gen 3 meters passed 21 different performance tests conducted on 40 different meters. The meters passed all of the tests.

As a result of the tests, Medicine Hat decided to complete its ongoing deployment of Gen 3 meters. Before the UL tests, SaskPower in September 2014 already had agreed to invest $5 million in next-generation Sensus technology. Sensus has tested its iConA Gen 4 meter under much harsher conditions than typical industry testing and has developed the meter to be much more resistant to overheating due to water leaks.

Internet Reclassification Could Have Unknown Effects on USF

The latest state of play in the net neutrality issue is that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the Democratic majority on the Commission are leaning heavily toward reclassifying broadband service as a Title II telecommunications service during its regular agenda meeting later this month. Telecom experts are now speculating on whether the FCC will adopt a modified version of Title II, which will forbear from enforcement of certain telecom regulations that have never applied to Internet providers.

Whatever form the order might take, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is urging the FCC not to forbear from Section 254 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the rules governing universal service contributions. Section 254 is supposed to maintain affordable basic telephone service to homes in high-cost areas as well as provide for specialized communications to schools, libraries and rural healthcare facilities. Therefore, it requires telecommunications providers to “make an equitable and nondiscriminatory contribution to the preservation and advancement of universal service.”

NTCA has long advocated expanding the number of entities that make contributions to universal service. In an ex parte letter to the FCC, Michael Romano, NTCA senior VP, Policy, notes that the Federal-State Board on Universal Service has spent the last year on that task. Forbearing from Section 254 “would short-circuit – if not defeat altogether – the ongoing consideration of contributions reform,” Romano said.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

ViaSat Sees Opportunity for Satellite/Terrestrial High-band Spectrum Sharing

ViaSat, which operates the Exede satellite broadband service, was among many satellite-industry companies responding to an FCC investigation into “high-band spectrum” – bands above 24 GHz – for potential future broadband services. ViaSat says that advances in technology could allow for more flexible spectrum planning than has been available in the past, especially in the area of spectrum sharing among satellite and terrestrial users.

The spectrum above 24 GHz is less favorable for transmitting broadband or any other form of communications. Signals require more power to transmit; they travel shorter distances, and are more easily susceptible to interference as well as blockage from the terrain, large buildings and precipitation. The spectrum is higher than the Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies satellite providers currently use for satellite TV and broadband services. But there are potential technologies to open high-band spectrum for satellite and licensed/unlicensed terrestrial services.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

U.S. Needs Faster Broadband to Support Streaming 4K Video

The growing popularity of streaming video applications was among the forces that led to the FCC’s recent order to increase the definition of broadband for universal service purposes to 10 Mbps downstream. But within a few years, most homes will demand streaming video in 4K, aka Ultra-HD format and the current speeds to support standard- and high-definition video will not be good enough.

Cloud computing company Akamai Technologies, which monitors the trends in computer speeds worldwide, released a top-10 list of countries that are best prepared to support 4K streaming as of today in its latest quarterly “State of the Internet” report. South Korea tops the list, which does not yet include the United States. “With 4k adaptive bitrate streams generally requiring between 10-20 Mbps of bandwidth, the rankings presented within this section identify candidate geographies most likely to be able to sustain such streams within this range,” Akamai said.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Qualcomm-backed Company Planning Global Broadband Satellite Service

Many satellite-industry trade publications are buzzing about the recent announcement by a British company, OneWeb, Ltd, that plans to build a 648-satellite constellation to cover the globe with broadband Internet access. The venture has two big-name backers, Qualcomm Inc. and the Virgin Group, with Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs and Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson both sitting on the company’s board of directors. According to SpaceNews, Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX, is a potential future investor. The stated goal of the project is to extend both voice and high-speed Internet service to rural and very remote areas worldwide. The SpaceNews article cites OneWeb CEO Greg Wyler as saying that the first satellites could begin launching by 2017. Although the company plans to build the satellites in the United States it is not clear whether it plans to offer service in this country.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.


