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News tagged: municipal


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by Karl Bode 04:13PM Wednesday Dec 03 2014
Over the last thirty years or so AT&T has made it very clear that it absolutely loathes government regulation -- unless that regulation is written by them to protect their duopoly power. Case in point is the city of Chanute, Kansas, which is trying to offer its residents 1 Gbps connections for $40 per month, after years of getting tired of the local AT&T and CableOne duopoly.

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Chanute just got done defeating an AT&T-backed and written law that would hinder them from offering services, a protectionist effort that's similar to nearly two dozen passed nationwide.

The only hurdle left for Chanute before they can finish their project is a 1947 provision requiring that the town gain approval by the Kansas Corporation Commission before they're allowed to sell bonds to fund their network expansion. Just as the KCC appeared poised to grant this approval, AT&T lawyers stepped in to try and thwart the effort:
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“Any decision made by the KCC could impact AT&T’s business operations in the area, which is why we asked to intervene in the proceeding,” the company said in a written response to questions from The Eagle. “AT&T remains interested in both broadband issues and the work of the KCC.”
Granted this is the same AT&T that has been also lobbying the State to gut all KCC authority over AT&T's operations so they can back away from aging DSL markets they don't want to upgrade. In other words, AT&T doesn't want to serve you, but they're fighting to make sure nobody else can serve you either. Why? The company wants to ultimately come back into those areas and sell captive users capped and pricey LTE connections as part of their "IP transition."

This is, AT&T and friends will be quick to tell us, because they just believe it's "unfair" for government to enter the broadband business (but it's fair for AT&T to pay that same government to erode your local rights and to help AT&T to corner the market).
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by Karl Bode 07:17PM Thursday Oct 02 2014
FCC Boss Tom Wheeler has been making the rounds the last few months trying to drum up support for his plan to raise the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps down to 10 Mbps down (if you're getting subsidies) and 25 Mbps down in general. Not too surprising, this has resulted in the usual griping from carriers, who know that revised standards will only act to highlight the slower speeds and spotty coverage delivered in competitively-lacking areas.
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by Karl Bode 08:27AM Wednesday Sep 24 2014
We've talked at length about how in many states, AT&T is refusing to upgrade their broadband networks -- while at the same time lobbying (and often writing) state laws banning anybody else from doing so either. That's becoming a bigger problem than ever as AT&T hangs up on unwanted DSL users in many states, yet leaves behind the laws they helped passed preventing those towns from improving their own infrastructure.
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by Karl Bode 08:04AM Tuesday Sep 23 2014
User cosmokramer See Profile writes in to note that Great Works Internet (see our user reviews) has announced they'll be working to bring fiber-optic broadband services to businesses and residential customers in portions of South Portland. The Bangor Daily News notes that the company will pay about half of the $300,000 needed to connect municipal buildings, then offering 1 Gbps speeds for $70 to residences and $200 per month for business users. The company recently announced a similar public/private municipal partnership with Rockport, Maine.

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by Karl Bode 12:34PM Friday Sep 19 2014
Baltimore is one of a number of cities that Verizon skipped over when deploying FiOS, leaving most city residents with only the uncomptitive option of either sluggish Verizon DSL or Comcast (if they're lucky). They're also one of the countless cities who begged for Google Fiber attention to no avail.

Baltimore's now hoping to take matters into their own hands, and have hired a consultant to explore a number of possible ideas ranging from reworking their protectionist citywide franchise agreement with Comcast, to possibly building some or all of the kind of network nobody else wants to:
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"Baltimore is still in the exploratory stages of the initiative but the city will likely build out some of its own fiber infrastructure that it will use to lure new competitors to the area. Jason Hardebeck, the executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, tells the Business Journal that the city may also consider making its own municipal Wi-Fi network that will be run more like a public utility."
Of course paying a consultant $157,000 is certainly no guarantee anything gets accomplished, but it's interesting how the one-two punch of Google Fiber and Wheeler's criticism of state protectionist broadband law has seriously reheated a subject that for a decade had largely flown under the radar.

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by Karl Bode 02:06PM Friday Sep 05 2014
John Oliver's June tirade about net neutrality brought a lot of attention to the issue, the comedian claiming that former-lobbyist turned FCC boss Tom Wheeler was "the equivalent of needing a baby sitter but hiring a dingo," while warning neutrality rules were really about stopping "cable company fuckery."

Apparently, Oliver's rant had another fan in Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

John Oliver, we owe you!” the CEO wrote on Facebook in response to Wheeler's speech yesterday in which the FCC criticized the nation's uncompetitive broadband market.
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by Karl Bode 12:31PM Thursday Sep 04 2014
Netflix has thrown their support behind cities eager to build their own broadband without interference from incumbent ISPs and lobbyists. In a filing with the FCC, Netflix argues that the FCC can and should over-rule states like Tennessee, North Carolina and elsewhere, which have allowed ISPs to literally write the state telecom laws prohibiting towns and cities from improving their own broadband networks -- even in cases where nobody else will.
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by Karl Bode 09:00AM Wednesday Sep 03 2014
AT&T has a very long history of working to prevent towns and cities from wiring themselves with broadband, even in cases where nobody else will. This history goes way back to when we used to discuss how AT&T (then SBC) and Comcast would try to ruin municipal broadband efforts by using push polls that would ask questions implying that taxpayer funds would be used for pornography, ban access to religious programming, or result in government rationing your TV usage.
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by Karl Bode 02:19PM Tuesday Sep 02 2014
As we noted recently, 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 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.
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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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