Jesse Harris interviews Todd Marriott, Executive Director of UTOPIA about the network, its relationships with the member cities, and their round two application for broadband stimulus funds.
Last week, I spoke with Jeff Pesek and Peter Fleck of Tech.mn about telecom and broadband in Minnesota. They have also created a timeline of important broadband events in recent MN history.
The folks in Salisbury, North Carolina, have picked a name for their new FTTH network, Fibrant. An article in the Salisbury Post notes that even though the network is not yet offering services, they are seeing some economic development opportunities.
"We've already had a couple of people who have moved to town because they knew it was coming," said Clark, who noted that a medical concierge company (virtual check-ups) has shown a lot of interest in Salisbury's fiber.
The article also goes into the many advantages of fiber-optics over last generation technologies.
As part of his pitch to Google to partner with UTOPIA in Google's gigabit network experiment, Jesse Harris gives some of the history of the UTOPIA project.
Recent letters in the Chattanoogan reflect frustration with the cable incumbent, Comcast, and the ease of switching to the publicly owned EPB Fiber network. This is one of them:
My Comcast exit was very easy. Step one: Make appointment to have EPB Fiber service installed. Step two: Put all Comcast receivers and remotes in a box and hand it through the "teller" window at the Comcast office. Step 3: Ask for a receipt from the nice lady to whom I handed the box. Step 4: Receive my Comcast credit balance check in the mail and open it while watching TV on the EPBFI system. I never even had to speak to a Comcast phone rep in India.
Mike Schuster absolutely gets it right in his dismissal of public relations stunts to attract Google's Gigabit network:
Bear in mind, these stunts aren't even guaranteed short-term fixes -- they're one-in-a-million half-court shots. How can consumers expect to pay affordable rates for 100 Mbs download speeds when state governments would rather bet on the Google horse and act like fools than risk alienating their corporate ties and provide an open market?
I had also written about the Google networks, fearing that communities would get distracted by this longshot rather than focusing on how they can solve their own problems.
Light Reading took an in-depth look at FairPoint's anti-competition, anti-public ownership lobbying in Maine, where it is fighting a stimulus award to a consortium that includes a public entity. We have previously covered goings-on in Maine where FairPoint is involved due to their terrible track record of offering services while pushing for rules that would prevent communities from building their own networks.
I added these links to our link section in the right column, but wanted to note them explicitly. One of the goals of this site is to catalog what groups around the country are organizing for better networks that put the community first - if you know of groups, please let us know.
In California's El Dorado County, the Camino Fiber Network Cooperative is seeking ways to finance building broadband to people who currently have no options. Thanks to Eldo Telecom for tipping me off.
In Massachusetts, many communities in the western half of the state have no or poor broadband access, which is why Wired West is investigating options for a publicly owned, open access network.
Ran across this interesting story out of Silverton, Colorado - where Qwest has refused to provide a reliable telecommunications connection to the least populous county in Colorado. Recall that Qwest's refusal to offer redundancy in Minnesota's most rural County led to a total communications blackout for twelve hours, shutting down public safety and businesses alike.
Those who believed electricity would deliver social transformation to average Americans were stymied by power companies that wouldn’t deliver enough capacity to make the latest big appliances work. Blenders, mixers, toasters and other small electrical appliances could work, assuming you didn’t have too many lights turned on at the same time, but washers, refrigerators and electric ovens were out of the question.
Just a few short snippets, no real commentary from me today...
Tracy Rosenberg wrote Single Payer Broadband at the Huffington Post, noting:
Cities and states all over the country have been looking at the possibility of public networks. The FCC admits this may be a last resort for difficult-to-cover areas the market has no profitable solution for. Why a last resort? Why have 18 states passed laws banning municipalities from offering any wholesale or retail broadband services? Is it because they might do it better? More competition should never be considered a last resort.
An article in the Economist pulls no punches:
Seattle, which was recently getting some tips from Tacoma, has now turned to Lafayette for more advice on building a publicly owned FTTH network.
Lafayette's Mayor/City-Parish President, Joey Durel, was in town and spoke with both Mayor McGinn and the excellent broadband reporter Glenn Fleishman who wrote about Durel's visit.
Durel, who is not one to back down from a challenge, argues that the public fight with incumbent providers helped educate the public:
In Mankato, the local Fox station covered the stimulus grants that will allow WindomNet to expand and offer services to nearby rural communities. This is an excellent example of how publicly owned broadband networks can partner with others nearby to expand access:
Jackson Mayor Mitch Jasper says, "Windom took the lead and brought a bunch of communities together saying hey, we can put together a program that applies for stimulus as a group rather than individuals and all of us jumped onboard and the end results is a 12 million dollar broadband project."
Jesse Harris continues his monthly podcast show with an interview of Ken Sutton from Brigham.Net - a service provider from Brigham City that recently started offering services on the UTOPIA network.
Brigham.Net has developed a very loyal customer base -- an impressive feat as it was dependent on leasing loops from Qwest, its biggest competitor. In that part of Utah, Qwest still has to share its lines with third parties but Qwest still goes out of its way to make life difficult for those third parties. Qwest poached customers from Brigham.Net - a common practice if one talks to any ISP that has leased lines from Qwest to resell.
By getting on the open access network, Brigham.Net has expanded its customer base - it is on track to double the customer base in Brigham City when the UTOPIA network is fully available to residents.