I have long been a fan of Larry Lessig's work, so I was proud to see him use our work as the foundation for his presentation at the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum. He talks about the fundamental right of communities to build their own networks as well as Time Warner Cable's successful purchase of competition-limiting legislation in North Carolina.
Update: You can also watch the video over at the Huffington Post, in our first post as a HuffPo blogger.
While we were battling Time Warner Cable to preserve local authority in North Carolina, we developed a video comparing community fiber networks to incumbent DSL and cable networks to demonstration the incredible superiority of community networks.
We have updated the video for a national audience rather than a North Carolina-specific approach because community fiber networks around the country are similarly superior to incumbent offerings. And community networks around the country are threatened by massive corporations lobbying them out of existence in state legislatures.
Feel free to send feedback - especially suggestions for improvement - to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Without further ado, here is the new video comparing community fiber networks to big incumbent providers:
Today, take a moment to learn about a promising documentary and pledge some support to make sure it gets made! A short description:
Imagine if your favorite website was blocked or slowed down because it competed with the corporation that “owned” the Internet bandwidth. How would you react if your posts on Facebook were censored by the government? What would happen if independent blogs and news media became priced out of the Internet because they couldn’t afford the rates charged for a new Internet fast lane? What kind of power should lie within the governments? Should they have the ability to have a virtual Kill Switch?
We find these threats to the free and open Internet to be the single greatest danger to democracy today. #killswitch the film will inform and inspire action in a population largely unaware of these important issues.
This video is no longer available.
Lafayette's publicly owned FTTH network has created a YouTube channel featuring a commercial aimed at residential subscribers (in 15, 30, and 60 second spots) as well as a longer video aimed at increasing economic development. Both are embedded below.
These are "no-brainer" marketing techniques that every community should have at a minimum to promote their services.
There are many places to find information about AT&T's war on WiscNet, a great credit to those who recognize the importance of WiscNet to schools, libraries, and local governments around the state. The best article on the subject may be from Wisconsin Tech News (WTN), with "UW faces return of $37M for broadband expansion in 11th hour bill." This post builds on that as a primer for those interested in the controversy.
Update: Read a Fact Check Memo [pdf] from the University of Wisconsin Extension Service with responses to false allegations from AT&T and its allies.
AT&T and its allies have long made false claims against WiscNet, setting the stage for their lobbyists to push this legislation to kill it. AT&T and some other incumbents want to provide the services WiscNet provides in order to boost their profits. WiscNet not only offers superior services, it offers services the private providers will not provide (including specialized education services). For instance, from the WTN article:
One of features that differentiates WiscNet from a private broadband provider is allowing for “bursting,” so that during isolated periods when researchers send huge data sets, they greatly exceed the average data cap. UW-Madison currently uses seven gigabits on average, and would have to procure 14 gigabits under the new legislation, even though most of the extra seven gigabits would seldom be in use, Meachen [UW CIO] said.
“We'd be paying for the fact that researchers have to send these huge data sets, and not have it take hours and hours to get to where it's going,” Meachen said. “You can't afford to pay for that extra 7 gigabits from the private sector because it's too costly. They increase your charges based on that.”
A private network would not have the necessary capacity for scientists on the UW-Madison campus, who are some of the leading researchers on next generation Internet. A previous recommendation to combine BadgerNet and WiscNet was deemed infeasible, as AT&T would own the network and would not be able to provide sufficient bandwidth at an affordable cost, Meachen said.
WiscNet is a buying cooperative,...Read more
Though the North Carolina fight is over, I wanted to include these two videos in our archive in case they are useful to those in the future who will undoubtedly cover the same ground.
One is the excellent local news video asking about the role of lobbyists and political contributions on the laws that get passed and the other captures an important moment from debates in the Legislature - thanks to NC Policy Watch for posting.
The first video is no longer available.
On June 1, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation held an oxford-style debate over the proposition: "Governments should neither subsidize nor operate broadband networks to compete with commercial ones."
Jim Baller and I spoke against the proposition while Rob Atkinson and Jeff Eisenach defended it during the 2 hour, 15 minute session. I was unable to be in DC and thus participated by the magic of modern telecommunications.
This is a long but valuable and unique discussion. We left talking points behind, actually responded to the points raised by the other side, and presented both sides of this debate in a reasonable manner. In short, this is exactly the kind of discussion we would elected officials to consider before legislating on the matter. But it very rarely happens -- nothing even remotely close to it occured in North Carolina when Time Warner Cable pushed its bill through the Legislature to enact a de facto ban on muni networks in the state.
You can watch it here.
The Daily Show joined many others in being outraged at FCC Commissioner Baker leaving the FCC to work for Comcast-NBC a few months after approving the deal. That subject is toward the end of this four minute clip:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Well, That Was Fast - Comcast/NBC Merger|
Rick Karr, a correspondent with PBS' Need to Know, travels to Europe to investigate why some countries there have surpassed the US in fast, affordable, and reliable access to the Internet -- with a real choice among service providers to boot! Video is approximately 12 minutes.
This video is no longer available.
Additional materials from the video are available at its website.
Thanks to Minnesota Public Radio for an update on stimulus broadband projects in NE MN. A massive non-profit middle-mile project called the NorthEast Service Cooperative will finally provide redundancy and modern connections to an area long neglected by Qwest.
Hundreds of miles of fiber optic cables will bring faster Internet access to the Arrowhead region of Minnesota by the end of this summer. Ground for a broadband network stretching 915 miles was broken yesterday. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and other politicians were on hand to tout the long-term economic significance of this federally funded project.
Soon, entire counties will not have to fear disastrous meltdowns from Qwest's inability to offer reliable services, as when they went 12 hours without any telecommunications, meaning police could not run background checks or run plates, credit cards and ATMs went offline, and border security had to use Canadian comms.
The 915 miles of fiber optic network will stretch across eight counties in the Arrowhead Region and bring world class web speeds to the area.
State lawmakers were also on hand at the ceremony and say this type of technology is pivotal to economic development.
"I want this to be the next step in people realizing that economic diversification on the Iron Range can be done because we are wired, we're ready to go, and we have a work force that is second to none," said state Sen. David Tomassoni.
We have to wonder how many of these legislators will support removing barriers in Minnesota law to communities building their own networks.
Note that the the NE Service Coop is a middle-mile network and that Frontier will be using it to improve their services.... Read more