By Kathy Keeser
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FLORIDA, Mass. — Voters on Wednesday night approved the establishment of a municipal lighting plant, taking the first step in the development of a cooperative broadband system.
About 30 voters took time out to decide four articles at Wednesday’s special town meeting, deciding on school repairs, broadband and wind projects.
The first two articles gave town approval to the continuance of repairs to Gabriel Abbott Memorial School, including to the roof and to the water main. Both warrants quickly passed 28-0.
The following video was shown at a rural broadband conference in the United Kingdom. A group of farmers took their broadband destiny into their own hands by laying their own fiber and installing their equipment. It demonstrates the relative ease at which a fiber-based broadband network can be installed in rural areas. Coming from a farming state, farmers are quite capable diggers and builders. They may even do a better job and be more conscientious since they are doing the work on their own and neighbors’ properties.
A fiber-optic project could be the first step in connecting SLO County to ultra high-speed broadband
BY MATT FOUNTAIN
When Google announced in February 2010 that it was launching a competitive experiment to bring ultra high-speed broadband networks to a small number of trial locations throughout the United States via fiber-optic lines, its intention wasn’t to break into the service-provider business.
The Internet-search giant was attempting to promote awareness of high-speed fiber, test new ways to build fiber networks, and explore the creative potential ultra-high-speed Internet service carries for developers and consumers—the potential, for example, to create new bandwidth-intensive “killer apps” and services and other uses not yet imagined.
Quincy could become one of the first communities in the country to have a fiber optic network installed throughout the whole city.
The city’s Department of Central Services recommended approval of a pilot program to allow United Kingdom-based i3 America to install 1,300 feet of fiber optic cable in municipal sewer lines along South 46th Street. The proposal now heads to the City Council.
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Rural CSP Frontier Communications plans to spend $40 million to expand broadband in Illinois in 2011. This move is part of Frontier’s goal to provide 85% of its Illinois customers with broadband by 2013.
Frontier recently acquired $8.6 billion in wireline assets from Verizon, and now provides service to 670,000 phone and Internet customers in primarily rural Illinois. The $40 million investment in represents a three-fold increase over Verizon’s investment plan for the region.
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Although I agree with Jack Mazzola in theory, he does not understand the reasoning behind the city’s actions and he is over dramatizing the impact of the utility’s proposed network. Mr. Mazzola has it correct that selling communications services is best left to private enterprise. The government should not be in the business of providing telecommunications services. It could provide the last-mile infrastructure to service providers that want to offer voice, video, and data services, because building such a network for a single service provider is cost prohibitive. The city should facilitate competition for private enterprise by providing a utility that a single provider could not afford to build on their own.
I am sure that the city would collect franchise fees from multiple service providers other than Charter, but the economics are not viable for Charter and other providers to build multiple networks. Once again I return to the fact that building a broadband network costs a bit over $1,200 per home passed in small communities. Divide the market in two and the cost doubles which extends the time for a positive rate of return to over 3 years. Too much for public companies.
The city is wise in its intention to amortize the cost of building a fiber network across different uses. The fiber has the capacity to support multiple services and applications. By apportioning the cost based on bandwidth used by a service or application, electricity customers will pay much less than if they had to foot the bill for the whole fiber network; negating the “rate hike” Mr. Mazzola mentions. Higher value and bandwidth services would pay their fair share which would increase the revenue to pay for this endeavor.
Mr. Mazzola’s arguments of over regulation and loss of freedoms/privacy are a little overstated. There is the potential for citizens to apply pressure on the utility to restrict certain types of “information” that Mr. Mazzola refers. Providing an open-access infrastructure is the way around that problem because the city is not involved in the actual content of the services.
I admire Mr. Mazzola’s principles in an age where so many of the principles of which this nation was founded are being discarded, but he needs to be a bit more constructive in his thought. If he would like to see free enterprise flourish and receive innovative services then he should support the city building an open-access fiber infrastructure to be used for the smart grid and competitive communication services. These goals can be achieved with the privacy and financial transparency his group is questioning. Opelika citizens head to the polls in about a week. If the ballot measure is approved, then citizens like Mr. Mazzola should remain involved and shape the network to achieve their goals of free enterprise and free flowing information.
By Donathan Prater | Staff Writer
While many expect Opelika voters to give the city the nod when they head to the polls on Aug. 10 for a referendum that would create a city-owned telecommunications company, that feeling isn’t unanimous.
Some opponents plan to attend the public hearing in the Opelika City Council chambers Tuesday to voice their concerns.