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Broadband Service Providers: Prosper, TX - Infrastructure

Broadband access refers to the infrastructure that enables a high-speed internet connection. There are two primary types of broadband connections: fixed and mobile.

Fixed broadband is delivered to a user via several technology platforms including cable, digital subscriber line (DSL) over a phone line, fiber optics, and fixed wireless. Fixed broadband is designed for stationary use at a fixed location such as a home, business, or institution (see examples at Appendix II: Infrastructure).

Mobile broadband is a wireless technology used to connect portable devices to the internet. These networks are designed to provide seamless connectivity as the user moves from one location to the next while accessing the web from a portable device. Mobile connections were robust in Prosper and generally were not impacted by weather, vegetation, latency, and other issues of typically associated with connection reliability and restriction.

The eventual deployment of fifth generation, or 5G, wireless services will likely impact Prosper and such networks will be designed to push immense amounts of data across the mobile network. 5G will not be a band-aid or cure-all and will be subject to its own set of inherent problems.

In their article titled “What is 5G?” opines on the initial launch of 5G networks stating “…we think this will be ‘millimeter wave’ 5G, which requires dense networks of cells that don't reach very far (say, about 1000 feet each), but deliver extremely high speeds.” This coincides with early indications that, as an industry, millimeter wave service (combined with massive MIMO antennas) may be deployed across existing 4G networks as a precursor of things to come.

SB 1004, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June 2017 and went into effect in September 2017 has been controversial and, since going into effect, the state has since been sued by Austin, Dallas, and 20 other city governments over the bill. It is difficult to opine whether this will accelerate or impede 5G deployments over the next few years.

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Spectrum Frontiers Auction 101 (28 GHz) was completed on January 24, 2019 and received gross bids of $702,572,410 for the 3,072 licenses (parsed as 425 megahertz blocks) and commenced Auction 102 (24 GHz) on March 14 offering 2,909 licenses (100 megahertz blocks).

Broadband availability is an essential infrastructure for twenty-first century communities. Broadband empowers a community to access applications ranging from healthcare and education to business and government services. A high-speed internet connection is critical for families, students, businesses, and institutions to participate in the digital economy.

The town of Prosper is doing better than most semi-rural bedroom towns when it comes to broadband infrastructure, expansion, adoption, and speeds. In several areas of the town, consumers have access to fiber, cable modem, and high speed DSL, and in most areas of the town, consumers have access to both cable modem and high speed DSL. The average download speed reported by residents in Prosper is 133.8 Mbps while the average download speed reported by residents in other communities engaged by Connected Nation is 38.6 Mbps.

Prosper survey results indicate that the average download speed of service is 133.8 Mbps.

The speed tests shown were conducted on March 8 and 9, 2019 and clearly illustrate the inconsistency of the connection speed of one provider. The 8:44 a.m. download speed is 20.15 Mbps versus the 2.19 Mbps download speed at 8:30 p.m.

It was very evident that consumers in the area held strong opinions of the local providers and the inconsistencies in speeds. It was also apparent, however, that these problems may be attributed to the rapid growth (and subsequent construction activities) in the area.

CN staff members spent March 3-9, 2019 driving the majority of the roadways in Prosper (765 miles) while mapping the CATV outside plant (OSP) routes, FTTH OSP routes, distribution fiber routes, and identifying the DSLAM and central office (CO) locations across the town (see sample map below). On several occasions, CN staff members witnessed damage to the broadband infrastructure (e.g., pedestals being run over by heavy machinery, fiber optic cables being cut by graders and back-hoes, etc.) causing service interruptions until such time as broadband providers could dispatch repair crews.

The vision of the broadband leadership team in Prosper is to ensure that all citizens have access to world-class broadband infrastructure in their community. Such infrastructure requires patience and time and it should be acknowledged that certain things are simply outside of the control of the broadband provider.

Armed with individual provider maps, CN staff members set out to locate and log the service routes. For example, if an FCC Form 477 map indicated the presence of fiber-to-the-home, then one would expect to find remote terminals at the entry to a subdivision or somewhere within the subdivision, pedestals (if the OSP is underground), and network interface devices on the side of a home in the neighborhood. Maps of service routes can be found in Appendix III.

As one of the primary deliverables for this project, the map above, and the set of detailed route maps found in the Appendix, will assist the Prosper broadband team to isolate the locations of unserved households within its borders.

This unique mapping methodology supplants the standard FCC Form 477 mapping data; when filing Form 477 for fixed broadband deployment, service available at one home in a census block translates into the entire census block being reported as served by broadband.

As a starting point for this exercise, CN downloaded and processed the most recently available FCC Form 477 data, current as of December 30, 2017.

Two providers that were present in the FCC Form 477 deployment data were found to not actually provide any broadband service in Prosper (Comcast and Ultra Communications d.b.a. NewWave).