Study: Rural Areas Lack Broadband

Local governments and communities are faced with a dilemma when it is not commercially feasible for one or more companies to serve suburban and rural areas with competitive broadband services. Communities recognize that broadband networks contribute to their economic vitality so citizens ask them to pick up the ball where commercial enterprises will not go. Should local governments compete with commercial enterprises where they may have an unfair advantage? No. Government should facilitate the growth and creation of businesses; not compete with them. Local governments can do this by only deploying the fiber infrastructure and selling access to the fibers to any communication services provider that want to offer services in a community. This open access infrastructure promotes business in a community and gives consumers a choice of what services they want to purchase. The state of Tennessee should amend its’ law to allow communities and local governments to deploy fiber infrastructure and promote public/private partnerships when necessary to encourage competition for broadband services.

Kelly Lapczynski

The results of a study commissioned by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) to evaluate broadband access throughout the state may encourage state lawmakers to rethink long-stalled legislation when the 110th General Assembly convenes in January. Continue reading

Big choices ahead as Boulder pursues faster, cheaper broadband

I appreciate that the Daily Camera dedicated so many inches to this topic, but they missed the point that one of the options is that the city provides fiber access to other communications companies that will actually sell services to consumers and businesses. This open-access option is preferred because it allows for greater choice of services and price competition. Additionally it keeps the city out of business of delivering communications services which is fast moving.

Open-access reduces the risk to the city in this venture because it sells infrastructure that all communications providers require including CenturyLink and Comcast. EBP is always used as the poster child of a successful deployment but there are just as many municipal failures like UTOPIA. Even Longmont failed 3 other times in their broadband venture. Selling/leasing the infrastructure to deliver services is more likely to be financially successful for the city, and it will benefit consumers as well. CTC mentioned that there are several service providers willing to offer Internet, phone, and even video services to Boulder residents. I hope that the city makes the best decision and opts for an open-access network. Continue reading

Government-financed broadband is a bad deal for taxpayers

On June 6, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will be in Pikeville for the SOAR summit to discuss the future of broadband in Kentucky and across the United States. His remarks are likely to turn into a pep rally for government-owned broadband.

Taxpayers shouldn’t cheer.

Government-owned broadband already has harmed Kentucky taxpayers. A few years ago, a handful of lawmakers dreamed up a plan for a statewide “middle mile” network calledKentuckyWired. The network would largely be financed by taxpayers, but managed by an Australian financing firm. The total cost of the project is pegged at more than $300 million with the state issuing $289 million in bonds to finance the project. State taxpayers would be on the hook for $30 million while federal taxpayers will kick in another $23.5 million. Continue reading

The Challenges of Closing the Digital Divide

I prefer to leave politics out of the delivery of broadband services across the United States, but it is a topic that is highly politicized because of government involvement. The “New York Times” interviewed FCC Commissioner Mig Clyburn with a decidedly supportive position that there exists an ever increasing digital divide. Articles like this one are not surprising with presidential candidates playing up class envy and income inequality to drum up votes. The interviewer did not ask tough questions or challenge Mig’s responses. Apparently the editors did not feel the need to do any fact checking either.

This interview contains inaccuracies that lead readers to believe that broadband deployments are also subject to the “great divide” that the media is constantly touting. Actually the opposite is true. Every new broadband deployment has a plan to cover low-income areas and provide free or subsidized broadband for low-income residents. These plans are independent of whether a local municipality or commercial enterprise are building the networks. Rural communities are taking matters into their own hands in several places and building their own broadband networks when no commercial provider will serve their area. Urban areas are the easiest to cover due to their density and short loop lengths. Urban areas typically have multiple service providers offering competition and discounted rates to low-income housing that suburban customers do not typically receive.
Continue reading

Tired of waiting, rich enclave may build fast Internet

By Dan McSwain

A flirtation with socialism in uber-capitalist Rancho Santa Fe could influence how telecommunications service is delivered to the rest of us in San Diego County.

On Thursday, the elected board that oversees land use in the wealthy rural enclave took a step toward building a super-fast, fiber-optic communications system that would reach each home and business. Here’s the twist: The system would be financed and owned by the public, with a telecom firm building and managing the network as a hired hand.

Internet speeds would start at 1 gigabits (1 billion bits) per second and top out at 10 gbps, or roughly 850 times the average U.S. connection of 11.7 megabits per second. Continue reading

Lakeland fiber optic broadband option still alive

By Christopher Guinn
Polk Theatre (Lakeland, Florida)

Polk Theatre (Lakeland, Florida) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LAKELAND — If the City Commission decides against starting a publicly owned Internet service utility, it won’t be because of a philosophical disagreement with the idea, commissioners agreed Wednesday.

Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs and Commissioner Don Selvage sought consensus from their colleagues following a brief discussion of the “gigabit” issue, in which the city would leverage its existing fiber optics assets to improve broadband connection speeds in the city. Continue reading

Commentary: Fiber network not a good deal for Westerly

By MARC BROWN

Westerly’s Town Council is currently considering whether to enter into a contract with SIFI Networks of London to build a $30 million fiber optic network. SIFI is proposing to build the network and the town would lease-purchase it from the company at an annual cost of $1 million to $2.5 million over 30 years. SIFI has promised that a third-party internet service provider will sell broadband packages on the new network, sharing revenue with Westerly to cover the town’s lease cost. SIFI has “guaranteed” it. That guarantee is only backed by the word of the company — a company that hasn’t actually built a single mile of fiber anywhere in the United States. The town can supposedly back out of the contract at any time — but SIFI would then retain ownership of the network, and would be free to use it as they see fit without town involvement.

Steve Blum, a broadband consultant hired to study SIFI’s contract in another community, recently told The Westerly Sun that the town “should assume it will have to be subsidized by some other source, whether it’s a tax or a utility fee…They will not make enough money from operation of the system.” Even a cursory look at the numbers should raise a red flag. Using SIFI’s assumption of 36 percent penetration, the average monthly household bill would have to exceed $200 per month for the town’s revenue to cover the $1.5 million annual lease commitment. Continue reading