Folks in Ammon, Idaho, are now getting choice, speed, and affordability from their new municipal Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network. Home owners are making the switch and waving "bye-bye" to the burdens of a broken market for the benefits of publicly owned infrastructure.
Out of 369 homes in the first district, 239 have signed up to be connected to the open access network; 22 installations are complete. Installations are on hold until winter is over, but the city’s Technology Director Bruce Patterson expects to add more as people experience their neighbors’ fiber service.
In order to connect to the network, homeowners pay for the cost of the installation themselves either with a $3,000 direct payment when the project is completed or through a special property assessment over a 20-year period. Property owners who don’t want to be connected aren’t obligated to pay. Residents or businesses connected to the network then choose an Internet Service Provider (ISP) from those offering services over the network infrastructure. The network’s technology makes switching providers a simple task that can be done online.
ISP Like It, Too
Ammon makes it easy and inexpensive for new providers to offer services on their fiber as a way to encourage competition. Ammon told the Post Register:
“We tried to make sure the barriers to entry were as low as possible to encourage competition,” Patterson said. “There’s the potential for market disruption. If somebody else can get to you cheaper and present a better economic number, they have the potential to disrupt the marketplace, which is better for all of us.”
With more providers to choose from, rates are more competitive and providers go the extra mile to satisfy their subscribers. Brigham Griffin is marketing director for Direct Communications, one of the ISPs...Read more
Next Century Cities and Google Fiber are taking applications for the 2017 Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards. The deadline is Friday, February 10, 2017.
From the award announcement:
Next Century Cities and Google Fiber have announced the judges for the 2017 Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards, which will celebrate cities and counties tackling barriers to internet adoption.
There are two categories:
- Leader in Digital Inclusion Best Practices: for existing programs with over a year of work in addressing the digital divide.
- Most Promising New Plan: for particularly promising new programs for ensuring digital inclusion in a community.
At the award website you can review the list of expert judges, submit your questions, and review FAQs about the awards and the process. You can also watch the recorded webinar from December. Don’t forget to apply by next Friday, February 10, 2017
"Byron’s Bad Broadband Bill" has been criticized from City Council meeting rooms, at Boards of Supervisors meetings, and from Mayors’ offices across the state. Last Wednesday, January 18th, opponents of the bill took their grievances to Richmond for a press conference hosted by the Friends of Municipal Broadband. In addition to several Delegates and Senators opposed to HB 2108, local officials and a representative from an Internet Service Provider appeared to describe why they believe the bill is bad for Virginia.
The News & Advance covered the press conference in which Del. Sam Rasoul described missed opportunities:
Some businesses pass on Roanoke Valley locations because company officials discover they can’t get internet service, Rasoul said. Then, there are other Roanoke businesses like the software company Meridium that want access to multiple service providers.
“Internet and access to high-speed internet is a basic human right now because it’s just that link to education, it’s that link to information, it’s that link to peoples’ livelihoods and that’s why we’re so passionate about it,” Rasoul said.
Nicholas Pascaretti, Executive Director of Eastern Shore Of Virginia Broadband Authority, described how municipal networks attract providers to rural areas where national companies won’t invest:
Scott Robertson, Executive Director and Secretary of the Rockbridge Area Network Authority (RANA), described incredible savings and access to unprecedented capacity in local schools in Rockbridge County:
Ray Ferris, Roanoke City Councilman and local attorney, describes HB 2108 as a shining...Read more
High-quality connectivity from the local cooperative is attracting economic development to rural Minnesota. Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC), began developing a fiber-optic network in the Brainerd area in the early 2000s; as the cooperative has expanded the network, businesses are getting fast, affordable, reliable connectivity.
A recent Brainerd Dispatch article highlighted several businesses that credit the local workforce and the network for their decision to build satellite offices in the Brainerd area. In addition to “battle-tested sales people who can establish relationships with customers and can ‘close the deal,’” GovMint.com’s Director of Sales Jim Martin told the Dispatch:
Equally important is the area's fiber optic network, a high-speed Internet connection that allows the sales staff to access the company's giant customer and product database, and efficiently complete online sales forms.
