Tag: "FTTH"

Posted January 26, 2023 by Karl Bode

Dryden, New York, population 14,500, has formally launched the town’s municipal broadband network, becoming the first municipality in the state to provide residents with direct access to affordable, publicly owned fiber.

According to the Dryden Fiber website, the town now offers local access to fiber broadband at three speed tiers: symmetrical 400 Megabits per second (Mbps) for $45 a month, symmetrical 700 Mbps for $75 a month, and symmetrical gigabit broadband service for $90 a month.

The city’s pricing options are a dramatic improvement from the area’s regional cable monopoly Charter Communications, whose Spectrum-branded service has largely monopolized vast swath of upstate New York, leaving consumers saddled with high prices, spotty coverage, slow speeds, and some of the worst customer service of any company in America.

It’s also a dramatic improvement over the sluggish, expensive, dated Frontier DSL that peppers the green rolling hills of Tompkins County. After filing for bankruptcy for failing to upgrade its network to fiber, Frontier has promised improvements–but none of those improvements have found their way to rural upstate New York. 

The full cost of Dryden’s municipal network is expected to be $15 million. The pilot area of the project—covering around 50 residences in the southwest part of the town—will be funded by a combination of $2 million in federal COVID-19 disaster relief funding, an Appalachian Regional Commission grant and an as-yet-unspecified number of bonds.

“We were motivated to study and build a municipal broadband system because residents were not satisfied with the options and service provided by commercial ISPs,” Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer told ILSR.

“In 2019 we commissioned a study and found that we could offer the service with newer technology and better pricing over the long term,” Leifer said. “90% of respondents to our household survey supported the project. Dryden was ahead of the curve on the broadband issue because we knew prior to COVID that access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet service is a necessity for our...

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Posted January 24, 2023 by Karl Bode

LA County is accelerating its plan to deliver affordable broadband access to the city’s unserved and underserved, with an eye toward building one of the biggest municipal broadband networks in the nation. But the county is first taking baby steps, recently announcing target communities prioritized in a pilot program aimed at bridging the digital divide.

In late 2021, the LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a major new broadband expansion plan. The plan’s first order of business: deliver free broadband to the 365,000 low-income households in Los Angeles County that currently do not subscribe to service, starting with a 12,500-home pilot project.

Last September, the LA County Board of Supervisors approved using a total of $56 million in American Rescue Plan funding to help connect these families to fast, free, and reliable Internet service.

To help coordinate the effort, LA county designated the Internal Services Department (ISD) as the lead agency responsible for managing this and any future projects. The ISD is now working in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to determine which areas of the county should see funding and logistical priority. 

The ISD and LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell recently released a map of priority locations where the County will build low-cost internet for households in the Second District. 

“I joined the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in the height of the pandemic,” Mitchell said in an announcement. “And it became very clear that access to reliable Internet was critical to our success of emerging out of the pandemic. In the Second District, as much as 30 percent of households lack home internet [access]. This is unacceptable, and Los Angeles County is working aggressively to upend this. We are leading the nation on a plan to crush the digital divide.” 

The map indicates that LA County will prioritize low income residents and marginalized communities...

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Posted January 24, 2023 by Ry Marcattilio

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Rudolf van der Berg, Partner at Stratix Consulting, a Dutch consulting firm that does work in telecommunications and has been deeply involved in the historic level of new infrastructure deployment projects in northern Europe. Rudolf breaks down what's going on today in Europe's broadband landscape, including efforts to reach the unserved, new entrants, and the actions of private equity.

Rudolf challenges the notion that overregulation stifles innovation and competition, and dispels the rhetoric (pushed by monopoly ISPs in the United States) that the European networks struggled with the onset of the pandemic because of the regulatory landscape and comparative lack of investment as compared to their ISPs' American counterparts. Christopher and Rudolf close out the show by digging into the struggle between tech companies and ISPs between which should pay for infrastructure upgrades.

This show is 41 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or ...

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Posted January 10, 2023 by Karl Bode

From the miraculous benefits of WiMax to the hype surrounding 5G, U.S. wireless companies have long promised near-Utopian levels of technological revolution.

Yet time after time these promises have fallen short, reminding a telecom sector all-too-familiar with hype that fiber optics remains, for now, the backbone of bridging the digital divide. 

From Google Fiber to Starry, numerous companies have promised to use wireless technology as a supplement or even replacement for future-proof fiber. But more often than not these promises have failed to have any meaningful impact at scale. Worse, many wireless services often fail to deliver on a routinely neglected aspect of telecom policy: affordability.

That’s not to say that wireless doesn’t have an immense, integral role to play in shoring up the nation’s broadband gaps. 5G, rural and urban small WISPs, satellite, and other wireless options are all essential in bridging the digital divide and extending access to rural communities and tribal nations (see: the FCC Tribal Priority Window and the beneficial wireless options that have emerged). 

