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New York Times on Internet in America, Genachowski Legacy
Yet the challenge remains: monopolies have a high instinct for self-preservation. And more than half a dozen states have [no-glossary]passed[/no-glossary] legislation limiting municipalities from building public broadband networks in competition with private businesses. South Carolina passed its version last year. A similar bill narrowly failed in Georgia. Supporting these bills, of course, are the nation’s cable and telephone companies.Not really "supporting" so much as creating. They create the bills and move them with millions of dollars spent on lobbyists and campaign finance contributions, usually without any real public debate on the matter. Eduardo focuses on Google Fiber rather than the hundreds of towns that have built networks - as have most of the elite media outlets. Google deserves praise for taking on powerful cable and DSL companies, but it is lazy journalism broadly that has ignored the networks built by hundreds of towns - my criticism of the press generally, not Eduardo specifically. The person who deserves plenty of criticism is former FCC Chairman Genachowski. From the article:
According to the F.C.C.’s latest calculation, under one-third of American homes are in areas where at least two wireline companies offer broadband speeds of 10 Mbps or higher.We have 20 million Americans with no access to broadband. The rest are lucky to have a choice between two providers and even then, most still only have access to fast connections from a single provider. When the National Broadband Plan was unveiled, we were critical of it and believed it would do little to improve our standing.
Google Buys Provo Community-Owned Network
Provo started building their own municipal network in 2004 because they decided that providing access to high speed connectivity was important to their community’s future. In 2011, they started looking for a partner that could acquire their network and deliver an affordable service for Provoans. We’re committed to keeping their vision alive, and, if the deal is approved and the acquisition closes, we’d offer our Free Internet service (5 Mbps speeds) to every home along the existing Provo network, for a $30 activation fee and no monthly charge for at least seven years. We would also offer Google Fiber Gigabit Internet—up to 100x faster Internet than today’s average broadband speeds—and the option for Google Fiber TV service with hundreds of your favorite channels. We’d also provide free Gigabit Internet service to 25 local public institutions like schools, hospitals and libraries.
Google to Lease liNKCity Fiber in Missouri
Google Fiber is leasing fiber for transport from a small municipal FTTH network in North Kansas City. A recent Kansas City Business Journal article reports that Google finalized a deal with City Council for a 20-year agreement worth $3.2 million to lease fiber from liNKCity. This was more convenient for Google than laying (or attaching) its own fiber to get between areas it is building out.
Earlier this year, liNKCity made news by providing free gigabit service to North Kansas City Schools. The service was estimated to save the school district $500,000 over the next five years.
Blair Levin Discusses Gig.U and More for Community Broadband Bits Episode #37
High Tech Companies Oppose Bill to Limit Internet Investment in Georgia
How a Muni Network in The Dalles Led to a $600 million Data Center
As I recently mentioned in my endorsement of Tubes by Andrew Blum, the book explains how a municipal fiber network helped to attract Google to town. Google sited its first "built-from-scratch data center" there, a $600 million investment according to Stephen Levy. According to Blum, it all started back in 2000 when the community got fed up with incumbent telephone company Sprint.
The Dalles was without high-speed access for businesses and homes, despite the big nationwide backbones that tore right through along the railroad tracks, and the BPA's big network. Worse, Sprint, the local carrier, said the city wouldn't get access for another five to ten years. "It was like being a town that sits next to the freeway but has no off-ramp," was how Nolan Young, the city manager, explained it to me in his worn office...
The Dalles was suffering economically due to its reliance on industrial jobs that were slowly disappearing.
Fiberhoods New Destination for Start-Up Businesses
As more and more businesses consider broadband a critical utility, property demand reflects the need for high-speed Internet. In Kansas City, property designated as a future Fiberhood is already in high demand. Phillip Dampier reports in Stop the Cap! that tech businesses are relocating to get the jump on the gigabit fiber service, inching property values up in targeted areas.
And it is not commercial property in demand. Companies want access to the future gigabit network and are buying in residential areas, which are the first slated to recieve the fiber service. From the article:
Google is not officially selling fiber service to businesses just yet. Answer? Buy residential property in the area and move workers who could deliver increased productivity with faster Internet speeds.
