FCC, States Square Off in Court Over Municipal Broadband

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By John Eggerton

Just days after the Tennessee legislature voted down a municipal broadband expansion bill, the state was squaring off with the FCC in federal court over the issue of municipal broadband buildouts and the state’s ability to limit them.

After FCC chairman Tom Wheeler signaled the FCC had the power to preempt state laws blocking the expansion of municipal broadband, the cities of Wilson, N.C., and Chattanooga, Tenn. petitioned the FCC to do just that. A divided commission complied in March 2015, and Tennessee and North Carolina then filed suit. Continue reading

Will San Francisco realise its dream of a city-wide Gigabit network?

© Flickr/cc-licence/Gunther Hagleitner

San Francisco performed an impartial and thorough review of  different options to deliver broadband service throughout the city and determined open-access is the least riskiest and best way to offer broadband service in the city. This is just an analysis with recommendation. The city council will ultimately determine which direction to go, and as we know it may not always be the most prudent for citizens.

  • New report looks at financing models for a municipal Gigabit network
  • 12% of the city’s population does not have Internet access at home
  • Public and private development and ownership investigated
  • Network build-out costs range from $393m to $867m

Given its proximity to Silicon Valley, and the large numbers of wealthy tech founders who have managed to push up local housing prices to astronomical heights, you would think that San Francisco would be a shining beacon in the world of high-speed broadband and connected cities. Think again. Around 12 per cent of the population of San Francisco do not have any Internet access at home, and an additional 6 per cent only have access to dial-up speed Internet. But things may be about to change; and we don’t mean the selective, cherry-picked approach from Google Fiber. City Supervisor Mark Farrell had asked the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office for a financial analysis of a municipal fibre network to provide Internet access to all residential, commercial and industrial premises in San Francisco at speeds of a least 1Gbps, with the capacity to increase in the future as the definition of high speed or broadband changes. He wanted to evaluate three different approaches: Continue reading

Despite Gigabit Hype, U.S. Broadband’s Actually Getting Less Competitive Than Ever

by Karl Bode

Despite government programs, national broadband plans, billions in subsidies and a lot of recent hype paid to gigabit services like Google Fiber, U.S. broadband is actually getting less competitive than ever before across a huge swath of the country. Companies like AT&T and Verizon have beenbacking away from unwanted DSL networks they simply don’t want to upgrade. In some cases this involves selling these assets to smaller telcos (who take on so much debt they can’t upgrade them either), but in many markets this involves actively trying to drive customers away via either rate hikes or outright neglect.

As an end result, the nation’s biggest cable companies are enjoying a larger monopoly in many markets than ever before as they hoover up those fleeing customers. According to the latest postmortem of 2015 subscriber totals, the seventeen largest broadband providers acquired 3.1 million broadband subscribers last year. But if you look at the numbers more closely, you’ll notice that nearly all of them were acquired by the cable industry: Continue reading

Fiber networks could revolutionize Alabama’s economy the way electricity once did (Opinion)

The Google Fiber “bunny” logo at the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center.


By Rep. Mac McCutcheon and Rep. Laura Hall

Every modern politician — from mayors and members of city councils, to those who serve in the legislature — has an obligation to ensure that responsible policies are enacted in order to help their residents and businesses compete in a global economy. Part of this obligation is to provide the infrastructure that allows residents and private industry to succeed. The success of Thomas Edison’s light bulb was only fully realized after government helped create the conditions that made it possible for private industry to make electricity more readily accessible to all. Access to electricity spurred a decades long period of economic growth throughout the country. And now, the situation with broadband internet is no different. Communities across the country are beginning to see that access to abundant bandwidth is having a similarly transformative impact on the economy.

Today, for a community like Huntsville, broadband access is no longer a luxury. It is an imperative. Given the makeup of our economy, in-home broadband is critical to attracting and retaining companies and improving local government services and operations. It is also becoming an increasingly effective way for local utilities to manage the flow of information and resources delivered to their customers. Continue reading

Google Fiber Joins Forces with Municipal Broadband Network

Huntsville is doing it right. They can attract Google and other service providers to utilize their fiber infrastructure while seeing a modest return on investment. Citizens benefit from better services and price competition. I hope that more municipalities start utilizing this model.

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Google Fiber said on Monday that it plans to bring its gigabit Internet service to Huntsville, Alabama. But instead of laying its own fiber, Google will offer service over a network that is being built by the city-owned Huntsville Utilities. Huntsville will lease space on the network to Google so it can offer Internet service. But it’s not an exclusive deal, so other Internet providers could offer broadband over the same fiber. Huntsville, a city of nearly 190,000 residents, has been planning the fiber build for more than a year.

City officials “see it as a low-risk investment, as compared to administering the gigabit Internet themselves, which would require a massive increase in personnel in an arena where they have limited expertise,” local news station WHNT reported today. Google Fiber should be available to the first Huntsville customers by the middle of 2017, but it could take a few years to extend service throughout the city, the report said. Continue reading

City to move forward on broadband study

Structure of Broadband Service Market, by Acce...

Structure of Broadband Service Market, by Access Technology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


By Saja Hindi

Loveland city councilors directed city staff to move forward Tuesday with hiring a consultant and forming a task force to study options for municipal broadband.

Water and Power Director Steve Adams said staff members are looking to hire a qualified firm to conduct a broadband assessment and feasibility analysis and to help develop a plan.

The task force would consist of about 13 members, from various groups and businesses around the city, to assist in the study and garner public participation. Continue reading

Washington Law Would Let Counties Sell Broadband Service When Comcast Won’t

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Last year, we told you about Seth, who had recently relocated to Washington only to find out he might have to sell his new house because Comcast had lied to him about being able to provide the Internet connection he needs for his home office. And even though the county runs a high-speed fiber network not far from his property, current state law restricts consumers from buying access to that service. Recently proposed state legislation hopes to right that wrong and give counties the ability to serve residents when Comcast and others refuse to.

Current Washington state law allows for municipalities to own and operate broadband networks, but they can only sell wholesale access, meaning that customers must purchase so-called “last mile” service through a third party, even if it’s only a few yards from the existing fiber line to the house being connected. Continue reading