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].
Wally Bowen, the Founder and Executive Director for the Mountain Area Information Network in Asheville, North Carolina, wrote the following piece after President Obama's State of the Union Address. He gave us permission to reprint it below.
Last night in the State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to help “win the future” by, among other things, rebuilding America's infrastructure.
On broadband Internet access, the president was unequivocal: wireless broadband is the way forward (item #1 below).
However, he did not mention the FCC's recent approval of “open Internet” protections that are widely believed to be unenforceable. Indeed, just a few days ago Verizon filed suit to invalidate these rules via a preemptive, knockout blow.
The Netflix Techblog has released a graph of performance by Internet Service Provider - which I modified to demonstrate the Looming cable monopoly as identified by Susan Crawford (and recently discussed here by Mitch Shapiro).
The trend is unmistakable. There are 2 distinct groupings - the cable providers all beat the DSL providers (Verizon is in the middle, likely due to its fast FiOS speeds averaging with much slower DSL connections). At the very bottom is Clear's 4G WiMax - you know, the superfast wireless that is the key to fast broadband!
For years, I have heard Graham Richards, former mayor of Fort Wayne Indiana, brag about this "beg, borrow, buy, build" [pdf] philosophy as Mayor. I am not insulting him -- his brash style is quite likable, but it is bragging. He was somewhat of a celebrity among the broadband folks because he both understood the importance of broadband and had convinced Verizon to roll out FiOS in Fort Wayne when they had no plans to. His philosophy is to first beg, then borrow, then buy, and finally build the network if necessary -- a similar approach of many local governments. This is also often the path of least resistance (which, Utah Phillips reminds us, is what makes the river crooked).
The fiber-to-the-farm initiative in Sibley County, Minnesota, has completed the feasibility study and the towns involved are discussing a Joint Powers Agreement. One of the impacted incumbent providers -- Frontier Communications, a rural telco famous for slow DSL) -- has started to spread the usual FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) that is common whenever a massive company is about to face competition.
We are posting another perspective about Burlington Telecom, this time from Tom Streeter, a Professor of Sociology at UVM and author of Selling the Air, The Net Effect and other works about telecommunication. He circulated this letter in the community and gave us permission to republish it here. Read his original PDF here.
It's 2011 and time for Qwest to renew a push to gut local authority in a number of states - Idaho and Colorado to start. An article for the Denver Post explains the argument:
Phone companies say state-level oversight of video franchising fosters competition because it is less cumbersome for new entrants to secure the right to offer services.
Many states have also eliminated the condition that new video competitors must eventually offer service to every home in a given municipality, a requirement placed on incumbent cable-TV providers.
Big cable and phone carriers want to take credit for what the Internet has become -- but they never wanted it to be open. Smart decisions behind the scenes by people like Bob Frankston have allowed the open Internet to flourish despite the big carriers. In Frankston's case, it was creating the router that allowed home users to put any device, and number of devices they wanted, on their network connections when the carriers wanted to charge for every device.
The building on the right has a bunch of carriers who are competing. But only Verizon serves the building on the left with dedicated access (a committed information rate as opposed to the standard "up to" connections most residents and many small businesses use).
Thanks to Brough for circulating the slide.
MuniNetworks.org is happy to welcome a new contributor to the site, Mitch Shapiro. Mitch will author pieces from time to time, the start of our efforts to broaden the contributions to and reach of MuniNetworks.org. If you are interested in contributing on a one-time or semi-regular basis, please let us know at email@example.com.
Just how does the largest citywide community fiber network in the country deal with the thousands of people that want to subscribe? It is a daunting task, but the Times Free Press has an answer: a carefully scripted process.
Chattanooga's Electric Power Board (EPB) largely contracts with a company for the labor to do the installs:
Adesta is responsible for 80 percent of EPB's fiber-to-the-home installations, according to Lansford, project manager for Adesta. EPB itself performs the remaining 20 percent, as well as trouble calls.
Beginning in June 2009, Adesta ramped up from a one-man office to more than 120 locally hired technicians, and now performs an average of 500 installations per week, or about 100 every day, he said.
Greg Eplerwood has chaired the two Burlington Telecom citizens' oversight committees and has paid closer to attention to BT than just about anyone. He submitted this opinion piece to us as well as shorter versions to local media in Burlington.
We are happy to publish it and hope others enjoy hearing from this unique perspective from the community.