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

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

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

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

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

Estes Park being surveyed about broadband

Panorama of Estes Park, , , taken at an altitu...

Panorama of Estes Park, , , taken at an altitude of about 9,000 feet. Picture is taken from the mountains around Gem Lake, north of the town. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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ESTES PARK — The Town of Estes Park sent surveys by email to area businesses on Monday  as part of its research into establishing a broadband utility within the current Light and Power service area. A random selection of residents also will be surveyed.

The survey, which will provide data on customer preferences for Internet service and pricing   models, is being conducted by independent researchers at Colorado State University and Discovery Research Group. Customers will first receive a phone-call invitation to provide an email address so they may receive a link to the 10-minute online survey. Continue reading

Real Broadband Competition Would Kill Comcast’s Data Caps

Finally the concept of open-access last mile networks is getting more attention. We could debate the motives behind Comcast’s usage caps, but there is a good chance that they would disappear if there was service-level competition. Even in the wireless market where bandwidth resources are limited, carriers like Sprint still offer an unlimited data package. They do this to compete against Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless; it is a product differentiator. The open-access model does work and more cities should implement a variation that works best for their community. The infrastructure could be city, third-party, or carrier consortium owned or a combination of any of those options. In any case the most expensive part of the network will be a shared resource that will be economically justified because its’ usage will be maximized. Offering open access to all service providers on a non-discriminatory price basis will allow multiple service providers to enter a market to offer differentiated and competitive services.

by Karl Bode

We’ve long made the point that Comcast’s usage caps are just a symptom of the overall lack of competition. The caps, which even Comcast itself has indicated really aren’t financially or technically necessary, are little more than a glorified price hike designed to protect the company’s TV revenues from Internet video. And if customers in Comcast markets had the choice of other ISPs, they’d be able to flee to unlimited offerings. Continue reading