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Longmont Fiber Ring Referendum
Residents in Longmont, Colorado are preparing for a municipal referendum to utilize an existing fiber optic network.
The referendum is set for Tuesday, November 1, 2011.
At issue is how the city can use a ring of fiber-optic cables it built around the city in the late 90's as part of its electrical infrastructure. Much of the capacity on the ring remains unused but the city requires approval of the voters in a referendum before it can offer services to local businesses -- which will encourage economic development by creating more telecommunications choices in the community for businesses and residents (some background here).
This is referendum question 2A:
Ballot Question 2A: Without increasing taxes, shall the citizens of the City of Longmont, Colorado, re-establish their City's right to provide all services restricted since 2005 by Title 29, article 27 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, described as "advanced services," "telecommunications services" and "cable television services," including any new and improved high bandwidth services based on future technologies, utilizing community owned infrastructure including but not limited to the existing fiber optic network, either directly or indirectly with public or private sector partners, to potential subscribers that may include telecommunications service providers, residential or commercial users within the City and the service area of the City's electric utility enterprise?
Big cable and telco operators have wasted no time in spreading fear and false information to scare voters into voting against using a valuable asset owned by the community. When the community organized a debate for the end of September, the only people willing to defend Comcast's position came from far outside the community to do it.
Trying to get in the mind of the big incumbents of Longmont, we developed this cartoon (the style is an homage to the "Get Your War On" comic).
AT&T Takes Its Astroturf Show on the Road, Midwest Edition
Longmont Referendum Take Two: It Starts With a Debate
Without that vote, the city can't let homes or businesses use that fiber without a vote, thanks to a 2005 state law. It's a fight the city's lost once before in 2009, when opponents -- including the Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association -- spent $245,513 to urge the measure's defeat. This time out, there's a different tack. The city has been underlining in discussions that the measure would "restore its rights" to provide telecommunications service.
Longmont Considers Second Vote on Community Fiber Network
The first attempt at getting that approval didn't go so well in 2009. According to city records, opponents -- including the Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association -- spent $245,513 to defeat that ballot measure, the largest amount ever spent on a Longmont city election. By contrast, the city legally couldn't campaign on its own behalf, and the explanations that were out there didn't explain well, according to Longmont Power & Communications director Tom Roiniotis.The cable and phone companies created an astroturf group called "No Blank Check" that then used standard fear, uncertainty, and doubt tactics to spread misinformation around the community.
Access Wisconsin Supported Broadband Stimulus Before They Opposed It
"This is by far the greatest assault we've ever felt from the University of Wisconsin Extension," said Mark Weller, president and CEO of Access Wisconsin, which represents 30 mostly small, rural telecommunications providers.
Does AT&T Really Own the Wisconsin Legislature? Battle Over WiscNet Continues
SynopsisAT&T and its allies have long made false claims against WiscNet, setting the stage for their lobbyists to push this legislation to kill it. AT&T and some other incumbents want to provide the services WiscNet provides in order to boost their profits. WiscNet not only offers superior services, it offers services the private providers will not provide (including specialized education services). For instance, from the WTN article:
One of features that differentiates WiscNet from a private broadband provider is allowing for “bursting,” so that during isolated periods when researchers send huge data sets, they greatly exceed the average data cap. UW-Madison currently uses seven gigabits on average, and would have to procure 14 gigabits under the new legislation, even though most of the extra seven gigabits would seldom be in use, Meachen [UW CIO] said. “We'd be paying for the fact that researchers have to send these huge data sets, and not have it take hours and hours to get to where it's going,” Meachen said. “You can't afford to pay for that extra 7 gigabits from the private sector because it's too costly. They increase your charges based on that.” A private network would not have the necessary capacity for scientists on the UW-Madison campus, who are some of the leading researchers on next generation Internet.
Leading Critic of Community Network in NC Revealed to Be TWC Employee
Venzon [Chairman of Board for MI-Connection] said he’s frustrated because the publicly owned company still fights an image problem. “With the improvements we made to the system, I thought that people would be lined up out the door,” Venzon said. “I thought they’d see this as ours, this is us, and it just bugs me that we get such poor PR out there. We have not won that battle.And now we know that a major critic of the network works for Time Warner Cable, a company vociferously opposes muni networks as a threat to their de facto monopoly.
The Broadband Jungle of Marketing, Hype, and Lies in Volusia, Florida
Martin County Explores Uses for Network It is Building
Martin County, Florida, is building a county-owned network (that we wrote about back in September) in response to gross overcharging by Comcast for the connections they need to connect their City Departments.
The County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to allocate $100,000 to pay experts to advise county officials about ways the new broadband network the county government is constructing could be used to generate revenue as well as promote economic development and job creation.
Precision Contracting Services of Jupiter started construction on the $4.2 million network in January and is expected to finish the project by January 2012. The network is expected to serve 280 government, public safety, educational and health care organizations.
Having committed to building a network to meet their own needs, they are now searching for ways to leverage that investment to best meet community needs. They will evaluate laws, conduct a survey of residents and businesses to find what their needs/desires are, and possibly develop a business plan.
Last Monday, the day before the planned vote, a Comcast regional VP had the gall to ask the County Commissioners to delay their vote. No thanks Comcast, these folks have waited long enough for the broadband they need, that you have no interested in delivering in a timely nor affordable manner. On Tuesday, the Council voted unanimously to approve the contract.
Good for them.
Mediacom Falsely Accuses Lake County Communities of False Statements
In a situation similar to the Frontier letters to Sibley we published last week, the cable company Mediacom has sent letters to Silver Bay and Two Harbors in Lake County to scare them into abandoning the rural county-wide FTTH network that they are building with federal broadband stimulus aid.
Interestingly, rather than sticking to the normal fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) campaign, Mediacom apparently based its threats on a draft previous version of the joint powers ordinance rather than the language actually passed by the resolutionsincluded in the current JPA. Whoops. [See Update below]
Mediacom, perhaps you should focus on improving your networks rather than stifling potential competition. Please send us copies of letters your community network has received from incumbent providers.
Without further ado, here is the letter [download pdf] sent to Silver Bay and Two Harbors on December 21, 2010 by Tom Larsen, VP of Legal and Public Affairs for Mediacom:
Re: Joint Powers Agreement with Lake
County Dear Mayor Johnson:
Mediacom prides itself in being one of America's leading providers of telecommunications services to small and medium sized communities. As you may be aware, Mediacom offers a highly competitive suite of high-speed Internet, cable television and phone services to homes and businesses throughout Silver Bay (the "City").
It has come to our attention that the City passed a resolution on November 15, 2010 approving a Joint Powers Agreement with Lake County (the "JPA"). Given the significant private capital that Mediacom has invested in order to make advanced telecommunications services available throughout the City, we were extremely surprised to learn that your resolution approving the the JPA includes the following finding in Section 4(e):