But reality continues to demonstrate that there’s simply no substitute for the kind of high capacity, affordable fiber efforts being deployed by a steady parade of municipalities, cooperatives, and city-owned utilities. And as an historic level of federal subsidies wind their way to the states, the distinction is more important than ever. 

A Rich History Of Wishful Thinking

The industry crown for unwarranted...

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Posted December 21, 2022 by Karl Bode

When it comes to affordable broadband, Vermont has always been a trailblazer. From early adoption of municipal broadband and cooperatives to more recent experimentation with CUD (Communications Union District) fiber deployments, the state’s efforts are inspiring communities nationwide looking for new, creative solutions for the stubborn digital divide. 

CUDs provide individual communities significantly more power and leverage through cross-community alliances and partnerships, allowing them to accomplish more than they could have by themselves.

Now, they’re a major part of Vermont’s plan to bring affordable access to every resident in the state. 

“It really is perfect for what we're trying to do here, because we want community engagement,  but trying to work with every single community in the state—all 252 of our towns—would be logistically a nightmare,” Vermont Community Broadband Board (VCBB) Executive Director Christine Hallquist told ISLR in a phone interview. 

Hallquist gives ample credit to Vermont lawmakers, who first created a legal framework for CUDs to operate under in 2015. That decision helped pave the way for a series of promising alternative deployments, including the East Central Vermont Fiber-to-the-Home network (EC Fiber), the first ever CUD in Vermont to help deploy more affordable access.

In 2021 the Vermont legislature passed Act 71, which ensured CUDs would play a key role in expanding affordable fiber access. A CUD is defined as a new municipal entity created by two or more towns with a goal of building communication infrastructure. In Vermont, municipally-led CUDs can legally fund needed broadband expansions through debt, grants, and donations—but not taxes, though they themselves are tax-exempt nonprofits.  

 “If you look at government bureaucracies, at both the federal and state level, it just takes too long to get things done,” Halquist said.

She added that despite the scale of what Vermont’s attempting, the CUD model winds up being easier to navigate, more accountable, and far more representative of the public interest. 

CUDs have a representative and alternate from every town on their board, and that...

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Posted December 15, 2022 by Karl Bode

Whether it is UTOPIA Fiber or the growing number of cities establishing open access fiber network agreements with Strata Networks, Utah continues to be on the cutting edge of developing creative, highly-localized alternatives to entrenched regional monopolies, the first step in genuinely bridging the nation’s stubborn digital divide. Now, officials in American Fork, Utah have struck a new partnership with Strata Networks to build 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) capable fiber network to improve high-speed Internet access for the city’s 34,000 residents.

Forking Up Competition

According to the project FAQ, the network will be financed via a $25 million bond taken out in 2020 and fully financed through subscriber revenues. 

The network will be open access, allowing numerous local ISPs to come in and compete in layers. For more than a decade, independent studies have found that such models boost competition, resulting in higher quality service and lower prices. Despite this, federal policymakers have routinely turned a blind eye to the concept in federal policymaking. 

In contrast, a growing parade of communities like American Fork are actually listening to the data and embracing the open access concept on a scale previously unseen in the U.S. Increasingly, a growing number of such communities are in Utah.

“Some residents in our community have had little to no options when it comes to Internet service providers. With this open-access model, residents can choose which service works best for them in a truly competitive market,” American Fork Mayor Brad Frost said in the project announcement. “With this approach, and STRATA Networks as our partner,...

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Posted December 12, 2022 by Ann Treacy

North East Mississippi Electric Power Association (NEMEPA) cooperatives celebrate another year of funding and progress toward building better broadband across nine service areas.

At a recent event, Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said: "We are going to be one of the most connected states in the United States of America in some of the most rural areas of America."

It has been amazing to watch. This has been not just a top priority for me but also our co-ops.

Collectively, the NEMEPA cooperatives already offer broadband to over 84,000 members and expect to expand to over 182,000 members once the work is complete.

Nine NorthEast Power Cooperatives Bringing Fiber to Rural Residents

The NEMEPA expansion took off when the cooperatives were awarded (Rural Digital Opportunity Fund) RDOF grants to extend existing fiber networks or build new ones for their members. Each district received a share: 

  • First Light Fiber by Alcorn County Electric (ACE Power), $5.5 million 
  • M-Pulse Fiber by Monroe County Electric, $8.1 million 
  • NT Spark by Natchez Trace Electric, $10.3 million 
  • NE SPARC by Northeast Mississippi Electric, $12.7 million 
  • Prentiss Connect by Prentiss County Electric, $6.8 million 
  • TVI Fiber by Tallahatchie Valley Electric, $20.1 million 
  • TEPA Connect by Tippah Electric, $6.7 million 
  • Tombigbee Fiber by Tombigbee Electric, $9.8 million 
  • Tishomingo Connect by Tishomingo County Electric, $10.9 million 

The award is a 10-year commitment with each of the nine co-ops getting a 10 percent share of the overall funding until 2029. 

