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Businesses Mount Opposition to Anti-Competition Cable Bill in Kansas
In a very quick turnaround, a number of prominent companies have signed on to a letter opposing the Kansas bill to block competition for existing Internet providers, like Time Warner Cable. Firms signing the letter sent to the Commerce Committee include Alcatel-Lucent, American Public Power Association, Atlantic Engineering Group, Calix, CTC Technology & Energy, Fiber to the Home Council, Google, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, OnTrac, Telecommunications Industry Association, Utilities Telecom Council. The Committee will hear the bill on Tuesday morning. We understand that no recording or live streaming is planned.
Update: When originally posting this, I failed to credit Jim Baller - who organized the letter and works to preserve local authority, so communities themselves can decide whether a network is a wise investment.
Early Reactions to Anti-Competition Broadband Bill in Kansas
The city opposes the bill because it’s legislation that allows lawmakers in Topeka to define what local communities can or cannot do. “It’s about home rule, local choice,” Chanute Utilities Director Larry Gates said. “It’s not about what happens in Topeka.”And a local business weighed in, noting that the City service is essential because the private providers have refused to upgrade and offer modern services:
Phil Jarred of Jarred Gilmore & Phillips PA said the two private companies providing internet services, CableOne and AT&T cannot meet the needs his business requires. “Both services are not fast enough,” Jarred said. “It costs us too much not to have the fiber optics.”Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOm noted that it curiously bans both municipal networks and the types of partnerships that Google and Kansas City formed, finishing with "it looks like incumbent providers are fighting back with politics." This is nothing new of course - companies have sought for years to protect their businesses with laws limiting the competition rather than investing or being innovative. But when it comes to an essential infrastructure, we should be particularly careful.
Over the Top Video: A Peak or a Path Forward?
Seattle, Gigabit Squared, the Challenge of Private Sector Cable Competition
White Space Pilot Project Brings Basic Internet From Library to Residents … For Free!
The Gigabit Libraries Network (GLN) has orchestrated a pilot project to optimize white space technology for connectivity in and near community libraries and schools. We discussed this approach on our most recent podcast with Don Means, coordinator of the project.
White spaces wireless, sometimes referred to as "Super Wi-Fi" or "TVWS," can provide limited access in rural areas with limited funds and limited connectivity options. The technology is still in the development stage but creative people working in community libraries are finding new ways to use it.
GLN's goal is to bring next generation connectivity to all 16,000 libraries in the U.S. The organization grew out the 2007 "Fiber to the Library" Campaign from the Community TeleStructure Initiative. The initiative is a collaboration of institutions of higher education, corporations serving the higher education technology market, and related entities. GLN advances the idea that anchor networks, like those at the library, are cost effective ways to serve populations and to create middle mile access.
"White spaces" are the unlicensed low-frequency spectrum that was reserved for television signals prior to digitization of television. (If you are REALLY old, like me, you remember the "UHF" and "VHF" dials on the ol' black-and-white.) As we transitioned to digital TV, the spectrum was abandoned. White spaces differ from traditional point-to-point wireless spectrum because they do not require a line of sight. Buildings, trees, or other obstacles do not stop the signals. Thurman, New York, and New Hanover County in North Carolina use white space technology for limited Internet access in their areas.
NATOA Keynote Panel Discusses Role of Local Governments in Improving Internet Access
In September, I joined the keynote lunch panel at the annual NATOA Conference to discuss what local governments can do to improve Internet access. Joanne Hovis moderated a discussion between Rondella Hawkins of City of Austin, Milo Medin of Google, and myself.
I have embedded the video below so it starts with the panel discussion. However, if you go back to the beginning, you will also be able to watch the annual award presentations, including one to Longmont in Colorado, as well as Milo Medin's 10 minute presentation prior to this panel discussion.
We discuss many important issues, particularly the various actions local governments can take to either build their own networks or to make the community more tempting to others who might build a network.
Google Ad Compares Fiber to Broadband
Google knows how to differentiate its gigabit Internet access from the slower options offered by cable and DSL. Community networks should take notes on effective advertising.
Comcast Reacts to Google Fiber in Provo
The sale of iProvo to Google Fiber means that Comcast now gets to compete against Google's gig - Time Warner Cable is the incumbent cable company in Kansas City and Austin. Comcast wasted little time and has improved its bundle in Provo long before any new customers are turned on. The Free UTOPIA blog recently reported that Comcast, in response to the incoming competition, is increasing speeds. Jesse writes:
Competition is good, and Comcast is just now proving it. I spoke with one of their sales guys who confirmed that Comcast will be offering a package of 250Mbps/50Mbps for $70 starting in September, but only in Provo. (Sorry, everywhere else.) This is in direct response to Google Fiber coming to town and will include a new modem with a built-in 802.11ac router to take advantage of the speed bump. It’s unknown if this speed tier will land in any other cities in the future.
This is yet another story proving that having a fiber network in your town benefits everyone, not just subscribers.
This is compelling evidence that markets with only choices between DSL and cable are not sufficiently competitive, regardless of what wireless options are available. When threatened with a competitor that it cannot harm with its legions of lobbyists in the state capital or the threat of predatory pricing, Comcast responds with investment and lower prices. Regulators should take note.
Consultant Argues Never Used Financing Mechanism Also Won't Work in Palo Alto
Overall, 79 percent of households would have to pay $3,000 apiece to fully fund FTTP construction costs.YIKES! Cue the foreboding music! Palo Alto has something like 25,000 households.
Wired Highlights Local, Public Option for Internet Networks
Klint Finley from Wired.com joined a Media Consortium press call that our own Christopher Mitchell participated in regarding community owned networks, Google Fiber, and concerns about the future of Internet access. He wrote about the event and the promise of municipal networks.
Finley referred readers to us:
But there’s no guarantee that Google Fiber will come to the rest of the United States, and many communities may want to start building an alternative right away. Mitchell said the first step towards building a municipal broadband service in your area is to get educated about what other communities have done. That’s the purpose of the site muninetworks.org, which compiles information about municipal broadband initiatives across the country. The goal is to create a comprehensive resource for community organizers. Users can explore the projects in different states through the Community Network map.
We continue to find more local governments moving forward with their own investments to improve local access, suggesting that many understand the folly of hoping some distant corporation will build the network they need to be successful in the digital economy.