Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
We've had our own reservations about LUS Fiber to the Home, based on concerns about a government enterprise encroaching on a market in which private-sector entities were already providing service. But LUS has, from all available evidence, enhanced the competition in the local marketplace in terms of both price and technology.Those who claim community broadband networks decrease competition and incumbent investment do so against all empirical evidence.
An HFC plant uses thousands of active devices (such as amplifiers) to keep data flowing between the customer and the service provider. Any one of these devices can fail, interrupting service. In contrast, the all-fiber plant will be a passive optical network, with no active components between the distribution center and the end user. Fewer “moving parts” means fewer points of failure and a more reliable system.CFU puts community needs first:
“We know from experience that economic growth comes to cities that keep their infrastructure up to date, whether it’s roads, water, electricity or broadband,” said Krieg [CFU General Manager]. “CFU is going to do what it takes to make sure Cedar Falls has leading-edge communications technology, and maintain economical rates for internet and video services.”The network was launched in 1996, one of the first communities with citywide broadband access.
Many rural communities are realizing the only way to get the Internet service they need is to build the network themselves.In the spirit of the times, my response is GOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! People who aren't fans of the World Cup can translate that as, "correct." The involved towns apparently have some broadband options, including cable Internet (3-6Mbps down and 512/768kbps up). There is some DSL but also some unserved areas. Increasingly, we see communities building next-generation networks out of a recognition that the private companies will not invest enough for these communities to take advantage of modern technologies. The study should be finished by the end of the year. Photo by Jackanapes, used under creative commons license.
A 2007 video from Chattanooga's Electric Power Board explaining the benefits of publicly owned fiber-optic infrastructure.
Comcast Corp. remains Chattanooga's biggest video provider and has also increased the speed of its Internet offerings and the number of high-definition television channels and movies it provides for its subscribers.Tennessee, home to the famous Tennessee Valley Authority that brought the electrical grid the mountains long neglected by the private sector, continues to value public ownership of infrastructure:
Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey likened EPB's broadband expansions to what the Tennessee Valley Authority brought to the region during the Great Depression. "What is happening today is equivalent to electricity coming to the valley in the 1930s," he said.I'm guessing this 150Mbps plan is the first of more impressive announcements to come out of Chattanooga as they take advantage of this key community asset. The 150 Mbps press release is available here. The article also noted a major economic development win in Bristol Tennessee - a $20 million newspaper printing plant that would not have been possible without their muni network. This testimonial is located toward the bottom of the page.
Hyatt [company VP] acknowledged that the high-speed data transfer and reliable fiber optics were the main reasons for locating the facility in the park.
“Economic development is part of what we’re charged at the Power Board with accomplishing. If the current (broadband) infrastructure is not sufficient to allow economic development to grow this market, something needs to change.” If the private sector either isn’t willing or isn’t able to create adequate infrastructure, Grandy said, “then an entity such as the Power Board may need to.”Tennessee cities without publicly owned networks may find themselves in an even tougher bind than similar communities elsewhere. With Jackson, Bristol (TN and VA), Chattanooga, Pulaski, and others, businesses do not have to move far for great networks run by the local public power company.
Grandy, though, “doesn’t think there’s any question” that the Johnson City area will reap the whirlwind, economically speaking, if it fails to scale up local broadband capability. He has been involved in the recent search for a CEO to run the metro area’s new Economic Development Council, and a half-dozen candidates who visited early this month made it abundantly clear that broadband capability is as important an issue today as dependable electricity was 80 years ago.Public power transformed Tennessee. Publicly owned broadband may be necessary to keep it transformed.