On Wednesday morning, March 22, the House Finance Committee will again consider H 129, a bill from Time Warner Cable to make it all but impossible for communities to build their own broadband networks. But now, as noted by Craig Settles, the momentum is shifting.
Kane Loader, the City Manager for Midvale and Chair of the UTOPIA board, penned a recent op-ed explaining why UTOPIA is important to readers. UTOPIA is a trailblazer in the US open access fiber-optic network space. After initial problems, the network is showing a lot of promise and has long offered some of the fastest speeds available in the US at the lowest prices.
Utah can lead the way in this digital future, and the cities of UTOPIA are proud to be part of the cutting-edge solution.
We are building this network not as a money-making operation, although our financial situation improves as our subscriber base grows. We are building this network for the same reason local governments built highways in the 19th century and airports in the 20th century: This infrastructure will be what connects our 21st century world.
Clearwire, which brags that it built the first 4G network in the country, is under assault from its customers.
Customers began complaining in mid-2010 that Clearwire had begun to throttle their home Internet connections, sometimes as slow as 256Kbps. It wasn't clear (ba-dum ching) at the time as to what standard Clearwire was using in order to trigger the throttling—some users were told about monthly usage caps while others were simply told that there were certain times of day in which the network would be congested. Customers were frustrated at this lack of transparency, and complaints began piling up all over the Web.
The Roanoke Times recently published an extensive story about broadband, covering everything from what it is to why it is needed and who doesn't have it.
Aside from providing an excellent primer on these issues to those who are new to broadband discussions, Jeff Sturgeon writes about problems often ignored by the media, like the difficulties for companies and other entities can encounter when they need extremely high capacity connections:
Skip Garner directs the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, which unites the powers of biology and information technology to advance medicine. It is at Virginia Tech. Garner said he, too, finds computing power a constraint. In spite of a 1 gigabit connection, "we are limited in what we could do," Garner said.
I just joined the community at RuMBA - the Rural Mobile & Broadband Alliance - and will be appearing on Rural America Radio to discuss rural broadband issues on Friday, March 18. You can call in with questions. Details from Rural America Radio here:
Listen here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/luisahandem
Public Knowledge produced and released this video revealing the increasing divide between reality and what opponents of network neutrality claim.
Lake County's County-wide FTTH network has encountered more than its fair share of troubles but residents are excited at the prospect of having broadband access to the Internet. While some of its troubles came from their own confusion and misunderstanding that led to the falling out with their consultants, National Public Broadband, they are now in the cross hairs of a powerful cable industry group - the Minnesota Cable Communications Association.
I continue to find it odd that more communities with publicly owned networks do not create official videos or other promotional material that is readily accessible on the Internet. Videos discussing fiber-optic investments continue to be the exception to the rule.
But it was a video promoting Chanute's fiber-to-the-business network that I stumbled across in a search for something else. It turns out that Chanute has built a network with a variety of current and planned uses:
This is a video we have wanted to do for a long time. With H 129 threatening community networks across the state, we finished it. It uses information we published in a report about broadband in North Carolina in November, 2010.
Our full coverage of H 129 is available here.
The continuing saga of H129/S87 in North Carolina has proved at least one thing, Time Warner Cable knows how to pull the puppet strings. The bill was written by Time Warner Cable and pretends to be about creating a level playing field while it effectively outlaws community networks (and some public safety networks) -- much to Time Warner Cable's financial benefits.
It remains unclear whether Representative Avila, who is championing this TWC power grab, truly knows what she is doing or is simply ignorant and blindly trusts the TWC lobbyists actually running the show.
In an op-ed, Tom Evslin discusses FairPoint and their opposition to a middle mile stimulus grant that would improve broadband access around the state. FairPoint had taken over Verizon's New England lines a few years ago. Verizon had a reputation for poor service but FairPoint took that to new levels before reorganizing under bankruptcy (yet another high-profile private sector failure).
FairPoint fought a middle-mile project in Maine and was eventually bribed into silence by the Legislature. Having learned the only lesson one can learn from such an experience, they are now fighting a middle mile project in Vermont.
Salisbury's Fibrant network in North Carolina was recently praised in a letter to the editor of a local paper for improving the educational tools in schools. These networks can have a big impact on educational opportunities, from directly improving the connections to the schools (often at lower prices) to lowering the cost of broadband across the entire community, thereby increasing broadband adoption and giving a new educational tool to children in home.
Previously, when the computers in our lab were being used, the entire system was bogged down. We had to limit the use of video and Skype to class periods where the lab computers were not being used. With some programs, we were not able to have a full class on the computers at the same time.
Rockingham County has joined Raleigh in officially passing a resolution against legislation to cripple community networks in the state.
BY THE ROCKINGHAM COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
AGAINST SENATE BILL 87 and HOUSE BILL 129
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 87 and House Bill 129 have been introduced in the 2011-2012 Session of the General Assembly of North Carolina; and WHEREAS, these bills do not provide a level playing field to cities, towns and counties, but greatly hinder local governments from providing needed communications services, especially advanced high-speed broadband services, in unserved and underserved areas; and
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 87 and House Bill 129 have been introduced in the 2011-2012 Session of the General Assembly of North Carolina; and
WHEREAS, these bills do not provide a level playing field to cities, towns and counties, but greatly hinder local governments from providing needed communications services, especially advanced high-speed broadband services, in unserved and underserved areas; and
On Wednesday, the bill to effectively ban community networks in North Carolina was passed out of the House Public Utilities Committee and will likely be heard by the Finance committee next week.
The audio is available here from the Wednesday meeting [mp3, 45 min].
It never fails to shock me how cavalierly some Committees refuse to discuss the bill, agreeing to let another Committee fundamentally change the bill. There is practically no discussion of what this bill does and very little discussion about the actual pros and cons of different approaches to providing broadband.