Orem City saves $50,000 per month with community broadband

Via MuniNetworks, a link to a podcast that describes how Orem City, Utah is benefiting from the open access, open services, community-owned Utopia network. Local governments in Virginia that have invested in open access, open services networks are also benefiting in the same way.

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Utopia customers lining up to pay for fiber to the home

Jeff Daily at App Rising reports that Utopia, the big community-owned fiber project in Utah, is having substantial success getting homeowners to pay for the fiber coming to their homes--to the tune of $3,000 per home. This may sound like a lot of money, but the market value of a residential home with fiber increases by $5,000 to $7,000, according to a Render study.

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Gates Foundation: Good idea, bad implementation

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has proposed to the FCC that $5 to $10 billion be spent getting fiber to anchor institutions like schools, libraries, and health care facilities in communities. It's a worthy idea, but as policy, the unintended negative impact will be to make it more difficult to get fiber to homes and businesses in those communities.

Design Nine's nDanville network selected for Intelligent Community award

The Design Nine-designed open access network nDanville has been selected by the Intelligent Community Forum as one of the Smart21 communities for 2010. This international award looks not only at technology but how communities integrate technology into their community and economic development plans.

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You can't build kitchen cabinets on dial up

Ski season is right around the corner in New England, and I just spent three days working with a group of communities in a very rural part of New England on broadband issues. Like many rural communities, large portions of this region are both unserved (still on dial up) and underserved (poor quality DSL or cable modem). Complicating the problem is a telephone infrastructure that is in poor condition, meaning erratic DSL service and extremely slow dial up.

Community fiber brings jobs--work from home jobs

Powell, Wyoming's community-owned citywide fiber network is up and running, and the town is starting to get phone calls from businesses interested in taking advantage of the affordable broadband and the fact that every home has a high performance fiber connection.

Powell community leaders report a Denver firm is visiting to discuss bringing 100 work from home jobs to the community. Here is the money quote:

"The citywide fiber optic network absolutely drove the decision...."

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Re-Defining Broadband: The FCC's big problem

Chris Mitchell at MuniNetworks has a great piece on the dilemma faced by the FCC, which is tasked with coming up with a national plan for broadband. The FCC has to balance the interests of the incumbent telephone and cable providers with the needs of the public. And the "public" includes an increasing number of home-based workers and businesses for whom the current "little broadband" services are grossly inadequate.

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Home-based businesses driving $2.5 billion software market

This story says that software for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch has grown to $2.5 billion. This is a market that did not exist just two years ago. What the article does not mention is that most of the programmers writing and selling software for the iPhone are working from home, and many of those businesses are making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

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Local open access broadband makes cloud computing work

Here is an interesting article about a study of current "cloud" computing services, which "seem to come up short. This really should not be a surprise. Businesses that think cloud computing services are going to be a panacea for their IT problems are going to be very disappointed.

Electric car infrastructure does not exist

This Scientific American article discusses something I and others have been saying for years--the 100 year old electric grid we use for residential and business power was not designed for electric cars, which have extremely high amperage power draws. It is not so much that the grid can't handle one or two electric cars in a neighborhood; it can, and the load is not much different than things like welders or potter's kilns.

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Why fiber cable route diversity and redundancy are important

A submarine cable serving several African countries has been damaged. The cable is the only Internet route out of several west African nations, putting the entire country into a virtual Internet blackout, with slow, expensive satellite links the only way for data to move in and out of the countries. Here in the U.S., some counties and states are bigger than these countries, and route diversity is now a serious issue for relocating businesses.

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Open access networks will become the "normal" way to design and build networks

The NOFA (Notice of Funds Availability) for broadband stimulus funding was released last week; the document defines how to apply for those funds, and both private sector companies and communities can apply. On page 66, beginning at line 1470, the NOFA does something very important: it provides an explicit preference for networks that offer open access services (or open services) to end users. Here is the exact statement:

The problems with BPL

I sat through a presentation by an electric utility on their BPL (Broadband Over Powerline) offering. The company is committed to being able to provide broadband connectivity to their rural customer base, which is terrific. They should be commended. But the service starts at 256 kilobits for $30 and ends at 3 megabits for $90. The system requires that the electric company install repeaters at least every 3500 feet, or about every half mile, throughout the entire service area--active electronics spaced more closely than DSL (another copper-based technology).

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The coming boom in server farms

Here is a story about the state of North Carolina trying to entice Apple to place a 100 job server farm in the state. With unemployment in North Carolina nudging 11%, state officials are smart to try to attract Knowledge Economy businesses, and server farms are a growth industry. The massive amounts of data being stored "online" have to reside in a physical place, and the companies that are making a business out of this (e.g. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and many smaller firms) have several requirements.

Alcatel supports municipal broadband

From the good folks in Wilson, NC, an excerpt from a letter that fiber equipment manufacturer Alcatel wrote in support of the right of communities to improve broadband services. Good for Alcatel. In part, it is probably a business decision, which makes it even more interesting--the company must know that municipal broadband efforts are good business.

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Broadband Properties: Fiber and economic development

I am back from three days at the Broadband Properties annual conference. As more communities make investments in broadband infrastructure, we are beginning to get some interesting data back on the economic impact.

In Anson, Indiana, a developer is putting duct and fiber to 1790 homes and 9 million square feet of commercial and retail space--all part of a master planned community. The investment has brought an Amazon distribution center and 1200 jobs to the community.

Nielsen: 2000% increase in video delivered by the Internet

A new report by Nielsen says time spent watching video online has increased in the past five years by 2,000%. And the number of people watching video online is increasing by 10% per year, meaning in about seven years, everyone will be watching video on the Internet. TV is dead, dead, dead.

Municipal fiber better, less expensive

Here is a nice little table that compares the price of broadband in various places around the world. Stockholm's municipal fiber network has the best pricing: $11 per month for 100/100 megabits (symmetric). Compare that to some U.S. offerings like one incumbent's 50/20 megabit (asymmetric, less than half the capacity) service for $145.

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The Wired Road opens for business

Andrew Cohill, President of Design Nine, announced today that The Wired Road has begun full operations. An official ribbon-cutting takes place in Galax on April 20th, 2009 at 11 AM. The regional network is the largest integrated fiber and wireless open access, open services municipal network in the United States, and the high performance network will eventually provide services across more than 1,000 square miles of mountainous terrain in southwest Virginia.

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Report says more competition needed for wireline phone service

This report from TURN (The Utility Reform Network) has some excellent information about competition (and the lack of it) in wireline telephone markets, based on a study done in California. It is a lengthy report, but the Executive Summary does a good job of summarizing the findings.

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