Tag Archives: high speed internet

1NT: Connected States

High speed internet access is not available to everyone in the United States. Here are the states with the highest and lowest rates of connectivity (Source – Rotary Magazine):

Most Connected

1. New Jersey
2. New York
3. Maryland
4. Rhode Island
5. Florida

Least Connected
46. Vermont
47. Nebraska
48. New Mexico
49. Montana
50. Alaska

Battle of the Unpopulars

Who do you hate more: your municipal government or your phone/cable/internet company? The answer to that question probably depends on which one failed you or which one's bill you most recently grumbled about paying, but after reading about a battle in the NC legislature over the ability of municipalities to provide high speed internet, you might be surprised at how you feel about your local government. From "The Empire Lobbies Back":

After a city in North Carolina built a Fiber-to-the-Home network competing with Time Warner Cable, the cable giant successfully lobbied to take that decision away from other cities.

The city of Wilson’s decision and resulting network was recently examined in a case study by Todd O’Boyle and Christopher Mitchell titled Carolina’s Connected Community: Wilson Gives Greenlight to Fast Internet. The new report picks up with Wilson’s legacy: an intense multiyear lobbying campaign by Time Warner Cable, AT&T, CenturyLink, and others to bar communities from building their own networks. The report examines how millions of dollars bought restrictions that encourage cable and DSL monopolies rather than new choices for residents and businesses…

Big cable and DSL companies try year after year to create barriers to community­‐owned networks. They only have to succeed once; because of their lobbying might, they have near limitless power to stop future bills that would restore local authority. North Carolina’s residents and businesses are now stuck with higher prices and less opportunity for economic development due to these limitations on local authority.

The report, which details industries efforts over the years that eventually resulted in the 2011 legislation that effectively banned municipal netorks, can be found here – and yes it's fairly biased, but still raises some really good points. One excerpt:

Far from providing a "level playing field" the Act has stifled public investment in community broadband networks and no one anticipates a local government building a network as long as it remains in effect. This reality should trouble all in North Carolina, as it cannot be globally, or even regionally, competitive simply by relying on last-generation connections from Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, or AT&T.

Cities near the border of North Carolina, including Danville, Virginia; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia all offer gigabit services via municipal utilities. Chattanooga's minimum network spped of 50 Mbps both downstream and upstream dwarfs what is available from DSL or cable networks. Many east coast communities outside of the Carolinas have access to Verizon's fiber optic FiOS, which also dramatically outperforms cable and DSL services. Services from AT&T, Time Warner Cable, and CenturyLink cannot compare to the services offered on modern networks.

Sounds like we in the Carolinas are doomed to live in a digital backwater for the foreseeable future. Perhaps municipal networks aren't the answer, but in this era of intense competition between states/cities to recruit new businesses wouldn't it be nice if our municipalities had kick-butt networks in their economic development quivers? And if the private sector can't provide it do we really want our cities/towns hamstrung by the inability to provide it themselves?

A Plea to Mayor Joines and Other Bigwigs in Camel City: Get Thee Googled

Google is getting ready to test some major league, high-speed fiber for municipalities and they are giving municipalities until March 26 to get express interest.  Ed Cone is hoping that Greensboro will lobby for the service so I'm putting in my plea to Winston-Salem to do the same.  From the Google site:

Google is planning to launch an experiment that we hope will make Internet access better and faster for everyone. We plan to test ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. Our networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We'll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

From now until March 26th, we're asking interested municipalities to provide us with information about their communities through a Request for information (RFI), which we'll use to determine where to build our network

Claudville, VA Gets First ‘White Space Network’

Tiny Claudville, VA (pop. 916) is just across the NC-VA state line about 15 miles northeast of Mt. Airy and it has the distinction of being the first place in the country to get a "white space network."  From the BusinessWire story:

For the first time in the U.S., unused TV broadcast channels freed up by the transition to digital TV are being used to wirelessly deliver high-speed Internet connectivity to business, education and community users. These unused frequencies are commonly referred to as TV white spaces. Under an experimental license granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Spectrum Bridge designed and deployed a wireless TV white spaces network to distribute broadband Internet connectivity in Claudville, Virginia. To ensure that Claudville residents can make the most of this new high-speed connectivity, Dell, Microsoft and the TDF Foundation contributed state-of-the-art computer systems and software applications to the local school, as well as the town’s new computer center. As a result, Claudville residents have already begun to reap the benefits of joining the online community…

TV white spaces are vacant channels in the television band and are ideal for sending broadband signals across long distances and for penetrating walls, trees and other objects. These TV white spaces hold enormous potential for expanding broadband access, particularly in rural and other underserved areas…

To discover what white spaces channels are available in your area, the Web site ShowMyWhiteSpace.com offers a free search tool that lists all open white spaces channels at any address in the U.S. This site also contains white spaces news and information, as well as links to FCC documents and other valuable white spaces resources.