Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
“Expanding telehealth services to older Australians still living in their own homes will help health professionals identify potential health problems earlier, reduce the need for older Australians to travel to receive treatment and increase access to healthcare services and specialists.”Australia has recognized that the private sector will not meet the needs of its businesses and residents and is therefore investing in a next-generation open access network and seeking ways to maximize its social benefits. Israel appears poised to follow Australia's lead. And what is happening in the US? Well, AT&T admits that DSL is dying, has stopped expanding its supposed next-generation product, and is working state legislatures to prevent others from building the needed networks. SNAFU.
Soeffker, who farms with her husband in rural Sibley County, said the dish receiver they must use works fine in good weather but balks during heavy rain and snowstorms. Meantime, her husband struggles with a lagging Internet speed of .6 megabits a second that falls short of meeting his business needs when he’s selling commodities.The committee organizing the network set a goal for demonstrating the interest of something like 50% of the population in the target area. There has been some confusion as to exactly how many they should have before committing to the project but with just two mass mailings, they have received nearly 3,000 positive responses (of the over 8000 households that could be served). This is a very strong response. To keep the public informed, they have had numerous public meetings in each of the communities that will be involved. To be as open as possible, they would often have three meetings in a town per day -- a morning, afternoon, and evening meeting to accomodate everyone's schedule. As this project moves forward, no one can claim the group has been anything but open with the plan. On January 19, they had a major meeting with over 100 people attending, including many elected officials from the towns. For over two and a half hours, they had five presentations and numerous questions.
Schensted and his wife are the first in their southwest Minnesota community to connect to a new high-speed Internet service. He said the new service is everything it was advertised to be. "We're getting anywhere from 50 megabits downloading and about 20 to 30 uploading," Schensted said. "It's just really incredibly fast."Stimulus dollars spent on expanding publicly owned networks gets the most bang for the taxpayer's buck and should have been a much larger focus for the broadband stimulus. The people and businesses served by this network have faster connections at lower prices than we can get in the metro area of Minneapolis/St Paul.
Schensted's house is connected to the nearly $13 million Southwest Minnesota Broadband Service project that will serve eight communities: Bingham Lake, Brewster, Heron Lake, Jackson, Lakefield, Okabena, Round Lake and Wilder. Internet equipment Schensted said he has never had that kind of Internet speed, even when he lived in the Twin Cities. "This is perhaps overkill for even my home," he said. "I'm not complaining about it, but it's a wonderful overkill. My wife and I can both be using a computer, we can be streaming something on the television, all at the same time which is something we wouldn't have dreamed of before."Smart public investments can connect everyone in this state, at a fraction of the price that it would cost to subsidize the big private companies to do it. They are too inefficient and require too large a margin of profit, in addition to a host of other problems.
Broadband infrastructure is this century’s interstate highway system: a public investment in an infrastructure that will rapidly connect Washington’s citizens statewide, nationally, and internationally; fuelling growth, competition, and innovation. Like highway access, the path to universal broadband access varies with the needs of the local community. Our primary goal is to expand broadband access. We believe allowing municipalities and PUDs to provide broadband services addresses the most significant hurdles to broadband expansion: the high cost of infrastructure. In conjunction with a state USF, PUDs and municipalities are well placed to address the needs of their consumers. A secondary goal is to promote a competitive marketplace.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will convene an informational meeting in the format of panel discussion to examine the implications of the FCC Order with respect to (i) universal service funding, (ii) intercarrier compensation and (iii) the substantive and procedural tasks that the Commission can be expected to face in the coming months. The meeting will commence with opening remarks by Commission Chair Ellen Anderson and Commissioner Michael Rothman of the Minnesota Department Commerce. The panel discussion will be moderated by Commissioner Betsy Wergin. The panelists are:I would have specifically liked to hear how the rural telephone coops would be affected by the inter-carrier compensation changes as those charges have helped many rural communities gain access to broadband. Apparently, the MTA rep will represent their viewpoint.
The Commission will welcome questions from attendees as time permits.
- Jeff Lindsey; CenturyLink
- Brent Christensen; Minnesota Telecom Alliance
- Dan Lipschultz; Moss Barnett PA, competitive carrier perspective
- Tom Cohen; Kelley, Drye Warren LLP for the American Cable Association
- Dave Conn; T-Mobile
- Dennis Ahlers; Minnesota Department of Commerce.
A new documentary from California explores the failure of the private sector and competition more generally to sufficiently invest in fast, affordable, and reliable access to the Internet. It comes in three parts and runs about 25 minutes in total.
This provides a good summary of the present broadband landscape and how AT&T, Comcast, and other major providers are not the answer to our increasing need for better connections to the Internet.
