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News tagged: municipal


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by Karl Bode 02:50PM Friday Aug 22 2014
Way back in 2005 we profiled the Massachusetts towns of Shutesbury and Leverett, two shining examples of the kinds of U.S. towns that exist in broadband connectivity black holes courtesy of limited competition. Neither Comcast or Verizon responded to requests to extend broadband, and Verizon could barely be bothered to keep aging copper in the region fully functional. The better part of a decade later (2012), and Leverett decided to finally build their own fiber to the home service.

Users were so annoyed with Verizon's unwillingness to upgrade them, 83% of the community voted yes on a fiber to the home project that will add $300 to the median tax bill for the next twenty years. Locals don't seem too worried about it, arguing the money they save on broadband and headaches will make it worth it:
quote:
D’Errico said he now pays about $90 per month for basic Internet satellite service and another $60 for his telephone service. He believes his payments for phone and high-speed Internet will be reduced after he can get both through broadband. "Seventy-five percent of households in town, after paying the bond bill, will have money in their pockets, because of savings,” he said. “There’s also a huge benefit for the rental market and for home valuations."
Project planners hope to have the entire town connected with fiber to the home by the end of the year. When ISPs (or others) begin complaining about these municipal broadband efforts, it's worth remembering they simply wouldn't exist if locals were happy with the options available to them.

98 comments


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by Karl Bode 08:33AM Monday Aug 04 2014
After making a lot of noise and getting a lot of press last year about their ability to help cities improve penetration of 1 Gbps connections, Gigabit Squared turned out to be a bit of a pipe dream in Seattle. The firm's partnership with Seattle -- and in turn their effort to build a 1 Gbps fiber network -- went up in smoke after the city complained that GigaBit Squared owed the city $52,250 but hadn't managed to actually do much of any work.
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by Karl Bode 06:48PM Wednesday Jul 30 2014
CenturyLink, formerly Qwest, has spent much of its life suing community broadband efforts that might spur the company to improve its service offerings. They've also written (via draft legislation) and paid-to-pass legislation in numerous states that restrict or outright ban a community from deploying its own broadband infrastructure -- even in cases when CenturyLink couldn't be bothered to.
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by Karl Bode 06:33PM Monday Jul 28 2014
As we noted last week, two different cities with their own broadband networks (Wilson, NC and Chattanooga, Tennessee) have formally asked the FCC to declare that laws in their states hindering community broadband aren't enforceable, giving FCC boss Tom Wheeler the perfect opportunity to back up claims that he'd take action. Such bills are written and lobbied for by companies like Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, and often restrict local citizen rights to determine for themselves what the best course of action for their community is.
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by Karl Bode 03:32PM Thursday Jul 17 2014
As noted yesterday, incumbent ISPs have paid convinced Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn to rush to the defense of awful, protectionist broadband bills these companies have been writing and getting passed for much of the last decade. Said bills block towns and cities from deploying broadband -- even in cases where nobody else will -- and in some cases even if they work with private industry.
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by Karl Bode 04:46PM Wednesday Jul 16 2014
New FCC boss Tom Wheeler has now stated several times he'd like to take aim at incumbent-ISP state laws that ban or prohibit towns and cities from deploying their own broadband. To stop this, Rep.
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by Karl Bode 09:16AM Friday Jun 20 2014
A fresh Wall Street Journal editorial criticizes community broadband, and frets over the news that FCC Boss Tom Wheeler has indicated he'd like to do something about ISP-written state laws that ban towns and cities from building their own broadband -- even in cases where nobody else will.

