Tag: "comcast"

Posted January 9, 2023 by Sean Gonsalves

Kicking off the new year, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced $234 million of the state’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) will be used to deploy new high-speed Internet infrastructure in the Peach State, courtesy of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The lion’s share of those federal funds, being administered by the state’s broadband office, will be gobbled up by the four national telecom giants operating in the state. The rest of the grant money will be shared by a half dozen electric cooperatives for smaller projects.

In total, the grants were awarded to 12 different applicants to fund 29 different projects across 28 counties.

“When combined with significant capital matches from the awardees, almost $455 million will be invested to serve over 76,000 locations in communities with some of the greatest need for high-speed Internet access,” the Governor’s office said in the Jan. 4 press announcement.

The Big Telecom winners were Comcast, netting almost $67 million for eight projects that looks to extend broadband access to nearly 28,000 locations; $39.3 million for five Spectrum projects that plan to pass nearly 19,000 locations; Windstream raking in $34.8 million for four projects to make high-speed Internet service available to 4,500 locations, and MediaCom hauling in $27.9 million for three projects to reach 8,200 addresses. 

The electric cooperative grant awards were:

  • Grady Electric Membership Corporation ($9.3 million; 3,620 locations). 
  • Mitchell Electric Membership Corporation ($9 million; 3,093 locations). 
  • Satilla Rural Electric Membership Corporation ($5.6 million; 2,533 locations). 
  • Oconee Electric Membership Corporation ($2.6 million; 1,134 locations). 
  • Middle Georgia Electric Membership Corporation ($2.5 million; 674 locations) 
  • Irwin Electric Membership Corporation ($433,109; 100 locations).

You can find the complete list of awardees here.

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Posted November 10, 2022 by Sean Gonsalves

In an economy where inflation seems to be everywhere, Fairlawn, Ohio residents are getting a bit of welcome news.

Subscribers to FairlawnGig – Fairlawn, Ohio’s municipal broadband network – are being upgraded to new service levels as the city-owned network bumps up speeds and slashes prices to make its fiber Internet service faster, and even more affordable.

Earlier this week, FairlawnGig announced that subscribers who had been getting Fairlawn’s basic service tier of symmetrical 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) were being upgraded to symmetrical gig speed service – for the exact same price of $55/month.

FairlawnGig also announced that subscribers who had previously been getting gig speed service will see their bills drop down to $55/month instead of the $75/month they had been paying. Meanwhile, subscribers who were getting 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) for $150/month will now be upgraded to a symmetrical 5 Gbps tier, and see their price drop to $100/month.

“That was always the plan from the very beginning,” the City of Fairlawn’s Public Service Director Ernie Staten told ILSR this week.

We have been striving at all times to bring the greatest speeds and to bring prices down. We have made it where we have done well enough financially to start lowering prices and providing greater speeds.

Local Businesses Threatened to Leave – Unless Better Internet Comes to Town

Fairlawn, a small city of approximately 7,500 Ohioans about 10 miles northeast of Akron, created a telecommunications utility in 2015 to bring city-wide access to high-speed Internet service after years of dealing with subpar broadband offerings from the incumbent providers.

The city’s foray into municipal broadband became even more urgent when city officials began hearing from local businesses about the lack of adequate broadband.

“The main issue in Fairlawn was a terrible Internet level of service … With companies it was a real problem. We actually had some companies come to us and tell us that if they couldn’t get a...

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Posted November 3, 2022 by Karl Bode

While cooperatives, utilities, and municipalities are seeing a welcome portion of Covid relief and infrastructure bill funding, the nation’s two biggest cable broadband monopolies continue to hoover up the lion’s share of most new broadband infrastructure grants. 

All told, the American Rescue Plan Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will deliver more than $50 billion in new funding for broadband infrastructure. And while cooperatives and utilities have been big winners in states like Tennessee, a recent breakdown by Fierce Telecom of money awarded so far shows that cable monopolies have been the biggest winners by far. 

