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Despite Billions In USF Fees, U.S. Libraries Lack Bandwidth
Welcome to dysfunction junction
by Karl Bode 06:28PM Tuesday Nov 24 2009
40% of the money consumers pay into the Universal Service Fund goes to fund the FCC's E-Rate program, which was designed to help deliver telecom services to unserved areas, and deliver broadband service to libraries. The program has doled out more than $25 billion since its inception in 1998, but as the government itself often acknowledges, the FCC has never really bothered to track how this money is spent. So when Ars Technica points to a new report by the American Library Association (pdf) noting that 60% of U.S. libraries lack adequate bandwidth to serve visitors, nobody should be particularly surprised. Simple availability is also an issue:
quote:
The report focuses on less-populated areas of the country, the sort of places that probably have DSL and basic cable Internet access, but may not see fiber to the node, fiber to the premises, or DOCSIS 3.0 speeds. In such areas, it may not be possible get more than a couple megabits per second, and that has a real effect on libraries that try to serve many patrons at once. As libraries add WiFi access and more library users bring a laptop along, the problem only gets bigger.
In short, a lack of broadband options, a dysfunctional USF system and a lack of funds has the majority of our libraries without adequate broadband. As it stands, the e-Rate program has a $2.25 billion annual cap, one the American Library Association would like to see raised. Given the FCC only recently agreed that it might make sense to track where these billions go, you get the sense that maybe some reform and better record keeping might be in order first.

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Chris 313
Come get some
Premium
join:2004-07-18
Houma, LA
kudos:1

What's your malfunction?

Lack of bandwidth! Ooh, poor libraries. You would think that places like that would have a heavy duty Biz account or an Enterprise fiber line.

Also things like that make me glad I have my own line and computer at home.

rcdailey
Dragoonfly
Premium
join:2005-03-29
Rialto, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

1 recommendation

Re: What's your malfunction?

said by Chris 313:

Lack of bandwidth! Ooh, poor libraries. You would think that places like that would have a heavy duty Biz account or an Enterprise fiber line.

Also things like that make me glad I have my own line and computer at home.
I don't know whether you've noticed or not, but when local government has to make cuts to balance the budget, one of the first things to get cut is the library budget. Fat chance getting more money for internet connections except for generous donations from fat cats. Those fat cats are getting mighty thin these days.
--
In reality, there is no such thing as a clean human being.
Mele20
Premium
join:2001-06-05
Hilo, HI
kudos:4

Re: What's your malfunction?

said by rcdailey:

said by Chris 313:

Lack of bandwidth! Ooh, poor libraries. You would think that places like that would have a heavy duty Biz account or an Enterprise fiber line.

Also things like that make me glad I have my own line and computer at home.
I don't know whether you've noticed or not, but when local government has to make cuts to balance the budget, one of the first things to get cut is the library budget. Fat chance getting more money for internet connections except for generous donations from fat cats. Those fat cats are getting mighty thin these days.
Yep. The entire State of Hawaii Public library system is in grave danger of being shut down because of such heavy slashing of funding. The libraries were already operating on a shoestring and these are the libraries that serve all Hawaii public school students as well as the public. Very sad situation. You don't think the libraries are thinking much about broadband do you? They are just trying to survive by cutting open hours even more heavily, cutting staff to the bare bone, cutting book buying drastically, etc. Broadband is the least of their concerns. The situation is so severe that the libraries have resorted to begging the public for funding support. If not successful, many will close and in Hawaii that is especially a critical thing as we are so isolated. Yes, the internet has helped change that but what about those who don't have a computer at home and those who do but cannot get anything other than dialup ( a huge number of users on this island) and now the libraries may be closing and so no internet there even.
--
When governments fear people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. Thomas Jefferson

james1

join:2001-02-26
said by Chris 313:

DERP Lack of bandwidth! Ooh, poor libraries. DERP You would think that places like that would have a heavy duty Biz account or an Enterprise fiber line. DERP DERP DERP
DERP indeed. Maybe that's why they need that funding, to pay for better connections.
--
said by Metatron2008:

But people who download thousands of movies and games.... Yes, they are as bad as any murderer

JLL

@sbcglobal.net
I work at an Illinois Public Library and the biggest problem is how much companies like At&t charge. We have a T1 line which seems good but when you have three computers connected over the internet for library work and at least five people using the public computers and then a couple on the wifi your bandwith is gone. The E Rate program seems really great but requires to many hoops. Their is tons of paperwork and deadlines. And you have to file certain things with the government throughout the year then when the year is up start all over and file new paperwork to continue with the program. They know your a public library just give us the funds and make sure we use it to boost bandwith.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

2 recommendations

Real Shocker There

The "Public Option" for broadband at work again.

