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Delivering Broadband to Rural Areas: What Our Members Are Doing to Help

CableLabs Admin

Apr 22, 2020

As we all deal with these uncertain times, it’s important to remember the good. And our members have been doing just that. Many of our U.S. member companies have been working to improve rural broadband for several years and there's no better time to recognize these superb initiatives they have created! Although there are still rural residents that don’t have broadband access, here are a few examples from our North American members working on solving the rural broadband challenge:

Midco is investing in high-speed broadband using a comprehensive approach that includes targeted network technologies from fiber to fixed wireless. Their Hometown Telemedicine initiative is targeted at working with rural residents with geographical barriers. In addition, their Boundary-Free Classrooms have broadband internet options so students have access to limitless learning resources that rural schools cannot always provide on their own. In small communities, students have more opportunities to learn world languages, take advanced placement courses and choose from a variety of electives through online learning. Midco’s initiative is helping areas all over Minnesota, like Bemidji, Lake County, Scandia and more. NCTA recently said, “Midco's footprint has some of the most rural regions in the country, and along with that, many stories of how high-speed internet is improving businesses and the lives of residents.” They’re truly “taking the bull” out of the internet!

Astrea's mission is simple, to provide reliable high-speed Internet connectivity to rural areas with a vision of bridging the digital divide. Astrea delivers modern telecommunications services in 60 rural communities in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. They help provide high-speed Internet, TV and Phone for people who choose small-town living. The region Astrea serves is like much of rural America where low population density and challenging geography impede small ISPs from reaching everyone through traditional wired broadband technology while keeping access affordable. In 2018, Astrea joined other ISPs in Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, which helps underserved communities get online nationally and globally. By using TV white spaces (TVWS)—unused channels of television airwaves—to broadcast an internet signal, Airband partners like Astrea are changing the narrative in rural America by bringing affordable broadband service to more and more rural homes and businesses.

Mediacom Business is a division of Mediacom Communications Corporation They are providing a path for schools in rural America to evolve with the expansion of the digital classroom. With broadband speeds increasing, remote schools and libraries can now keep up with technology developments that help close the digital divide, create student engagement and drive benchmarks of educational effectiveness.

Comcast Business has helped thousands of schools improve their quality of education with its services. Comcast is a part of the E-rate Program, also known as the Universal Service Schools and Libraries Program, that helps ensure schools and libraries have high-speed Internet access at affordable rates. Comcast has a long history of supporting education, including more than 17 years of expertise with the E-rate program.

Spectrum Enterprise (Charter), provides discounted broadband and telecom services to qualifying healthcare organizations serving rural and underserved communities. They are delivering powerful, flexible solutions to support and provide outstanding patient care, integrate emerging technologies and keep healthcare organizations connected and secure. Spectrum Enterprise helps rural hospitals stay connected and makes telecare more available for those who live far from hospitals. Still in trial runs, Charter is looking to bring fixed wireless technology to deliver fast Internet speeds to rural areas where rough terrain, weather, and small populations make it cost prohibitive to lay fiber. Making the Internet more accessible for rural consumers is extremely important especially in a time like this.

We are proud that all of our members are continually making a difference by helping rural consumers stay connected during the COVID-19 pandemic! Subscribe to our blog to keep up to date with CableLabs and our members.



Say “Hoi” to VodafoneZiggo, Our Newest CableLabs Member

Chris Lammers
Chief Operating Officer

Dec 17, 2018

We are very happy to announce that VodafoneZiggo just became the 62nd member of our global CableLabs family. VodafoneZiggo is a Dutch joint venture formed from the union of two very well-known brands:

  • Ziggo, the #1 cable network and entertainment provider in the Netherlands owned by Liberty Global, the largest international TV and broadband internet company; and
  • Vodafone Netherlands, the #2 mobile operator in the Netherlands owned by Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies.

VodafoneZiggo provides 9.7 million fixed line services to its customers with nearly 4 million video, over 3 million broadband and 2.5 million telephone services, and provides mobile services to nearly 5 million customers. The joint venture now provides converged video, broadband and mobile services to over 1 million households just 18 months after launching its quad-play offering.

Why VodafoneZiggo Is a Perfect Fit for the CableLabs Family

VodafoneZiggo’s focus is an echo of our own future vision for the global cable industry – connected networks. By joining forces, VodafoneZiggo’s parent companies embarked on a path toward a seamless and reliable connectivity between networks, devices, and most importantly, people. Beginning in 2020, VodafoneZiggo will begin providing a 'network of the future' with converged mobile and fixed connections.

Liberty Global announced its next-generation TV entertainment platform, ‘Horizon 4’, in 2018 featuring a superfast set-top box with 4K Ultra HD picture quality and a remote control with voice capabilities. VodafoneZiggo is currently testing 'Horizon 4' and is working towards a commercial launch in the first half of 2019. DOCSIS 3.1 technology, the CableLabs innovation enabling multiple gigabit per second broadband speed, has been successfully piloted in the Utrecht region of the Netherlands enabling VodafoneZiggo to proceed with a nationwide 1 Gigabit network rollout by 2020.

