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.
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Open Access

A key problem in improving Internet access has been ensuring residents and local businesses have high quality services. One means of ensuring high quality is via competition – if people can switch away from their Internet Service Provider, the ISP has an incentive to provide better services. However, the high cost of building networks is a barrier for new ISPs to enter the market – limiting the number of options for communities. Open access provides a solution: multiple providers sharing the same physical network.

Publicly owned, open access networks can create a vibrant and innovative market for telecommunications services. Municipalities build the physical infrastructure (fiber-optic lines, wireless access points, etc.) and independent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operate in a competitive market using the same physical network. In this competitive marketplace, ISPs compete for customers and have incentives to innovate rather than simply locking out competitors with a de facto monopoly.  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

Santa Cruz, Calif., Deploys Fiber-Like Wireless Gigabit Internet Through Public-Private Partnership

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From watching Netflix to building a business to conducting cutting-edge research, we don’t just need technology to be successful — we need it to be fast. That’s why the city of Santa Cruz, Calif., has recently formed a partnership that will use fiber-like wireless technology to deliver gigabit-class-level Internet speeds throughout the city.

This innovative fiber-like wireless technology makes the project, made possible through a partnership among the city, Siklu Communication Ltd. and local Internet service provider Cruzio,the first of its kind in the United States. The tech is composed of a Siklu millimeter wave radio attached to Cruzio’s existing fiber. Continue reading

Fairlawn, OH, to start FairlawnGig gigabit broadband project

The city is actually building infrastructure and not becoming a service provider. They will offer access to other service providers.

Lightwave Staff
English: A fiber optic splice lab being used t...

English: A fiber optic splice lab being used to access underground fiber optic cables for splicing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The city council of Fairlawn, OH, approved four ordinances on April 4 that will kick start the launch of FairlawnGig, a municipal broadband project. Through a combination of wireless and fiber-optic network infrastructure, the project aims to make gigabit broadband services available to all residents and businesses in Fairlawn, as well as to the Akron-Fairlawn-Bath Township Joint Economic Development District (JEDD).

The votes came after the completion of an RFP process that explored the feasibility of the project as well as potential partners. The city plans to have Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc. design, build, operate, and maintain the fiber to the premises (FTTP) and wireless networks. Extra Mile Fiber, LLC, of Dayton, OH, will serve as FairlawnGig’s anchor service provider. Continue reading

Verizon FiOS finally coming to Boston as mayor announces $300M fiber network

By Curt Woodward and Jon Chesto

Verizon is finally ready to offer its high-speed fiber optic service to Boston — a victory for city officials who have long sought meaningful competition for high-speed Internet and TV service in a city dominated by Comcast Corp. Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the Verizon move Tuesday, a $300 million investment that will roll out in select neighborhoods beginning this summer but will take six years to cover the whole city. Boston has also agreed to speed up permitting for the infrastructure upgrade and to begin the process of licensing Verizon as a cable TV provider.  Continue reading

Town evaluates high speed Internet options

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By Paul Krajewski

The Town of High River is exploring high speed Internet options for local homes and businesses, while Axia, an Internet service provider, attempts to drum up support for its plan to build the fiber optic cable infrastructure needed to support the service. “The original idea of engaging Axia was to benefit economic development, especially after the flood,” said Kent Blair, manager of information services for the Town of High River. He said that along with providing widespread residential access, the town is focused on improving access in key business areas including the downtown core, the 12th Avenue corridor and the east side industrial park. Continue reading