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

Kentucky to build 3,400-mile state-owned broadband network and a fight is brewing

Yet another US state is weighing up the idea of laying thousands of miles of cable to create its own broadband network.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that a group of telcos are pushing back against a proposed $324m network involving 3,400 miles of cabling, which would cover 120 counties in the state.

The construction phase of the project is tentatively set to be completed by the Fall of 2018, with a private company building and maintaining the state-owned network. Continue reading

All Residents Need A Broadband Choice

English: The Penmynydd high-speed broadband tr...

English: The Penmynydd high-speed broadband transmission mast viewed from the churchyard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Despite the fact that Internet access speeds are increasing on average, there are still almost 40% of Americans without broadband service. I know this because my parents live just a few minutes out of a state capital and do not have any access to any wired broadband service. There is no easy answer to this solution because serving these rural areas is expensive.

Building the last-mile infrastructure is the most costly part of the build. Carriers are challenged to be profitable building out rural areas even if they had a 100% market share. This is why the Universal Service Fund was created. Instead of all customers subsidizing rural communities, local governments and carriers should be allowed to form a public/private partnership to build an open-access last-mile fiber infrastructure. All carriers could then utilize this infrastructure to provide competitive communications services to potential customers no different than in densely packed urban areas. This method is fairer to all parties and does not put taxpayers at as much risk. Continue reading

FCC Chair: 39% Of Rural America Lacks Broadband Access

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If you live in the city, it’s almost a certainty that your property can get high-speed Internet access from at least one company. But for rural America, it’s a different story, with nearly 4-in-10 people lacking access to fixed-line broadband service.

This is according to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, who will issue his latest annual Broadband Progress Report later this month. Continue reading