Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
"AT&T and Verizon have slashed the frontline workforce, and there simply are not enough technicians available to restore service in a timely manner, nor enough customer service representatives to take customers' calls. Let me share some statistics. Since 2004, AT&T reduced its California landline frontline workforce by 40%, from about 29,900 workers to fewer than 18,000 today. The company will tell you that they need fewer wireline employees because customers have cut the cord going wireless or switched to another provider, but over this same period, AT&T access line loss has been just under nine percent nationally. I would be shocked if line loss in California corresponds to the 40 percent reduction in frontline employees. "Similarly, since 2006 Verizon California cut its frontline landline workforce by one-third, from more than 7,000 in 2005 to about 4,700 today. I venture that Verizon has not lost one third of its land lines in the state."Note that AT&T, Verizon, and other massive incumbents like Comcast have been wildly profitable over this term. The same trend holds in cellular wireless - as noted by the Wall Street Journal:
The U.S. wireless industry is booming as more consumers and businesses snap up smartphones, tablet computers and billions of wireless applications.
"I'm a simpleton, I've always had this view that we pay taxes and the city pays to do this kind of thing. Now if we can get out of taxes, I'd be happy to put up Wi-Fi.Excellent answer. When it comes to broadband, there are absolutely appropriate, strong roles for local governments.
SoverNet will own the infrastructure but is required to provide bandwidth at wholesale cost to providers who extend the service outward. Loredo Sola is skeptical. He says he's already lost one institutional contract to the SoverNet project. He says that's forced E.C. Fiber to scrap its plans to serve smaller users in the area.Sovernet is building a middle mile network connection community anchor institutions, but is an example of the exact wrong way to do it. Supposedly, the investment (the vast majority of which is funded by a federal stimulus award) will allow more ISPs to build more last mile networks as they have access to better backhaul. But lowering the operating cost of a network does very little to make that network affordable to build. The high up front capital costs are what limit broadband in rural (and urban too!) areas.
Ponca City, with a population of 25,000, took a different approach to their wireless network than Oklahoma City. With some 75% of their staff having at least one responsibility outside the office, building a wireless network was an obvious decision. The network provides additional safety to police officers – who have cameras that may be monitored from the station in real time in case of problems. City employees can now use VOIP phones instead of the cellular network, which has significant gaps in coverage throughout the city. Like Oklahoma City, reducing cellular charges has created considerable savings. They also chose a Wi-Fi mesh system because it provides durability even if some of the nodes fail – the network routes around the problem. They started with some 500 wireless nodes to cover thirty square miles but have since decided to expand the network across a larger footprint. Ponca City is somewhat unique in its decision to open spare capacity on the network to the public for no charge, in an effort to help those who could not afford Internet access on their own. Like Oklahoma City, they too received an award for their network – the 2009 Municipal Innovations Award from the Oklahoma Municipal League.The City upgraded the network last Tuesday night to double the available capacity:
Since the City of Ponca City installed free Wi-Fi, the number of users and the amount of Internet used has surpassed anyone's expectations. The current number of unique users is more than 10,000 a day with more than 800 Gigabytes of Internet used in one day. This is more wireless Internet than anywhere else in the United States, Ponca City's Technology Services Director Craige Baird said.
“Our communities cannot afford higher prices and less choices. We need the FCC and DOJ to block this takeover if it's found to be in violation of antitrust law and does not meet public interest obligations,” said Betty Yu, National Organizer for MAG-Net. "If AT&T takes over T-Mobile, it will be a disaster for all mobile phone users. It will stifle information, choice and innovation- and lead to higher prices and fewer jobs nationwide, added CMJ's Policy Director, amalia deloney. "It's a real jobs and democracy killer.” The groups also contend the takeover will disproportionately harm consumers of color, who rely on their cell phones to access the Internet more than whites. While 10 percent of whites access the Internet only from their phones, 18 percent of blacks and 16 percent of English-speaking Latinos depend on affordable wireless coverage to get online.And an excerpt from the letter [pdf]:
The impact that this merger would have on affordable mobile phone service, broadband access and adoption, openness on the mobile web and broadband competition presents a real threat to our communities. We hope that the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission will examine AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile with appropriate scrutiny and protect our communities by blocking this merger. We intend to host a series of open and participatory meetings in our communities to discuss this merger, and we hope that FCC Commissioners will commit to joining us. It is only by communicating directly with people and hearing our stories that you will feel our deep concerns with this merger and the devastating impact it would have on our communities.We continue to advocate for universal, affordable, fast, and reliable broadband, which to us means a wired connection eventually to all homes that are connected to the electrical grid.
Town participation in the WiredWest municipal telecommunications cooperative requires passing two consecutive town votes at separate meetings to establish Municipal Light Plant (MLP) legislation in the town. The MLP legislation was created in the Commonwealth over 100 years ago to enable towns to generate their own electricity. In 1996, the ability for towns to offer telecommunications services was added to the MLP statute. WiredWest charter towns researched various governance options and determined this was the best choice for enabling towns to offer telecommunications services, work together cooperatively and issue municipal debt to capitalize the network.Towns have been passing the 2/3 votes with overwhelming approval, as in the town of Florida, with a 30-1 vote. Wired West is maintaining an impressive map of the status of each town along the path. Clicking on a town brings up more information about that town. Kudos to them for making a great map that is easy to use and conveys a lot of information. The Berkshire Eagle recently published an op-ed discussing the importance of economic development in the area:
Because many Berkshirites work, either at home or in an office, in towns without high-speed Internet service, making such connections widely available is vital to economic development in the county.