The Waterloo (Iowa) Telecommunications Utility Board of Trustees met for the first time in five years this week, and the first order of business was to consider a feasibility study.
The Board was formed after Waterloo voters approved a municipal telecommunications referendum in 2005. After meeting regularly for several years, the Board went into hibernation in 2014. Now, the desire by community leaders to see progress on better broadband opportunities for Waterloo has brought the group back to together.
“I think it’s time. We’ve got communities all around us that have their own utilities when it comes to broadband.” -- Waterloo Telecommunications Utility Board of Trustees member Rich Kurtenbach
Earlier this summer, a task force interviewed several firms to gather information about possible next steps for the City. That task force has recommended that Magellan Advisors to conduct a feasibility study, but the Board did not take action on that recommendation pending further City legal review.
CLICK HERE to read more in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
For several months, the Ames City Council and staff have been considering whether or not to conduct a feasibility study for a fiber-to-the-home network. Now a private company based in Indiana says they will build fiber to Ames beginning next year.
Representatives of MetroNet Fiber made a presentation to the council this week outlining a $20-30 million dollar fiber network in direct competition with incumbents Mediacom and CenturyLink. The project will launch in spring 2020 and take approximately two years to complete, according to the company.
What's not clear about MetroNet's announcement is whether they plan to build FTTP to the entire community, something that some city leaders have said is a priority for Ames. MetroNet says they will provide the city with detailed maps of planned service areas, but that detail won't be available until the time of construction. City Councilman David Martin, who has been advocating for a feasibility study, has asked to have further discussion of the city's internet future on a future council agenda.
CLICK HERE to read a story in the Ames Tribune.
The State of Iowa's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is accepting comments from the public until August 23rd on the latest version of the state's broadband map showing areas that will be eligible for the next round of state broadband grants.
The Targeted Service Areas, or TSA's, are census blocks where ISP's will be able to apply for the second round of Iowa Broadband Grants. This spring the Iowa Legislature allocated $5 million to the grant fund for the next round, an increase from the $1.3 million in Round 1. Although the exact rules of the next round have not been determined, it is expected to provide 15% matching grants like the first round and would require a successful applicant to provide at least 25 Mbps downloads and 3 Mbps uploads. During the first round, the only projects to receive funding were fiber optic-based, including the City of Adair.
Boulder set to start construction on broadband fiber network core with council approval of $20M debt
The City of Pella, Iowa has hired a South Dakota man to lead its efforts to build a fiber-to-the-home network.
Doy Ousley will begin duties in Pella in early September. Ousley comes to Pella with a deep background in engineering, design, and operation of telecommunications networks, including fiber. Most recently Ousley has served as the Supervisor of Regional Operations for CenturyLink in the Rapid City, SD area. He's been employed in the telecom field since age 18, when he started working at his hometown telephone company in Alabama.
Earlier this summer, Pella hired NewCom Technologies of Des Moines to design and engineer the fiber-to-the-home network. Design is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with construction bids to be issued over the winter. If all goes according to plan, construction would begin in spring 2020 and be completed a year later.
The August and September editions of the CBAN Lunch and Learn webinars have been set. As with all CBAN Lunch and Learn webinars, these sessions are free and open to all, but pre-registration is required.
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.
September 19, 2019 Noon The Promises (and Pitfalls) of Open Access Fiber Networks
One option that communities can explore when considering a municipally-owned fiber network is an open access model. Under this type of network, multiple ISP's and other service providers can use the public network to serve end users. While open access networks have a lot of appeal, they aren't always easy to implement or develop.
Joining us for this webinar is Doug Dawson of CCG Consulting. Doug is author of a daily blog called Pots and Pans and is one of the nation's most respected broadband experts. He'll share his own experiences working with communities that have sought to implement an open access model.
To register for The Promises (and Pitfalls) of Open Access Fiber Networks, CLICK HERE.
After years of advocacy and studies, residents of Vinton, Iowa are finally getting a community-owned fiber network.
Construction is now underway on the approximately $9 million fiber-to-the-home network in Vinton, a community of approximately 5,200 people south of Cedar Falls. Crews from Central Cable Contractors began work in the core network during the 3rd week of July, with plans to complete major construction by the end of the year.
There's lots to accomplish in Vinton, thanks to tremendous demand from citizens who've been longing for better broadband. In fact, over 1,400 Vinton homes and businesses have signed up to get site surveys and service drops. That's over 65% of all Vinton premises.
The next major milestone for the Vinton project is rate setting, which the Vinton Communications Utility Board is expected to accomplish by mid-month.
One of the biggest sore spots in America's technology landscape is the lack of accurate broadband mapping. Past FCC efforts to identify which areas of the country have access to broadband and which ones don't been widely criticized as inadequate. Well, things are about to change.
At their August 1st meeting, the FCC ordered a significant change to how ISP's will report their service areas moving forward. Under the previous mapping regime, ISP's would report which census blocks they offered service. Even if only one premise in a large census block had service available, the entire block would be considered "served" by the FCC. This means that many areas without broadband access are then ineligible to receive buildout funding.
Under the new mapping plan, ISP's must report their service areas not in terms of census blocks but by drawing geospatial polygons that more clearly define where service is currently available or could be provided within 10 business days of a request. The result of this change is that have-nots should no longer be identified as have's on the FCC's broadband maps, making those areas potentially eligible for funding.
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:
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.