Residents of Charlemont, MA have rejected an offer by Comcast to bring high-speed internet to their town, opting instead to build their own fiber optic network.
In true New England fashion, the decision was reached at a town hall meeting in the northwestern Massachusetts town of 1,300. Comcast, the cable giant, had proposed a $460,000 plan to extend broadband to 96% of the towns premises. Comcast's proposal was for an improved hybrid fiber-coax network. With the rejection, Charlemont is likely to move forward with a $1.4 million dollar plan to build a community-owned fiber-to-the-home network instead. That network would be built in conjunction with Westfield Gas and Electric, which is also working with a number of other communities in the western part of the state.
CLICK HERE to read more about the project on the Greenfield Recorder website.
There were a couple of interesting articles of late about continued development of 5G wireless service offerings.
Light Reading has an interesting article about Starry, a company that is using millimeter wave wireless to serve MDU's in several large cities today, and is announcing plans to launch the service in 20 more markets next year. Particularly interesting is that one of the planned markets is Sioux Falls, SD, the smallest city on the list.
The Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN) has welcomed some new members to the growing organization over the past few weeks.
Joining CBAN as a Provider Member is OttumwaFiber. OttumwaFiber deploys dark fiber in Ottumwa, Iowa, creating a high-speed, large bandwidth data infrastructure to support current businesses in addition to acting as a catalyst for future economic development opportunities.
The newest Vendor Member is the Iowa Area Development Group, or IADG. Founded in 1985, Iowa Area Development Group is the business and community development leader for our sponsors and partners, including over 220 member-owned electric cooperatives, municipal utilities and independent telecommunication companies throughout the state.
Another new CBAN Vendor Member is Bear Communications. Bear Communications provides telecommunications construction services, including FTTP, as well as other services. Bear has recently been working with Indianola Municipal Utilities to install service drops for their FTTP project.
It's a staggering, but not necessarily surprising claim.
By 2022, more IP traffic will cross global networks than in all prior ‘internet years’ combined up to the end of 2016. In other words, more traffic will be created in 2022 than in the 32 years since the internet started.
That's according to the latest Visual Networking Index (VIN) issued by Cisco. The report also estimates that 82% of all internet traffic in 2022 will be video.
So, will providers be able to keep up with this explosive growth of internet traffic? Clearly, those providers with fiber networks will be well positioned to do so. The current generation of fiber platforms are capable of up to 10 gigabit per second (Gpbs) to each premise (bidirectional). The evolution of passive optical networking (PON) used by most fiber providers has 40 Gbps on the drawing board for deployment within the next few years as needed.
Meanwhile hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) networks are upgrading to DOCSIS 3.1 platforms that allow for up to 1 Gbps download speeds, although with lower upload speed capability. The next generation of HFC platforms, called Full Duplex DOCSIS or FDX, promises to close the download-upload gap for cable operators that deploy it. The challenge for many of these companies will be whether their aging infrastructure will be capable of the kind of performance needed to deliver on the technology's promise.
Of course, there's always 5G, the white knight promising to ride in and save us all. The official 5G standard was approved earlier this year but is not expected to reach large-scale deployment until at least 2020, and then primarily in large urban areas. Although capable of gigabit speeds, 5G may or may not turn out to be a solution for high bandwidth home and business users. Plus, it will take a lot of fiber access for carriers to deploy the service.
So if Cisco's predictions come even close to reality, fiber optic networks will be most capable of handing the flood of traffic coming in the next decade.
The Institute for Local Self Reliance, a great resource for community broadband information and advocacy, has posted a new fact sheet discussing some creative financing methods for municipal fiber networks.
The fact sheet discusses 3 particular financing methods that may be available to communities looking to build networks.
1. Local Improvement Districts
2. Local Utility Districts
3. Community Development Block Grants
If you would like to learn more about more traditional community broadband methods that have been used successfully, check out the recent CBAN Lunch and Learn webinar, "Show Me The Money", which was recorded earlier this month.
Dozens of citizens attended the Ames City Council last night to hear city staff and council members discuss options for improving broadband services. And after hearing feedback from the community, the council decided to research the costs of a feasibility study for a fiber network.
