MuniWireless.com has updated their list of cities that have large scale Wi-Fi networks. The list combines communities that own the network with cities that have networks owned and controlled by private companies, but it is a useful starting point for anyone looking to find cities that have explored this wireless technology.
Santa Monica has built an impressive fiber network to connect local government buildings, schools, parks, and local businesses. With local jobs dependent on massive media studios that require very robust connectivity, Santa Monica has responded by building an impress community broadband network. That network is now offering 10Gbps connections - if such a connection were available from the local cable company, I shudder to think what they would charge for it.
Danville's open services fiber-optic network has brought a new employer with some 160 jobs to town. EcomNets is investing almost $2 million to build a green data center to the area.
A grassroots effort in the broadband desert of Western Massachusetts has been organizing local communities to build a publicly owned, open access FTTH network to everyone in the partner towns (universal access). This story notes that 33 Towns had joined the effort by early May, but the current map of supporting towns show 39 supporting towns now.
Some towns voted to join unanimously; very few have opted not to join the dialogue. Towns are asked to pass this proposed warrant article at their Town Meeting (a practice common in the New England area):
Once again, Senator Joe Sam Queen again led the effort to legislate on behalf of the people of North Carolina rather than a few companies headquartered out of state. On Monday night, the Senator offered an amendment to remove the temporary ban on community networks (currently set to be one year - though powerful lobbyists will undoubtedly push to extend it). Unfortunately, the Senate ultimately passed the bill with the ban.
The Salisbury Post had covered the legislative battle last week, revealing yet another horrendous quote from Senator Hoyle, who has pushed the ban on community broadband infrastructure.
We're not going to get broadband to everybody in the state anytime soon.
This was his response to a question noting the nature of private companies like Time Warner (who donate regularly to Hoyle) to ignore communities they deem unprofitable.
Another community has announced that with or without Google, it is going to build a proper broadband network. Baltimore is the latest to realize they cannot just wait for others to build the network they need.
"We can't sit here and wait for a gift from Google to fall on us from the sky," said Tom Loveland, whom Rawlings-Blake has appointed the city's volunteer Google czar. "This is our future we're talking about here. Those of us involved in the conversation have seen what other cities have already accomplished. These folks managed to get themselves wired without Google. If they can do it, we can do it, too."
As I have considered writing yet another post about this debacle in North Carolina, I worried that readers outside of North Carolina might ignore it, thinking they cannot help and it doesn't impact them. Well, we can all learn a lesson from the fight in North Carolina to preserve local self-determination.
The same forces that are pushing North Carolina to crush the rights of communities to build the infrastructure they need are talking to elected officials and policymakers across the country. They are saying that the U.S. really does not have a broadband problem, that people are happy with their DSL and cable options.
It's fast and it's symmetrical. Chattanooga, the nation's largest muni FTTH network will be offering the fastest residential package in the country by the end of the month: 150 Mbps.
Chattanooga's Electric Power Board (EPB) is ahead of schedule in the fiber rollout, planning to offer triple-play services to all 145,000 residential customers in its electrical territory by the end of the year. Dave Flessner at the Chattanooga Times Free Press covered this story and the paper posted a short audio clip of EPB President Harold DePriest at the press conference.
EPBFi is up to almost 10,000 customers, a number expected to double by the end of the year.
Comcast is responding to this aggressive muni network:
Update: Thanks to Mark Turner (@mtdotnet) for tape-delayed tweets updating what happened. He has reported: "Senator Joe Sam Queen objects to third reading of S.1209! It remains on the calendar!" This can still be stopped in the Senate. End Update
Update 2: Thanks to Senator Queen for his crucial objection, delaying passage today. His motivation for opposing this bill so strongly? His communities have been ignored by the private sector:
"They’re just frustrated that it’s not getting done by the cable companies, the network companies, whoever’s doing it. They’re just cherrypicking and leaving off so many of our citizens, and that’s just unacceptable."
Update: Once, again, the committee has pushed the bill back... now to Wednesday afternoon. One wonders how normal people with jobs are supposed to follow legislation live when they have no certainty when a specific subject will be discussed. End Update.
After a short-lived victory last week, Time Warner's bill (to prevent communities from building broadband networks that would compete with them) will apparently be considered today. Once again, we refer you to Jay Ovittore at Stop the Cap! for more direct information on who you can contact in the state to register opposition to this monopoly protection act.
It has been a year now that MuniNetworks.org has been live. For those who only read the feed, we have updated the logo on top of the site to make it more attractive. When we launched the site, we threw the theme together quickly and focused on getting good content. Now we are improving the look and feel, as befitting the great content we have collected.
We are also on Twitter with an account just focusing on Community Networks - you can follow @communitynets to stay up to date on our news and work.
As it has been a year, I wanted remind readers that we are always interested in ideas for improving the site, so please feel free to email us ( email@example.com ) with any thoughts.
Bill Schrier, Seattle's Chief Technology Officer (informally, Chief Geek), recently explored the ways in which limited competition in broadband has kept prices too high for many Americans and suggests high prices should be a cause for concern on the level of network neutrality. He is right not only in noting the problem, but noting that there is no solution to it forthcoming from the states or feds.
However, communities can take control of broadband prices by building their own networks. Not only can they guarantee lower rates, they effectively force lower rates from incumbents (and often increased investment) by merely increasing local competition.
Due to limits in law and FCC policy, building a network is really the only power of local governments to ensure the community has the broadband access it needs to succeed.
Update: Apparently the bill was pulled from the Committee today. No word yet of what the next step is.
The Senate Finance Committee of the North Carolina Legislature will vote today on a bill to create more barriers for publicly owned networks, essentially preventing competition for communities throughout the state - a great boon to Time Warner and AT&T who are pushing the bill. The meeting is in Room 544 LOB and the vote will occur sometime after 1:00.
Stop the Cap! has a good list of people you can call about this bill as well as a discussion why it is poor policy.
Progressive States Action sent out an alert about the legislation with the following information that they have graciously allowed me to repost here:
According to the local paper, Johnson City, Tennessee, continues to discuss whether its public power utility should build a FTTH network.
As with so many other communities that have only "high speed" cable and DSL options, people are recognizing the importance of broadband on economic development. Local Business leader, Joe Grandy, is the focus of this article:
“Economic development is part of what we’re charged at the Power Board with accomplishing. If the current (broadband) infrastructure is not sufficient to allow economic development to grow this market, something needs to change.”
If the private sector either isn’t willing or isn’t able to create adequate infrastructure, Grandy said, “then an entity such as the Power Board may need to.”