Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Content tagged with "new england"
Unfortunately FairPoint, the successor to Verizon for landlines in Northern New England, wants Vermont to choose between protecting a badly flawed FairPoint business plan or improving the economic future of Vermont’s rural areas. The choice is stark: use the federal “middle mile” stimulus grant already awarded to the Vermont Telecommunication Authority (VTA) to bring fiber closer to rural Vermonters and make wholesale backhaul and institutional broadband affordable in rural areas of the state or forfeit the grant and leave these areas without adequate business, residential and cellular service.Vermont should move forward with its stimulus project to expand open access middle mile connections across the state. Appeasing FairPoint yet again is not only bad for Vermont's many underserved, it would further embolden FairPoint in its fight against any competition, public or private. The VTA was formed to improve broadband access while not providing services directly. There is no reason it should not invest in these middle-mile networks. Quoting again from Evslin op-ed:
Now President of FairPoint in Vermont, Mike Smith said yesterday in an interview broadcast on WCAX that he never meant that the VTA should build fiber networks and provide middle-mile (backhaul) service.
Update: We have covered the second round of financing from ECFiber here.
The East Central Vermont Fiber Network, connecting some 23 rural towns, announced back in July that they would self finance a pilot project as a preliminary step to securing the full funding for the project.
Right around Thanksgiving, last year, David Brown updated the community on progress via an article in the Vermont Standard:
It would have been terrific to get the $50million needed to build out all 35,000 telephone and electric poles with 1,500 miles of fiber optic cable. Along the way, we learned an important lesson. We noticed that government money went to existing telephone companies to expand existing networks rather than funding start-ups like ours. That’s when the ECFibernauts decided on a change in strategy: build a small network, get a few real customers, and deliver rock-solid ultra-fast Internet to them as a proof of concept – all using our own money. Then, when all the critical components are up and running, go to the commercial markets for funding needed to expand out to all 23 towns.
The ECFiber Governing Board and our technology partners ValleyNet, Inc. are fortunate to have several experienced financiers within our ranks. Working with our attorneys (to keep everything legal) ECFiber is reaching out to the community with a private offering of tax-exempt promissory notes. As of this writing, we have raised more than three-quarters of what is needed to complete Phase I of our project. The ECFiber hub is now under construction on Waterman Road in Royalton and an initial pole attachment application for 500 poles is being processed. Phase I will bring ECFiber service to selected businesses, schools, town facilities and residents in Bethel, Barnard, Stockbridge and Royalton.
We know about a USDA program meant to bring broadband to rural America. Our information is that most of the money has gone to suburban communities in Texas, and we don’t have a professional grant administrator to chase down any money that might be left. We’re aware that the Massachusetts governor just signed a $40 million act establishing the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, to figure out how to bring broadband to unserved and underserved towns. We’re also aware that the money will go to vendors to develop regional systems and we don’t have the patience to wait the two or three years it will take for anyone to get around to thinking about maybe serving us.Ultimately, the City was able to lend itself the money:
As it has turned out, we didn’t need to borrow — town financial officers found the funds without going to the bank for them. We got the necessary permits from the owners of two towers here, bought the equipment, got a couple of people trained to install the equipment, and turned on our first customers in March, 2009.Between a local mountain and available cell tower, the topology apparently fits a fixed-wireless approach (at least for a significant part of the population).
FairPoint is demanding that Maine law prevent the university from selling access to its network to any customer outside the governmental sector. Instead, those customers would have to take their business to FairPoint. If FairPoint could take care of the customers it already has, and if it was keeping up with its promises to serve more of the state with high-speed Internet, it might have a stronger case.People in Maine need to realize they will remain behind in network infrastructure so long as they depend on companies like FairPoint rather than the old New England values of self-reliance. Absent public competition, FairPoint will remain the only "option" because no private provider will find profits competing in these rural areas.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company warns that if the offer does not go through, it might not be able to make its interest payments due Oct. 1. In a worst-case scenario, it said, this could lead to "an alternative restructuring plan (that) may include a bankruptcy."If this were a publicly owned network, it would be championed by cable and phone companies as proof that those networks fail. We are not suggesting the opposite - that this is proof that all private networks in rural areas are doomed to failure, but it does offer evidence that a purely private sector-based model in rural areas is foolhardy. Verizon is now getting rid of more rural assets by selling them to Frontier - a company better poised than Fairpoint to handle them, but also a company known for offering slow DSL speeds with a 5GB cap. Communities that want to keep up with the rest of the world should look to themselves to build the networks they need. The private sector is either unable or unwilling to build the necessary networks to compete in the digital economy.