In another example of how some private companies continue acting against the public interest, Verizon is again using FiOS as a weapon, threatening not to bring it to a New York town unless the town essentially waives some $12,000 in real estate taxes.
NTIA head Larry Strickling has suggested that if an incumbent wants to veto a stimulus grant in its territory, the data it uses to show the area is served will be on the public record. As this is a step in the direction of making such information public, it is good. However, there is still no clear method of appealing such a veto.
As promised a few weeks ago, Ellen Perlman has written a piece on the story behind the Lafayette, Louisiana publicly owned FTTH network. This might just be the best network available in the U.S. in terms of offering the fastest speeds at the more affordable prices and offering the most benefit to the community. The path was certainly not easy nor quick but they are now offering services. The video below is a good example of how communities can respond to incumbents that prefer to advertise and lie rather than invest in networks. Fortunately the folks down in Louisiana didn't take Slick Sam lying down - they confronted him and are building a modern network to ensure Lafayette can flourish in the future. They no longer have to beg absentee-run networks for upgrades.
Congratulations to Click! on its ten years of service to the community.
This video is no longer available.
Representatives Markey and Eshoo have introduced a House bill to preserve network neutrality on the Internet - a means to ensure users are able to choose what sites they visit rather than allowing gatekeepers like AT&T or Comcast to influence the decisions by speeding up or slowing down some sites.
Imagine if AT&T subscribers could access Google twice as fast as Yahoo (or another start up search engine) because Google cut deals with AT&T for preferential treatment. The Internet as we know it would change substantially and innovation would slow because those who could afford to cut deals with major service providers would attract most viewers.
- Lafayette's groundbreaking network is exciting the folks at Governing.com - they say, "The Future of the Internet is in Lafayette, Louisiana."
Ellen Perlman hints are future coverage of the network as well:
To put it in perspective, that's 10 times faster than already very fast Internet. And more than 100 times faster than the Internet "starter" plan that, for example, Verizon is offering. Basically, Lafayette will have a city Intranet, the way universities and technology companies do. So residents will have a very fast connection within the city-parish "campus." Critics wonder why residents need such speeds and why the city had to build its own network. An August story in Governing will get into detail about that.
Many people in rural areas get their phone services from a cooperative telephone company. When it comes to fiber in rural areas, some of these cooperatives are on the cutting edge. The July Issue of FTTH Prism [pdf] from Chaffee Fiber Optics has a feature on Paul Bunyan Telephone in Minnesota. They are an aggressive broadband network deployer in rural areas, often saving residents from Qwest or another company unable (sometimes just unwilling) to build these necessary networks.
Cooperative telephone companies fall into our understanding of publicly owned because they focus on their communities first and do not seek to maximize profits at the expense of social benefits.
Paul Bunyan Telephone is nearly 60 years old and now covers over 4,500 square miles. They have used RUS loans to finance significant portions of the network.
A one hour slideshow discussing the economics of FTTH - unfortunately it seems to have rudimentary controls that do not allow fast fowarding or rewinding, so pay attention! You can also read the bullet points to get a sense of whether you will be interested or not.
After winning the election, the Obama Administration announced that broadband networks would be a priority. True to its word, the stimulus package included $7.2 billion to expand networks throughout the United States. A key question was how that money would be spent: Would the public interest prevail, or would we continue having a handful of private companies maximizing profits at the expense of communities?
Creating the Broadband Stimulus Language
The debate began in Congress as the House and Senate drafted broadband plans as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
The House language on eligibility for stimulus grants made little distinction between global, private entities and local public or non-profit entities.
the term `eligible entity' means--
A recent editorial in the Boston Globe caught my attention - Fiber-optic nerve. It seems that Boston is tired of waiting for private companies to build modern broadband networks in the city.
The editorial suggests that as Verizon has started building its FTTH FiOS in New York City, D.C., and some of the Boston suburbs, it may be a withholding the network from Boston due to the Mayor's efforts to change a state law that has exempted telecom companies from paying a number of taxes. Verizon denies any connection. From the editorial:
In a recent article, the Star Tribune asks if Minnesota cities are shut out by broadband rules. Of course, this applies to all cities, not just those located in Minnesota.
I'll soon put up an overdue piece with our reaction to the broadband stimulus rules - in particular, the decision of NTIA to ignore the public-interest requirement for private companies. In the meantime, this article has gotten some attention - thanks to Eldo Telecom for touching on it.
Many Minnesota cities are giving up hope due to rules that privilege private companies who already have the necessary data and the means to jump through the red-tape hoops required by NTIA.
Fiona Morgan, a frequent writer at Indyweek in North Carolina, has weighed in with excellent coverage of the situation in North Carolina as the cable and telephone companies continue their attempts at stifling competition in the state. They are now using their non-profit arm, Connected Nation, to overstate existing services in the state.
According to a map made available online last week by the industry-backed nonprofit Connected Nation, broadband is available to 92 percent of North Carolina households. That number seems too high to some legislators and public interest advocates, who are concerned that overstating the amount of access will hurt the state's chances of receiving federal grants.
Megan Tady reminds us both that today is the last day to submit comments to the FCC about a national broadband policy and why we need to fight for it.
It comes down to this: we have an unprecedented opportunity to finally create a national broadband plan in the U.S. that will bridge our glaring digital divide, bring us up to speed with the rest of the world, boost our economy and allow us to keep innovating.
The FCC must protect Internet users from corporate gatekeepers who seek to keep prices high and speeds slow, limit access to content and stifle innovation and market choice.
A couple of short interesting stories this week:
The Chattanoogan.com published a "Declaration of Independence from Comcast", written by a "fi-oneer" or person who is testing the new publicly owned FTTH services.
Unsurprisingly, there are some glitches this early in the process, but the fi-oneer seems pretty happy with it overall:
The television is fantastic; we have a multitude of channels, both high def and non high def; local, 'cable,' sports, movies, etc. Contracts are still being completed with a couple of providers, so we are missing my favorite, HGTV. I have been told that it will be coming in less that two weeks.
Ann Treacy of Blandin on Broadband has covered the latest meeting of the Minnesota "Ultra High-Speed" Broadband Task Force. (Quotation marks used because the task force has dwelled on FCC-style 1990's broadband rather than the broadband experienced in our international peers.) The issues raised in this session are applicable to most of America.
Brian Redshaw, the city Administrator of Hibbing, describes some of the concerns of those living on Minnesota's Iron Range (located in Northern Minnesota) and how they attempted to solve their own problems. Unfortunately, the incumbent providers - Qwest and Mediacom - hypocritically sabotaged community efforts despite the fact that they have no plans to bring modern networks to the Range.