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  • 1.  Spotlight on Broadband in the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card

    Posted 07-24-2020 12:10 PM

    The ASCE 2021 Infrastructure Report Card will include a spotlight on broadband infrastructure. The Committee on America's Infrastructure (CAI), the ASCE committee that writes and advises on the national Infrastructure Report Card, is looking for input on the nexus of civil engineering and broadband/ telecom. Specifically, CAI is interested in highlight "dig once" policies and a recommendation to build utility poles to ASCE standards to better accommodate 5G transmitters. Other input on items we should consider highlighting are welcome.

    Please be mindful that the Report Card for America's Infrastructure is intended for a non-technical audience and that ASCE's role in this conversation should include a specific focus on the nexus of civil engineering and broadband.

    Thank you and looking forward to your responses!

    Anna Denecke
    Washington DC

  • 2.  RE: Spotlight on Broadband in the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card

    Posted 07-25-2020 10:19 AM

    For Competitors accessable conduits are a boottleneck.  Fiber access and competition are the callenge in 2 ways: getting access and getting it cheap.  

    Tino Bretschneider Ph.D., P.E., S.E., M.ASCE
    Senior Engineer
    Elmwood Park IL

  • 3.  RE: Spotlight on Broadband in the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card

    Posted 07-27-2020 09:28 AM
    Edited by Chad Morrison 07-27-2020 09:30 AM
    My understanding is that telecom companies are committed to 5G and no longer care to invest in fiber optics, let alone broadband.  5G is no more wireless than a cordless phone, at some point, whether it is on the pole, or in the house, there is a wire.  Investment and service in rural communities remains the biggest obstacle.

    When over the air service from the pole becomes the standard, at what point do we designate wifi as a public utility?  As public schools now rely on high speed service to teach and the expectation is that all students have access... the designation may happen faster than any one expects.

    Is 5G safe?  Can a user expect the same security as a wired connection in the wall?  Garmin is currently under cyber attack, security for business (including engineering firms) remains a top priority.

    With 5G, can we expect the demise of land line telephones and cable TV?  We were promised video phones in the future, but they never caught on.  Is the pandemic what forces us to fully accept that technology?  I believe the days of the landline (and cell phone) number are indeed numbered due to scams and spoofing.  What will replace it for online and communication identification?  Our email address?  Our facebook/google/Microsoft/Apple profile?  Without public utility status or government regulated communications standards, private companies will be competing to be the new Ma Bell.  This I suppose is a good thing... which leads to the conclusion that industry wide standardization is the likely answer.

    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI

  • 4.  RE: Spotlight on Broadband in the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card

    Posted 07-28-2020 08:39 PM
    5G requires enormous investment outside of dense cities, so that will be occupying telecom utilities for years.  I agree that not long from now the concept of a "phone number" will become really quaint.

    So "broadband" in the Report Card needs to be explained.  If it is meant to mean the main lines connecting 5G cell towers, then yes, ASCE should focus on it.  Otherwise, I don't think it will receive much traction with the public decision makers.  Companies don't wish to dig up old infrastructure to install fibre optic to the home, with skyrocketing labor expenses and the liability.  So advocating for "dig once" is spot on.

    This is clearly and importantly the domain of civil engineering.  Like highways and water pipes.  While figuring out the electrical characteristics of broadband lines is of course a telecom engineer's role, the thing needs to be buried in the ground and routed around other objects, and survive floods and earthquakes.  Sounds Civil to me.

    Rural areas will always lag.  It's simple economics.  There are not pots of money sitting around to upgrade everything to the newest technology every few years.  Why does the news media perceive America as this "rich" nation?  Take my community, it is a pretty small town and Verizon has just one mountaintop tower.  Even my 4G LTE service is worse than the old 3G speed, consistently, 365 days of the year. 2 Mbps on a good day.  I'm still able to do my job working from home, but it could be challenging for persons in other professions. There is no cable TV broadband run to our area, and AT&T copper phone line equipment way too old for DSL.

    There is local opposition to Verizon's plan to build taller tower and add 5G; the electromagnetic radiation extremist activists are very persuasive. So we, like along the interstate highways connecting our towns, will almost certainly be without 5G during the 2020s decade.  Why do people need to watch 4k quality video on their cell phones anyway?  But if the emphasis is on 5G or bust, our town will lose out.

    But does this mean there's a problem which needs to be solved, given all the other infrastructure challenges we face?

    Dudley McFadden P.E., D.WRE, M.ASCE
    Principal Civil Engineer
    Sacramento Municipal Utility District