Reports last week the CenturyLink, one of the nation's largest incumbent telephone companies, is examining the future of its consumer business has investors spooked and industry analysts polishing their crystal balls.
During a first quarter earnings call with investors last week, CenturyLink CEO Jeff Storey reported that the company has enlisted advisors to assist the company in a strategic review of the company’s consumer business. "Let me be clear, we’re early in what I expect to be a lengthy and complex process,” said Story, who also noted that the company will not be altering operations or changing its investment plans during the review.
CenturyLink has seen declining revenue from consumer services - telephone and broadband services to residential and small business customers - over the past several years, which revenues from enterprise and wholesale operations. It's unclear whether CenturyLink might look to spin-off its consumer services and sell to another operator, but the situation bears watching, especially in areas where CenturyLink is one of the few (if only) choices for consumer broadband access.
Provided by Independence Light & Power, Telecommunications
This summer, Independence Light & Power, Telecommunications will continue to invest back into the community by expanding the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) project to parts of the NE side of town (from Malone Creek east to 17 Street NE) and the Terrace Drive area.
FTTH refers to the installation and use of fiber-optic cables to carry digital information directly to homes. These cables are made up of hundreds of fibers, which are long thin strands of pure glass about the diameter of human hair.
Both the Terrace Drive area and part of the NE side of town will join the recently converted Jackson Green, Pine Drive, Spruce Drive and Cardinal Court areas as an all new fiber system, bringing faster and more reliable service to customers.
Independence Light & Power, Telecommunications’ crews have recently started the FTTH conversion work in the NE side of town and plan to be finished by late fall. Beginning in May, West Union Trenching will be in the Terrace Drive area installing new duct work to each home. Once the duct work is installed, utility crews will be scheduling appointments to convert customers over to the new fiber optic system.
FTTH replaces the aging infrastructure that phone and cable companies previously installed in
neighborhoods. Fiber has a higher bandwidth capacity and can easily transmit applications like telephone, cable and internet with plenty of capacity left over for other applications in the future.
“As the demand for internet service continues to grow, it is important that we make this investment in our community. These projects will ensure our customers have the resources necessary to provide them with the network capacity to support both current and future needs,” said Josh Vandenburg, Telecom Manager.
“As your hometown provider, we are excited to bring you this next generation of communications technology. It is all part of our commitment to provide exceptional customer service to our customers. FTTH offers many advantages to residential and business customers alike and prepares everyone to enjoy an even greater selection of communications options in the future,” added Kevin Sidles, utility General Manager.
If you have questions or would like to know more information about these projects , please call (319) 332-0100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.indytel.com for updates on the FTTH projects.
A group funded by the Koch Brothers dark money network has hired a former member of the Iowa House of Representative to push their anti-municipal broadband agenda in Iowa.
Last week Chip Baltimore, the new Senior Fellow at the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) attended a meeting of the Vinton Municipal Utilities Board of Trustees. During a public hearing on VMU’s plans to issue electric revenue bonds for their portion of a planned fiber-to-the-premise network in Vinton, Baltimore told the Board that they were risking electric ratepayers money by investing in the network. It’s not the first time that Baltimore has used his new position to attack the Vinton project. In a letter addressed to the VMU Board in February, he claimed that “Vinton is spending 75% more on a per location basis for its network than the median cost for comparable municipal fiber networks.” That same letter also criticized other municipal projects, including Muscatine Power & Water.
Ever since the TPA hired Baltimore, whose term in the Iowa House expired at the end of 2018, they have been firing off letters and making public records requests in other Iowa communities with pending fiber projects, including New Hampton and Charles City. Certainly having boots on the ground in Iowa gives TPA a golden opportunity to attack municipal broadband here, but similar attacks, including letters to the editor of local newspapers, have been happening in other states.
It’s nothing new for TPA to target municipal broadband. As Wired Magazine outlined in a December 2017 article:
“The connection between the TPA and the Koch brothers emerged from investigative reporting by ProPublica and others. This work has revealed that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance is a front advocacy group, part of a network of dark-money organizations supported in part by the Koch brothers. (The funding seems not to come from the Koch family directly but instead is funneled through other Koch-funded groups.) TPA’s most recent IRS filing shows it received about half a million dollars in contributions in 2016, but the sources of these contributions are blacked out. Tax-exempt organizations are not required to disclose the names of their donors publicly. David Williams, TPA’s president, told the Louisville Courier-Journal earlier this year that the group receives funding from “a lot of different sources," including groups affiliated with the Koch brothers.” -- Wired Magazine, 12/16/17
TPA is also the creator of the laughably flawed “Broadband Boondoggles” map supposedly showing “failed” taxpayer-funded networks. Indeed, the use of “taxpayer” is one of the tricks TPA and other dark money groups use in an attempt to rile up opposition to networks – even when projects are funded entirely without tax-based debt. Their boondoggle map appears to be broken as of this writing, but when BroadbandBytes accessed it last year it had this special nugget of misinformation:
Don't let the facts get in the way of a bad ideological argument.
