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SoverNet will own the infrastructure but is required to provide bandwidth at wholesale cost to providers who extend the service outward. Loredo Sola is skeptical. He says he's already lost one institutional contract to the SoverNet project. He says that's forced E.C. Fiber to scrap its plans to serve smaller users in the area.Sovernet is building a middle mile network connection community anchor institutions, but is an example of the exact wrong way to do it. Supposedly, the investment (the vast majority of which is funded by a federal stimulus award) will allow more ISPs to build more last mile networks as they have access to better backhaul. But lowering the operating cost of a network does very little to make that network affordable to build. The high up front capital costs are what limit broadband in rural (and urban too!) areas.
The medical network connects Danville Regional Medical Center and about half of the area’s medical facilities to nDanville, a fiber optic network established by the city. The high performance fiber allows real-time access to patient medical records and allows for the exchange of CT and MRI scans instantly.Another article notes praise for the city's efforts:
"It enables us to better serve our patients by having their information available across multiple sites," Deaton [CEO of Danville Regional Medical Center] said. "We will continue to support the city's efforts in linking our medical community together, and I want to commend the city for the success of this network and making healthcare a top priority."The Intelligent Community Forum brought the above success to my attention in awarding Danville a recipient of its 2011 Founders Awards. (Chattanooga is in the running for Intelligent Community of year and really, how could it possibly lose?) But ICF details more impressive details from nDanville:
On average, fiber connections for these facilities provide twice the bandwidth of the previous connection but at a 30% savings. More than 90% of the medical facilities (approximately 125 locations) are to be connected by December 2011, said Jason Grey, the Broadband Network Manager of Danville Utilities, who led Danville’s charge to become a recognized intelligent community by ICF. … ICF further noted that the nDanville Network provides a crucial link between the Danville Diagnostic and Imaging Center and the Danville Regional Hospital.
- What exactly is Rural Broadband?
- What are the real Community Benefits?
- How do we get to Gigabit Speeds?
- Success stories: Lessons learned
- National Trends & Regulation
At the federal government site broadband.gov, run by the FCC, you can see Satellite listed as a type of broadband, despite the fact that the two main providers of such service avoid using the word "broadband" when they are pitching their service. So why include satellite alongside DSL, cable, wireless, and fiber? The answer may lie in pro-satellite lobbying. The logic for such lobbying is simple: If it can be said that satellite is a broadband option for rural communities, as listed by the FCC, then terrestrial telcos can argue there is no compelling need to provide those communities with alternatives.Satellite is not a "broadband option" because it does not offer broadband in any meaningful way. Even if it did, it is absurdly expensive for what it does offer:
The HughesNet ProPlus satellite Internet service plan costs $80 per month and comes with a usage cap of 425 megabytes per day.
At the federal government site broadband.gov, run by the FCC, you can see Satellite listed as a type of broadband, despite the fact that the two main providers of such service avoid using the word "broadband" when they are pitching their service. So why include satellite alongside DSL, cable, wireless, and fiber? The answer may lie in pro-satellite lobbying.
On the heels of our story announcing a new open access community fiber project in Idaho, we have learned of a similar project in Cortez, Colorado. Cortez is the county seat of Montezuma County in the extreme southwest of the state and has approximately 8,000 residents. Much of Colorado has long suffered from Qwest's refusal to invest in modern networks -- though a more charitable take on it would be to say Qwest's inability because it simply does not have the capacity to invest in the kind of networks communities now need to take advantage of modern communications technologies. In the late 90's, Qwest's services in Cortez were served by microwave links incapable of meeting local needs and Qwest refused to invest in a better connection due to an insufficient business case. In the words of Rick Smith, Director of General Services for Cortez (and in charge of the network), the city then decided "to take its destiny in its own hands." They began building their own network. The initial phase was an I-Net, built with the City's capital funds, to connect schools and other public facilities. They were able to later expand that under Colorado's Beanpole Project, a program that sought to aggregate community traffic in an attempt to lure more private sector investment in networks. Along the way, they began leasing some dark fiber to private companies that needed better telecommunications options. When Qwest pushed through a bill in 2005 to limit local authority to build networks (click on Colorado on the Community Broadband Preemption Map), Cortez was grandfathered, leaving it with more authority to invest in this essential infrastructure than most communities. A press release details the financing for this latest phase:
“I think some of the other commissioners maybe feel like it’s more of a private matter, that some of the commercial businesses should be putting in infrastructure,” he said. “However, someone like Windstream, if they have a potential customer for a data center, they’re going to steer that customer to where they have infrastructure. They don’t care about Franklin County.” It’s important to understand, he added, that high-quality jobs will not come to Franklin County if it is not up-to-date with its infrastructure.This is exactly correct -- what does a private sector provider care about a single county in Georgia? They care about a fast return on their investment, not about a community's vitality. In the meantime, Stephen's County has contributed $500 toward a match for the study. Minutes from the Feb 28 meeting of Stephens County Development Authority [pdf] offer more details of the study:
OneGeorgia’s Nancy Cobb has approached the Joint Development Authority of Franklin, Hart & Stephens Counties and “offered” to fund 80% of a Broadband Connectivity Feasibility Study (expected to cost about $240,000) in northeast Georgia. Her offer is contingent upon us actually officially requesting it and matching it with 20%. We anticipate her next meeting to be sometime in May/June.
The Rural Broadband Policy Group is a growing national coalition of rural broadband advocates that emerged from the National Rural Assembly. The group's goals areWe adopted the following principles:
- to articulate national broadband policies that provide opportunities for rural communities to participate fully in the nation's democracy, economy, culture, and society, and
- to spark national collaboration among rural broadband advocates.
- Communication is a fundamental human right.
- Rural America is diverse.
- Local ownership and investment in community are priorities.
- Network neutrality and open access are vital.
Big telecommunications companies have failed in extending Internet service to rural areas. They claim it is costly and not profitable. We are tired of waiting for AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast.