Law Details Benefits of Fiber Optic Networks in D.C. Hearing
Members of Congress heard from Golden West CEO and General Manager Denny Law earlier this week as they discussed the different network options for meeting the nation’s reliance on broadband.
“There is nothing superior to fiber on the market as it relates to technology performance,” Law testified. “Fiber has been a great benefit for rural customers.”
Law represented Golden West members and customers of all companies who are members of NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association. He served as a witness before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband on June 22 in Washington, D.C. The hearing focused on how best to provide resilient, redundant, and secure broadband networks.
Fiber Optics Offer Resilient, Redundant & Secure Connections
Law emphasized that fiber optic technology provides the connections Americans need. In addition, a fiber optic network also positions the United States for the future and for unexpected uses and situations, such as the pandemic.
“In the span of 90 days, from January of 2020 to April of 2020, Golden West’s network usage overall increased 25%,” Law testified. “Our upstream usage increased 40% in 90 days. Our network was able and capable of handling that type of capacity change, somewhat at a moment’s notice, because 90 days in a network operator’s world is indeed a moment’s notice with no warning.”
Golden West first added fiber optics to its infrastructure more than 30 years ago. The technology has held up, and the cooperative plans to bring fiber to all its remaining subscribers over the next six or seven years.
Other witnesses at the hearing included Harold Feld, senior vice president of Public Knowledge; Jonathan Adelstein, president and chief executive officer of the Wireless Infrastructure Association; and Jeff Johnson, chief executive of the Western Fire Chiefs Association.
Thune Also Mentions Increased Pandemic Demand
In his opening remarks, Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who serves as ranking member of the subcommittee, also mentioned the increased demands broadband networks faced during the pandemic. The networks performed better than those in other parts of the world, he said, but there is still work to be done.
“Reliable and resilient networks across all parts of the United States have never been more critical,” Thune said. “As Congress considers a larger infrastructure package, this committee has an opportunity before it to support the deployment of reliable and resilient networks, and it is imperative that we get it right.”
Law emphasized the need to not only build a network, but also to support the ongoing operation of it. He said the Universal Service Fund High Cost program has been foundational to the broadband buildout for much of rural America. It has helped ensure affordability, as well as sustainability.
Subcommittee Discusses Telecommunications Legislation
During the hearing, Congress members mentioned several pieces of proposed legislation designed to develop and strengthen telecommunications services moving forward. These included the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act and the Rural Connectivity Advancement Program Act, for example. Discussions continue around an infrastructure stimulus plan, as well.
“This committee which has jurisdiction over telecommunications policy has a real opportunity to support efforts to close the digital divide,” Thune said.
Watch a recording of the full hearing at https://www.commerce.senate.gov/2021/6/building-resilient-networks. The 2-hour hearing starts at the 25:55 mark.