Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Fiber to the Home
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.
Some still question whether we need FTTH networks, suggesting that modest copper upgrades will be fine for most over the next 5-10 years. When it comes to essential infrastructure, the idea that we should "cut costs" by operating right on the margin usually ends poorly -- and costs more, particularly in lost opportunities.
But to get a taste of what is possible on next-generation networks, check out a short video synopsis (the first video) of an entire conference discussing this subject.
The following videos are much more in-depth (and in chronological order), following the theme of "Public Services in a Gigabit World."
Phase 1, with construction under way (see photo) and scheduled to go live in early August, brings an ultra-high-speed fiber loop from the ECFiber central office near I89 Exit 3, along VT Routes 107 and 12, to the center of Barnard. ECFiber expects to begin connecting businesses and residents who live on this route in early August and will provide detailed subscriber information closer to that date.ECFiber has 23 member towns, but Barnard could be the most enthusiastic. This is as grassroots as it gets:
At its June meeting, the ECFiber Governing Board authorized an initiative to extend service to the rest of Barnard town. This requires a second round of capital-raising through a similar "friends and families" offering directed specifically to residents, businesses, and others who wish to support the deployment of universal broadband in Barnard. Loredo Sola, ECF Governing Board Chair commented, "When we first took our plan to Barnard, we were inundated with residents offering to pay the entire cost of extending the Phase 1 trunk to their homes. This enthusiastic response inspired us to authorize a Barnard-only fund drive." ECFiber will be organizing informational meetings for Barnard residents and businesses to explain the details of the plan. When sufficient funds have been committed to build out the entire town, the Barnard Local Fund will close, and construction of Phase 2 can begin.Barnard had 94% of the community presubscribe! The success of ECFiber comes without any support of the state, which has continued to pretend wireless connections and out-of-state corporations will provide the networks necessary for the economic development needed by communities. Valley News took note of the story and expanded on it:
Without other funding streams, it could take seven to 10 years to build out to all 23 towns, Nulty said, but the company is committed to seeing it happen.
The project will make highspeed Internet available to approximately 3,200 households, 360 business, and 24 community anchor institutions such as schools, libraries, and health care facilities. Residents and business owners will have the opportunity to subscribe to a variety of highspeed Internet services through local internet service providers.
Lafayette's publicly owned FTTH network has created a YouTube channel featuring a commercial aimed at residential subscribers (in 15, 30, and 60 second spots) as well as a longer video aimed at increasing economic development. Both are embedded below.
These are "no-brainer" marketing techniques that every community should have at a minimum to promote their services.
Dick Woodruff, chairman of the Tonkaconnect working group and a member of the Shorewood City Council, said that overall the results were positive. He said that the majority of the people surveyed indicated that they had no objections to the LMCC getting into a competitive FTTP business and that they would become customers if the Tonkaconnect services were offered at a lower price than providers already in the area. … While the results of the market survey are encouraging to the Tonkaconnect group, there is still more work to be done before they can deem the project feasible. Woodruff said that the next step in the process would be to complete a business plan and financial model for the fiber project.LMCC will consider what to do next at a meeting in June but has not budgeted funds for the next step in building a universal FTTH network in those communities that choose to take part. Regarding the survey:
The first question, though, asked if respondents believed that the LMCC and local governments should "provide locally-owned, competitive choice of TV, Internet and telephone services to every home, business, school, governmental buildings, etc. in the LMCC area."Strong majorities consistently agreed that LMCC and local governments should get involved but the survey was also very clear that respondents were mostly concerned with price. We see the same results elsewhere, particularly in times of economic stress. Consider a national cable network, "National Cable." In Anywhere USA, most people subscribe to National Cable at a monthly rate of $140/month for phone, video, and broadband. Anywhere decides to build a community fiber network and charge $105 for similar services but the broadband is considerably faster and more reliable using the next-generation network. National Cable responds by offering a deal for $95/month for what people had been paying $140/month for.
To protect the public right-of-way by improving both the management and regulation of competing demands through the elimination of duplicate fiber optic facilities within the public right-of-way. … To reduce the cost of maintaining the sidewalk, pavement and public facilities located within the public right-of-way by minimizing the number of pavement cuts and dislocation of other public facilities necessitated by the construction or installation of fiber optic facilities. To foster competition among retail broadband service providers by providing open Access to the City Fiber Optic System.Ammon had previously applied for broadband stimulus funds but was not awarded a grant or loan. Undaunted, they continued to examine how they can build the network their community needs to attract economic development and maintain a high qualify of life. An article in the Boise Weekly profiled the network and the man behind it:
Bruce Patterson is the one-man IT department for Ammon, a small town of 13,000 near Idaho Falls. He is fed up with companies overlooking the town when they discover the cost of Internet is prohibitive. … "The City of Ammon wants to be the road, not the traffic," Patterson said. "Nondiscrimination is what we believe is the right thing. We wanna be completely open to every consumer and provider."As we see time and time again, this community has Internet access from at least one provider, but it does not meet the needs of the community.