English: Telephone pole, Westwood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As one of the communities Google Fiber has selected for potential provision of its gigabit fiber to the home (FTTH) services (see “Google Fiber sets FTTH sights on three new cities”), Louisville officials had passed unanimously a “One Touch Make Ready” ordinance that would enable Google Fiber and other broadband services providers in the future to access city utility poles and attach the necessary hardware to provide services themselves. AT&T owns between 25% and 40% of those poles, the Courier-Journal reports, and the ordinance potentially would allow its competitors to move AT&T’s equipment on the pole to make room for the new infrastructure. Continue reading
Back in 2013, then FCC boss Julius Genachowski issued a “1 Gbps challenge”: basically a pledge to ensure there was at least one gigabit network operating in all fifty states by 2015. As we noted at the time it was kind of a show pony goal; notorious fence-sitter Genachowski was simply setting a goal he knew the industry would probably meet with or without’s government help, so that government could come in at a later date and insist it played an integral role.
Well, 2015 has come and gone, and while there is at least one gigabit network planned for every state, we narrowly missed Genochowski’s goal by most estimates:
We combed through our archives and other online resources and, by our tally, at least one network operator has announced plans to offer gigabit service in every state. Not all of these networks are actually deployed or supporting service yet. But generally network operators don’t announce specific markets more than a year or two in advance of when they expect to deliver service.
Locally and nationally, consumers are opting not to buy homes if they don’t have access to high-speed Internet.
The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted the topic, and Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors President Travis Close said that residents in rural areas value high-speed Internet access just as much as people who live in city centers.
But access isn’t always available. There are still unincorporated areas of Hamilton County with limited Internet access. Continue reading
Image via Wikipedia
Although I agree with Jack Mazzola in theory, he does not understand the reasoning behind the city’s actions and he is over dramatizing the impact of the utility’s proposed network. Mr. Mazzola has it correct that selling communications services is best left to private enterprise. The government should not be in the business of providing telecommunications services. It could provide the last-mile infrastructure to service providers that want to offer voice, video, and data services, because building such a network for a single service provider is cost prohibitive. The city should facilitate competition for private enterprise by providing a utility that a single provider could not afford to build on their own.
I am sure that the city would collect franchise fees from multiple service providers other than Charter, but the economics are not viable for Charter and other providers to build multiple networks. Once again I return to the fact that building a broadband network costs a bit over $1,200 per home passed in small communities. Divide the market in two and the cost doubles which extends the time for a positive rate of return to over 3 years. Too much for public companies.
The city is wise in its intention to amortize the cost of building a fiber network across different uses. The fiber has the capacity to support multiple services and applications. By apportioning the cost based on bandwidth used by a service or application, electricity customers will pay much less than if they had to foot the bill for the whole fiber network; negating the “rate hike” Mr. Mazzola mentions. Higher value and bandwidth services would pay their fair share which would increase the revenue to pay for this endeavor.
Mr. Mazzola’s arguments of over regulation and loss of freedoms/privacy are a little overstated. There is the potential for citizens to apply pressure on the utility to restrict certain types of “information” that Mr. Mazzola refers. Providing an open-access infrastructure is the way around that problem because the city is not involved in the actual content of the services.
I admire Mr. Mazzola’s principles in an age where so many of the principles of which this nation was founded are being discarded, but he needs to be a bit more constructive in his thought. If he would like to see free enterprise flourish and receive innovative services then he should support the city building an open-access fiber infrastructure to be used for the smart grid and competitive communication services. These goals can be achieved with the privacy and financial transparency his group is questioning. Opelika citizens head to the polls in about a week. If the ballot measure is approved, then citizens like Mr. Mazzola should remain involved and shape the network to achieve their goals of free enterprise and free flowing information.
By Donathan Prater | Staff Writer
While many expect Opelika voters to give the city the nod when they head to the polls on Aug. 10 for a referendum that would create a city-owned telecommunications company, that feeling isn’t unanimous.
Some opponents plan to attend the public hearing in the Opelika City Council chambers Tuesday to voice their concerns.