A 2007 video from Chattanooga's Electric Power Board explaining the benefits of publicly owned fiber-optic infrastructure.
The city of LaGrange has long been offering top-notch telecom services to local businesses. I just stumbled across this video describing their new colocation facilities. They are approaching 400 business customers and serve the local cellular towers. They do not provide residential services.
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Danville's open services fiber-optic network has brought a new employer with some 160 jobs to town. EcomNets is investing almost $2 million to build a green data center to the area.
Though the public power utility owns this network, it does not offer services. The network, which currently services municipal locations, schools, and some 75 businesses with Internet access, leaves independent providers to provide the actual services. They welcome major carriers like Comcast and Verizon, who have thus far refused to use open access networks to expand their customer base.
Currently, the network has a single service provider, though the utility has spoken with others and expects more service providers to join the network when it begins making residential connections.
As for when it will begin offering residential access, the City Council will discuss that on July 6 in a work session. The Utility has recommended the City start the next phase, servicing some 2,000-3,000 homes.
A grassroots effort in the broadband desert of Western Massachusetts has been organizing local communities to build a publicly owned, open access FTTH network to everyone in the partner towns (universal access). This story notes that 33 Towns had joined the effort by early May, but the current map of supporting towns show 39 supporting towns now.
Some towns voted to join unanimously; very few have opted not to join the dialogue. Towns are asked to pass this proposed warrant article at their Town Meeting (a practice common in the New England area):
To see if the Town will vote to enter into immediate discussions with other Western Massachusetts municipalities with the intent of entering an inter-municipal agreement, by and through the Select Board, pursuant to Chapter 40, Section 4A of the Massachusetts General Laws, for the purpose of establishing a universal, open access, financially self-sustaining communication system for the provision of broadband service, including high-speed Internet access, telephone and cable television to the residents, businesses and institutions of these municipalities; or act in relation thereto.
The preamble to the warrant article [pdf] offers the context:
WiredWest Communications, a community broadband network representing citizens in more than 30 towns in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, has studied how to make high-speed Internet access available to every household and business in our rural towns and has concluded that a universally-accessible, municipally-owned fiber-optic network, open to all providers, is the best solution. We believe that commercial Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, will never expand significantly to reach unserved customers and will certainly never deliver universal coverage. Building it ourselves is our only alternative.
Participating towns will "be convened and pressing issues of governance and inter-municipal agreements will be addressed" in late June.
Though nothing is finalized (obviously), they explained one financing option in the...Read more
Another community has announced that with or without Google, it is going to build a proper broadband network. Baltimore is the latest to realize they cannot just wait for others to build the network they need.
"We can't sit here and wait for a gift from Google to fall on us from the sky," said Tom Loveland, whom Rawlings-Blake has appointed the city's volunteer Google czar. "This is our future we're talking about here. Those of us involved in the conversation have seen what other cities have already accomplished. These folks managed to get themselves wired without Google. If they can do it, we can do it, too."
Apparently, lots of Baltimore folks are interested in the idea. Some 200 people turned out for this discussion and the group has a lively online discussion group as well as a site detail the community support for the project.
The Mayor has created a panel to study the manner. They have already turned to ask Mayor Durel of Lafayette, always a good start. Another place panels like this can start is the still-relevant report by a Task Force in St. Paul.
According the article in the Sun, an FCC staffer also presented to the group of 200:
At the symposium, John Horrigan, consumer research director at the FCC, said studies have shown that the technological availability of basic broadband service is not the main problem because 95 percent of Americans have the technical means to access it. Rather, nearly a third of Americans are choosing not to use broadband, citing high costs or a lack of digital literacy or computer skills.
These are the sort of statements that infuriate me because they incorporate so many important caveats. 95% of Americans may have access to something faster than dial-up. But probably not given how much the telcos overestimate the reach of their DSL.
Though Horrigan notes the high costs, we know very little about what these costs are. If someone could buy a connection only slightly faster than dial-up at a cost of 3x dial-up, they are probably smart to stick with dial-up. It tells us nothing of what they would do with a real choice.
It's fast and it's symmetrical. Chattanooga, the nation's largest muni FTTH network will be offering the fastest residential package in the country by the end of the month: 150 Mbps.
Chattanooga's Electric Power Board (EPB) is ahead of schedule in the fiber rollout, planning to offer triple-play services to all 145,000 residential customers in its electrical territory by the end of the year. Dave Flessner at the Chattanooga Times Free Press covered this story and the paper posted a short audio clip of EPB President Harold DePriest at the press conference.
EPBFi is up to almost 10,000 customers, a number expected to double by the end of the year.
Comcast is responding to this aggressive muni network:
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. This service is essential as companies move deeper into the information age, especially with...
According to the local paper, Johnson City, Tennessee, continues to discuss whether its public power utility should build a FTTH network.
As with so many other communities that have only "high speed" cable and DSL options, people are recognizing the importance of broadband on economic development. Local Business leader, Joe Grandy, is the focus of this article:
“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.
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Back in early March, Highland Illinois, broke ground on its publicly owned FTTH network project. Plans call for connecting some businesses by the end of this year and connecting everyone by the end of 2011.
The entire concept is expected to cost $13 million. About $9 million of the start-up costs will be funded by bonds - a move voters signed off on last year.
One of the focuses of the recent FiberFete conference is what do communities do once they have built a next-generation network. Lafayette had lots of ideas.
Let's start with counting new jobs. Lafayette Pro Fiber recently discussed one of the employers adding jobs. The post acknowledges that the fiber network is not the sole reason for these particular jobs, but it does play an important role:
You have to know if you've been down to "the egg" at the LITE building that they're not going to put 100 cubicle workers in that facility. No way they'd fit. However they do have to do the tedious work in Louisiana to get those credits. So some large percentage of those 100 workers will have to be off-site. But they'll have to be able to do their work as if they were in the same building with, at a minimum, the 100 megs of connectivity that standard ethernet LANs provide. That, of course, is exactly what LUS provides on its justly acclaimed 100 meg intranet. A person setting behind a nice workstation setup on Moss Avenue with a nice VLAN setup could work within the Pixel Magic network as if they were just down the hall from the boss's glossy corner office (something both would probably prefer). The ultimate in working from home. I'll not be surprised if Pixel Magic opts for an offsite work center like NuConn did—but there too LUS' fiber-to-every-nook-and-cranny make it possible to shop for the cheapest appropriate location rather than the cheapest location that has something close to real connectivity. In that sort of situation it would be easy and damned inexpensive to leverage LUS Fiber to provide a gig or several of commercial grade connection between the two points.
This is only one of several employers who have added many jobs in Lafayette because of the publicly owned fiber network.
Another avenue Lafayette is exploring is high-bandwidth classrooms. They have created a specific FiberKids program (which was discussed at FiberFete).
The project is intended to test live streaming, high-definition capabilities for school conferences, lectures and field trips.
Students are encouraged to explore the uses of fiber-optic technology in the classroom....