Tom Gaffigan, currently the General Manager at Maquoketa Municipal Electric Utility, has been hired as the new GM at Indianola Municipal Utilities (IMU).
Gaffigan, who also led Harlan Municipal Utilities for several years as CEO, will begin his new duties on October 23rd. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here in Maquoketa. We have a tremendous and dedicated team and I will miss them all,” says Gaffigan. “I’m looking forward to being part of the Indianola Municipal Utility team and the Indianola community. With the construction of a new fiber-to-the-home network and launch of the new utility, it will be a challenging yet exciting time.”
Gaffigan will arrive at IMU just weeks after construction began on an extension of the utilities' fiber-to-the-home network that will provide complete coverage of the community by the end of 2018. Previous IMU GM Rob Stangel left in May to pursue a new career in the private sector.
IAMU Executive Director Troy DeJoode led the job search efforts on behalf of the IMU Board of Trustees.
Science fiction writers have always had an amazing ability to invent new technologies that don't exist in order to advance the plot.
For example, space travel would be a long boring arduous thing for the reader or viewer to enjoy if it weren't for the fictional invention of faster-than-light-travel. Star Trek called it the "Warp Drive". Other fictional future universes have referred to it as hyperspace or some variation. Regardless of nomenclature, it solved a big problem for the creators of these future universes.
Similarly the "transporter" allowed crew members to "beam down" to a planet without a boring shuttle trip solved another plot challenge. But one that's always fascinated me as someone involved in communications for a long time is subspace radio.
Subspace radio solved a huge plot problem in the Star Trek universe: how to allow the crew of the Enterprise to communicate with Starfleet when they are hundreds or thousands of light-years away? Just like writers invented the warp drive to explain how a spacecraft could move from point A to point B faster than light, they invented subspace communications as a technology to allow them to send messages faster than the speed of light.
All this leads me to what I think is an interesting question that does not have an answer yet. What comes after fiber optics? In other words, is there some un-invented technology like subspace radio that will come along at some point and replace those tiny glass conduits as the way we communicate?
It seems like it's always a question that consumers ask when broadband providers tout the necessity to invest in fiber optic networks. "Yeah, fiber optics is great, but what will replace it?"
It's an understandable question, especially if a community is concerned about investing in a technology that will someday be obsolete. The wireless folks would like you to believe that they will invent that new technology. Whether they call it 5G or millimeter wave or something else, a lot of time, effort, energy, and research is going into trying to find a technology that could supplant fiber.
But like the world of science fiction, what we know today is that fiber optics works. And we can't yet grasp any telecommunications need that it will not be able to fill for many, many years to come. That won't stop people from dreaming. And somewhere in a lab or garage somewhere, someone may be working on the thing that will replace FIBER. But just like the Starship Enterprise is not yet ready to come out of drydock (at least for another 200 years), that new technology is still the realm of science fiction.
TiVo has released it's quarterly video trends report that finds, not surprisingly, video customers are still yearning for ala carte programming, despite the presence of an increasing number of "skinny bundle" options from vMVPD's, aka "over the top providers".
The report also contains this bit of rather dubious advice for vMVPD's.
TiVo believes vMVPDs are better off replacing lesser-desired channels with more popular ones in an expanded list of skinny bundle interest categories to gain more market share.
Sounds so easy, doesn't it? Just dump the niche networks like Discovery Life and focus on the big ones. Of course we know that ignores the contractual reality that large content providers enforce on video providers. You think TiVo would know better, that providers of all kinds would LOVE to have the freedom to offer only what customers want.
Representatives of Iowa's municipal utilities gathered at the IAMU Office and Training Complex in Ankeny on Wednesday, September 20th for the annual Fall Broadband Meeting.
A key topic that was addressed at the meeting was the looming round of retransmission consent negotiations with TV stations. Matt Polka, CEO of the American Cable Association, reviewed the trends in RTC fees over the years and the rules about negotiating in good faith with TV stations. Polka also advised attendees to communicate regularly and clearly with customers who many not understand that the "free" TV signals that broadcasters tout in on-air messaging are NOT free for cable companies or their customers.
Other topics discussed at the meeting were changes in federal and state regulatory requirements; OTT video options; and LTE fixed wireless.
SAVE THE DATE: The 2018 IAMU Broadband Conference will be held March 21 and 22, 2018 at the Holiday Inn and Suites on Merle Hay Road in Des Moines. If you have ideas for topics you'd like to see covered at the conference, email Curtis Dean, email@example.com.
The City of Decorah has received the results of it's fiber-to-the-home feasibility study, and it looks like an uphill fight to build a municipal telecommunications utility in that northeast Iowa town.
Uptown Services performed the feasbility study which was presented to the Decorah City Council on Monday night. Consultant Dave Stockton with Uptown says their analysis shows it would be an uphill climb for a municipal network to break even within a 20 year time frame. The study was based on the City achieving a penetration rate of less than 40%; most Iowa municipal utilities have penetration rates of over 70%.
