A special 1.5 day workshop in Kansas City next month will focus on role that electric utilities can play in bringing better broadband to more Americans.
The 2019 UTC Broadband Workshop is sponsored by the Utilities Technology Council. It will take place August 21st and 22nd at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Kansas City.
Since the rural electrification push of the 1930s and the interstate highway system of the 1950s, the United States has never seen such a need for great infrastructure deployment. Higher capacity and more resilient, pervasive broadband must be brought to all corners of the country if we are to ensure that all of our citizens remain integrated into the global economy. And it is not only the demand for basic broadband but the push towards 5G and further wireless densification that is driving the need for more fiber. How are we to meet this challenge? Electric utilities are uniquely situated to deliver on this demand. From large investor-owned distribution systems supplying essential backbone and middle mile services to the municipally owned and electric cooperative utilities serving smaller, oftentimes more rural, communities –all electric utilities have a role to play in rewiring our country for the future.
This special 1.5-day workshop August 21st – 22nd in Kansas City will focus on these roles, how each complements the other and the challenges faced by each party in deploying broadband infrastructure to their customers and their communities.
The UTC is extending a special offer to municipal utilities that allows them to attend the conference at the reduced, member rate of just $295.00. To take advantage of the special rate, please contact Karnel Thomas at email@example.com or by calling 202-833-6816.
The next edition of CBAN's Lunch and Learn Webinar Series will be held on Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at Noon.
Public Libraries - A Bridge Over the Digital Divide will feature a discussion with Jay Peterson, District Consultant for the State of Iowa Library. Jay will talk about the ways in which America's public libraries play a positive role in bringing broadband to small towns and rural communities. He'll cover the following topics and more:
CBAN's Lunch and Learn is FREE and open to everyone. You can register for the webinar by clicking the link below:
New Member: HBK Engineering
CBAN would like to welcome our newest Vendor Member, HBK Engineering! A full-service engineering firm, HBK Engineering has extensive experience in fiber optic and electric transmission route development and feasibility studies in urban, suburban and rural areas.
ImOn Bringing Fiber to Iowa City, Dubuque
ImOn Communications, a CBAN Provider Member, is expanding operations to two more eastern Iowa cities. Earlier this year ImOn announced plans to build fiber-to-the-home in Iowa City and Coralville, Iowa. In June, the company announced that it will be expanding its fiber network in Dubuque into residential neighborhoods. Congratulations to ImOn for playing a role in bringing better broadband to more communities!
Vinton Municipal Communications Utility (VMCU) has chosen key operational partners as it moves forward with plans to build a fiber-to-the-home network beginning this summer.
The VMCU Board of Trustees directed staff to proceed with Vinton becoming part of the joint municipal IPTV headend at Cedar Falls for video. They also directed staff to finalize an agreement with ImOn Communications in Cedar Rapids for wholesale telephone switching, internet bandwidth and transport, and wholesale billing services.
Vinton will also be working with ImOn in another areas that is unique between an Iowa municipal telecom system and a private company. Under the planned agreement, VMCU will hire ImOn to handle the utility's technical operations for the first five years after the project is substantially completed. ImOn technicians will take care of day-to-day operations, including service calls and installations, as well as data center operations and engineering. At the end of the agreement, those technical operations would transition to VMCU using their own technicians.
Once they've signed the 28E agreement, Vinton will become the fifth co-owner of the IPTV headend that resides at Cedar Falls. Besides Cedar Falls Utilities, other owners include Waverly Utilities, the City of Bellevue, and Indianola Municipal Utilities.
VMCU will also be working with WIN Technologies (Wisconsin Independent Networks) for wholesale internet bandwidth to serve as redundancy for the bandwidth from ImOn.
Meteorologists and other scientists are sounding the alarm: the rush to deploy 5G wireless networks could set the clock back on weather forecasting by decades.
As this article at Wired details, the problem is that some of the frequencies the FCC is considering auctioning off for 5G spectrum is very close to frequencies used by important satellite-based tools that measure rain and snow, temperature, and the presence of clouds and ice in the atmosphere. That data is used in weather forecasting models that have become increasingly sophisticated and accurate over the years.
Dr. Neil Jacobs, acting chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), testified before a Congressional committee on the potential impact. As quoted in Digital Trends:
“If you look back in time to see when our forecast skill was roughly 30% less than it was today, it’s somewhere around 1980,” he said. In terms of practical impact, “this would result in the reduction of hurricane track forecast lead time by roughly two to three days.” -- Dr. Neil Jacobs, NOAA
The FCC and NOAA are trying to work out a compromise that would allow for expansion of 5G without reducing the effectiveness of weather forecasting tools.
The Community Broadband Action Network picked up two new members since the beginning of May.
The Beaver Island Association in Beaver Island, Michigan is our newest COMMUNITY MEMBER. Beaver Island is a small community on an island in northern Lake Michgan, about 36 miles from the mainland. With over 500 year-round residents, the Association is looking for ways to improve broadband connectivity.
