Submitted by acohill on Thu, 02/09/2017 - 15:08
In a clear sign that the incumbent telephone and cable companies are playing a long game in their fight against competition, a draft bill began circulating in the current legislative session in Virginia.
It was quickly dubbed "the death star bill" because it would have made it nearly impossible for Virginia localities to make any investments in broadband infrastructure. Purportedly, the intent of the bill was to protect taxpayers from "wasting" public money on broadband infrastructure. But it had many restrictions that seemed very similar to the restrictions passed by the North Carolina legislature some years ago.
But Virginia has a wide variety of communities that have already made substantial investments in bringing competitive broadband services into their mostly rural areas, and there was rapid mobilization to fight the bill.
According to ars technica, the bill was replaced by a different bill that only codified some bookkeeping transparency requirements--the rebels won again.
Submitted by acohill on Sun, 01/15/2017 - 18:01
Eldo Telecom has a wry sense of humor. He has called a draft piece of legislation circulating in the statehouse in Richmond, Virginia the "Twisted Pair Preservation Act."
It's black humor at its best, because the bill would make it very difficult for local governments in Virginia to make any kind of investment in telecom infrastructure, even if the infrastructure was offered on a wholesale basis to private sector providers and even if the locality stayed out of offering retail telecom services.
To me, the interesting thing about this bill is what is not being said out loud:
The incumbents are very fond of claiming that all muni telecom projects are poorly managed, financial catastrophes waiting to happen, and a waste of money.
But if they are right, why would they waste their lobbying dollars to outlaw something that doesn't work?
This is the dog that did not bark.
The community broadband projects obviously scare the heck out of the incumbents, because *distributed ownership of infrastructure* breaks the 100 year monopoly on telecom that they have had. It's been a nice ride, but it's coming to an end.
Competitive broadband is not really about getting government involved at all. Government participation is a means to an end, it is not the end goal. The end goal is distributed ownership of telecom infrastructure, and that could be a whole variety of public and private players, including customers themselves.
Submitted by acohill on Thu, 06/30/2016 - 13:54
Google has helped to fund some middle school buses in Caldwell County, North Carolina with WiFi so that the kids can get some school work done while traveling back and forth to school.
While this is an interesting experiment, the reason behind it is the abysmal state of broadband access in rural America, where whole families have to drive to McDonalds or the local library so mom and pop can get their email and shop, and so the kids can do their homework.
Everywhere I go these days in rural areas, the number one complaint is coming from the mothers of K12 children. Mom is dead tired from trying to manage access to Internet for her children. Stop in a rural McDonalds after 3 PM, and I can almost guarantee you will spot some vans in the parking lot with mom in the drivers seat and two or three kids bent over laptops or tablets trying to get their homework done.
Rural libraries are groaning under the strain of demand for Internet access, and they have to strictly manage time limits on the use of library computers. As the school systems put more and more textbooks and resources online, the problem becomes more acute for families with poor Internet access.
Submitted by acohill on Sun, 11/08/2015 - 09:14
Forty-four Colorado communities passed referendums that give those the communities the right to build their own broadband infrastructure.
Colorado is one of those states that had a legislature pass a law forbidding local community investment in broadband unless a public referendum was voted on. At the time (ten years ago) the incumbents probably figured that was a bar too high for those towns and counties to jump over.
But after a decade of poor and slow service, the referendums passed easily. As < a href="http://eldotelecom.blogspot.com/2015/09/fccs-sohn-forget-incumbents-build-your.html">Gigi Sohn of the FCC noted recently, communities are going to have to build their own modern networks. And so they are.
Submitted by acohill on Fri, 03/27/2015 - 09:22
The "slow or non-existent" broadband service in and around Loch Ness in Scotland is driving tourists away, who flee in horror, not from Nessie, the once and future Loch Ness Monster, but from un-usable broadband.
Broadband is basic infrastructure for community and economic development.
Submitted by acohill on Mon, 03/09/2015 - 14:06
The Blandin Foundation has a must-read letter from a relatively small business that illustrates very clearly the problem that "not enough broadband" has on economic development.
The whole letter lays out numerous problems, but this is one of the most striking:
"I find many candidates that are excited to raise a family in a rural community, but they do not want to live in the digital equivalence of the 1980’s."
This is the challenge rural communities face in a single sentence. How do you continue to attract and retain young workers as your broadband capacity falls farther and farther behind? Read the whole thing.
Submitted by acohill on Thu, 01/22/2015 - 13:30
The Intelligent Community Forum announced the Top7 Intelligent Communities for 2015 today.
The Top7 list is dominated by the United States with three communities: Arlington County, Virginia; Columbus,Ohio; and Mitchell, South Dakota.
The others come from four nations: Ipswich, Australia; New Taipei City, Taiwan; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Surrey, Canada. Four of the cites are on the Top7 list for the first time: Mitchell, New Taipei City, Rio de Janeiro and Surrey.
“Each is ‘revolutionary’ in its own way, and each has planned its future in a way that is consistent with its cultural identity, while using universally available digital tools and broadband technology," said Intelligent Community co-founder Lou Zacharilla.
Disclaimer: I have been a juror for the ICF for several years. The ICF work is important because broadband, by itself, does not make a community "smart." Intelligent communities develop an integrated community and economic development strategy that makes broadband an infrastructure building block that supports a broader set of goals and objectives.
Submitted by acohill on Wed, 10/22/2014 - 07:35
The Intelligent Community Forum has announced the twenty-one community candidates for 2015. This year's submissions come from diverse locations ranging from Kazakhstan to Kenya and Taiwan to the United States. The Smart21 represent a cross section of the world with five communities from the United States, four from Australia and four from Taiwan as well as three Canadian cities. Plus one each from Kazakhstan, Brazil, Japan, Kenya and New Zealand. More than 300 communities submitted nominations.
I have been a juror for the final seven for several years now, and it has been interesting to read about these communities, as they validate what I have observed in my own work reaching back into the early nineties.
The communities that are successful with their broadband initiatives are almost always the ones that have taken the time to answer the question, "What do we want to be in ten years?" "What do we want to offer as a community to keep people here and to attract families and businesses?"
Answering these questions is hard work, takes time, and requires developing a consensus in the community about where to invest time and energy. But it pays off with often dramatic results. Another thing I have observed about the top ICF candidates is that they plan and execute for the long haul--that is, they don't think that there are silver bullets out there that will solve all their problems magically. ICF communities succeed because they work at being successful.
Submitted by acohill on Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:48
I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of Brain Gain: How Innovative cities create job growth in an age of disruption. The book does something which is too often overlooked: Making the case that broadband investments have to be thoughtfully linked to broader community and economic development goals. The book is written by the founders of the Intelligent Community Forum, Robert Bell, Louis Zacharilla, and John Jung. I have known these guys for years, and have served as a juror for the annual ICF "Intelligent Community" awards (Note: I don't get paid for that work).
In my experience, the communities that take the time to set a vision for the community are much more likely to see their broadband investments have a long term impact. If a community cannot answer the question, "What do we want the community to look like in ten or fifteen years?" then throwing some fiber in the ground is not likely to help much.
The book provides an insightful analysis of eighteen communities that have taken the time to ask the right questions about the future, have allocated the right funding and human resources to put the right infrastructure in place, and have given their efforts time to mature. There are a lot of good ideas and concepts in this book.
Submitted by acohill on Tue, 09/02/2014 - 12:29
If you are an elected official or an economic developer, everything you wanted to know about why high performance, affordable fiber networks are important is contained in this one story:
Brandon Schatz, CEO of SportsPhotos.com Inc., said he moved his business from Springfield, Missouri, to Kansas City, Kansas, in February 2013 to take advantage of Google Fiber.
“It was a very easy decision,” he said. “We’re trying to grow to hundreds and thousands of events. You can’t scale if your whole city isn’t fast enough.”
The service also is cheaper. In Springfield, he was paying $400 a month for 100-megabyte download speeds. Now, he pays $70 a month for Google Fiber’s 1-gigabit speeds, which are 100 times faster. He added the service is more reliable.
Here is the whole article.
Submitted by acohill on Wed, 07/23/2014 - 08:25
It must have been a really slow news day in Kansas City, where Google Fiber crews continue to install fiber in neighborhoods and install underground drops to homes. In what teeters perilously on the verge of parody, local TV station KMBC breathlessly reports on the horror of utility marking done by fiber crews prior to digging.
"....spraypaint markings--what sounds like the work of vandals...."
Oh, the horror of identifying utilities before actually, you know, digging things up. It sounds like Google crews are doing a terrific job, as the article cites more than 7,000 miles of installed fiber and a very small number of broken utilities. There were two gas lines hit, which caused some inconvenience, but if you put a shovel in the ground in public right of way for 7,000 miles, it is inevitable that occasionally something gets hit. What the news story fails to do is to really look at how well our Miss Utility really works. Like I say...it had to be a slow news day in Kansas City.
Submitted by acohill on Wed, 02/12/2014 - 13:43
Broadband Communities magazine has a story that should be required reading for every community wondering if there is linkage between Gigabit fiber and economic development. Lafayette's municipal Gigabit fiber network has brought Hollywood special effects jobs to the community, more than a hundred, because the high performance Gigabit network lets Pixel Magic move the computer files back and forth between Lafayette and California quickly.
Pixel Magic brought jobs to Lafayette because the local economic developers created a 3D visualization facility (Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise, or LITE) that was designed specifically as an economic hub. LITE has been a huge success that has attracted several new companies to Lafayette. You don't think of Gulf Coast Louisiana as a high tech destination, but the combination of Gig fiber and a broad economic development vision has been successful.
