Attention Community Networks: The FCC Needs Information

We have long urged the FCC to include community networks in discussions around subjects like Universal Service Fund reform -- where communities are better poised to build the networks they need than private companies. The good news is that the FCC is now listening; the bad news is that they are listening during a short window in the middle of August. Doh!

Nonetheless, we urge as many of you as possible to file whatever information you can to inform the FCC. Public Knowledge and the Benton Foundation are coordinating a filing to make it easier on you -- a recent email copied below explains further. Please contact me or one of the people below if you have any questions - getting good information in front of the FCC is essential for them to make the right decision. From Public Knowledge and Benton:

In reforming this portion of the fund the FCC has requested addition information on the idea of communities “self-provisioning” their broadband service.  Specifically the Commission is considering requiring all fund recipients to open up their networks to self-provision communities at reasonable rate.  Right now this requirement would be limited to self-provisioners that are in areas where USF recipient may have facilities nearby BUT the USF recipient is not providing service to the self-provisioning community.

We think that small, independent or community based ISPs are just the kind of folks the FCC envisions to be “self-provisioning” an unserved community.  Public Knowledge and the Benton Foundation are working together to document input from current “self-provisioners” to help answer some of the questions in this proceeding.  If you are interested in participating you can either file a comment on your own by August 24, 2011 or work with PK and Benton’s attorneys to put together a coordinated filing.

Note: You can file confidential information with the FCC in the proceeding using the procedures outlined in this document.

If you are interested in working with PK and Benton please answer the following questionnaire with as much detail as possible and email to Amina Fazlullah or John Bergmayer by August 24th 2011

The FCC needs data on how various kinds of small, independent, community-based, or other ISPs serve their customers.

  • How much does it cost you to serve your average customer?
  • What are your main costs (equipment, backhaul, customer support...)?
  • What is your main source of funding (payments from customers, grants, etc)?
  • What kind of entity are you (a sole proprietorship, a nonprofit, a corporation, etc)?
  • How many people do you employ?  Are they based in your local community or elsewhere?
  • Is it cheaper for you to serve your average customer, than it would be for an outside carrier to serve that same customer?
  • What are the characteristics of your area that make you well-suited to serve it?  
  • Are there features of the geography or population distribution that call for custom solutions? 
  • Does your service require customer support of a level that larger carriers might be unsuited to provide?
  • If you were to make use of a small fund that enabled you to purchase extra equipment, what would you buy first?  How many extra customers would this help you to serve?
  • If you were to make use of a small fund that enabled you to purchase extra equipment, what would you buy first?  How many extra customers would this help you to serve?
  • Do other providers serve your area?  If so, how does your service compare with theirs?
  • Please provide whatever other information you think would be relevant to the FCC in deciding whether to direct funds to organizations like yours.