Thomas Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste and Royce Van Tassell of the Utah Taxpayers Association first take aim against Utah's UTOPIA, correctly pointing out that the network has struggled in the past and now waits for funding from an Australian private investment firm.
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by Karl Bode 04:41PM Wednesday Jun 11 2014
The United States' largest community fiber broadband effort is Utah's UTOPIA, which has been under assault by large incumbent ISPs like Qwest (now CenturyLink) since before the first customer was even connected. UTOPIA has for much of a decade successfully fended off both these ISPs and a good deal of managerial incompetence on their own part, and is on the cusp of securing a significant cash boost from an Australian investment firm.
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by Karl Bode 09:23AM Wednesday May 28 2014
Lafayette Louisiana's LUS Fiber faced very sleazy efforts by Cox and BellSouth years ago when trying to launch; efforts that went so far as the two companies hiring push pollsters to try and tell locals taxpayer money would be used to fund pornography. Some pollsters even tried to tell locals that if they approved the municipal broadband project, the government would restrict their television watching to just a few days a week.
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by Karl Bode 12:22PM Friday Apr 11 2014
For much of the last decade Seattle has explored the idea of building their own ultra-fast broadband network. Much of that motivation was fueled by the sub-standard service provided in the region by regional telco Qwest (now CenturyLink), which in turn resulted in regional cable operator Comcast not working very hard.
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by Bill Neilson 11:02AM Tuesday Feb 25 2014
Slowly but surely, city governments are realizing just how bad it can be for their residents when one TV provider has the exclusive right to provide cable TV services. In Spokane, Washington, Comcast is the exclusive provider for cable TV services and believes that it should no longer have to follow federal price regulations.
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by Karl Bode 09:19AM Friday Feb 21 2014
The effort by the cable industry to pass legislating hamstringing local community broadband builds and voting rights is officially dead. The bill received significant national attention (something Cox blamed on misinformation) in large part because it could have also hampered Google Fiber's expansion and operation.
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by Karl Bode 02:22PM Thursday Feb 06 2014
The United States' largest community broadband effort is Utah's UTOPIA, which has been under assault by large incumbent ISPs like Qwest (now CenturyLink) since before the first customer was even connected. UTOPIA has for much of a decade successfully fended off both these ISPs and a good deal of managerial incompetence on their own part, and is on the cusp of securing a significant cash boost from an Australian investment firm.
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by Karl Bode 12:22PM Thursday Jan 30 2014
The FCC today voted unanimously to begin conducting voluntary trials to ensure a relatively smooth and reasonable transition away from the PSTN and copper networks. The push for such trials began in earnest after Verizon refused to repair the DSL and copper POTS lines of hurricane Sandy victims, instead forcing them to instead use an inferior wireless-based product known as VoiceLink, which doesn't work with alarm systems, has numerous glitches, and doesn't provide data connectivity.
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by Karl Bode 02:20PM Monday Jan 06 2014
New York State says they're shelling out around $14.5 million to help connect more rural segments of the state to broadband. According to a statement by Governor Cuomo, the money will be doled out to nine different projects, who collectively will lay roughly 614 miles of new fiber, in turn assisting the delivery of broadband to an additional 29,000 households and 2,000 businesses. Most of the projects focus on the Southern Tier and North Country portion of the state. "As the State works to grow the Upstate economy, these nine projects will provide the support necessary to attract and retain businesses and help create jobs for the region," insists Cuomo's office.

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by Karl Bode 06:47PM Tuesday Nov 05 2013
According to Government Technology Review, the city of Los Angeles is expected next year to launch a plan that would bring 1 Gbps speeds to every home, business and government building within city limits. The city has yet to select a vendor for the $3 billion to $5 billion fiber network build, which is part of a broader IT plan to modernize the city's infrastructure. The plan certainly won't be a big hit with Time Warner Cable, with whom the city has had a somewhat contentious relationship since their messy 2007 takeover of Adelphia.

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by Karl Bode 09:11AM Thursday Oct 17 2013
Despite best efforts by Charter Communications to scuttle the effort (including telling locals that a coax network is more reliable than fiber to the home), 62 percent of Opelika, Alabama's 27,000 residents voted back in 2010 to build a fiber to the home network after being dissatisfied with the services offered by local incumbents.

This week the $42 million network (funded via revenue warrants and loans) is finally gearing up for operations. The Opelika city council has approved service rates, which are now posted to the Opelika Power website.

In addition to triple play bundles ranging from $100 to $155, the following broadband tiers are being offered:

•OPS Lite Essential - 10/5: $34.95
•OPS Lite Choice - 30/15: $44.95
•OPS Lite Ultra - 50/25: $64.95
•OPS Lite Speed - 100/50: $99.95
•OPS Lite Speed Plus - 300/300: $249.95
•OPS Lite Speed GIG - 1000/1000: $499.95

The city notes that any of their asymmetrical offerings will be made symmetrical if customers bundle the tier with additional services.

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by Karl Bode 10:25AM Tuesday Sep 17 2013
Google Fiber is pretty clearly having a positive impact on ISP and municipal broadband pricing alike. On the heels of news that Utah's Utopia would start offering 1 Gbps fiber connections for $65 (down from $300), Chattanooga's EPB Fiber is offering a similar price drop.
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by Karl Bode 06:21PM Monday Sep 09 2013
Over the years several communities have gotten upset about the AT&T VRAD cabinets required to deliver the company's U-Verse FTTN/VDSL service. In some areas, complaints involved anger of AT&T ignoring easement rights or childhood traffic dangers, while in other markets the complaints have been aesthetic or property-value driven.
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by Karl Bode 08:37AM Monday Aug 19 2013
Snubbed by Verizon FiOS and Google Fiber, last week I noted how the city of Baltimore had simply hired a consultant to examine building the kind of broadband networks private industry has refused to. Curiously it's that hiring of a consultant (not the fact that nobody wants to upgrade Baltimore) that has angered Maryland Senator Catherine Pugh, who penned a rant in the Baltimore Sun claiming that such a move is "destructive" because broadband there is already so damn good:

"Broadband is an extremely competitive market — more so than it ever has been.
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