Broadband for the Rural North Ltd has been registered as a Community Benefit Society within the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (IPS), and is controlled by the Financial Services Authority. Shares will be issued to provide funding for the project and members of the community will be encouraged to subscribe to the share issue. The share issue will comply with the Enterprise Initiative Scheme established by HMRC to encourage individual share holdings in new and developing companies. Under certain circumstances investors could reclaim 30% of the value of shares produced. As a community company, the project will be funded and to a greater extent built by the community for the community. Our ambition is to keep expenditure, where possible, within the community. In addition to purchasing shares, the community will have the opportunity to “purchase” shares in exchange for labour and materials during the project build. The initial share offer will be £2,000,000 of shares with a face value of £1, to be launched in late 2011 and open for 1 year. The project is expected to commence on site in early 2012 and completed by the year end. The initial network will be progressively added to over subsequent years until approximately 15000 properties in adjoining rural parishes are completely connected to the FTTH network.To keep costs low in their rural areas, B4RN will be taking a non-traditional approach:
B4RN will adopt a different approach; we will lay the duct not on the highway but across the farmland on the other side of the wall. Digging a narrow trench and installing a duct within it is dramatically less expensive across private farmland than along the highway.
Danville City Manager Joe King received the Chairman's Award for his leadership in advancing the development of a modern telecommunications infrastructure in the region, a key factor in Danville's economic development renaissance.King had been the director of the city-owned utility when it drew up plans for a fiber-optic network to be built incrementally until it could connect every home, business, and community anchor institution in Danville Utility's territory. At the time, Danville was suffering tremendously from the loss of tobacco and textile industries.
Today, the nDanville net-work connects hundreds of businesses, has sharply re-duced costs for local gov-ernment, health care provid-ers, and local schools, and has introduced more competition into the telecommunications marketplace.Danville Utilities has 44,000 electric meters, half of which are located in Danville (44 sq miles). The others are scattered across over 450 sq miles surrounding the city. The Southern Piedmont Technology Council serves the technology industry in Danville as well as nearby counties and another city. Even in 2004, many in Danville did not have broadband access to the Internet, as outlined in an early document explaining the network. Verizon barely offered DSL and Adelphia offered limited cable modem service. Andrew Cohill, a consultant assisting the project, has offered more background in a recent article of Broadband Communities.
ECFiber is using an innovative funding method to extend its network, supported by local citizens who lend funds that enable build-out to local neighborhoods within and across member towns. Citizens who invest as little as $2500 allow ECFiber to reach all households along designated routes. ECFiber determines where it will build by choosing routes that reach the greatest number of unserved businesses and households, which are then connected to ECFiber’s state-of-the-art fiber-optic service.These people are literally investing in themselves. ECFiber is an InterLocal Contract with a Governing Board composed of a representiative from each member town (of which there are 23). Investors are purchasing tax exempt 15 year promissory notes that effectively earn 6% interest (due to the one year holiday from interest and principal). They have raised $340,000 in this round of financing, which will allow the network to pass 60-65% of Barnard's 950 residents.
The Rev. Andrew Schensted and his wife, Lisa, were the first to be connected. The fiber-to-home connection provides “obnoxiously fast Internet,” Andrew Schensted said in a SMBS press release. The SMBS Internet is “at least 10 times faster” than what they had when living in the metropolitan area, Andrew Schensted added. The couple has been able to streaming video in full HD from TV streaming websites.So it begins... the Metro around Minneapolis and St Paul have to rely mostly on Comcast for connections to the Internet. CenturyLink's DSL is generally slower and in many places, utterly unreliable. Monticello has had a blazing fast connection (faster than we can get in the metro) at lower prices for more than a year. Communities served by HBC also have faster connections in SE Minnesota. In the coming year, the stimulus-funded networks on the North Shore will also have better connections than we can get. It will be curious to see how development patterns adjust in the coming years.
“The demand for higher-speed Internet in our rural area is daunting,” Olsen said. “People not only want faster speeds, they need it for their business operations. If the wireless trial is successful, it could provide a better option to those not on the fiber system. “ Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services (SMBS) is a consortium of eight communities including Bingham Lake, Brewster, Heron Lake, Jackson, Lakefield, Okabena, Round Lake and Wilder. The 125-mile, $12.8 million dollar fiber ring is expected to be completed in September 2012. The fiber-optic communication network has the capacity to bring fast, competitively priced services for internet, phone and cable TV to residential subscribers as well as businesses and other community institutions. The government grant-supported project is intended to provide southwest Minnesota with the telecommunications connectivity required to remain competitive in the global marketplace.The new network has bucked a strong trend among community fiber networks of offering symmetric connections to the Internet.