Lafayette's success also demonstrates that you can't rely on the Field of Dreams model: "If we build it, businesses will come." Lafayette has been successful because they linked their fiber network to a carefully thought out economic development strategy. Be sure to read the whole article. It's an eye-opener for those arguing that communities should not be investing in fiber.
Submitted by acohill on Thu, 02/06/2014 - 10:22
An old friend of mine once remarked, "In Texas, we have the best laws money can buy." Apparently, folks in Kansas can make the same statement, as a blatantly anti-muni broadband bill was introduced in the legislature last week. The bill was so stringent that it would have made the Kansas City/Google deal impossible, which is a good example of a public/private partnership that brings a lot of benefit to the residents and businesses of the city.
But the Internet exploded, and the bill has been tabled for the time being." You do have to give Kansas Senator Julia Lynn some credit for honesty, as she remarked, ""I visited with industry representatives, and they have agreed to spend some time gathering input before we move forward with a public hearing," she said."
At least she is not shy about admitting that the incumbents are telling her what to do, rather than the citizens that she supposedly represents.
These kinds of bills are going to continue to pop up, because the incumbents have been successful in states like North Carolina, where a slightly less stringent bill was passed about three years ago.
I remain an optimist in spite of these attacks on communities, because there are ways to get Gigabit networks into communities even if the state legislature has made it difficult to do so. Over at WideOpen Networks, we're already well on the way to solving this problem for good.
Submitted by acohill on Tue, 12/10/2013 - 13:48
MuniNetworks reports on the success of the City of Palm Coast's FiberNET project. The all fiber City-owned network is operated as a multi-service, multi-provider open network, and is delivering substantial savings to both public and private entities and businesses connected to the network. The project is in the black, and FiberNET is expected to pay back all of the initial City investment in less than six years. Design Nine provided the network design, the financial planning, and the project management for the City of Palm Coast.
Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 13:58
nDanville, the first muni multi-service open network in the U.S., has waiting list for fiber connections, and a growing list of new jobs and businesses that are being drawn to the community because of the low cost, high performance fiber infrastructure. Design Nine helped the City plan and design the network, and the investment is beginning to pay off as manufacturers keep moving to the fiber-connected business parks.
Submitted by acohill on Tue, 11/26/2013 - 13:51
FastRoads is a Gigabit network designed and built by Design Nine for New Hampshire FastRoads LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Monadnock Economic Development Corporation. One of the surprises, as we add more customers, is the unexpected demand for the 50 Meg Internet service, which is turning out to be higher than expected. On the FastRoads network, every connection is a Gigabit circuit capable of delivering multiple services from several different providers.
Submitted by acohill on Mon, 10/14/2013 - 10:18
Via Eldo Telecom, news that in England, people are moving from the country to larger towns because of bad Internet access. As Fred Pilot of Eldo points out (correctly, I believe), rural communities in the U.S. are also at risk. It's hard to imagine how anybody can manage with a dial up connection at home, which of course leads to people parking in the McDonald's parking lot so they can retrieve their email or so their kids can do their homework. Fred also points to a 2009 study showing that home buyers in the U.S. rank fiber broadband service as the number one amenity they look for in a property.
Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 09:06
For a client located in Canada, we're assisting with the design, specification, and procurement of a very large regional DWDM backbone network that will bring Gigabit services to more than twenty rural and remote communities.
Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 09:04
For one of our clients located in the Caribbean, we designed, engineered, built, configured, and lit a 10Gig backbone network in just six weeks. Working under a very tight deadline to get the first customer on the network, Design Nine staff developed the network architecture, coordinated the fiber construction, ordered and shipped equipment, procured pre-fab shelters, had the shelters shipped by boat, got all the network equipment shipped, racked and configured the equipment, and brought the network up in time to meet the customer deadline.
When you need a network designed and built on time and within budget, give us a call.
Submitted by acohill on Thu, 09/05/2013 - 16:13
If you think you are going to attract those young, business-hungry entrepreneurs types with some mediocre broadband, a couple of bike paths, and a Starbucks, think again. A start up company called Happy Hubs has just ratcheted the whole entrepreneurial attraction game up several notches. Happy Hubs is renting out luxury workspaces in Costa Rica, and is offering five star amenities like massage therapy, gourmet food service, maid service, and access to a beach. Oh, and of course, lots of broadband. And the whole package compares favorably to what someone might spend in the U.S. on a lackluster place to live, food, and Internet--without all the amenities.
Economic development is global. And broadband is enabling the portable business. If your community can't deliver affordable, high performance broadband services, nothing else really matters.
Design Nine provides visionary broadband architecture and engineering services to our clients. We have over seventy years of staff experience with telecom and community broadband-more than any other company in the United States.
We have a full range of broadband and telecom planning, design, and project management services.
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