Decorah leaders attended the IAMU Fall Broadband Meeting this week and will continue to look for ways to proceed with filling the broadband gaps in Decorah.
CLICK HERE to read a story at the Decorah Newspapers website.
The Axios website has an interesting article that will come as no surprise to cable TV operators. The headline reads...
Sports are becoming expensive for TV networks
That seems obvious to most of you who read Broadband Bytes, but Axios is aimed not at cable TV leaders, but the general public. So while its conclusions seem like old news to us, any time that non-industry media shines the light on the reasons for rising programming costs, its a good thing for all of us trying to explain rising bills to consumers.
The Iowa Heartland Chapter of the SCTE is hosting its annual Vendor Day and Golf Outing on October 4th. The vendor show will be held at Kirkwood Community College in Hiawatha from 8:30am to 11:30am, with lunch and golf to follow at Airport National Golf Course in Cedar Rapids.
Around 20-30 vendors usually have displays at the vendor show. There is no charge to attend the vendor show, and rolls and coffee will be available.
Golf is $30 for SCTE members and $35 for non-members and includes green fees and cart rental.
To register, visit the "Events and Training" page at www.iowaheartlandscte.org and click the appropriate link. We hope to see you on October 4th!
Ever since AT&T purchased DIRECTV, it's been folding the satellite pay TV provider into the AT&T fold. They've even launched DIRECTV Now, a streaming service that doesn't require a dish. Now it appears they are prepared to begin offering an OTT video service IN ADDITION to satellite-delivered DIRECTV and streaming DIRECT Now.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson announced the new move at an investors conference today.
“We’re taking DirecTV Now and leveraging it into a scaleable platform that goes into the home as a primary service,” said Stephenson.
CLICK HERE to read more about the move at Telecompetitor.
The IAMU Fall Broadband Meeting is next week, Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at the IAMU Office and Training Complex in Ankeny. Topics have been determined for the technical and marketing/customer service breakout sessions after lunch.
The tech topic, which will be addressed in the Auditorium, will be “LTE Fixed Wireless”. The presenter, Ryan Malek, formerly worked at Osage Municipal Utilities and now operates Router12 Networks, a successful wireless internet provider in Iowa. Ryan has a broad background with different fixed wireless technologies and has begun to utilize LTE for certain applications. He’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of using LTE for fixed wireless service and outline the process he used to get started.
The marketing/customer service topic will be “Exploring OTT Options” and will be led by IAMU Broadband Services Coordinator Curtis Dean. Curtis, who has been an on-again, off-again cord cutter for several years, will provide a demonstration of the various OTT offerings that many broadband customers are examining, including Sling TV, Hulu Live TV, Sony Playstation Vue, and FuboTV.
Morning general session topics include retransmission consent and regulatory changes at the federal and state levels. A complete agenda is listed below. Sign up today on the IAMU Events page and we’ll see you next week!
Rolls, coffee, and juice will be available
9am-10:30am Retransmission Consent
Matt Polka, President and CEO of the American Cable Association (ACA), will provide members with an update on preparing for this year’s round of retransmission consent negotiations.
10:45am-11:45am The Shifting Regulatory Landscape
Regulatory changes at both the state and federal level are affecting how broadband companies operate. In this session, Matt Polka with the ACA will discuss the changing regulatory landscape at the national level. Curtis Dean with IAMU/SmartSource Consulting will review recent actions by the Iowa Utilities Board that lifts several reporting burdens on telephone providers.
Provided in registration
1pm-2pm LTE Fixed Wireless
Ryan Malek with Router12 Networks will discuss LTE fixed wireless as an alternative for serving rural areas and share his own experience with testing and deploying the service
Exploring OTT Options
Curtis Dean with IAMU will demo the various OTT video services that are available in the market today, including Sling TV, Sony Playstation Vue, Hulu Live, and FuboTV.
2:15pm-2:45pm 2018 Broadband Conference
As we wrap up the 2017 Fall Meeting, we’ll take a look at some of the possible topics for the 2018 Broadband Conference and brainstorm for other ideas.
The IAMU Fall Broadband meeting is rapidly approaching. The one-day event on September 20th will be held at the IAMU Office and Training Complex in Ankeny.
We are excited to have Matt Polka with the American Cable Association (ACA) on hand to lead a discussion of retransmission consent. Polka, the ACA's President and CEO, will provide an outline of the rules for negotiating agreements with TV stations as well as take a look at some of the trends for this year's round of negotiations.
Polka will also participate in a session about changes in FCC policy regarding net neutrality and other regulatory issues.
The complete agenda is listed below. To register, CLICK HERE to visit the IAMU Event registration page.
Broadband Bytes News
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