Voters in Fort Dodge, Iowa approved the establishment of a municipal telecommunications utility yesterday by a wide margin. The approval came despite efforts from a local incumbent operator and a national anti-government watchdog group to convince voters that a city-owned utility was a risky venture.
”Shall the city of Fort Dodge, in Webster County, Iowa, establish a municipal telecommunications utility (including the potential provision of video, voice, data, and all other forms of telecommunications and cable communications services) for the city?”
1,772 voters cast a YES ballot (71.6%) with 683 (28.4%) voting NO. One of the keys to success in the referendum was strong support by local media in Fort Dodge. A popular local radio personality was very vocal in his support of the referendum and in his criticism of the Taxpayer Protection Alliance, the national issue advocacy group that was running a vote no campaign. The Fort Dodge Messenger also was supportive, including an endorsement from their editorial board and publication of numerous supportive letters to the editor from local citizens and others.
The newspaper, however, had some difficulty reporting on the results of the vote on election night, as one of their employees reported on social media...
The Taxpayer Protection Alliance spent approximately $4,200 to encourage a no vote on the referendum. As of this posting Mediacom has not reported any expenditures, although they did send an email to their customers in the final days before the election. Frontier, the incumbent telephone company in Fort Dodge, did not issue any public statements about the vote and even declined an invitation to attend a forum on the topic that was held before the election. There was no organized local vote yes campaign, but positive word of mouth was strong during the weeks before the vote.
Next steps for Fort Dodge could include development of a high-level business model for a city-owned fiber network and an effort to identify possible partners.
Save The Date!
The 2020 IAMU Broadband Conference will be held on Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19, 2020 in Des Moines. Although the dates are set, the venue has not been finalized. As soon as the venue is selected IAMU will get information out and begin signing up vendors for the show.
We want to thank Power and Tel for again being the conference Presenting Sponsor!
Billing systems, TV alternatives, and financing are among the topics to be discussed at the IAMU Fall Broadband Meeting on October 10th.
Here is the final agenda for the meeting to be held at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames.
Registration is available on the IAMU website at www.iamu.org under the "Events" page. Registration is just $35.00 for IAMU members and $50.00 for non-IAMU members and all are welcome!
THANK YOU to the following vendors for helping make the IAMU Fall Broadband Meeting a reality. We have room for more!
We still have several tabletop exhibits available. Vendors must be an IAMU Associate Member to sponsor but you can join IAMU for the remainder of the fiscal year for a discounted fee. If you have questions, contact Curtis Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 6th annual IAMU Fall Broadband Meeting provides an update on key broadband topics and to “compare notes” with your peers. This year we’re at a new venue, Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. Also new for 2019, IAMU Associate Member Vendors can purchase a sponsorship that includes a 6’ tabletop exhibit.
IAMU Members are just $35.00 per person. Registration fee includes continental breakfast and lunch.
Non-IAMU Members who are NOT vendor representatives (such as ITC representatives) are $50.00 each.
IAMU Associate Members may sponsor the Fall Broadband Meeting for $300. Sponsorship includes a 6' tabletop display and 1 representative attendance. Additional vendor representatives, or IAMU Associate Members who want to attend without being a sponsor, are $60.00 each.
Sponsors as of 9/10/19 (in addition to presenting sponsor Power & Tel) include: FARR Technologies, ICAN, Inc., ISPN, and Millenium
For complete details, CLICK HERE to view the conference flyer (PDF). Registration is online at www.iamu.org.
A block of rooms has been set aside at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center for the night of Wednesday, October 9th. The group rate is $119 for a double queen or king. Hurry, the room block expires on October 1, 2019! To reserve your room, call the Gateway at 800-367-2637 and ask for the "IAMU Fall Broadband Meeting".
A big reason to come in the night before is a new event sponsored by the Community Broadband Action Network...
The next edition of CBAN's Lunch and Learn webinar series is taking place on Thursday, September 19, 2019 at Noon.
Our guest for this session is Doug Dawson of CCG Consulting. Doug is a nationally-recognized expert on municipal fiber networks, having been involved in hundreds of studies and other projects over the years. Doug will discuss the concept of an "open access" municipal fiber network. Under the open access model, a community builds and owns a fiber network but rather than offering services to end users itself, it allows multiple providers to have access to the network to provide services.