Get rid of the USF. Public libraries should be a state/local concern, not a federal one.
--
Blagojevich / Madoff 2012!

tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 recommendation

Re: Real Shocker There

said by pnh102:

The "Public Option" for broadband at work again.

Get rid of the USF. Public libraries should be a state/local concern, not a federal one.

No! The inequities point to exactly why this is a federal concern.
We don't need local/state boards deciding that computer literacy /access is of low priority, IF in fact we believe it is the future of this "non-manufacturing/service economy" country.
YES, the USF has been (for the most part) a cluster fuck, with the recipients clustering, and the ratepayers mostly getting........
Don't kill the program (right idea, poorly managed) CHANGE it.
Post pay based on results, apportion based on NEED (not pork) have collected funds accounted for STARTING NOW (and work backwards to recover "unaccounted for" funds.)

This is about as vital a part of OUR future infrastructure as any highway or any school.
Goldman

join:2002-06-21
Maumelle, AR

Re: Real Shocker There

said by tshirt:

said by pnh102:

The "Public Option" for broadband at work again.

Get rid of the USF. Public libraries should be a state/local concern, not a federal one.


Don't kill the program (right idea, poorly managed) CHANGE it.
Post pay based on results, apportion based on NEED (not pork) have collected funds accounted for STARTING NOW (and work backwards to recover "unaccounted for" funds.)

Yeah, the federal government's going to get right on that.

mod_wastrel
iamwhatiam

join:2008-03-28
kudos:1

Huh?

USF monies ain't makin' it to the libraries? Color me surprised... not. BTW, did those "trackers" look in the bank accounts (and driveways, marinas, etc.) of the execs et al requesting money from the Universal Slush Fund? (didn't think so)
brianiscool

join:2000-08-16
Tampa, FL
kudos:1

hmm

Wonders how many people leech off the public's bandwidth for entertainment purposes.
f1ip

join:2003-10-24
TX

Re: hmm

said by brianiscool:

Wonders how many people leech off the public's bandwidth for entertainment purposes.
about 90%, mostly crapspace.

this is in dallas.
I think they are still on T1's, so not very fast.
rdmiller

join:2005-09-23
Richmond, VA

Free wi-fi for everyone!

This is not unlike being in a large hotel on a rainy night and have everyone trying to use their wi-fi at the same time. The router grinds to a halt. Every technology has choke points.

When crowds of unemployed bring their own laptops to the library, it quickly overwhelms the library's original design specification.

fonzbear2000
Premium
join:2005-08-09
Saint Paul, MN

The Minneapolis library sure isn't lacking!

I get over 30mbps on speed tests and 2-3MB/sec in download speeds.
33358088
Premium
join:2008-09-23
kudos:2

i sees this

a office space like geeky nerd grinning as he makes off for the caribbean wiht a pile a someone elses cash ROFL
old_wiz_60

join:2005-06-03
Bedford, MA

1 recommendation

easy to figure out..

the USF fees go to the pockets of the executives at the telecoms.

jester121
Premium
join:2003-08-09
Lake Zurich, IL

Re: easy to figure out..

Please, do expand on this and tell us how you reached that conclusion.

USF101

@rr.com

It is not all bad

The school district where I work has received money from the e-rate program for a number of years now. It helps pay for the internet connection, fiber WAN, internal cabling and the network gear used to connect everything up. Typically you apply for funding for a particular project/year and then based on the free and reduced lunch program eligibility for that building you may be entititled to the money should the F&R percentage be at or over the level set for that particualr funding year. The application process isn't easy and so I wouldn't expect for smaller libraries to receive much of the funding. We typically have consulatants fill out the forms based on what we think we may need a couple of years down the road. Yes, it sometimes takes that long for the whole process to complete. All in all I think it is a highly beneficial program to the District that I am employed at as well as being beneficial to the tax payers of the community.

wilbilt
Pronto Resurrected
Premium
join:2004-01-11
Oroville, CA

Re: It is not all bad

Being in a similar situation, I would agree with the potential benefits.

It is true the application process is overly complicated and sluggish, and probably discourages many potential applicants.

Due to fraud and abuse by past applicants (Cough...Atlanta City Schools...Cough) the rest of us are now subject to audits and anal probing on every application. Thanks for that.

