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Wilson's Greenlight Leads North Carolina in Fast Internet
New Fact Sheet: Community Broadband and Public Savings
We have already published a fact sheet on the critical role community broadband plays in job development. Now, ILSR presents a collection of how community owned broadband networks save money for local government, schools, and libraries while providing cutting edge services. The Public Savings Fact Sheet is now available.
Though schools, libraries, and other community anchors need access to faster, more reliable networks, the big cable and telephone companies have priced those services so high that they are breaking the budget. But when communities create their own connections, affordable high capacity connections are only one of the benefits. A community owned network offers the promise of self-determination -- of upgrades on the community's time table and increased reliability for emergency responders.
The Public Savings Fact Sheet is a great piece to share to mobilize other members of your community. Share it with decision makers and use it to start meaningful conversations. Distribute it widely and often.
We are always developing new resources. If you have an idea for a new fact sheet, we want to hear it.
MI-Connection Embraces New Strategies, Increases Speeds for Free
MI-Connection, the North Carolina community-owned network serving Davidson, Cornelius, and Mooresville, is upgrading network speeds and unveiling a new marketing campaign. MI-Connection was formed when a few towns north of Charlotte purchased the old, dilapidated Adelphia cable network out of bankruptcy and began rehabbing it.
According to David Boraks of the DavidsonNews.net:
The company on Dec. 10 will begin selling a new top speed internet service tentatively called “Warp Speed Broadband,” though the name could change. It will offer 60 mbps downloads and 10 mbps uploads. Customers can get it for $80 to $100, depending on whether they bundle it with TV and telephone.
Existing customers also will get faster speeds Dec. 10, at no extra charge (Download speed x upload speed): 8×4 becomes 10×5, 12×4 becomes 15×5, 16×4 becomes 20×5 and 20×4 becomes 30×10.
Notice that this community network offers faster upstream speeds than most privately owned cable networks -- because they recognize the importance of empowering subscribers rather than hoping they will just consumer video and do little else.
The DavidsonNews.net article also covered MI-Connection's last quarter financial audit report. The network has faced chronic financial problems but things continue to improve. From the article:
The financial report for the quarter that ended Sept. 30 showed that the company grew revenues in all three of its businesses – cable TV, telephone and internet. Altogether, revenues were up 6.5 percent from the first quarter a year ago, to $4,114,992. Expenses fell 8.7 percent, in part because of savings on what the company pays its high-speed internet providers.
The company’s earnings from day-to-day operations continued to grow.
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.
How AT&T and Time Warner Cable Pass Anti-Competition Broadband Bills
Usage Based Billing - Time Warner Cable Latest Attempt to Increase Prices
Time Warner Cable's announced intention to expand its usage based billing for broadband has recently received a little media attention. The company currently uses tiers for customers in parts of Texas, allowing customers to sign on to a plan which limits the amount of usage per month. If they come in under the plan amount (currently 5 gigabytes), they get a $5 dscount. If they go over, they are charged $1 per gigabyte over the tier limit.
One commentary we find particularly insightful is from Susan Crawford, "The Sledgehammer of usage-based billing." Crawford not only addresses TWC's billing change, but critiques New York Times' "Sweeping Effects as Bradband Moves To Meters" by Brian Stelter.
Crawford points out several statements in Stelter's article that sound rational on paper, but are actually "holes" in the fabric of reality. Based on what we have seen from companies like Time Warner Cable, we concur.
Stelter justifies Time Warner's decision to shift to usage-based billing based on the fact that its competitors are doing it. Crawford points out that:
Time Warner does not have competitors among cable companies – if by competition you mean a cable distributor that could constrain Time Warner’s pricing or ability to manage its pipe for its own purposes. Time Warner’s DOCSIS 3.0 services do compete with Verizon’s FiOS, but FiOS is available in just a tiny part of Time Warner’s footprint. The major cable distributors long ago divided up the country among themselves.
The Stelter article raises the issue of high usage and congestion, their connections to the usage tier billing model, and claims that there is no other way to handle high usage. Crawford calls out this error as it relates to the new billing plan:
Cable distributors have a choice: They could maintain the 90+ % margins they enjoy for data services and the astonishing levels of dividends and buybacks their stock produces, or they could rearchitect their networks to serve obvious consumer demand. But they are in harvesting mode, not expansion mode. And no competitor is pressuring them to expand.
Highland Schools in Ohio First to Connect to Medina County Fiber Network
Quite some time ago, we let you know about the plans and funding for the Medina County Fiber Network (MFCN). The network, owned by the Medina County Port Authority (MCPA) began construction in March, 2011, and is nearing completion. Jennifer Pignolet, reported in the Medina GazetteOnline, that the network just signed on their first customer, Highland Schools.
Apparently, the schools contract with its current provider, Time Warner Cable, is about to expire. While connecting Highland Schools now may be ahead of schedule, the county fiber committee can accommodate their needs. As an added bonus, the new relationship is more economical for the schools. From the article:
“Their situation needing to be addressed immediately certainly moved them to the front of the line,” [said Jim Gerspacher, chairman of the county’s fiber committee].
While the $14 million network is still months away from full completion, Gerspacher said there is enough infrastructure in place to get Highland online.
The school will have full Internet and phone service and will have all its buildings connected to one network.
Highland Technology Director Roger Saffle said the district will save close to $90,000 a year by switching from Time Warner to the Medina County network.
“It will maintain the access we already have with a cheaper cost,” Saffle said.
Highland Schools is moving from a $100,000 per year Time Warner Cable contract (or about $8,333 per month). The schools now will pay $1,500 each month to the MCPA and, according to Saffle, will be able to apply for federal grant funding to recover 40% of that monthly fee.
In 2008, OneCommunity and the MCPA began a partnership to plan and build the network. OneCommunity received a $44 million broadband stimulus grant in 2010 to extend fiber to 22 Ohio counties. MCPA received $1.6 million of that stimulus for their County network. The remainder of the $13.8 million project was covered by 20-year revenue development bonds issued by the MCPA.
Cable Access Gets Slammed, Time Porner Gets the Land
Media for All the People... and the Internet
Gig.U Delivers its Gigabit to Maine
“We will plant the first seed in fertile economic soil,” he said.