As of September, Charter (which sells service under the Spectrum brand) had won more than $170.8 million in grants across Ohio ($51 million), Kentucky ($49.9 million) Indiana ($27 million), Georgia ($12.2 million), Maryland ($8.5 million), Louisiana ($7.88 million), Alabama ($7.26 million), Wisconsin ($5.9 million) and Pennsylvania ($1.2 million).

Charter is also poised to...

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Posted September 21, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

Join us live on Thursday, September 22, at 4pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting). They'll dig into the recent New York City announcement that it would subsidize connection costs for hundreds of thousands in public housing, Tennessee's recent grant announcements, upcoming and dramatic speed increases announced by Comcast, and how the increasing cost of labor, materials, and now capital is affecting new fiber builds.

Email us at broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, watch on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, or below.

Posted August 17, 2022 by Karl Bode

One way or another, Grafton County, New Hampshire is lining up funding to build a massive new middle-mile network county officials hope will drive broadband competition—and more affordable fiber—into long underserved New Hampshire communities. 

Grafton was one of 230 U.S. communities that applied for a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program grant. Grafton’s specific application asked for $26.2 million to help fund the creation of the 353 mile broadband middle mile network they’re calling Grafton County Broadband Now.

Costly Challenge from National Incumbent Providers

Charter Communications filed costly challenges with the NTIA challenging the application, falsely claiming that the county’s proposal was “duplicative” and Charter already provided broadband to the region. Most of the claims were based on older, unreliable data provided to the FCC by Charter dramatically overstating broadband availability.

Grafton County surveys actually indicate the majority of county residents still can’t get access to the FCC’s base definition for broadband, 25 Megabits (Mbps) per second downstream, 3 Megabits per second upstream. Availability data across the county will likely look even worse should the FCC pass a new proposal to boost the definition of broadband to 100 Mbps.

Between Comcast and Charter, incumbent cable giants challenged 3,000 of the 4,000 census blocks covered in the NTIA application, even in areas that didn’t make much sense. Regional leaders previously told us the challenges were an attempt to bog long-needed local broadband improvement efforts down in bureaucracy.

Devil in the Details

Grafton’s grant application was rejected by the NTIA, though officials told the...

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Posted April 19, 2022 by

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by three colleagues from the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at ILSR including Sean Gonsalves (Communications Team Lead), Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (Research Team Lead) and DeAnne Cuellar (Outreach Team Lead).

During the conversation, the four talk about Sean’s writing that highlights improvements to New York’s new budget bill, and how it sets the table for municipal broadband in the Empire State. The group also discusses Ry’s work detailing Comcast’s recent expansion of its stock buyback program. DeAnne joins the conversation to talk through problems with the federal government’s decision to tax broadband grant money.

They close out the show with reflections on the role of state’s rights with regard to broadband, and by weighing the cost of federal inaction against the potential for states to perpetuate digital discrimination.

This show is 22 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday...

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Posted April 7, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

Comcast announced at the end of January that it will be expanding its stock repurchasing program to $10 billion for 2022. It’s a reminder that local governments need to be wary about the huge cable and telephone monopolies stopping by their offices and offering generously to solve the digital divide once and for all, if only we give them more taxpayer money.

Doing so has largely been a failed policy, and does a better job of transforming public tax dollars into private wealth than it does in efficiently extending Internet infrastructure to communities that need it most. With all the federal funding on the horizon, and some states already looking like they’re going to listen to monopoly lobbyists rather than their constituents, cities and states would do well to follow along closely.

Business is Good

Stock buybacks by publicly traded companies like Comcast are a commonly used mechanism to transfer wealth from the cash a firm has on hand to the pockets of its shareholders, while also driving up its value. The program expansion from Comcast announces as clear as day that the company’s top priority isn’t connecting Americans; it’s to return the most money for the least investment for its shareholders. 

This is far from the first time the company has announced a buyback. In 2013, the provider repurchased $5 billion in shares. It followed that up with $3 billion more in 2014. In 2015 it bought back $4.25 billion, and in 2016 and...

