Transforming the Community and the World
As a rural cooperative partner, we are transforming the approach to infrastructure. Our goal is not to slow the decline of our rural communities, but rather to grow our communities. Fiber is a necessary component of any modern communications infrastructure.
We are not adding fiber to simply provide Internet access; we are creating an advanced infrastructure that improves Quality of Life:
- Job creation – manufacturing and small business
- Health care access and affordability
- Green initiatives – resource conservation
- Education – improving and transforming learning
This advanced infrastructure means real time access to the power grid and the home and business, affording greater opportunities in power demand management. Better demand management reduces overall infrastructure and fuel costs while increasing reliability, saving dollars and lives.
Advanced infrastructure means better access to health care and better outcomes. Over 2/3 of health care costs are attributable to chronic illnesses such as diabetes and congestive heart failure. Better disease management leads to better patient outcomes and lower long term costs, reducing the tax burden of government spending on health care.
Growing our communities means growing our families, which is essential for a healthy economy.
Do you realize that rural communities are less than 18% of the total population, yet 40% of the military comes from rural America? Rural communities play a vital role in our national security.
Fiber is the common underpinning of any modern communications infrastructure. Combining an advanced fiber infrastructure with utility services establishes a framework upon which to build applications that benefit the community for the long term. With practically unlimited bandwidth capabilities, fiber becomes an asset that can be utilized for decades to support numerous applications that drive economic and lifestyle improvement. Fiber can be combined with other technologies to meet the economic demands of a broadband implementation, but the goal should be to drive fiber as far into the network as possible.
Choosing the Right Technology
In deciding to build a broadband network, the question is often asked, “wireless or fiber?” The answer requires a larger view of system. In the access network, defined as the link between the home or business and the provider electronics, there are a variety of technologies that deliver Internet service, including wireless, DSL and fiber. However, all of these access technologies rely on the enormous capacity of the fiber core infrastructure to deliver Internet service.
For end user device connections, wireless is the ultimate goal. Almost any engineer and implementer will agree, however, that the best wireless strategy is to “bury the bits” as soon as possible. This means connecting end user devices in the home wirelessly to a gateway device such as a home router, which in turn connects to wired network facilities such as twisted copper pair, coax or fiber. For rural areas, there may be economical advantages to extending wireless access beyond the home to an aggregation point on a nearby tower or pole.
To explain the reasoning behind the “bury the bits” strategy, consider the signal to noise margin associated with each of these access technologies. Margin is expressed in dB, which is a measure of the amount of extra signal power above what is required for minimal operation to compensate for environmental impairments or destructive influences. DSL, for example, typically requires a 6 dB margin. Fiber requires 0 dB margin, unless one chooses to add 1 or 2 dB to account for the effects of aging. Wireless margins are typically 20 dB to account for the variability of the elements like rain, fog, trees and wind. Wireless technologies usually require licensing for frequency spectrum, which can be very expensive, further complicating the cost feasibility model and competitive pressures. Hence, broadband planners strive to move the bits from wireless to fiber as soon as economically feasible to ensure high quality and long term bandwidth performance.
The Internet of Things
According to USTelecom Media, there will be 34 billion Internet-connected devices by 2020, and possibly 100 billion devices just five years later, creating an economic impact of $11 trillion dollars worldwide. The ecosystem of these networked devices and applications is called the Internet of Things (IoT).
Most IoT applications thus far have focused on consumer applications such as fitness monitors, appliance or thermostat controls or even self-driving cars. But focus continues to grow in other major business areas including healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, finance, transportation, and retail. These industries will utilize IoT more and more, and the need for broadband infrastructure will increase dramatically.
From smart grid and smart home energy management to crop monitoring and healthcare, investment in the broadband infrastructure to support the volume of data and the associated analytics will be vital to meet the demands of the IoT world.
Changing Healthcare for the Better with Advanced Infrastructure
Case Study – Diabetes Care, Mississippi
Diabetes affects nearly 10% of the United States population. The American Diabetes Association estimated the 2012 costs of diabetes at $245B and continuing to rise. If not treated and managed properly, diabetes leads to health complications, including
- Heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Lower limb amputation
One diabetes care group has established a new business model for diabetes care that focuses on disease management and patient engagement. Using telemedicine technology to unify the multiple resources required for a patient visit, the provider is able to educate patients on diet and exercise, prescribe appropriate medications, and monitor vital health indicators. Multiple clinics have been established throughout the area to make patient access to managed care much easier. By improving the management of diabetes, the care group is reducing the number of Emergency Room visits and inpatient hospital stays caused by the complications of the disease. This care group estimates a savings of approximately $8000 per patient by incorporating a more effective patient engagement strategy using telemedicine to unify remote provider resources.
Consider some simple math. $8000 savings per diabetes patient on just 10% of the US diabetic population:
(29 million diabetic patients) x (10%) x $8000 per year = $23B savings
More than 2/3 of all health care costs are attributed to the treatment of chronic diseases and conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, renal disease, depression, obesity, hypertension, and COPD. New business models offering better chronic disease management and easier access through telemedicine technology will result in a healthier population and billions in savings that can substantially reduce government and private insurer liabilities.
Reducing the number of Emergency Room visits by 10% by improving access to care yields
(130 million visits per year) x $2,200 per visit x (10%) = $29B savings
A comprehensive broadband infrastructure enables remote care opportunities that might otherwise result in a much more costly Emergency Room visit, reducing billions in direct medical as well as additional savings in lost productivity and transportation costs.
Energy Management and Savings
An advanced fiber-based infrastructure means real time visibility and control of the power distribution system and the home or business.
Everyone is well acquainted with the benefits of smart meter reading systems in terms of the savings personnel dispatched to read meters. Modern smart meters are able to collect usage data throughout the day in intervals, allowing for monitoring and billing for off-hour and peak hour rate structures. Modern smart meters can be used to disconnect services remotely to manage non-payment billing issues, avoiding personnel and transportation costs as well. Most systems are RF-based, requiring a separate radio network infrastructure to collect smart meter data. Without direct fiber access, however, current smart metering systems do not feedback information quickly enough to manage demand in the home or business in real time.
According to the US Energy Information Association, the total US sales of electricity in 2016 reached 3,710,779 million kilowatthours.
- Approximately 38% of this usage is residential, 37% is commercial, and 25% is industrial.
- About 80% of electricity is supplied by non-renewable resources, i.e. coal, natural gas, and nuclear.
- The national average cost to produce a kwhr of electricity is about 10 cents; the national average rate is about 11.7 cents per kwhr.
With the ability to monitor usage in real time using a fiber-based network, there is an opportunity to create greater efficiencies in demand-based usage while conserving our fossil fuel resources.
A 5% savings in electricity usage can mean
3,000,000 million kwhrs x $.10 per kwhr x .05 % savings = $15B savings
in fossil fuel energy production. For a rural community of 5000 homes, a 5% savings equals approximately $270k per year.
Real time control of the infrastructure is not limited to electricity; water, gas, streetlights or any system that can be equipped with a sensor and a relay can be monitored and controlled in ways that increase overall efficiency and savings.
The benefits of Internet access to educational resources are evident and compelling. Students are not limited to local educational resources. Free resources such as Khan Academy and MIT’s
OpenCourseWare have enabled students worldwide to learn or improve upon math and science skills, improving their future prospects for success tremendously. Khan Academy provides access to over 150 million free educational lessons. Online education continues to transform the educational paradigm, reducing limitations imposed by geography, transportation, or scant financial resources.