Annette Meeks: Municipal broadband puts taxpayers’ dollars in jeopardy

Although I do not paint as dire picture as Annette Meeks on municipal broadband. There are still several cautionary tales out there that need to be seriously considered by localities when embarking on a municipal broadband project. Most of them have been failures due to poor planning and optimistic projections including the miscalculation of how their commercial competition will respond. In some cases there are no other alternatives than a city to offer their own services, but those are few and far between. There are many creative alternatives that municipalities can implement that increase broadband penetration and offer competition. Continue reading

City drops taxpayer-funded Internet plan for private provider

One of the loudest advocates for municipal broadband in Minnesota has announced a surprise deal with a private provider involving no government financial support.

Just weeks ago, a legislative deal crafted by taxpayer-funded lobbyists for $2 million in state telecom grant funds for a government-owned fiber optic network fell through, and the city of Annandale appeared stuck with a system chronically criticized for outages and sluggish speeds. Continue reading

Hundreds facing financial losses from MN muni-broadband network

Lake Maria State Park, Monticello, MN

Lake Maria State Park, Monticello, MN (Photo credit: PugnoM)

By Tom Steward | Watchdog Minnesota

Bill McKenzie’s email was short and to the point.

“I am (an) individual bondholder.  Why doesn’t the city go to the reserve funds and pay the bond interest due on these bonds?  You are hurting bondholders who loaned the city this money,” McKenzie wrote in frustration.

The plea went out last week from the 70-year-Tucson retiree who with his wife lives more than 1,700 miles from the Monticello, Minn., City Council members he attempted to contact.

City officials’ response?  No reply— same as before, he said.

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Who should build the next generation of high-speed networks?

by Jennifer Vogel, Minnesota Public Radio

Rural Minnesota

Image by Zach K via Flickr

Windom, Minn. — Dan Olsen, who runs the municipal broadband service in Windom, was just about to leave work for the night when he got a call. The muckety-mucks at Fortune Transportation, a trucking company on the outskirts of town, were considering shuttering their office and leaving the area.

“They said, Dan, you need to get your butt out here now,” Olsen recalls. “I got there and they said, ‘You need to build fiber out here. What would it take for you to do it?'”

Fortune, which employs 47 people in the town of 4,600, two and a half hours southwest of the Twin Cities, relies on plenty of high-tech gadgetry. Broadband Internet access figures into how the company bids for jobs, communicates with road-bound truckers, controls the temperatures in its refrigerated trucks and remotely views its office in Roswell, New Mexico. Fortune even uses the Internet to monitor where and to what extent drivers fill their gas tanks in order to save money.

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Nulty firm loses Minnesota broadband project

Freedom to Connect First Panel

Image by AKMA via Flickr

Burlington Telecom concerns spurred county board to review contract issues

By John Briggs, Free Press Staff Writer

Burlington Telecom’s financial woes played a role in the decision this week by the Lake County, Minn., Board of Commissioners to end negotiations with a broadband company run by Burlington Telecom’s former chief executive officer.

National Public Broadband, whose CEO is Tim Nulty, had been in line to build a $70 million federally-funded communications network in rural Minnesota.

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Sides fight over fiber

Storefronts in Two Harbors, Minnesota

Image via Wikipedia

This insightful article describes the typical woes that municipalities and counties go through with the incumbent carriers.  Lake County wants to build an open-access network that will offer modern telecom services to this beautiful part of the country.  This network could benefit not only the residents but also the incumbents.  The problem is that the incumbents are happy with the status quo because they do not have to compete for market share or invest capital in their network; thereby, preserving their margins.  Companies like Frontier and Mediacom should embrace these networks as a way to reach more customers and increase ARPU without massive capital expenditures.

My family has vacationed in this area for years.  It was one of the few areas of the country where I could truly disconnect from work and the world.  My pager wouldn’t even work in many parts of the Gunflint Trail.  Such a build-out in Lake County would mean an end to my escape from civilization.  It is a small loss for me and a huge gain for the citizens of this wonderful part of Minnesota.

The first public shots have been fired by a potential competitor with Lake County’s fiber-to-home phone, television, and Internet service project.

By: Mike Creger, Lake County News Chronicle

The first public shots have been fired by a potential competitor with Lake County’s fiber-to-home phone, television, and Internet service project. Mediacom, a cable and internet provider in Two Harbors and Silver Bay, sent letters to the mayors of both cities late last month asking them to reconsider the joint powers agreement the city councils approved as part of Lake County’s application for funds for the countywide project.

But the company may have misfired. In the letter, it cited a portion of the agreement that doesn’t exist; county officials say they believe Mediacom was basing its argument on an early draft of the final document.

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HickoryTech Achieves 10,000 Digital TV Subscribers Milestone

POMPANO BEACH, FL - JUNE 05:  Jim Salem carrie...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

MANKATO, Minn. – Oct. 18, 2010 – HickoryTech Corporation (Nasdaq: HTCO) announced today it has surpassed 10,000 Digital TV subscribers. This milestone demonstrates HickoryTech’s long-term commitment and success in growing its broadband services throughout southern Minnesota.   “We’re proud of our broadband expansion and excited to reach this Digital TV milestone,” said Damon Dutz, president of HickoryTech’s Consumer and Network Solutions Division. “On behalf of our entire HickoryTech team, we appreciate the loyalty of our customers and are committed to providing competitive broadband services and outstanding local support to our neighbors and friends in the communities we serve.”

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