Community Broadband Media Roundup - March 26

Alaska

Alaska lawmakers, following other states, consider bills to keep net neutrality by Annie Zak, Anchorage Daily News

 

Colorado

Cortez announces new broadband pilot program by Stephanie Alderton, The Cortez Journal

Broadband deployment in rural Colorado by Rep. Barbara McLachlan, Durango Herald

Cortez council candidates talk business, broadband in forum by Stephanie Alderton, The Cortez Journal

Fiber service for faster internet on horizon in Centennial by Ellis Arnold, Centennial Citizen

Ting signed a lease March 1 to use the City of Centennial's fiber-optic cable system, an underground infrastructure that's currently built in the middle of the city — roughly from Interstate 25 to South Jordan Road — that the city is expanding to its east and west parts. Ting will be able to provide service by building its own local fiber network in certain neighborhoods by connecting to the city's fiber system.

Whether Ting can expand across the city depends on demand, but that is the goal, according to Mark Gotto, Ting's city manager for Centennial.

Fort Collins council tweaks election code, approves city broadband bonds by Nick Coltrain, The Coloradoan

 

Georgia

Commissioners Consider Starting City-Run Broadband Service by Blake Aued, Flagpole

 

Massachusetts

4 Berkshire towns team with state to find 'better approaches' on broadband, energy by Adam Shanks, Berkshire Eagle 

Group forms to push city-owned broadband in Cambridge by Abby Patkin, Wicked Local Cambridge

 

New York

NY says Charter lied about new broadband, threatens to revoke its franchise by Jon Brodkin, ArsTechnica

New York government officials have threatened to terminate Charter Communications' franchise agreements with New York City, saying the cable company failed to meet broadband construction requirements and may not have paid all of its required franchise fees.

The NY Public Service Commission said Charter should pay a $1 million fine for missing a deadline to expand its broadband network statewide and is questioning Charter over declines in franchise fees paid to New York City.

 

North Carolina

Rowan County commissioners establish broadband task force by Andie Foley, Salisbury Post

Report: North Carolina Cities Need Powers to Aid Broadband by The Associated Press

NC Towns And Cities Push For Expanded Broadband by Will Michaels, WUNC

The FCC's most recent report says about 20 percent of rural North Carolina does not have high-speed Internet access. 

"We have students and senior citizens who park daily in front of our senior center building. We thought something was going on, but no, they're sitting in their vehicles accessing our Internet because they can't do it at home," said Jacque Hampton, clerk for the town of Bolton in rural Columbus County.

The League of Municipalities wants the General Assembly to approve laws that make it clear local governments can enter public-private partnerships to expand coverage, and offer investments like bonds, taxes and economic incentives. A bill that includes such provisions stalled in the state Senate last year.

Cities have a way to expand internet access, and want the state to let them try it by Colin Campbell, Charlotte News & Observer

 

Texas

Digital Inclusion Alliance Looks At New Structure To Help Connect San Antonio Homes by Paul Flahive, Texas Public Radio

 

Virginia

Editorial: Lack of broadband may cost some of these workers their jobs by The Roanoke Times Editorial Board

Appomattox supervisors OK broadband proposal by Carrie Dungan, Lynchburg News and Advance

More broadband internet officially is coming to Appomattox County after the board of supervisors approved Central Virginia Electric Cooperative’s proposal for a 450-mile fiber optic network in parts of the county during a Monday night meeting.

CVEC received just less than $1 million in grant funding from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission last week to assist with the project. Total costs to construct the Appomattox portion of the project are estimated at $10 million.

Another Path to Rural Broadband: Electric Co-ops by James A. Bacon, Bacon’s Rebellion

 

Washington

City council creates group to find way to lower broadband rates, increase speeds by Kaitlin Riordan and Ryan Simms, KREM 2

 

General

Senators From Both Parties Say FCC Broadband Maps are a Joke by Karl Bode, DSL Reports

We've already discussed how the FCC's recently released broadband availability map is comically error prone, not only hallucinating competitors, but the speeds they're actually able to deliver. The map, which the FCC recently dusted off and re-launched without really fixing its core problems, also omits pricing data entirely. The accuracy and lack of price data stems from one core reason: ISPs fight tooth and nail to try and downplay coverage gaps and the overall lack of competition in the US broadband market, lest somebody try to actually do something about it.

And as it turns out, the map the FCC uses to determine which areas get subsidies for wireless deployment isn't much better.

‘Dig Once’ Now Policy, Not Mandate. You Dig? By John Eggerton, MultiChannel News

Opinion: FCC Set to Waste Billions on the Wrong Rural Broadband Provider by Matthew Marcus, The Daily Yonder

Rural communities have already proven that cooperatives are the way to get good, fast Internet access to underserved areas. So why are AT&T and other big corporations in line to get $2.5 billion in government funding to reach customers – again.

A wide gulf between federal agencies on broadband competition by Tom Wheeler, Brookings Institution

Preserving Local Voices in Broadband Deployment by Sharon Buccino, National Resource Defense Council

The Cable Industry Is Quietly Securing A Massive Monopoly Over American Broadband by Karl Bode, TechDirt

The Dangers of Big City Subsidies by Susan Crawford, Wired

In the American internet access world, public assets are privatized all the time. Sometimes this happens when private companies are handed direct payments in the form of subsidies: public money, amounting to at least $5 billion a year, which is showered on companies to incentivize them to provide access in places where they feel it is too expensive to build. Sometimes this happens when companies are handed low-cost or no-cost access rights to infrastructure by state legislatures. And sometimes it happens in the form of broad public/private partnerships for "smart city" services.

But the federal government doesn’t set high enough standards for the quality and price of the services the public subsidizes—and we're certainly no good at requiring competition. (Federal government support for fiber running to schools and libraries was supposed to be one of the bright spots in this murky story, but even there the Trump administration has been wavering and slow-rolling the process.) We'll take anything that seems to fill the gaps left by the private market. In particular, we'll throw poorer and rural people under the bus, relegating them to subpar services.