 

If you have any comments or questions about NRTConnects, contact your NRTC regional business manager or write us at nrtconnects@nrtc.coop.


© 2015 NRTC
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Our Mission

To lead and support our members by delivering telecommunications solutions to strengthen member businesses, promote economic development and improve the quality of life in rural America.

In This Issue

World Traveling Photographer to Speak at NRTC Annual Meeting in Orlando

CES 2015: Is Sling the Thing?

Sensus Gen 3 Meter Passes Safety Trials

Internet Reclassification Could Have Unknown Effects on USF

ViaSat Sees Opportunity for Satellite/Terrestrial High-band Spectrum Sharing

U.S. Needs Faster Broadband to Support Streaming 4K Video

Qualcomm-backed Company Planning Global Broadband Satellite Service

Study Measures Consumer Willingness to Pay for OTT Services

Freewheel to Be First Wi-Fi-only Smart Phone Service

Record Bidding in AWS-3 Auction Is Good News for FirstNets

Where You Can See NRTC

In Brief

Study Measures Consumer Willingness to Pay for OTT Services

The success of streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon is leading several companies to introduce competitive services. Parks Associates surveyed 10,000 broadband homes in the fourth quarter of 2014 and found that 17 percent of those households are likely to subscribe to the new HBO GO stand-alone over-the-top service when it begins later this year. “HBO picked a good time to announce its standalone HBO Go OTT service in the U.S. The percentage of subscribers interested in OTT video services is trending upward, and more industry players are planning to launch their own OTT services,” said Parks Associates analyst Glenn Hower.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Freewheel to Be First Wi-Fi-only Smart Phone Service

Cable TV company Cablevision Systems Corp., which offers cable modem and Wi-Fi Internet access to its subscribers, announced yesterday that it will launch Freewheel, a smart phone service that transmits all voice and data communications over Wi-Fi. Like other cable TV companies, Cablevision has installed millions of Wi-Fi hotspots throughout its cable TV service areas to augment subscribers’ broadband service. Freewheel will be available as a standalone service available for $29.95 a month or as a $9.95 service “for Cablevision’s Optimum Online customers, which is up to 80 percent less expensive than leading cellular offerings,” according to a Cablevision press release. The Motorola Moto G, a $99.95 Android handset, is the only device available supporting Freewheel so far.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Multitude of Competing Connected Home Platforms to Continue

Connected home products continue to proliferate and with them, the number of competing automation platforms. According to a recent report by Gartner, a research firm, that state of affairs is not likely to change anytime soon. The report predicts that by 2018 there still will be no unifying technology for the various Internet of Things (IoT) systems. In fact, Gartner expects many more IoT platforms will emerge. For businesses looking at IoT systems, “[chief information officers] will need to ensure their prime system integrator has a strategy to future-proof their project. This is especially critical if the project involves infrastructure that may be in the field for decades,” said Gartner Research Director Alfonso Velosa.

To read the rest of this post, go to NRTC’s Rural Connect.

Where You Can See NRTC

• Feb. 5: Electric-Telco Partnership Summit, Herndon, VA
NRTC CEO Tim Bryan and NRTC staff will attend

• Feb. 8-10: NTCA Telecom Executive Forum, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Greg Santoro will attend

• Feb. 19-27: NRECA Annual Meeting and TechAdvantage Expo, Orlando, FL
NRTC staff will attend

• Feb. 22: NRTC Annual Meeting for electric cooperative members, Orlando, FL
NRTC staff will attend

• Feb. 23: 2015 Clevest User Group Meeting, Orlando, FL
NRTC staff will attend

• March 8-11: RTIME Conference and Expo, Phoenix, AZ
NRTC staff will attend

• March 9: NRTC Annual Meeting for telephone company members, Phoenix, AZ
NRTC staff will attend

• April 14-16: IP Possibilities Conference & Expo, Denver, CO
NRTC staff will attend


See the NRTC Events page for more upcoming meetings.