Martin said the company relies on its computer system for call routing, customer information, online orders and sales leads that come through the Internet. GovMint.com's sales staff makes 150-300 customer calls a day.
"The system has to be reliable or Jim's phone starts ringing," Martin said. "The service we have in Crosslake is very fast and very reliable."
The company sells rare and unique coins and has headquarters in Burnsville, Minnesota; the satellite office employs 25 people. The company has doubled revenue over the past five years and needed to expand so established the office in Crosslake, near Brainerd and on the CTC network.
Great For The State
The Minnesota Department of Human Services chose Brainerd for its service center in part because they needed access to a network that could handle its technology demands. Applications are processed digitally with high bandwidth applications that require access to large state databases. Fiber-optic technology is the obvious choice to handle the work efficiently. There are 160 employees now working in...Read more
In November 2015, the voters in Vinton, Iowa, gave the approval for a telecommunications utility. The city and the municipal electric utility are taking the next step with a feasibility study to determine potential deployment costs and in the spring will present their findings to the community.
Vinton is home to about 5,200 people in Benton County, Iowa; it’s the county seat. The town’s area is 4.74 square miles, and there are approximately 2,000 homes and 250 businesses in Vinton. It’s located about 32 miles northwest of Cedar Rapids.
Like many rural towns, Vinton struggles with slow, outdated DSL connections; cable is available in some areas of town. According to one local business owner, slow connectivity is negatively impacting economic development:
Kurt Karr, owner of Monkeytown an online business supplies store, is one of the community business leaders lobbying hard for an increase in high-speed broadband service.
Karr says slow Internet speeds available now can be frustrating. One part of his business is video design work for companies. He says a video file that takes workers an hour to upload now to clients from their computers might take only a couple of minutes in a larger urban area with much faster internet connections.
Mayor John Watson told local channel KCRG-TV9, that incumbents “simply aren’t interested” in making investment in Vinton to provide better connectivity for businesses or residents, so the city is exploring doing it for themselves.
When Vinton Municipal Electric Utility has completed the feasibility study and have estimates for deployment costs they can present to the community, they’ll determine the next step:
Tom Richtsmeier, manager at Vinton Municipal Electric Utility, says some estimates are it would cost $3,000 to $4,000 per home to install fiber optic cable.
“Once we get the pricing back we’ll see if they’re still interested in having that brought into their home,” Richtsmeier said.
Local coverage from KCRG-TV9:... Read more
Internet access for low-income households is becoming more affordable, thanks to an FCC modernization order that brings the Lifeline program into the 21st Century.
Next Century Cities recently offered a webinar for people who want to learn more about changes to the Lifeline program; our own Christopher Mitchell moderated the event. Jaymie Gustafson, Director of Stakeholder Engagement for the Lifeline, and attorney Olivia Wein from the National Consumer Law Center shared their knowledge about the order, discussed how local governments can utilize the program in public housing, and suggested ways local governments can help make the program a success.
The program, which initially provided a $9.25 subsidy to eliminate or lower the cost of telephone services to low-income households, now allows recipients to use the funds to purchase broadband services. Gustafson noted one of the driving factors behind the modernization order:
“We know it’s so important in terms of helping children do their homework, in terms of people being able to search for and keep their jobs, in terms of accessing services, just in terms of interacting with society around you. Right now, broadband is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.”
About The Program
The Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC) governs the Lifeline program, which originated in 1985 and receives funding from the Universal Services Fund. The fund, established in 1935, supports other programs that invest in telecommunications infrastructure in addition to low-income access. Instead of receiving a voucher to purchase services from a carrier or an Internet Service Provider (ISP), the provider receives the subsidy directly from USAC; after the discount is applied to Lifeline participants' bill, the participant pays the remainder to the provider.