As a next step in the realization of its network of the future, VodafoneZiggo has increased the bandwidth of a part of its mobile network and, as a result, download speeds of more than 1 Gbps are now possible. Mobile devices supporting these download speeds are expected to be broadly available in 2019. The joint venture is also carrying out 5G tests, working on innovative IoT solutions to make cities safer and more sustainable.

Benefits of CableLabs Membership

We believe that CableLabs’ international reach will help companies like VodafoneZiggo and many others achieve the technological alignment and global scale needed to ramp up the pace of innovation and drive down costs. A CableLabs membership gives them a direct link to the rest of the industry through which they can share experiences and collaborate to better serve their customers.

Other membership benefits include:

  • Exclusive access to our quarterly R&D reports, competitive assessments of innovation focus areas and more.
  • An invite to our annual Summer Conference and other member-only global events, plus other industry conferences, such as CES.
  • A behind-the-curtain look at the latest innovative research not yet available to the general public.
  • An opportunity to participate in Working Groups that drive industry standards in fiber, security, mobile, virtual networking and other innovative fields.

If you’d like to learn more about CableLabs member benefits and how to apply, please click the link below.

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CableLabs Welcomes Two New Members: Liberty Latin America and Packerland Broadband

Chris Lammers
Chief Operating Officer

Oct 11, 2018

CableLabs is excited to welcome our 60th and 61st members to our global cable industry family: Liberty Latin America and Packerland Broadband.

Liberty Latin America

Continuing our commitment to the international cable community, we welcome Liberty Latin America (LLA) to CableLabs. LLA split off from Liberty Global, also a member of CableLabs, in January 2018 and launched as an independent, publicly-traded company. LLA is the leading telecommunications company in Latin America serving 20 consumer markets and over 30 B2B markets with operations in Chile, Panama, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and beyond. As of June 30, 2018, LLA has 5.3 million RGUs (video, broadband and fixed-line telephony subscribers), together with 3.5 million mobile subscribers.

LLA operates a network of over 50,000 kilometers of sub-sea and terrestrial fiber that connects over 40 markets in the region, providing connectivity both within and outside its operating footprint. LLA is led by Balan Nair, President and CEO, an experienced and proven business executive with more than 20 years in the telecommunications industry. He has been a part of the Liberty family of companies since 2007, most recently as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer for Liberty Global.

Packerland Broadband

From the heartland of America, we welcome Packerland Broadband, a division of CCI Systems which is 100% employee-owned. Established in 2007, Packerland provides video, broadband and voice services to 9,000 customers in 60 communities throughout northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Packerland uses a variety of access technologies to deliver residential services, including traditional HFC, FTTH, fixed wireless and satellite resale. As of June 2018, Packerland Broadband offered its UltraConnect gigabit service to 40 of the 60 communities it serves – bringing the fastest broadband to rural America.

In February of this year, Packerland Broadband and Microsoft announced an agreement to provide broadband internet access to approximately 82,000 people living in rural regions of Michigan and Wisconsin over the next four years using a combination of fixed and wireless technologies, including innovative applications of TV white spaces, LTE, 5 GHz and millimeter wave technologies. Packerland is launching, in conjunction with Microsoft, digital literacy training programs to help educate its customers on how to embrace and safely use the Internet, especially the elderly.

Why CableLabs Membership?

Membership allows LLA and Packerland to both contribute and profit from our global community. With our international reach, we focus on achieving several objectives:

  • Alignment: Assure alignment with CableLabs technologies across the global cable community.
  • Adoption: Achieve global scale, and therefore low-cost solutions, through the adoption of common technologies by cable operators worldwide.
  • Collaboration: Collaborate with global partners to share experiences, exchange best practices, and advance innovation throughout the cable industry.

For over 30 years, we’ve worked with some of the biggest players in the cable industry to research and develop cutting-edge technologies across 5 continents. We bring together the best and brightest minds in the industry, allowing our members to shape innovation roadmaps and develop boundary-stretching products and services to better serve their customers and their changing needs.

By becoming a CableLabs member, you will get the support you need to innovate, develop and test next-generation products that will shape the future. You get exclusive access to our quarterly R&D reports, competitive assessments of innovation focus areas, such as AI, deep network technologies, gigabit technologies, security, and more. Attendance at our member-only global events, like our Summer Conference 2018, provides access to world-class thinkers and creators in our industry, its vendor communities, and complementary industries.

We look forward to bringing on more global members to foster innovation worldwide. This benefits our cable operator members as well as our product suppliers and component manufacturers. As a sharing community, all our members grow and profit from each other’s market experiences. You can find more information about CableLabs membership benefits, including how to become a member by clicking below.

Learn More about Membership