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Posted January 18, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio

In this episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by Heather Gold (CEO, HBG Strategies LLC) and Milo Medin, an industry veteran who recently left Google as VP of wireless services.

The panel will tackle what we can expect to see in the broadband marketplace in 2022, with a special focus on fiber, including who is building it and why the capital markets are so hungry for it. What are we likely to see from builders big and small? What will competing against the national monopoly providers look like? Is fixed wireless a viable option ten years from now?

Subscribe to the show using this feed on YouTube Live or here on Facebook Live, or visit ConnectThisShow.com

Email us broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Watch here on YouTube Live, here on Facebook live, or below.

Posted December 16, 2021 by Maren Machles

While it’s been somewhat of a rarity in larger metropolitan areas, the city of Alexandria, Virginia (pop. 158,000) is hoping to bring residents fast, reliable Internet access by building out an institutional network (I-Net) in the state’s seventh largest city.

Construction of the I-Net, which is expected to be completed by February 2025, will connect the city’s schools, public safety buildings and other facilities, and lay the foundation for a city-wide fiber-to-the-home network.

Instead of waiting for Comcast to give residents the service they need, in August the city broke ground on the project that was long in the works. The main aim is to connect government facilities with the hope that the city will lease out the conduit to a private Internet Service Provider (ISP) as a way to incent more broadband competition.

According to the city’s broadband webpage: the “Municipal Fiber project will create potential partnership opportunities to expand consumer choice and increase available speeds for broadband services.” If the city moves forward with a public-private partnership, it could make the municipal network one of the largest in the country.  

City officials have created a Request for Proposals (RFP) process, in which they will be looking for ISPs that have a track record of connecting other communities in the state. The winning bidder would then be given a contract to build a fiber network that best serves the public interest, working closely with the city in deploying network infrastructure.

Broadband In the Works

Virginia is one of the 17 states that puts restrictions on municipal networks, mandating that “municipal networks impute private sector costs, pay additional taxes, set excessively high prices, and/or refrain from subsidizing affordable service, in the name of protecting private ‘competition.’” But that hasn’t stopped city officials from finding solutions to the lack of high-speed connectivity in the community.

The most recent development in Alexandria is ...

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Posted September 9, 2021 by Jericho Casper

During fire season in Northern California - when the sky often turns dusky with smoke in the middle of the day and the air quality can get so bad that officials declare it unhealthy to be outdoors - access to high-speed Internet connectivity is all-important.

For local governments, fast, reliable, and resilient Internet service is crucial for public safety communications. When flames engulf the region, relaying critical emergency information with speed is paramount. Seconds matter. It’s equally important for citizens to get timely information on the course of wildfires, receive alert notifications or evacuation orders, and be able to connect with friends and family. 

Living in that reality is one of the driving reasons the Chico City Council recently voted to earmark $5 million of the city’s $22 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to research and implement a plan to improve citywide Internet access. 

City council members have already authorized spending $250,000 of the funds to develop a Broadband Master Plan in conjunction with EntryPoint Networks. The plan is projected to be completed by October, and once it is finished the City Council will decide where to go from there.

City officials are also in the process of surveying the city’s 115,000 residents to gauge community interest in building a municipally-owned open access fiber network. Responses to the survey so far have indicated residents are excited about the potential of a municipal broadband offering, the city’s Administrative Services Director, Scott Dowell, told ILSR in a recent interview. Dowell said he’s noticed three recurring themes in the survey responses to date: “They want it to be reliable, inexpensive, and fast.”

Although no plans have been finalized and the city is open to various approaches to improve Internet access, Dowell said the city’s lofty goal is to enable symmetrical gigabit Internet service to all premises in Chico for a monthly access fee of no more than $100. 

Improving Emergency Communications in the Face of Forest Fires

A citywide fiber optic network would bring new capabilities to Chico Fire Department’s six fire stations, which currently lease fiber Internet service offering slower-than-...

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