- Lafayette's groundbreaking network is exciting the folks at Governing.com - they say, "The Future of the Internet is in Lafayette, Louisiana."
Ellen Perlman hints are future coverage of the network as well:
To put it in perspective, that's 10 times faster than already very fast Internet. And more than 100 times faster than the Internet "starter" plan that, for example, Verizon is offering. Basically, Lafayette will have a city Intranet, the way universities and technology companies do. So residents will have a very fast connection within the city-parish "campus." Critics wonder why residents need such speeds and why the city had to build its own network. An August story in Governing will get into detail about that.
- Green Party Candidate for the Syracuse City Council speaks out on the need for a publicly owned fiber network in the city:
Hundreds of US cities have municipal ownership of their broadband utilities and their customers pay 30% less on average for cable TV, internet, and phone. Time Warner’s cable franchise is up for renewal. Now is the time to municipalize our broadband utility for (1) lower fees, (2) community control of available channels (from Democracy Now to the NFL Network), (3) quality Public Access, Education, and Government (PEG) programming, (4) universal access to high-speed internet, and (5) up-to-date public access video and web-based media creation centers. Every Syracuse should have first-class, affordable access to internet, cable, and phone communications. The Syracuse economy needs first-rate affordable broadband to progress. The profits now exported to Time-Warner can stay in the community for our own benefit through municipal cable.
Advocates for such a fiber network in Syracuse have a website loaded with resources.
- Will wireline-based telephone companies need a bailout in coming years? This is an interesting analysis that suggests the public may end up financing these networks one way or another... The argument goes like this - as people increasingly get rid of that landline, these companies still...
Tag: "north carolina"
Fiona's Morgan's 2008 article on Greenlight in Wilson, North Carolina. The article comprehensively covers why Wilson chose to do it and the issues involved with a community choosing to build its own network.
The Buchans have better Internet access than you do, wherever you live in the Triangle, thanks to the $28 million fiber-to-the-home network the city of Wilson is installing to every address in its city limits. That network powers Greenlight, Wilson's fiber-optic-based Internet, television and phone service. Like its water, sewer and electricity, the city now provides high-speed Internet as another public utility.
Yet there's one major difference: speed. Greenlight's Internet starts at 10 Megabits per second and goes up to 100, a speed common in nations such as Japan and South Korea, yet rare in the United States. Time Warner's residential Road Runner service offers no higher than 10 Mbps in much of the state. In Wilson, however, the company recently upped its top-tier speed to 15 Mbps "because of the competitive environment," a Time Warner spokesperson said.
This article wraps up the 2009 efforts of private companies to pass what some have termed the Incumbent Protection Act - an effort by private companies to use the State Legislature to prevent communities from building the fast broadband networks in which the private companies themselves refuse to invest.
N.C. House Bill 1252 and Senate Bill 1004 would have placed a number of financial restrictions on local governments that seek to offer Internet and other telecom services, in the name of "leveling the playing field" between governments, which can borrow money more cheaply than private companies can, and private cable and telephone companies that offer similar services. The bill would have required municipal services to tack on to customer fees equal to the difference in the amount it would cost a private company to provide the service, and prohibited governments from "cross-subsidizing" the launch or operation of a system, a practice common in private industry.
Critics say municipal services already face rigorous financial scrutiny and that towns and cities go into the broadband business only when private industry chooses not to upgrade or build out infrastructure to increase the availability and quality of service. The bill could have effectively made North Carolina's local governments ineligible for federal stimulus money designated to stimulate the construction of broadband networks.
Fortunately, the fight is likely over for this year.
When the bill went before the House Public Utilities Committee May 6, more than 100 citizens, lobbyists, elected officials and members of the press attended. Supporters of the bill, rallied by the Americans for Prosperity, sponsors of the tax day "tea parties," wore red shirts to show their support. Opponents wore yellow stickers that said "Save NC Broadband."
Rep. Ty Harrell, D-Wake, and Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenberg, addressed the mounting controversy by moving to send the bill to committee for further study.
Study committees are often where bills go to die. Harrell says he does not intend to let the measure die wants it to have "a thorough chewing-on."
Unfortunately, the private companies will almost certainly press the issue at every opportunity in the future as they...Read more
Fiona Morgan, a frequent writer at Indyweek in North Carolina, has weighed in with excellent coverage of the situation in North Carolina as the cable and telephone companies continue their attempts at stifling competition in the state. They are now using their non-profit arm, Connected Nation, to overstate existing services in the state.
According to a map made available online last week by the industry-backed nonprofit Connected Nation, broadband is available to 92 percent of North Carolina households. That number seems too high to some legislators and public interest advocates, who are concerned that overstating the amount of access will hurt the state's chances of receiving federal grants.
"You'll be pleased that over 90 percent of the households in North Carolina are now served by one or more broadband providers," Connected Nation representative Joe Mefford said during the unveiling of the map at the state legislature last week. "The maps also, by that, indicate that there's been a huge investment in broadband in this state already."
I have dealt with Connected Nation's maps here in Minnesota, and the technology is awful. In an age of Google Maps and impressive mashups, they produce clunky maps at sufficiently large file sizes that you need fast broadband to open them. I pity anyone trying to use their maps on a slow DSL connection. On top of that, they continue to classify cellular services (that often come with a very small monthly cap) as broadband in order to overstate how many people have access.
Fortunately, Fiona spoke to Craig Settles and he offers some great commentary.
Craig Settles, an Oakland, Calif.-based consultant on broadband technology, said the broadband stimulus has been hijacked by the telecommunications industry. "It started as a noble effort," he said, "but it's a complete and total travesty all around."
