As Minnesota's rural county-wide FTTH projects move forward, we have the opportunity to learn more about them in upcoming events. Thanks to Blandin's broadband blog for covering these issues!
On February 10, Cook County is welcoming Dan Olsen from WindomNet to discuss their experiences with a community-owned fiber network. You can listen to a previous interview on the North Shore with Dan Olsen. In the interview, Dan Olsen mentions that a number of residents use WindomNet to work remotely, commuting only once a week to their jobs in South Dakota.
As you observe (or hopefully, participate in), the debates around network neutrality or universal service fund reform, remember that many of the loudest voices in support of industry positions are likely to be astroturf front groups. Between extremely well-financed astroturf organizations and industry-captured regulatory agencies, creating good policy that benefits the public is hard work. It helps to study how industry has gamed the FCC in the past -- as documented by David Rosen and Bruce Kushnick in a recent Alternet article.
At the risk of being sarcastic, we can thank the FCC for working with the industry to make our phone bills to easy to read - an example is available here.
We've been raving about Chattanooga' FTTH network and smart-grid for quite some time now, but others are just learning about it. Chattanooga's Electric Power Board serves some 170,000 households and businesses across 600 sq miles. Though we have mostly focused on the triple-play benefits of the network
Chattanooga had been named one of the 2011 Top 21 Intelligent Communities of the year previously, but more recently made the cut to a Top 7 Intelligent Community. Time will tell if is awarded the Intelligent Community of the year.
Vint Cerf recently discussed the importance of Australia's Open Access National Broadband Network.
Google vice-president and chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf said the plan to construct a fibre-to-the-home network to 93 per cent of the nation was a "stunning" investment.
"I continue to feel a great deal of envy because in the US our broadband infrastructure is nothing like what Australia has planned," he said.
"I consider this to be a stunning investment in infrastructure that in my view will have very long-term benefit. Infrastructure is all about enabling things and I see Australia is trying to enable innovation.
Readers of this site may be interested in an upcoming debate between Craig Settles and Blair Levin, the architect and chief defender of the National Broadband Plan. On Monday, Feburary 7, New America will host and webcast the event. Tune in at 10:00 EST to hear these two discuss the plan, with moderators Amy Schatz (Wall Street Journal), Stacey Higginbotham (GigaOm), and Cecilia Kang (Washington Post).
Craig is a champion for local, community owned networks, whereas Blair Levin justified the National Broadband Plan's turning a blind eye to the lack of competition in broadband by saying it would have been unpopular with the massive carriers to challenge their dominance.
Martin County, Florida, is building a county-owned network (that we wrote about back in September) in response to gross overcharging by Comcast for the connections they need to connect their City Departments.
The County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to allocate $100,000 to pay experts to advise county officials about ways the new broadband network the county government is constructing could be used to generate revenue as well as promote economic development and job creation.
Precision Contracting Services of Jupiter started construction on the $4.2 million network in January and is expected to finish the project by January 2012. The network is expected to serve 280 government, public safety, educational and health care organizations.
Durham's Herald Sun published our op-ed about community broadband networks in North Carolina. Reposted here:
Who should decide the future of broadband access in towns across North Carolina? Citizens and businesses in towns across the state, or a handful of large cable and phone companies? The new General Assembly will almost certainly be asked to address that question.
The SF Examiner is the latest to miss the key point when comparing FDR's rural electrification programs with the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus. Though both programs did extend essential infrastructure to communities either unserved or underserved, an important differentiator is how they approached it.
Seventy years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt realized that if private industry wouldn't run power lines out to the farthest reaches of rural areas, it would take government money to help make it happen. In 1935, the Rural Electrification Administration was established to deliver electricity to the Tennessee Valley and beyond.
But it wasn't just government money that was needed, it was a focus on local self-reliance -- which is what I wrote in a Letter to the Editor submitted to the paper:
In a situation similar to the Frontier letters to Sibley we published last week, the cable company Mediacom has sent letters to Silver Bay and Two Harbors in Lake County to scare them into abandoning the rural county-wide FTTH network that they are building with federal broadband stimulus aid.
Interestingly, rather than sticking to the normal fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) campaign, Mediacom apparently based its threats on a
draft previous version of the joint powers ordinance rather than the language actually passed by the resolutionsincluded in the current JPA. Whoops. [See Update below]
Update: We have covered the second round of financing from ECFiber here.
The East Central Vermont Fiber Network, connecting some 23 rural towns, announced back in July that they would self finance a pilot project as a preliminary step to securing the full funding for the project.
Right around Thanksgiving, last year, David Brown updated the community on progress via an article in the Vermont Standard:
In 2006, this short documentary helped to stop a push from incumbent providers to gut local authority over telecommunications and cable. Unfortunately, several states then gutted that same local authority, leading to higher prices for consumers and, surprise surprise, no real increase in competition.
Ars Technica takes an inside look at a small fiber network in a subdivision in Washington State: "Tale of the Trench: What if your Subdivision laid its own Fiber?" The author makes a valid point in noting that not all community fiber networks offer the best speeds in the country. However, I do take issue with any suggestion that these experiences are reflective of most community networks. The scale of this network is tiny -- resulting both in unique problems and common problems greatly exacerbated.
Another excellent video from Susan Crawford, this one from Summer 2010.
We are noted critics of federal policies that prioritize subsidies and support for private companies over the public sector (broadly defined to include local government, nonprofits, and cooperatives). When we analyzed the stimulus rules, we were horrified at the reversal of Congressional Intent, which was clearly to prioritize publicly accountable entities over private entities.
Telecompetitor brings our attention to an RUS report summarizing awards from the BIP stimulus program. Download the report here [pdf].