Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Content tagged with "consideration"Displaying 101 - 110 of 217
Stark County, Ohio's Fourth Utility: Feasibility Study Complete
The results of a study are in and its authors recommend Stark County invest in a regional middle mile fiber-optic network, establish a broadband authority, and take other significant steps to keep the county from falling behind in today’s economy.
The Fourth Utility
The county has relied heavily on manufacturing and retail in the past but as those opportunities dry up, young people are moving away and the future is in jeopardy. Healthcare is another strong industry in the region, but access to high-quality connections is now a must-have for hospitals and clinics. Elected officials also recognize that diversifying the local economy to lure companies that offer higher paying positions will bring new blood to Stark County.
In order to attract new commerce to Stark County, Ohio, they formed a Broadband Task Team (SCBBTT) in the fall of 2014. They have adhered to the philosophy that connectivity is a “fourth utility” and should be treated like electricity, water, gas, or sewer systems. In May, the SCBBTT hired a consultant to perform a feasibility study; the firm presented its findings and recommendations on October 12th.
Consultants Offer Results, Recommendations
Consultants analyzed the amount of fiber in the county and reviewed the state of connectivity for businesses and residents and found both lacking.
Incumbents include local provider MCTV, which offers cable TV, Internet access, and phone services over its coaxial fiber network. Charter Communications, which recently acquired Time Warner Cable assets in the area, and AT&T offer cable and DSL but the feasibility revealed that there is very little fiber connectivity for residents or businesses.
They recommend that the county employ a six-pronged approach:
Examining Connectivity Alternatives: Op-Ed In Rochester
When the Rochester Post-Bulletin published Christopher Mitchell’s opinion piece in August, it wasn’t only because he is an expert on municipal networks. Christopher’s interest in all things geeky started in Rochester - he went to Rochester Mayo High School.
A Budding Idea
For the past few years, various elected officials, and member of the community-at-large have expressed dissatisfaction for services offered by incumbent Charter Communications. In addition to poor services, City Council members have faced complaints from constituents about awful customer service. Over the past year, the community began showing that they will not abandon the idea of publicly owned Internet infrastructure.
The city, home to the world-class Mayo Clinic, is a hub of healthcare discovery. As medical technology becomes more intertwined with fast, affordable, reliable connectivity, Rochester’s expensive and lackluster incumbent Internet providers are showing that they just aren’t cutting it.
Local Support And Early Analysis
In June, the Post Bulletin Editorial Board published their support for a review of the options:
We'd encourage the council and Rochester Utilities Board (RPU) board to make every effort to explore the costs and benefits of installing municipal broadband Internet services as a way of ensuring our community stays effectively connected to the world around it.
Considering Rochester's economic dependence on science and technology, having access to the highest speeds possible is crucial to the city's future. Unfortunately, existing services lag behind those being offered in other cities, putting Rochester's businesses and residents at a competitive disadvantage.
Many questions and concerns remain, but finding answers is the best way for the city to make sure it is serving the needs of its constituents to the fullest.
Fort Collins Mayor on Fort Collins Fiber Future - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 211
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
This show is 24 minutes long and can be played below on this page or via iTunes or via the tool of your choice using this feed.
You can download this mp3 file directly from here. Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.
Thanks to Roller Genoa for the music, licensed using Creative Commons. The song is "Safe and Warm in Hunter's Arms."
Savannah Studies Situation for Possible Muni
In early May, leaders in Savannah, Georgia, retained a consultant to prepare a feasibility study to help the community examine ways to improve local connectivity. Local leaders want consultants to consider ways to better serve municipal facilities, community anchor institutions, businesses, and residents.
In March, incumbent Comcast announced that it would bring fiber-optic connectivity to businesses in Savannah by the end of 2016, but the company has a poor reputation in the Hostess City with both residents and businesses.
Back in 2011 and 2012, there were so many complaints to city leaders Aldermen began holding public meetings so citizens could air complaints. People complained about high rates, poor customer service, and Internet interruptions during rainstorms. Business owners could not get cable connectivity in the downtown area from Comcast; the company said the low number of connections did not justify the investment. Stop the Cap! covered the whole sordid affair in 2012, describing Savannah’s unhappy populace as in a state of “open revolt.”
The company has reportedly made improvements, but trust is a fragile thing.
Moving Forward, No Comcast
After so much trouble with the cable company, it’s understandable that city leaders might decide to side-step Comcast. According to an announcement in Broadband Communities Magazine, the consultants will examine the existing fiber assets in the city and offer ways to expand off that fiber to better serve the community.
