As we predicted, Time Warner Cable is pushing a new bill in North Carolina to limit competition and local authority to build broadband networks (Save NC Broadband is alive again). H129 purports to be An Act to Protect Jobs and Investment By Regulating Local Government Competition with Private Business - [download a PDF of the bill as introduced].
As decision time approaches, the discussions in Sibley County (and Fairfax in Renville) are winding down. The county and local governments have to decide whether to commit to the Joint Powers Board. Mark Erickson, the coordinator of the project currently, recently responded to a good set of questions about the project and gave me permission to reprint them here.
Questions from a Sibley County Commissioner:
It was supposed to be two perspectives on the National Broadband Plan, but at times it turned into Blair Levin interrogating Craig Settles, unfortunately minimizing the roles of Stacey Higginbotham (Giga Om) and Amy Schatz (Wall Street Journal). It would have been interesting to see an event where Craig could continuously interrogate Blair, or where Stacey and Amy had more control (Stacey, in particular, is a gifted reporter unafraid to ask tough questions).
I have little to add to the excellent work done by Stop the Cap! calling out Bright House for their many misleading and false claims, some of which came up in a story about the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce pushing Volusia County to investigate an investment in fiber-optics to help local businesses.
Of course Bright House said it would be unnecessary because they already offer everything anyone could ever want from a broadband connection. Absurd.
Case Western Reserve University, one of the original partners in the OneCommunity Project, lit up a 1 Gbps network in a poorly served neighborhood near campus. This video explains some of the uses they have found thus far.
For two years, National Public Broadband (led by Gary Fields and Tim Nulty) has worked with Lake County, Minnesota, to build a universal rural FTTH broadband network to everyone in the County and some nearby towns in Saint Louis County. Toward the end of 2010, the relationship became somewhat tense as some county commissioners questioned what NPB had told them about Burlington Telecom, and a number of media outlets raised questions about Nulty's relationship to BT's problems without actually investigating the story.
In South Carolina (the state TWC Forgot), AT&T is pushing harsher restrictions on any publicly owned broadband system in an attempt to derail one or more broadband stimulus projects. South Carolina already greatly restricts community broadband networks, likely one of the reasons no incumbent there bothers to upgrade in a similar time frame as the rest of the country.
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.