It’s also nothing new that municipal broadband is being attacked in general. Occasionally these anti-municipal groups, usually funded by special interests with a stake in reducing competition or with anti-government slant, fund reports and issue white papers outlining the supposed pitfalls of municipal networks. The Institute for Local Self Reliance has done an excellent job countering these false claims. CLICK HERE to access their “Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies” page.
And it’s all quite reminiscent of the attacks that municipals faced during most of the 2000’s as incumbent providers formed front groups such as the “Project Taxpayer Protection Committee” and “Citizens for Common Sense Solutions” fought against municipal broadband referendums. Remember gems like these from the 2005 Opportunity Iowa wave of referenda? This one was a direct mail piece sent out by the Project Taxpayer Protection Committee in the fall of 2005.
There’s always a risk that tactics like this, including the new wave of false information being boosted by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, might give local decision makers pause. That’s why its important to continue countering these false claims whenever – and wherever – they occur.
As the City of Pella prepares to build a municipal fiber-to-the-premise network beginning next year, the search is on for a Telecommunications Director to lead the new utility.
The Pella Telecommunications Director will work under direction of the City Administrator and will be responsible for planning and organizing the daily operation of the new telecommunications department.
To download the full job description and details on how to respond, CLICK HERE. Applications will be received until June 3, 2019.
Community leaders in Grinnell, Iowa are putting out the call: if citizens want access to fiber optic broadband, they need to speak up.
Mahaska Communications Group (MCG), which has operated a FTTH network in Oskaloosa, Iowa for several years, is currently working with the City of Grinnell and the Chamber of Commerce to measure community interest in a fiber network in the city of just over 9,000. If the market looks attractive, MCG would expand their existing service territory to include Grinnell.
MCG has been on the move of late, having built FTTP in New Sharon, Montezuma, and Lake Ponderosa over the past two years. Until this year, MCG has been partnering with Indianola Municipal Utilities to provide services over Indianola's fiber network. That relationship is ending as IMU completes its network and converts MCG customers over to IMU.
Iowa-based SecurityCoverage, a provider of tech support and help desk services for numerous small broadband providers, has a new owner.
NeoNova, owned by the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, is buying its competitor for an undisclosed price. SecurityCoverage will remain its own identity and continue operations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa according to information released by the company.
For more information, CLICK HERE to read an article at WRALTechWire
Like many other cities in Colorado, citizens and community leaders in Fort Morgan decided to take their telecommunications infrastructure into their own hands by building a fiber-to-the-home network. That project has now received recognition from NMPP Energy as the Project of the Year for its members in Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Iowa. CLICK HERE to read a story about Fort Morgan's award.
The Fort Morgan project is a public-private partnership between the City, which built and owns the network, and ALLO Communications, which leases access to the network to provide services to end users.
ALLO Communications is a Provider Member of CBAN. At the same meeting where Fort Morgan was recognized, CBAN was accepted as an NMPP Champion. Congratulations to Fort Morgan and thank you to NMPP for accepting CBAN in your Champion's program!
If you missed the latest edition of CBAN's Lunch and Learn webinar series, you can take advantage of viewing the recording. "5G and Small Cell: What Cities Need to Know" took place live on Thursday, March 28th with over 40 people taking part in the session. The webinar was recorded and is now available on the CBAN YouTube page, or by playing in the video window below.
The next edition of CBAN's "Lunch and Learn" webinar series addresses a looming issue for cities across the nation: the FCC's 5G and Small Cell Order.
5G and Small Cell: What Cities Need To Know will be held on Thursday, March 28th at Noon CDT. Ken Demlow of HR Green will review the FCC's order outlining what cities must do to enact local control over the siting of 5G and small cell wireless facilities. That order is due to go into effect on April 15th, and many communities may not have addressed the issue yet.
The webinar is limited to 100 attendees and advance registration is required. To register in advance for this meeting, go to the following link:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. You are encouraged to register early to ensure your participation. However, the webinar will be recorded and made available afterwards at www.broadbandaction.com.
For more information on the FCC's order and possible impacts on cities, CLICK HERE for an article at www.broadbandnow.com.
Over 150 people - municipal operators, vendor representatives, and speakers - attended this year's IAMU Broadband Conference on March 13 and 14 in Des Moines.
A new and very well received feature of this year's Broadband Conference was the Customer Service Boot Camp. Led by Jeremy Graves of Pivot Group, attendees of the Boot Camp spent the entire day on March 13th taking a deep dive into the telecommunications customer experience. Attendees said the Boot Camp gave them new perspectives on interacting with customers, selling services, and being effective in their jobs. While overall attendance in the Boot Camp was not what we'd hoped, IAMU will explore doing similar customer service training again in the future.
Outside of the Boot Camp, attendees enjoyed 15 informational sessions on a wide range of topics while also taking advantage of ample networking time. As always, the Vendor Show was a highlight of the event. Over 40 vendors were represented.
The IAMU Broadband Committee has already met to begin planning the 2020 Broadband Conference. If you have any ideas for sessions or ways to make the show better, let us know!
Broadband Bytes News
Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.