Participants are eligible for the Lifeline program if they earn less than 135 percent of the federal poverty line, receive SNAP benefits,...Read more
If you weren’t able to attend the Transforming Communities: Broadband Goals for 2017 and Beyond event in DC on Nov. 29 - 30, or were not able to watch the live stream, you can still be there in spirit. The November 30th panel discussions are now available to view on YouTube.
The entire video runs for 4:53 and includes discussion and comments from:
- Senator John Boozman (R-AR)
- Mayor Berke, Chattanooga, TN
- Susan Crawford, John A. Reilly Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and co-director of the Berkman Center
- Blair Levin, Senior Fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings
- Gigi Sohn, Counselor to the Chairman at the Federal Communications Commission
A number of other leaders in the field of telecommunications participated in the panels and discussions, including our own Christopher Mitchell who led the panel discussion on "Leveraging High-Speed Internet for Success." The event was sponsored by Next Century Cities; the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB), and US Ignite.
The city of Ammon, Idaho, continues to garner more recognition and opportunities from its unfolding municipal fiber network.
In a recent news release, Ammon officials announced the city received approximately $600,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to partner with the University of Utah. They will research and develop a series of next-generation networking technologies supporting public safety.
Called SafeEdge, the nearly initiative will give Ammon residents connected to the city's network the opportunity to participate in the initiative to develop applications such as broadband public emergency alerts.
Ammon officials said a major focus of the research will be to evaluate the “feasibility of mixing public safety applications with other applications and services,” such as consumer streaming and data sharing, remote classroom access, and dynamic access to judicial functions, including remote arraignments and access to legal representation.
The city added “It is expected that this open access/multiservice approach will improve the economic feasibility of deploying broadband services in small and rural communities by allowing a variety of services to be deployed across the same infrastructure, while at the same time ensuring that public safety applications can function in this environment.”
The National Science Foundation and US Ignite, an initiative promoting U.S. leadership in developing and implementing next-generation gigabit applications that can be used for social good, are providing nearly $600,000 in funding over a three-year period for the Ammon project. About $235,000 of that funding will go to Ammon as sub awardee, the city said. The project period runs from Oct. 1, 2016 to September 30, 2019.
The NSF grant to Ammon is the latest honor for the city’s municipal fiber network activities. In mid-2015, the city won first place in the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ) Ultra-High Speed Apps competition, which encouraged software developers and public safety professionals to use public data and ultra-...Read more
Missouri law has severely restricted municipal networks, but local entrepreneurs decided to create their own fast, affordable, reliable community connectivity. The City of Cape Girardeau has made new plans in its Marquette Tech District: free public Wi-Fi and a tech-hub for startups. Although the city is already home to more than 100 large employers, city officials want to also encourage small businesses and entrepreneurship. Underneath all the possibilities is publicly owned dark fiber.
The Marquette Tech District will utilize the City of Cape Girardeau’s dark fiber to connect the new tech-hub and provide free public Wi-Fi. The project hopes to bring new vitality to the Marquette Tower building, a center of the city's old economy, transforming it into a space for new technology-based companies. Local entrepreneurs have created a nonprofit to develop the project and the local Internet Service Provider (ISP) Big River Communications is on board. The city, meanwhile, owns the essential infrastructure - the fiber.
A Nonprofit Drives Development
The Southeast Missourian has followed the development of the project since its inception. From the planning process to obtaining grants, the newspaper has unraveled the complex collaborations across several institutions and levels of government.
The City of Cape Girardeau, population 40,000, has always been a regional commercial hub on the Mississippi River in southern Missouri. In the late 1920s, travelers could stay downtown at the upscale Marquette Tower hotel. More than 100 employers in the city each provide jobs to more than 100 people, including Southeast Missouri State University and several healthcare systems. Community leaders hope the new tech district will attract and retain young professionals; the university next door is an excellent resource for educating and keeping a talented tech workforce.
Local entrepreneurs realized that they could unlock the potential of the city's dark fiber. They created a nonprofit, the Marquette Tech District Foundation, to improve quality of...Read more