Ames is a central Iowa community of around 60,000 residents and is home to Iowa State University. The city is currently served mostly by incumbent cable company Mediacom and telephone company CenturyLink.
A staff report prepared for the Council outlined the various options for bringing better internet service to the community, including the same retail model that has been implemented by other communities in Iowa and elsewhere. The report was also critical of incumbent operators CenturyLink and Mediacom for not responding to requests for information about what services are available where as part of the City's attempt to identity service coverage gaps. A representative of Mediacom was at the meeting, and had provided some maps to the council members earlier that day.
Council member David Martin, who has been an advocate for new broadband options in Ames, shared some results of some testing he has been conducting for the past 8 months on his own home internet connection. A former computer science teacher, Martin had written a computer program that conducted a speed test between his home and his neighbor every 15 minutes. Martin first showed a graph showing a day where speeds were fairly consistent. His next graph showed what he called a more typical speed profile; lots of dropouts and speed reductions. As Martin explained to his fellow council members, those were the types of issues that light internet users might never notice but that would have severe impacts on other users who need reliable and consistent connectivity.
Several citizens addressed the council to urge them to conduct a feasibility study on the costs and benefits of a fiber-to-the-home network in Ames. After hearing from the public, the council passed a motion to direct city staff to research the costs of a fiber feasibility and to continue a dialogue with existing providers about how they might improve service quality in the community.
AMG Technology Investment Group, a Texas-based company that provides internet services under the NextLink Internet brand, was one of the big winners in the CAF II round of funding for unserved and underserved rural areas across the country. This month, the Iowa Utilities Board granted the company status as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) in Iowa, where the company was awarded over $50 million in federal subsidies.
The IUB's order, issued on November 20th, will allow NextLink to move forward with its plans to collect the CAF II subsidies and build out broadband access in 5,683 census blocks across the state. The CAF II funding comes with several stipulations that NextLink will be required to meet, including internet speeds of at least 10 Mbps x 1 Mbps and a voice services offering. NextLink says it plans to use a combination of fiber and fixed wireless to meet those requirements.
I see a pattern developing here...
As an alternative (or supplement) to working with MVPD's to distribute their content, yet another major programmer is developing it's own paid OTT app. This time, it's Fox News.
Fox Nation is launching on November 27th and will feature original content not found on the linear Fox News Channel.
The service has been priced at $5.99 a month or $64.99 a year.
In one of the most comprehensive and well-written articles on the topic, CNET outlined the challenges facing rural residents when it comes to better broadband - and the challenging economics of providers who are responsible with serving them.
It's a great article and a must-read for anyone who has an interest in bringing better broadband to rural communities. CLICK HERE to read the article on the CNET website.
The next Lunch and Learn webinar sponsored by the Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN) is Thursday, October 25, 2018 at 12:00pm CDT.
This month's topic is "Building A Consensus for Action". Click this link to join: https://zoom.us/j/764464311
Moderator Curtis Dean will talk with panelists Mark Erickson of RS Fiber in Minnesota and Kurt Karr with iVinton. These two individuals were intimately involved in helping solve their communities' broadband deficits by organizing efforts to move projects from the discussion phase to action.
About The Panelists
Mark Erickson is the Economic Development Authority Director for the city of Winthrop, Minnesota. He served as both city administrator and EDA Director from 2008 to 2014 and worked closely with the RS Fiber Cooperative project in Sibley, Renville, Nicollet and McLeod counties in Minnesota.
Prior to Winthrop he was employed by Hiawatha Broadband Communications in Winona, Minnesota, working with communities interested in building a Fiber To The Home networks.
He currently serves on the RS Fiber Cooperative Board of Directors, the Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association Board of Directors and chairs the League of Minnesota Cities Telecommunications Task Force. He is a former member of the CK Blandin Foundation’s Telecommunications Strategy Board.
Kurt Karr is Principal at MonkeyThis, a marketing agency in Vinton, Iowa. Kurt has been involved in trying to improve broadband in Vinton for a number of years, most recently as Chair of iVinton, a grassroots group that has been advocating for community broadband since 2015. Kurt has been part of both unsuccessful and successful referendum campaigns and has experienced first-hand the challenges in forming a community consensus to take action to achieve better broadband.
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.