Our newest Provider Member is Rocket Broadband, which offers mobile broadband services in remote areas and as a backup internet source for businesses with critical connectivity needs. Rocket Broadband is a division of R&D Industries based in Milford, Iowa.
Welcome to these new CBAN members, and we encourage all our members to spread the word about CBAN membership!
The municipal broadband provider in Beresford, South Dakota says it will rebuild its copper network to fiber optics. As pointed out in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Beresford Municipal Telephone leaders announced this week that they will embark on a $5 million project to rebuild their existing DSL-based facilities to fiber.
Beresford, a town of approximately 2,000 in southeast South Dakota, has been operating a city-owned telephone company for more than 90 years according to their website.
Indiana-based MetroNet Fiber is beginning construction of a fiber-to-the-home network in Rochester, MN, bringing a new competitive choice for the southeast Minnesota city.
MetroNet has been on an aggressive growth curve in the Midwest. They began work on a fiber network in Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa earlier this spring and purchased a company that provides service in Lansing, Michigan and other areas.
Meanwhile, work by MetroNet in Batavia, Illinois was recently put on hold after issues during construction caused city officials to halt permits.
The City of Adair, IA is one of six entities awarded funding under the first round of the Iowa Broadband Grants Program announced at the end of April. The Adair project was awarded $138,900 from the total program allocation of $1.3 Million.
Adair is planning to build a municipal fiber network in the western Iowa community of 781 and partner with neighboring Casey Mutual Telephone to provide internet, cable TV, and telephone services. The Iowa Broadband Grant will offset approximately 15% of the overall cost of the fiber project, which community leaders hope to begin building later this year.
Other applicants to receive funding under the grant program were BTC Inc., Chariton Valley Planning & Development Council, Heartland Telecommunications, Sully Telephone Association, and WTC Communications. The Iowa Legislature recently appropriated an additional $5 million for the Iowa Broadband Grant Program, which is part of the Connect Every Iowan program.
We've reported here in Broadband Bytes about the Taxpayer Protection Alliance (TPA) and their recent stepped-up efforts to cast doubts about municipal broadband in Iowa. The Koch Brothers-backed organization has also been active in several other states, including Michigan. Last week, the Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN, publishers of Broadband Bytes) published an editorial designed to set the record straight.
The opinion piece, "Municipal Fiber is Good For Communities", was published in the May 10th print edition of the Traverse City Record Eagle and is available online. In the article, CBAN Co-Founders Jon Anne Willow (who lives in Traverse City) and Curtis Dean countered claims by TPA that the type of municipal fiber network being considered by Traverse City Light & Power is a risky venture. We've provided the full text of the CBAN opinion piece below.
Municipal fiber is good for communities
Traverse City Light & Power (TCL&P) is planning to bring its already-extensive fiber network directly to all homes and businesses in Traverse City, with the aim of providing the highest possible speeds and the most accountable and reliable service available — at competitive prices. While not inexpensive, the cost is greatly reduced because most of the required fiber optic cable is already in place. It will be funded by the ratepayers who sign up for service.
TCL&P is well-positioned financially to make this happen and will not begin installation until it has an approved plan and goals for revenue, costs and growth — including an exit strategy if the program doesn’t live up to its promise within a proscribed timeline. This information is publicly available on the TCL&P website, mostly via board meeting notes and FAQs.
TCL&P is a dark money target
Unfortunately, a group funded in part by the Koch brothers’ dark money network is targeting TCL&P in yet another attempt to push its anti-municipal broadband agenda in Michigan and across the nation.
The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) follows a familiar playbook in all its campaigns. In it, the term “taxpayers” is used inaccurately to stir up opposition — in this case to public broadband — even when those projects, like TCL&P’s, are funded entirely without tax-based debt.
Another trick, specifically in reference to broadband, is to suggest that fiber technology is on the verge of becoming obsolete with the entrance of 5G.
As it turns out, 5G will need fiber — deep and lots of it — to overcome its short-range signal challenges. The technology is unlikely to proliferate on a massive scale unless it finds a ride on a solid backbone. Ironically, that backbone is fiber.
Traverse City is uniquely positioned for broadband success
Fortunately, Traverse City isn’t a community deprived of reliable Internet access, unlike at least 19 million Americans, according to the FCC’s latest report.
Nor is it beholden to its profitability profile in the eyes of commercial providers, who often limit services and charge higher rates in markets where potential subscriber density and/or household income is deemed too low for discounted rates and premium service plans.
Instead, Traverse City’s citizens are the beneficiaries of a responsible and responsive public utility that works for its owners — the ratepayers.
With most of the required fiber already in place and a strong financial history that’s kept rates low and allowed for this investment — with zero tax-based debt — there may never have been a community as shovel-ready for city-wide fiber as Traverse City, Michigan.
Get the facts
The next TCL&P meeting is May 14 at 5:15 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers at 400 Boardman Ave. If you have questions or concerns, this is the time to voice them. A vote to discuss and possibly approve the project is on the agenda and there will be public comment.
Hope to see you there.
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.