City officials have been discussing the possibilities of better connectivity via a municipal fiber optic network for a while now and have been more open about it in recent months. In March, Mayor Eddie DeLoach told Local News WTOC:
Idaho Falls Thinks Ahead With Circa Network
Businesses in Idaho Falls have access to the city’s municipal fiber network, Circa, but now the city council is considering how to bring better connectivity to residents.
How Best To Use What We Have
In order to get a better idea of what options are available and the costs of each, in 2015 city leaders engaged two consulting firms to evaluate a citywide Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) option, an open access network option, how commercial providers may step up to better serve the city, or the city taking on the role as Internet Service Provider (ISP). They are now beginning to evaluate those results.
Private providers have leased Circa dark fibers for years to connect local businesses and businesses themselves have worked directly with Idaho Falls Power, the entity that manages the network. “We have enjoyed a successful public/private partnership in our fiber optic enterprise for well over a decade,” said Jackie Flowers, General Manager, in a recent Local 8 News article.
Nevertheless, city leaders are keeping their eye on tomorrow. From another Local 8 News article:
"We're tripling our broadband needs every few years," said Jackie Flowers, the general manager of Idaho Falls Power that manages the network. "That exponential growth, for us to be thinking about the long term, how are we going to meet those needs?"
Seven ISPs are now using the network to serve approximately 400 businesses in Idaho Falls. The publicly owned infrastructure provides voice, video, and data with Gigabit per second capacity. The city began developing the network in 2002 and began serving customers in 2007 via more than 170 miles of fiber-optic cable throughout the city. In addition to saving the community by reducing telecommunications costs, the network has generated revenue.
City leaders in Idaho Falls are conscious of the value of the asset they have now and smart to consider the future. As they did in 2002, they are looking ahead so they don’t have to play catch-up later on. Consultants put early estimates for a citywide expansion and upgrade at approximately $60 million but:
Lakeland Considering Its Next Step In Florida
In August 2013, we reported on Lakeland, Florida’s dark fiber network that serves local schools, government facilities, and local businesses. Over the past year or so, community leaders have discussed whether or not to expand the use of Lakeland’s fiber resources.
A 2015 feasibility study suggested several other ways to use Lakeland’s existing 330 miles of fiber infrastructure to enhance connectivity for economic development and residential access. As the city examines its finances and its future in the coming months, city leaders are considering six avenues to meet the community’s needs. The options, some recommended by consultants, vary in type and investment and the City Commission will begin discussing the possibilities as they meet in the upcoming months.
Leaders Consider The Next Move
Lakeland is examining public policies that will encourage better connectivity, such as dig-once, permitting changes, and right-of-way regulations. With smart policies in place, Lakeland can lay the groundwork so they can build off progress made today.
In 2013, Polk Vision, a group of organizations, businesses, government, and individuals, along with the Central Florida Regional Planning Council developed the Polk County Broadband Plan. Another option is using the Plan as a guidepost and aligning Lakeland’s plan to support the goals set in the Polk County Plan. Connecting the schools to a larger network would be part of that plan.
Lakeland, like many other communities wants to give providers operating in the community today the opportunity to work with them to improve services. Another option the city will pursue is reaching out to providers in Lakeland and engaging in discussions to upgrade or expand services to better meet the needs of the community. (We haven't seen much success when communities pursue large incumbents, but smaller local providers are sometimes more willing to work with communities.)
Three Communities Make Big Moves Toward Municipal Fiber Networks
A March article in Broadband Properties Magazine spotlights three communities around the country that are making progress toward creating municipal fiber networks. The City of Centennial, Colorado announced that they have completed a feasibility study and a Master Plan detailing the city’s plans to develop a network. Additionally, the Cities of Indianola, Iowa and Rancho Cucamonga, California announced that they have begun studying the feasibility of starting their own municipal fiber networks.
Indianola, Iowa is a city of about 15,000 just 20 miles south of Des Moines. As we wrote a few years ago, Indianola currently owns an open access Fiber-to-the Premise (FTTP) network which provides Gigabit speed Internet access, plus TV, and phone service to most businesses and select residents in Indianola. The study they recently commissioned will explore the feasibility of using this existing network for constructing a FTTP network to the entire community.
Indianola built its existing fiber network, which they launched in 2012, out of frustration as CenturyLink refused requests from the community to upgrade their DSL network and the incumbent Mediacom began overcharging for their Internet services. Today, Indianola Municipal Utilities is the infrastructure owner and a wholesale provider of this fiber network while Mahaska Communication Group, an Iowa-based Internet Service Provider (ISP), performs the operations and maintenance services for the network.