I wonder how many small libraries are unaware of or intimidated by the E-rate process? If they could partner with a more experienced local organization (school district) or hire a qualified consultant, the benefit to their patrons could be substantial in terms of improved connectivity and expanded services.
--
We were taking a vote when the ground came up and hit us.
viper3431

join:2003-04-21
STL, MO
Reviews:
·Charter
Agreed. I also work in education and am personally responsible for filing for these funds. The application process is a pain but it should be noted that libraries aren't the only ones getting this money.

Also note that school districts must be CIPA compliant in order to receive e-rate funds, meaning that content filtering must be in place. So would you rather have your money going to a library where it is being wasted on Youtube videos and other media or to schools where that meaningless content is (usually) filtered and bandwidth funneled toward actual distance learning? I don't feel bad for them.

wilbilt
Pronto Resurrected
Premium
join:2004-01-11
Oroville, CA

Re: It is not all bad

As the focus of research in K-8 education has shifted from static collections of content (old books in the school library) to dynamic resources on the web, it can only be assumed that this trend is in effect at public libraries as well.

Why should library patrons be limited to the dusty stale books in the stacks when a wealth of current information is available? Bandwidth is key to providing this information, and unfortunately there will be abuse of it.

Streaming media can be of great value, or it can be a waste. Managing its distribution in a public venue is surely frustrating, but better to provide it than not.
--
We were taking a vote when the ground came up and hit us.

Corehhi

join:2002-01-28
Bluffton, SC
Reviews:
·Hargray Cable
quote:
Yes, it sometimes takes that long for the whole process to complete. All in all I think it is a highly beneficial program to the District that I am employed at as well as being beneficial to the tax payers of the community.
In the real business world that's insane. That's one of the problem with schools libraries etc. They actually think a few years to get something minor is good progress. If you don't have the money I know it's not minor but in this business world you get things done in a week or two usually unless it's some huge job.

BBBanditRuR
Dingbits

join:2009-06-02
Parachute, CO
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: It is not all bad

Your comment indicates you "assume" public schools have the "option" of dictating where funding gets spent. Schools don't have the luxury. They are in the "business" of educating students, and they can't turn away anybody or make anybody stay. Unfortunately, technology, and other great programs and services get cut to balance things out. They get what they get, based on tax base. If you live in a rich area, your fine. The rest are left depending on things like the broken USF. We (my district) are facing budget cuts across the board. There's no money to buy anything expensive, so we write grants, petition for donations etc... We're rural, so we only have one telecom operator. I would say we're limited with our resources. So yeah, WE DON'T live in the business world as you put it. Please don't try to apply your "business" model to something completely different.
n2ubp

join:2007-07-13
Middletown, NY
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Frontier Communi..

It has to stop somewhere.

My monthly phone bill for a single POTS line and ADSL 3mb/512kb is $86 per month. $17 of that bill is made up of taxes and other fees. USF is $2 of that $17. $6.50 is the federal subscriber line charge, the rest is made up of local, county and state taxes, charges to support mass transit (on a phone bill?) and E911. $200 a year in charges that don't have anything to do with phone or internet service and a good reason to find another way to access the internet and talk to people in these depression times. (notice I didn't say recession?)

bombadill
Honest it just fell apart in my hands
Premium
join:2008-11-10
australia

Re: It has to stop somewhere.

n2ubp; Flamin' Hell.

I thought that here in Aus. we were behind the internet 8 ball.

I got 30 gig down on a 1500/386 conenction, rock solid for $A50 per month (about $US 42 per month), no modem rental, no taxes and another $A19.50 for copper connection. Total about $US68 per month. Ok so I lose 12.5% on uploads but who's complaining.

And I'm relatively out in the boondocks being about 70 miles from any major town, my town has 1200 people.

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

Libraries?

I always thought USF as a telco slush fund.

destroyah

join:2005-04-20
Norwalk, CA

Re: Libraries?

Well considering that I work in one here in the City of Norwalk, I can tell everyone here that bandwidth depends on what is available to said libraries and the systems that they belong to. Here the Norwalk Regional Library, which is part of the County of Los Angeles Library System, used to be served by a couple of T1s, until I made a stink to the management about the lack of logic in paying so much, for so little relative speed, when Business Fios became available.

It seems that my words must have reached some higher ups at Library Headquarters, because soon after within a month or two, Verizon showed up and tore up our front lawn, and installed the fiber lines into our Telecom room that we have here. By best estimates I assume that we have around two to three lines serving us now, of about 25/15 speeds, which peak out at 8.8 down and up because of our crappy proxy server that we use.

I am sure these funds helped us deliver the T1's, and now we are saving money since we switched to Fios. It does bring a smile to my face when a patron comes up and compliments the quick speeds we now provide, and we no longer have to deal with terrible performance on our end when everyone launches a session of Youtube/Hulu/Misc. streaming sites.
--
--25/15 FIOS ~ 25.8D--28.9U--

wilbilt
Pronto Resurrected
Premium
join:2004-01-11
Oroville, CA

1 edit

Re: Libraries?

FIOS?

I am wondering why your library doesn't have a Gigabit connection to the CALREN.

Perhaps the USF/E-rate could be of assistance?
--
We were taking a vote when the ground came up and hit us.
WhatNow
Premium
join:2009-05-06
Charlotte, NC

Fill out the forms

I have not seen the forms but we are talking about college graduates that can not figure out how to apply for a grant. The national library association needs to get off their duff and send a package to their small town library members on what info they need and where to find it. They complain about old servers and no computers but do they ask for equipment people are trashing when they do upgrades. No they sit around and whine we are always last to be funded. There are ways to beg and get what you need without being a pest. It may take a few months wait but you will wait years for a small town to fund it.
When you complain about the FCC what party has been in charge of the White House since Regan except for 8 years. The FCC did not want to know what was happening because they like big business not small towns. You get what you vote for.

Somnambul33t
L33t.
Premium
join:2002-12-05
Blackwood, NJ

1 recommendation

precurser

And we're surprised? this is only a small sampling, on a relatively small scale, of what universal broadband will be. huge wasting of money.
majortom1029

join:2006-10-19
Lindenhurst, NY
kudos:1

I work as an it admin at a library

Libraries get very little funding unless its located in a richie rich area.

HEre on long island we are lucky enough to have cablevisions power to learn and relatively cheap fiber companies.

We pay $3000 a month for a 100/100 fiber internet connection and a dark fiber connection between our two branches.

We have the luxury of living in a semi rich area .

Cablevision provides free 15/2 connections to libraries and schools . we use that free connection for free wireless to patrons.

Most libraries get next to no budget.

My opinion is that if cablevision can provide free connections to schools and libraries the other companies including verizon should be made to as well.

BBBanditRuR
Dingbits

join:2009-06-02
Parachute, CO
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: I work as an it admin at a library

You illustrate my point exactly. We partner with the county library and the school library sits inside. Two separate networks, serviced by USF. We're rural though, and poor. Same telco provider for both. When the library's HP 4050's toner runs out, guess who pays for it? (psssst... not the library )

kieranmullen
Premium
join:2005-12-12
Portland, OR
Sounds like overkill. Do you use voip on that bandwidth to save on costs?
--
KieranMullen »360oregon.com
iansltx

join:2007-02-19
Austin, TX
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Verizon Online DSL
·Comcast

The libraries I've sued seem to be okay

The Fredericksburg, TX library relatively recently launched a WiFi network. The place is running of a 10/1 TWC business class cable connection. Not the fastest out there, but decent, considering TWC's pricing goes from high to insane when you ask for more bandwidth than that. The library internet, at least for the WiFi, is not run off of the city's fiber network, but you wouldn't want it to be that way either; there's only 20 Mbps to go around, and that includes all the schools.

In St. Lucie County, FL the libraries are on the county network. All AT&T. Bandwidth there is around 20 Mbps last I checked.

So while some libraries aren't getting enough bandwidth, there are plenty that are.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS

no brainer...

An internet connection be it qwests 1mbit/256kbit or cablevisions 101mbit/15mbit connection is not a huge expense when compared to an overall library budget.. We're talking a low of $30 a month to a high $150 a month. Sometimes, governments get special rates for libraries. The USF isn't specifically tied to funding library access. Although, way back when (1990s) there was a big push to make EVERY school/classroom & library have computers & internet access, if not broadband itself.

There might need to be another infusion of cash since that computer equipment will be banging on 10 years old, if they haven't invested money to upgrade it yet. Broadband should have gotten marginally better in speeds, if not in price. Though these lofty goals pale in comparison to money saving BANKS, INSURANCE COMPANIES, CAR COMPANIES, THE OIL INDUSTRY SUBSIDIES/TAX BREAKS, etc. If we spent 1/1,000,000th the money on libraries.. every one would have a slew of quad core computers and the best broadband connections offered by telco/and/or cable (but don't expect that to happen, unless your ready to pony up more money in your real estate taxes).
Core0000
Premium
join:2008-05-04
Somerset, KY
Reviews:
·Time Warner VOIP

This isn't surprising....

As I have continued to follow mises.org I have uncovered more truths and infos.. from reading articles about the Feds and government ineptitude in general..

None the less this news still makes me go.. *picture related* copyright to whoever created it..