Six out of Nine FTTH Networks are Completed...

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Posted November 28, 2022 by Karl Bode

Allegan County, Michigan is moving forward with an ambitious new plan to bring affordable fiber broadband to 12,000 unserved addresses across the county. The project will be in partnership with Southfield, Michigan based 123NET, made possible in large part due to more than $17.7 million in county American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“123NET has proposed a fiber to the home proposal to approximately 12,000 addresses of residents who don’t have access to 100 Mbps (Megabit per second) download fixed service,” Allegan County Broadband Project Manager Jill Dunham told ISLR. 

According to the county’s website, the Allegan County broadband Internet access project first began when the county commission approved a resolution to form a Broadband Action Workgroup, which started meeting back on August 8, 2021.

The county has since constructed a four-part broadband expansion plan that promises to deliver 12,000 unserved addresses affordable fiber connectivity providing at least 100 Mbps downstream and 25 Mbps upstream, now effectively the standard in federally subsidized new broadband deployments.  

According to the county, the path toward breaking ground involves ensuring Rescue Plan fund eligibility, hiring a project lead, bringing in additional project partners and other outside advisors, gathering data to ensure project goals will be met, and then putting it all together to implement plans for increased accessibility. 

On Thursday, November 10, county leaders announced they had awarded the contract to 123NET, which is also partnering with the city of Detroit to construct an open access fiber network. The company’s other deployments provide fiber speeds up to 6 Gigabits per second (Gbps) without usage caps. 

11 different companies applied for the Allegan county bid, with 123NET being chosen by three county employees and three members of the Broadband Action workgroup. 

As with 123NET’s Detroit effort, the Allegan county network is slated to be open access, drawing numerous ISPs into much-...

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Posted November 18, 2022 by Karl Bode

The Washington Island Electric Cooperative is preparing to deliver affordable fiber broadband access to long-neglected communities across Washington Island, Wisconsin. The first subscribers are expected to receive service sometime later this month, and the entire island is slated to be upgraded sometime around 2027.

With the cooperative partnering with Quantum Technologies on the fiber deployment, which began in April of 2021 and is expected to be finished by 2027, the first phase will connect key anchor institutions like the police department, schools, town hall, and the region’s visitor centers.

Currently, a single wireless microwave tower connects all island broadband, as locals painfully discovered during a nine-day 2019 outage. As members of the Washington Island Electric Cooperative await the new service, the only options available now are through Centurylink, Frontier DSL, traditional satellite, or next-gen satellite service like Starlink (assuming island residents can even get the service and afford its first month $710 service charge). 

Obtaining better island connectivity has been a long standing battle. The island had flirted with broadband over powerline (BPL) broadband tech, but the technology’s inherent interference issues — and a series of tornadoes that ravaged the area in 2011 — caused the ISP providing the service, Broadband Electric Communications (IBEC), to shut down operations in 2012

Washington Island Electric Cooperative aims to connect roughly 225 homes or so a year on the 125 square mile island until the project is completed in 2027. Once completed, the island’s approximately 700 local residents will have access to symmetrical speeds of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) for $59.95 a month, and symmetrical speeds of 1 Gigabit per second for upload/download speeds of 100 megabytes per second for $89.95 a month.

“These are not ‘teaser’ rates and should remain stable so...

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Posted November 10, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

In an economy where inflation seems to be everywhere, Fairlawn, Ohio residents are getting a bit of welcome news.

Subscribers to FairlawnGig – Fairlawn, Ohio’s municipal broadband network – are being upgraded to new service levels as the city-owned network bumps up speeds and slashes prices to make its fiber Internet service faster, and even more affordable.

Earlier this week, FairlawnGig announced that subscribers who had been getting Fairlawn’s basic service tier of symmetrical 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) were being upgraded to symmetrical gig speed service – for the exact same price of $55/month.

FairlawnGig also announced that subscribers who had previously been getting gig speed service will see their bills drop down to $55/month instead of the $75/month they had been paying. Meanwhile, subscribers who were getting 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) for $150/month will now be upgraded to a symmetrical 5 Gbps tier, and see their price drop to $100/month.

“That was always the plan from the very beginning,” the City of Fairlawn’s Public Service Director Ernie Staten told ILSR this week.

We have been striving at all times to bring the greatest speeds and to bring prices down. We have made it where we have done well enough financially to start lowering prices and providing greater speeds.

Local Businesses Threatened to Leave – Unless Better Internet Comes to Town

Fairlawn, a small city of approximately 7,500 Ohioans about 10 miles northeast of Akron, created a telecommunications utility in 2015 to bring city-wide access to high-speed Internet service after years of dealing with subpar broadband offerings from the incumbent providers.

The city’s foray into municipal broadband became even more urgent when city officials began hearing from local businesses about the lack of adequate broadband.

“The main issue in Fairlawn was a terrible Internet level of service … With companies it was a real problem. We actually had some companies come to us and tell us that if they couldn’t get a...

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