That was the answer for Local Ruckus LLC, which is opening its new headquarters in a 2,500-square foot home in the first neighborhood scheduled to receive Google Fiber service.
“It just makes life easier,” CEO Adam Arredondo told the Kansas City Star.
Tech start-ups have been the target for the community since the Google Fiber intitiative. More and more are finding their way into the future fiber hoods and to the Kansas City region. The city is also using special initiatives to bring high tech companies and their jobs to Missouri.
Communities that are building their own FTTH networks should take a look at Google's approach. They neighborhood by neighborhood contests helped to make sure everyone knew about the network, increasing excitement. Marketing is tremendously important to securing enough subscribers to pay the debts of building the network.
Also from the article:
KCMO mayor Sly James last month unveiled Launch KC — an effort to attract technology companies to Kansas City, particularly start-ups.
James announced five companies and Union Station were prepared to offer free or “very affordable” office space in the city’s Crossroads district, the West Bottoms, and downtown. Office space is even available at the Kansas City International Airport.
Google Fiber Spurs Digital Divide Discussions
“I’m concerned that the digital divide” — the gap between electronic haves and have-nots — “will be exacerbated by the fact that you’ll have extremely fast Internet in some neighborhoods while people in neighborhoods with fewer resources will be left even further behind,” said Christopher Barnickel, an assistant director at the Kansas City, Kan., Public Library.
Christopher Barnickel, speaking with Scott Canon of the Kansas City Star, echoed the growing concerns of many in Kansas City. The Google fiber initiative, meant to offer the fastest broadband, may leave many behind. Google is connecting neighborhoods that met a minimum threshold for service, creating concern that low-income neighborhoods will not meet that threshold. Of the 202 possible neighborhoods, 22 will not be connected.
We discussed in a previous post how Google is in the unique position of being able to offer their gigabit service for such a low price. But one of the reasons they make it work is by building only in areas where people are ready to sign up today. Their agreement with the City is very clear that they do not have to serve everyone.
Google's Kansas City preregistration just ended. But Canon's words from 2 weeks ago remain important:
Two weeks remain for dozens of neighborhoods to sign up enough potential customers to qualify for Google’s service before a Sept. 9 deadline. But many neighborhoods — chiefly the least prosperous pockets of the metro area — remain far behind the pace needed to hit the Google-established thresholds of customer penetration.
That means many of the free connections Google agreed to make to public buildings, library branches and community centers won’t happen.
At that time, the map was fairly divided among income lines.
Milo Medin on the Age of Broadband Abundance
Milo Medin, the VP of Access Services at Google (responsible for the Kansas City deployment) gave a 40 minute presentation discussing important changes in the Internet. We should be moving from an age of scarcity to abundance, if the big cable companies will stop hindering that change. The slides from his presentation are available here.
Google Creates Competition in Kansas City, TWC Hires 81 People
The company, which currently employs about 900 locally, wants to fill customer service, finance, sales and other positions.These are the jobs that result from competition - which does not exist when the providers a limited to a complacent duopoly comprised of a single cable company and a single telephone company. This is one of the way that community networks create jobs. Community Networks create traditional jobs to offer their own services (and a multiplier effect by using local accounting, local marketing, and other services). But they also create more revenue for local papers (advertising) and job opportunities with rival companies that suddenly need to fight for subscribers. On a different track, Light Reading says it has a copy of Google's franchise with the city and notes that Google is under no obligation to serve everyone in the city. However, Karl Bode rightly notes that it was the state legislature in Kansas, flush with AT&T campaign contributions, that revoked the authority of local governments to require cable providers to serve everyone. Presently, 14 "fiberhoods" in Kansas and 49 in Missouri have met the registration goals and will be among the first served. Google will build to any fiberhood that meets the minimum threshold of interest. One cannot blame Google then for only building where they will profit. In fact, this is what one would expect any rational profit-maximizing company to do. It is a failure of governance to require that everyone have access to an essential infrastructure. And we know what causes these failures of governance - systematic legalized bribery in our campaign finance system. Light Reading does note that the franchise is far more generous to Google than overbuilders can typically negotiate. This is a result of Google offering such a unique product. Local leaders decided to effectively subsidize Google's network with favorable terms in the right-of-way, including making inspections as quick and painless as possible.