Tag: "nebraska"

Posted February 4, 2010 by christopher

For some 12 hours last week, entire communities found themselves without access to telecommunications due to a fiber cut to a Qwest cable that services the entire region. This is not the first time such a cut has marooned everything from Homeland Security to long distance phone calls to businesses that can no longer accept credit card transactions -- but Qwest has refused to invest in a redundant cable, showing their disregard for those communities.

I wonder how many businesses were hurt by their sudden and unplanned isolation from clients, partners, and others. How many missed contracts or deadlines?

It shows the insanity of putting barriers before communities that are trying to build the very networks companies like Qwest promise but never deliver (barriers like the 65% referendum to offer telephone services for publicly owned networks). Both Lake and Cook Counties are waiting to hear the status of their applications for federal broadband stimulus funds, with which they will build broadband networks. Companies like Qwest and Mediacom have opposed new networks in an effort to protect their turf, even while refusing to invest in those areas because they do not generate sufficient profits.

These County initiatives have not been denied stimulus funding but have also not moved into the "due diligence" phase, placing them in limbo and forcing them to prepare additional applications for the second round of funding before they even know why their application was denied (if it is denied) in the first round. Somewhere, Joseph Heller is smiling.*

MPR provided good coverage of this fiber cut even though they did not air an explanation as to why Qwest finds it reasonable to keep these communities connected with a single cable.

Bank ATM's failed. No one could use their credit cards. But as bad as that was for business, the 12-hour-long outage knocked out what the federal government calls a "vital part of our nation's emergency response system."

The outage killed 911 emergency service in Cook County, Chief Deputy Leif Lunde said.

...

With no 911 service, county officials turned to volunteer firefighters to field emergency calls from normally un-staffed fire halls. Fire truck radios relayed the information back to Grand Marais. Ham radio operators provided a backup way for the Grand Marais...

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Posted September 2, 2009 by christopher

This report was written by Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, Esq. and Marjorie Heins, Esq. of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law to inform a Nebraska Task Force tasked with evaluating a ban on municipally owned broadband networks throughout the state of Nebraska. Unfortunately, the Task Force was stacked with proponents for privately owned networks and seemed unable to consider any other viewpoints (more details here). From the Executive Summary:

While the provision of broadband service by public entities is a contentious topic, there have been no comprehensive studies of municipal broadband service providers that would provide easy answers to policy makers. Instead researchers have considered single cities or one type of provider. There are several reasons for the dearth of comprehensive studies. One is that the technologies involved are so new. Another is that indispensable data sets are often proprietary, confidential or nonexistent. To aid the Task Force in its duties, we have gathered information from the publicly available sources. To supplement these data sets, the Brennan Center distributed a questionnaire (the “Brennan Center Questionnaire”) to the Nebraskan members of the Center for Rural Affairs and Common Cause to gather information about the challenges experienced by Nebraskan Internet users.

...

In Part I of this white paper, we will explore the status of broadband deployment both nationally and in Nebraska. We have found that some Nebraskans lack access to broadband providers and others live in areas where there is unaffordable broadband service. A significant minority (43% living outside of towns in 20054 and 7.4% of Nebraskan towns in 2006 according to the Nebraska Telecommunications Association) lacked access to broadband service. These numbers most likely understate the magnitude of the problem because of the reporting methodologies used. Around half of Nebraska’s towns are only served by a monopoly wired broadband provider who can charge high prices for broadband service.

The data also demonstrate that rural Nebraskans in particular are more frequently priced out of the broadband market than their urban counterparts. Those living in small Nebraskan towns and in the countryside, and even many living just outside larger Nebraskan cities are faced with unaffordable broadband service. The advent of satellite Internet service...

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