We will discuss why the concept of open access is so attractive to some communities and why it sometimes is not the best solution to meet the community's needs.
Doug will be joined by CBAN co-founders Curtis Dean and Todd Kielkopf for the one hour session. As always, Lunch and Learn is free and open to anyone, but registration is required.
To register for "The Promises and Pitfalls of Open Access Fiber Networks", CLICK HERE.
Voters in Fort Dodge, Iowa will consider whether or not to establish a municipal telecommunications utility in November. Fort Dodge will be the 88th Iowa community to vote on a municipal telecommunications referendum since the early 1990's. 73 communities have approved these referenda with an average 78% yes vote.
Monday evening the Fort Dodge City Council adopted a resolution placing the issue on the November general election ballot. In June, the city hired SmartSource Consulting of Grimes, Iowa to conduct a community broadband pre-feasibility study. The first phase of the study has focused on gathering community feedback on satisfaction with existing providers and gauging the level of interest in a new option for internet, TV, and phone services.
At the city council's workshop before the council vote, Curtis Dean with SmartSource Consulting provided preliminary results of a community survey and broadband assessment. The survey indicates that Fort Dodge residents are not happy with current providers Frontier and Mediacom and would be very interested in switching to a new fibe-based provider, whether publicly or privately owned.
At this point, a municipal fiber network is just one of three options the city plans to pursue. They will also seek commitments from current providers to improve service and work to identify other companies that might be interested in serving the Fort Dodge market.
In addition to the 72 Iowa towns that have approved a municipal telecommunications utility, another 15 have rejected such referenda. Most of those no votes came in 2005 as part of a statewide "Opportunity Iowa" initiative when 30 communities considered the issue on the same date. That generated a great deal of opposition from incumbent operators who poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into "vote no" campaigns that led to the defeat of the ballot issue in 13 of the 30 communities.
For 27 hours in December 2018, CenturyLink phone and internet customers were affected by a massive outage across their entire coverage footprint. After investigating for several months, the Federal Communications Commission has issued a report taking CenturyLink to task for the outage but without any financial penalties.
"The outage affected communications service providers, businesses customers, and consumers who relied upon CenturyLink's transport services, which route communications traffic from various providers to locations across the country. The outage resulted in extensive disruptions to phone and broadband service, including 911 calling. As many as 22 million customers across 39 states were affected, including approximately 17 million customers across 29 states who lacked reliable access to 911. At least 886 calls to 911 were not delivered." -- FCC report on December, 2018 CenturyLink outage
FCC Charirman Ajit Pai called the outage unacceptable when it happened in December, and that criticism was reiterated in the official report. However, the FCC passed on issuing any formal punishment or financial penalty to CenturyLink, instead vowing that it will "engage in stakeholder outreach to promote bets practices and contact other major transport providers to discuss their network practices."
They hype about 5G continues to build. Big wireless companies are touting their 5G plans as if they are actually a reality. Yes, some of the biggest cities in the US are getting 5G now or soon (including, it turns out, Des Moines - one of Verizon's first 20 test cities). But what the marketing hype is not telling the consumer is a cold, hard fact: today's 5G is an OUTDOOR wireless solution.
It turns out that physics is getting in the way of bringing the "promised land" of 5G into your home or business, where most data is consumed. The high frequencies used to deliver 5G are not capable of penetrating walls, so a 5G customer's experience outdoors will end when they walk inside.
Bringing 5G indoors is another monumental challenge that has not been addressed. Will 5G radios be built into home gateways and WiFi routers? Or will consumers "get by" as they have for years with using WiFi indoors and cellular where signal is available? It's not clear. But these are all important facts to keep in mind when you're seeing the marketing hype.
We hope you'll join us today for the latest edition of our Lunch and Learn webinar series.
August 20, 2019 Noon The Future of Home Data Usage
Joining us for this webinar will be Lenny Hui, Cloud & Smart Home Business Sales with Calix (a CBAN Vendor Member). Lenny and host Curtis Dean of CBAN will talk about some of the trends in home internet data usage that are making fiber networks more and more essential in today's world. Lenny will talk about new gaming platforms, streaming video options, and other factors that will impact how much data you consume and how much bandwidth (speed) you need.
To register for The Future of Home Data Usage, CLICK HERE.
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.