Each state must choose one mapping entity in order to be eligible for any of the broadband stimulus money. There is $350 million set aside specifically for mapping, to be divided between the states. That's too much money, Settles thinks, and the terms favor Connected Nation and the industry. "We're going to pay you millions of dollars to collect all this information, but you can't tell anybody what this information is? That is the most stupid-ass thing on the...
This article highlights three publicly owned networks that are expanding or building in the midst of a difficult economy - the Dumont Telephone Company in Iowa (a cooperative); Auburn, Indiana; and Greenlight in Wilson, North Carolina.
Dumont is facing the most difficult path:
Deploying rural and small-town fiber is always tough. Doing it without much hope of funding from outside is even tougher. But visionaries in these communities took the long view, planning to stretch out their builds over as much as seven years – longer if they have to. One community – Dumont, Iowa – is profiting from a world-class GPON build with fewer than two households passed per mile and precisely zero businesses to help foot the bill.
Auburn began building a municipal fiber network to keep some local employers in town - called Auburn Essential Services. As happens all over the United States, small towns lose businesses because the private sector is not able to provide the necessary networks. Built at first just to connect some local sites, the city later began to expand it:
In mid-2006 the city adopted a phased rollout plan for FTTP, where each phase would generate revenues that could be used to fund the next phase. The first phase, which includes the neighborhoods where most businesses are located, rolled out between April and December of this year.
The city’s marketing plan includes mailers, door hangers, advertising and even site visits to businesses. Existing technology was leveraged for back-office operations, and customers were given the option of receiving consolidated utility bills or separate bills for electricity and telecommunications.
Wilson, North Carolina, was also dealing with poor local networks that hampered economic development. Time Warner not only refused to build the necessary networks, it then refused to use a network the city offered to let them ride, and finally tried to prevent them by passing what was often called the "Incumbent Protection Act" in the state legislature. Fortunately, Time Warner was not able to prevent local competition and Wilson's network is currently being built. They used a rather unique financing plan:
Rather than issue general obligation bonds, Wilson obtained $31 million in private funding...
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:
This video is no longer available
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.
Salisbury, a city of nearly 30,000 in North Carolina, has started building its full fiber-to-the-home network. Salisbury had some difficulty in funding the network at first due to the collapsing economy last year. However, they securing financing in November 2008 and have now started building the network. A recent Salisbury Post article notes that Atlantic Engineering Group is installing conduit. However, residents will have to wait more than a year to take any services. They still have to build the multi-million dollar head end. They already have agreements covering access to the telephone polls -- which are owned by Duke Energy and AT&T.
Community broadband networks offer some the highest capacity connections at the lowest costs. Many of these communities, before building their networks, were dependent on 1.5 Mbps connections that cost hundreds of dollars, or less reliable DSL and cable networks.
The community broadband networks below are full FTTH networks, so the advertised speeds are the experienced speeds -- unlike typical cable advertised speeds, which users pay for but rarely experience due to congestion on the shared connection.
In comparing some of the fastest publicly owned broadband networks to some of the fastest national private sector networks, we found that the publicly owned networks offer more value per dollar. Update: A few weeks after this was published, Verizon upped its speeds and prices for several of the tiers.
The data we used is below. We thought about comparing also Qwest's "Fiber-Optic Fast" speeds, but their fastest upload speeds are below 1 Mbps, which makes them too pokey for the above networks.
Community Broadband Networks: The Best of the Best
Note: Speeds are expressed as Mbps Down/Up. Each network has distinct offering for each tier.
|Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4|
|Lafayette||Louisiana||10/10||$28.95||30/30||$44.95||50/50||$57.95||-||-||All connections come with 100Mbps connections to others on the local network.|
Cities investigating community fiber networks are used to scurrilous attacks from both incumbents and anti-government "think tanks," which are often directly funded by private service providers. Usually the attacks aren't as silly as the one that the John Locke Foundation levied against Salisbury, North Carolina.
Though attacks on community broadband from anti-government groups are common, this report betrays either a stunning lack or technical expertise on the part of the writers, or an assumption that the reader is totally ignorant. Fortunately, Salisbury has confronted them head on, as should any community in a similar position.
Back in 2005, the American Public Power Association debunked many of the same claims and the same flawed methodology used then to attack municipal cable providers. We have collected other reports since then that debunk the claims of these anti-government groups.
Many private, often incumbent and monopolistic, providers use the term "level playing field" as code for ensuring communities are unable to build their own networks. They do not actually want a "level playing field," they want more advantages for their businesses.
Consider the fight in 2009 over this issue in North Carolina:
HB 1252 would create extraordinary financial accounting and administrative burdens on municipal broadband providers that would render their existence fiscally difficult, if not impossible. The bill also subjects municipalities to the new jurisdiction of the North Carolina Utilities Commission, while not requiring the same of private providers. Also troubling is the injunctive relief provision, which could encourage litigation for purposes of gaining competitive advantage. Furthermore, the legislation appears to prevent municipalities from pursuing alternative funding sources, such as broadband grant programs included in the Federal stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Source: Save NC Broadband Blog
Additionally, the process in North Carolina reveals the extent to which private providers like Time Warner buy legislation in some states.
While big companies like Time Warner Cable pretend to be the underdog compared to community networks, the reality is that big national corporations have far more advantages than any local government. We created this video to illustrate the point:
Cable and telephone companies are able to cross-subsidize their networks - they can charge more in the areas they serve where there are no competitors in order to charge less in a competitive community. Numerous state and federal laws prohibit public entities from cross subsidizing across services. Further, when private companies are forced to have open meetings and disclose their business plans like their public sector counterparts, we will be closer to a "level playing field."Read more