Mark you calendars for the 2nd Annual Broadband Summit presented by the Community Broadband Action Network. The event will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at the Holiday Inn and Suites, Merle Hay Road, Des Moines, which was also the site for last year's inaugural event.
While the final lineup of topcis and speakers is still being determined, the CBAN Broadband Summit is a great event to attend for any community leader hoping to bring better broadband to their residents as well as for community-based providers whose experience and expertise can help fill these broadband gaps. We're also expecting several CBAN Vendor Members to be on hand to share information about their solutions.
Registration information will be posted soon at www.broadbandaction.com and right here at Broadband Bytes!
A recent report from the Minnesota Attorney General is highly critical of telephone giant Frontier Communications for poor maintenance practices on its copper-based network in the state.
In a scathing 133-page report, Frontier was accused of letting outages go on for extended periods of time, not upgrading services that in many cases are substandard, and flawed billing practices. All told, the company is accused of at least 35 state law or guideline violations.
"The findings of this investigation detail an extraordinary situation, where customers have suffered with outages of months, or more, when the law requires telephone utilities to make all reasonable efforts to prevent interruptions of service. " -- Minnesota Attorney General's report, January 4, 2019
Minnesota is not the only state to go after Frontier for shoddy service. In 2018 the West Virginia attorney general settled with Frontier for $160 million in damages related to service outages and poor service. And there's plenty of allegorical evidence in other states that the company's services are substandard.
All told, Frontier provides services in parts of 29 states.
NBC Universal will be joining the streaming fray early next year with the launch of its own direct-to-consumer service. However, unlike some of its competitors OTT offerings, NBCU's will be free for existing pay-TV subscribers.
Many of the details for the service have yet to be announced, but one key aspect of the service will differentiate it from rival services such as ESPN+, Disney+, and CBS Full Access; the service will be supported by ad revenue and will be free if you already subscribe to pay TV service. The platform will also be available to non-cable/satellite customers for a monthly fee, thought to be around $12 per month.
New Sharon, Iowa...consider yourselves blessed.
Mahaska Communication Group (MCG), the independent broadband provider based in Oskaloosa, Iowa is putting the finishing touches on its fiber-to-the-home network in New Sharon, Iowa (population 1,293).
MCG got its start when leadership at Musco Lighting in Oskaloosa became frustrated with their own connectivity and that of their employees. They began building fiber optics to their own facilities and eventually, under the MCG banner, the entire town of Oskaloosa. Since then they've expanded their facilities to several other small communities in Mahaska County.
After New Sharon, MCG says it will begin hooking up customers around Montezuma and Lake Ponderosa west of Montezuma.
When AT&T announced their new DIRECTV Now service a couple of years ago, there was plenty of speculation that they telecom giant may be looking for a way to transition their flagship video business away from expensive satellite delivery and toward internet delivery.
Now there seems to be more momentum for that idea as AT&T has begun a beta deployment of a new set-top box, powered by Android, for its DIRECTV Now customers. It offers an alternative to the current "bring your own device" or BYOD model where customers use an app on another streaming device. It's not clear yet whether the use of an Android device is part of a bigger strategy or not, but it might make it easier to reach less tech savvy consumers who aren't comfortable with third-party streaming devices.
Check out this article, including pictures of the box itself, on the website Android Police.
Comcast, the biggest of the big cable guys, always seems to be involved in some kind of PR nightmare. The latest is coming from the Minnesota Attorney General's office, which says the company has been lying to customers about some of the fees listed on its bills.
In a complaint filed last month, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson says that Comcast has been misleading customers about why some fees were listed on their bills. In particular, consumers were told that the Broadcast TV and Regional Sports line items were "government mandated". Comcast says it's simply a matter of some of its customer service representatives misstating the source of the extra fees, not an official Comcast position.
That CenturyLink outage that knocked out internet service and 911 telephone capabilities nationwide just after Christmas was apparently caused by a single faulty network management card. And the telecommunications giant finds itself in hot water again over what appears to be a single point of failure.
The outage, which affected service for more than 12 hours in some regions of the CenturyLink footprint, had its origin in with a bad networking card in Denver. It's spurred a strong rebuke from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and an FCC investigation, as well as investigations in several states.
In 2014, CenturyLink had another major outage that also was traced back to a problem in Denver. That time the culprit was a subcontractor's software coding error. It led to a $16 million fine from the FCC as well as financial penalties in some of the affected states.
A fiber-to-the-home project in Vinton, Iowa is inching closer to reality. FARR Technologies, the engineering firm that has been working on network design, issued a Notice to Bidders this week as they get ready to qualify companies to submit proposals for the project.
FARR will first ask companies to complete a "bidder's qualification" form in order to be considered for receiving bid documents.
The preliminary cost estimate for a FTTP network in Vinton is $8.9 million based on FARR Technologies' feasibility study.
By the end of the year, the City of Rock Falls plans to complete the first phase of a multi-phase effort to bring fiber-to-the-home to the Illinois city of 9,266.
The first phase of the project was to build fiber in the city's business corridor and should be wrapped up this month. Already a number of businesses have connected to the network and are enjoying internet speeds of up to a gigabit.
Up next, the project will move to residential areas of the city. Adopting a process invented by Google Fiber and replicated in several other cities, the City has divided their time up into "fiberhoods" and will deploy the network in areas as they gain enough service committments to justify the expense.
CLICK HERE to read a story about the project at SaukValley.com.
As reported in Ars Technica and elsewhere, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) panel is proposing the creation of state funds to pay for universal broadband deployment in rural areas.
The FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) was formed in early 2017 by FCC Chair Ajit Pai, and immediately came under attack as serving primarily the interests of large broadband providers such as AT&T. Despite the criticism, the panel has been meeting and has proposed a “State Model Code for Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment and Investment” that would, among other things, allow states to implement a tax on subscription-based retail services that require Internet access, such as Netflix, and to advertising-supported services that use the Internet, such as Google and Facebook. The taxes collected would essentially create a state universal service fund similar to the federal Connect America Fund.
It's an idea that makes some sense, but the devil will definitely be in the details.
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.