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SandyNet Now Offering Gigabit FTTH in Oregon
Back in September, SandyNet announced that its FTTH gigabit network was officially up and running. The utility will continue to expand and eventually bring the network to all 4,000 households. Light Reading recently spoke with Joe Knapp, Sandy's IT Director and general manager of the broadband utility about the new offering. With a population of 10,000, Sandy is in Oregon between Portland and Mount Hood.
The network is completely underground. Sandy is one of many communities that have developed smart conduit policies, reducing the cost and preparing the environment for deployment over a period of years.
You can listen to our discussion with Knapp on Sandy's conduit policy in Episode 17 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. We also spoke with City Manager Scott Lazenby about Sandy's conduit policies during Episode 48.
Like many other communities we study, Sandy invested in connectivity out of necessity. Knapp told Light Reading:
"We started out because we couldn't get a DSL line at city hall," says Joe Knapp, IT director for the City of Sandy and general manager of SandyNet. The utility first built a 900MHz wireless network, then WiFi, then a wireless mesh network to connect residents to broadband, he says. "That became so popular that we took about 40% of the market with wireless, but that was a hard thing to sustain."
The journey to FTTH was not an easy one:
"We started to realize that a lot of communities are doing this," Knapp says. "It took three years of beating my head against the wall to finally get it to happen."
Gigabit speeds are something to boast about, but Knapp says SandyNet will not go to extremes to push them:
"As a muni network, we view this as trying to benefit the community. I tell them to try the 100-Meg service first -- we're actually not pushing the gig that hard."
Community Broadband Media Roundup - December 12, 2014
This week in Community Broadband networks... partnerships, cooperatives, and going-it-alone. For a background in muni networks, check out this recent article from FiscalNote. The article highlights Kansas and Utah's fight for improving beyond the minimum speeds.
Speaking of minimum, the FCC announced its new "rock bottom" for regulated broadband speeds. Ars Technica's Jon Brodkin reports that despite AT&T, Verizon, and the National Cable and Telecom Association's protests, ISPs that use government subsidies to build rural broadband networks must provide speeds of at least 10 Mbps for downloads.
Rural Americans should not be left behind those who live in big cities, the FCC announcement today said. "According to recent data, 99 percent of Americans living in urban areas have access to fixed broadband speeds of 10/1, which can accommodate more modern applications and uses. Moreover, the vast majority of urban households are able to subscribe to even faster service," the FCC said.
The FCC plans to offer nearly $1.8 billion a year to carriers willing to expand service to 5 million rural Americans.
This is a step in the right direction, but we are alarmed to see a download:upload ratio of 10:1. People in rural areas need to upload as well as download - our comments to the FCC strongly recommended raising the upstream threshold as well and we are very disappointed to see that remain a pathetic 1 Mbps.
And, from TechDirt's own "who can you trust if you can't trust the phone company department," Karl Bode found that a study by the AT&T-funded Progressive Policy Institute concluded that if Title II regulations were passed, the nation would be "awash in $15 billion in various new Federal and State taxes and fees. Bode writes that the study cherry-picked and conflated data:
Comcast Seeks "True Gig" Trademark for a Network Incapable of Offering a True Gig
Rockport Builds Maine’s First Municipal Network
Rockport, a coastal town of just 3,300, became a statewide leader last month by launching Maine’s first municipal broadband network. Offering symmetrical gigabit speeds to businesses and residents, Rockport’s network is a carrier-neutral dark fiber system, with local private provider GWI offering retail services.
The reach of the network is limited, as it consists of only 1.2 miles of fiber. While only about 70 homes and businesses currently have the option to purchase a connection, GWI offers symmetrical gigabit per second internet access for just $69 per month and the city has left the option open to expand the network in the future.
As noted in a Bloomberg View article on the network, it massively outpaces the only broadband competitor in Rockport, Time Warner Cable. Time Warner also offers a $70 service package, but its download speeds are 20 times slower and its upload speeds 200 times slower.
The network was the product of a partnership between the town board, GWI, the University of Maine system, and Maine Media Workshops + College. Maine Media is a nonprofit college with 1,500 students learning photography, videography, and other digital media skills, and has a large economic footprint in such a small town.
Students’ coursework requires the storing and sharing of massive files, something that was previously difficult or impossible to accomplish given limited network capacity. Town officials are hoping that the new network will not only allow students to learn more easily, but enable them and others to establish small businesses in town.
U.S. Senator Angus King, a vocal champion of broadband access, was among the officials on hand last week for the official unveiling ceremony. Speaking to the need for greater internet access, Senator King stated:
“In my opinion it’s exactly like water, it’s exactly like electricity, it is a public utility that is necessary in order for our economy and our country to flourish…We want to work where we live, rather than live where we work."
Get a Gig in Oklahoma: Rural Cooperative Deploying FTTH in Northeast Corner of the State
The Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, serving a five county rural region, plans to begin offering gigabit service in its territory by the end of 2014. The cooperative has formed Bolt Fiber Optic Services to offer connectivity to approximately 32,000 homes and businesses.
According to Light Reading, the infrastructure is funded with a $90 million loan from the Rural Utilities Service. Sheila Allgood, manager of Bolt, notes that the entity is separate, but "profit or loss will go back to the co-op." Bolt will offer triple-play packages with a third party contracted to offer the VoIP services.
The project also includes a data center, already under construction, that will house network equipment and provide collocation services.
From the cooperative's newsletter announcing the project in December 2013:
The initial phase of the project will deliver fiber in areas of the largest population density (14-20 homes per mile) with subsequent phases eventually working their way into more remote, outlying areas. “We anticipate that the first phase of the project should be available to roughly one-third of Northeast Oklahoma Electric Co- operative’s membership,” explained Due. “A significant number of businesses and community institutions in our area would also be connected during this phase.”
The cooperative lists monthly residential prices as 20 Mbps for $49.99 per month, 50 Mbps for $63.99 per month, 100 Mbps for $83.99 per month, and 1 Gbps for $249.99 per month. All speeds are symmetrical. Bolt is asking interested customers to sign up with a $100 installation fee.
Project completion is scheduled for April 2017.
The Cooperative has produced a short promotional video to get the word out:
Peering: Then and Now on Community Broadband Bits Podcast #96
CenturyLink Seeks Apartment Buildings for Gigabit in Portland
Being a Gig City: It's All About the Upload
Being a Gig City: Incubating Small Businesses
Rates Approved for Opelika Community Fiber Network
We have followed happenings in Opelika, Alabama, for three years as the community investigated the benefits of a fiber network. They contended with a Charter misinformation campaign and voted yes on a referendum. Construction began in 2012, Opelika Power Services (OPS) tested the network, and recently the Opelika City Council approved proposed rates.
OANow.com now reports that the FTTH network and smart grid project is ever-so-close to offering triple play services to the city's 28,000 residents and local businesses.
OPS offers three standard bundled plans, but customers can also customize. All three include voice:
- Essential - $99.95 - 75 channels, 10/5 Mbps data
- Choice - $139.95 - 132 HD & SD channels, 30/30 Mbps data
- Ultra - $154.95 - 207 HD & SD channels, 30/30 Mbps data
Data offerings for customized plans range from 10/5 Mbps for $34.95 to 1 Gbps symmetrical for $499.95.