Rancho Cucamonga, California
The City of Rancho Cucamonga, California recently asked a private consulting firm to perform a study to determine the feasibility of creating a fiber optic network. City officials see a municipal fiber network in this city of just over 170,000 as a potential driver of economic development. The city is located about 45 miles east of Los Angeles.
Newark, Delaware, City Council Votes For Feasibility Study
Newark, Delaware, prides itself on its small-city status: a bike-friendly place with a great main street and home to 30,000 residents. Some, however, consider poor Internet access Newark's biggest small-city problem.
In December, the City Council decided to move forward with a feasibility study for a municipal broadband network. In a 4-3 vote, the city council hired a consulting firm to investigate the city’s options for connectivity. For $69,000, the firm will answer Newark's questions, and the city will attempt to make an informed decision on the possibility of a municipal network.
Process for a Feasibility Study
As we reported in September, residents have driven the push toward a publicly owned network; the city council took notice and began considering the possibility. In October 2015, They hosted a public meeting to bring together community stakeholders and interested residents. At that point, community leaders heard from a consulting company about what a feasibility study would entail.
Originally priced at $10,000 for a basic analysis, the cost of the feasibility study increased to $69,000 over the next several months because the city council chose to expand the depth of the study. They wanted an extensive analysis of all the options, especially connecting to the local University of Delaware to any proposed municipal network. At the city council meeting in December, members decided to greenlight the feasibility study. The funding will come out of the budget for the Legislative Department’s legal and consulting services.
Why A Municipal Network?
In 2014, the city installed smart electric and water meters which run on a Wi-Fi mesh network. Having greater connectivity could encourage expansion for other uses. High-quality Internet access for businesses and residents, high-speed data transport for local healthcare clinics, parking meters, surveillance, public safety, and cloud computing are only few potential uses for a municipal fiber network.
Task Force in Rural Connecticut Explores Community’s Appetite for Fiber
The newly formed Utilities Task Force in the City of Redding, Connecticut, is exploring the potential of bringing fiber connectivity to this rural town of about 9,000 people. Redding is about 65 miles northeast of New York City and just 25 miles north of Stamford.
As part of their feasibility analysis, the task force sent a survey to residents and businesses to gauge interest in bringing a fiber network to Redding. While the analysis is still ongoing, task force board member Susan Clark expressed optimism. “I’ve been energized by how many people have shown interest in this,” Clark told the News Times.
The task force believes if the survey reveals strong interest in the community for the nascent project, private Internet providers would be more inclined to help the community build the network. Community leaders hope that a new fiber network would attract new residents such as “knowledge workers” who depend on reliable, highspeed Internet access that allows them to work from home.
A second member of the task force, Leon Kervelis, told the The Redding Pilot that the task force has hopes the proposed network, if built, could eventually grow beyond Redding:
“It’s not intended to be a single town project…we’d get several towns together in a conglomerate, and that municipal conglomerate decides procedures and financing for the infrastructure,” he said.
Kervelis also explained the task force’s proposed plan for how to pay for the network, saying residents and businesses would pay a small surcharge on their property taxes, a far cry from current rates:
Lake Oswego Seeks Out Expert Advice: Video
Lake Oswego, Oregon, was [no-glossary]pegged[/no-glossary] as a potential target for Google Fiber in 2014 but this town of 35,000 may not wait for the tech giant to bring fast, affordable, reliable connectivity. They may just do it themselves.
In order to get more information about municipal fiber networks, our Chris Mitchell visited during an October City Council meeting at the request of community leaders. The Lake Oswego Review covered the meeting.
According to the Review, the northwest community issued an RFP in June and received two responses. City leaders are still pondering the responses and feelings are mixed over whether or not to make the investment.
City Manager Scott Lazenby told the Council:
Just getting this network would put Lake Oswego on the map…I think increasing that level of service, especially for the demographics we have here — highly educated, many tech-oriented folks in our community — that would be a real service to make available.
Chris pointed out that the area is ripe with a number of high-tech companies and other entities that will find a fiber network attractive. “Not everyone has that regional connectivity that you have here,” he told the Council.
He also asked them to consider all the long term possibilities if Google does eventually enter into the market in Lake Oswego:
“When I think about relying on Google, if Google decides to get out of this business, the community has no say about who takes it over,” he said.
After discussion, the Council voted to negotiate an agreement with one of the RFP respondents for further review, contingent on a market study.
To view Chris's entire presentation to the Lake Oswego City Council, watch the video below: