San Francisco has leveraged its municipally-owned fiber in a program to overcome the digital divide. Projects like this are a good early step for larger communities. First, invest in fiber to public buildings, schools, etc., to cut costs from leased lines (often, while upgrading capacity). Second, begin to leverage that fiber to increase affordable broadband availability in the community. Expand until community needs are met.
In a recent post the NY Times Bits Blog, Saul Hansell reports "Verizon Boss Hangs Up on Landline Phone Business" - something we have long known. Nonetheless, this makes it even more official: private companies have no interest in bringing true broadband to everyone in the United States.
Verizon is happy to invest in next-generation networks in wealthy suburbs and large metro regions but people in rural areas - who have long dealt with decaying telephone infrastructure - will be lucky to get slow DSL speeds that leave them unable to participate in the digital age. These people will be spun off to other companies so Verizon can focus on the most profitable areas.
For instance, Verizon found it profitable to spin off its customers in Hawaii to another company that quickly ran into trouble before unloading most of its New England customer on FairPoint, moves that enhanced Verizon's bottom line while harming many communities (see the bottom of this post and other posts about FairPoint).
Isen has been writing about it recently - picking up on FairPoint immediately breaking its promises to expand broadband access in the newly acquired territories. No surprise there.
Isen also delved deeper into Verizon's actions, with "Verizon throws 18 states under the progress train." He is right to push this as a national story - the national media focused intently on the absence of major carriers in the broadband stimulus package but they seem utterly uninterested in major carriers running away from broadband investments in rural areas.
Though Frontier likes to position itself as a company focused on bringing broadband to rural areas, it offers slow DSL broadband and poor customer service to people who have no other choices - more of a parasite than angel. As long as we view broadband as a vehicle for moving profits from communities to absentee-owned corporations rather than the infrastructure it truly is, we will farther and farther behind our international peers in the modern...Read more
Harold Feld at Public Knowledge created another five minute video on broadband policy - embedded below - that I heartily recommend. This video fits in nicely with my recent posts discussing comments submitted to the FCC on the definition on broadband, and more recently, on why the definition matters. If you want to dig in deeper to Harold's comments, I recommend his blog. If you take one thing away, remember that broadband is not a simple market of sellers and buyers, it is an ecology - impacting everything from energy efficiency to education to entertainment ... and those are just some of the e's.
As promised a few weeks ago, Ellen Perlman has written a piece on the story behind the Lafayette, Louisiana publicly owned FTTH network. This might just be the best network available in the U.S. in terms of offering the fastest speeds at the more affordable prices and offering the most benefit to the community. The path was certainly not easy nor quick but they are now offering services. The video below is a good example of how communities can respond to incumbents that prefer to advertise and lie rather than invest in networks. Fortunately the folks down in Louisiana didn't take Slick Sam lying down - they confronted him and are building a modern network to ensure Lafayette can flourish in the future. They no longer have to beg absentee-run networks for upgrades.
Congratulations to Click! on its ten years of service to the community.
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A one hour slideshow discussing the economics of FTTH - unfortunately it seems to have rudimentary controls that do not allow fast fowarding or rewinding, so pay attention! You can also read the bullet points to get a sense of whether you will be interested or not.
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Ann Treacy of Blandin on Broadband has covered the latest meeting of the Minnesota "Ultra High-Speed" Broadband Task Force. (Quotation marks used because the task force has dwelled on FCC-style 1990's broadband rather than the broadband experienced in our international peers.) The issues raised in this session are applicable to most of America.
Brian Redshaw, the city Administrator of Hibbing, describes some of the concerns of those living on Minnesota's Iron Range (located in Northern Minnesota) and how they attempted to solve their own problems. Unfortunately, the incumbent providers - Qwest and Mediacom - hypocritically sabotaged community efforts despite the fact that they have no plans to bring modern networks to the Range.
Ross Williams, a local businessman makes a great point: our lives are rich because of the investments made by the generation before us. As we make decisions about networks today, are we building infrastructure for future generations? I would respond that if we are subsidizing slow DSL, then we certainly are not.
Benoît Felton of Fiber Evolution says that Open Access makes Economic Sense - in four parts:
Some shorter news items from this weeks' news:
Salisbury may be a great example of just how a community should build a network. They have opened many chains of communication with citizens to keep everyone involved in the process:
To get the message out about their fiber-to-the-home cable utility now under construction, Salisbury city officials already have conducted radio, newspaper and magazine interviews.
The city also hopes to provide daily "fiber" updates on its blog (www.salisburyftthblog.com) and have a continuing newspaper advertisement called "Straight Talk about Fiber" in the Post.
Any community considering the hard path of building one of these networks should take note of how Salisbury is ensuring citizens know what is happening and why this network is important to the city's future.
Clarksville Department of Electricity (CDE) Lightband creates local careers as they roll out the FTTH network that will deliver triple play services. They also have a spiffy video:
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The success in and around Cleveland demonstrates not only the benefits of Smart Infrastructure, but also the reality that local communities are best equipped to implement today's fundamental need for infrastructure that empowers innovation.
He expands on those thoughts in a post on the Community Connections blog.