Fiber broadband is big asset for homeowners

New report out by the Fiber to the Home Council says that an overwhelming majority of people who have fiber all the way to the home rank it as a “leading real estate amenity”, according to Gigaom.

Here’s a segment: “A national study of U.S. broadband consumers by RVA LLC Market Research and Consulting shows that fiber-to-the-home ranks higher than green spaces, a neighborhood patrol and a community pool when consumers are evaluating planned communities.” Wilson’s Greenlight is a fiber to the home network.

Fiber to the home is different than copper networks, which still dominate the NC landscape right now. Copper wires are the same technology that brought you cable in the 70s. When I first fired up Mtv as a young kid, I saw it over copper wires. Great for nostalgia, but not so great for the demands of today’s Internet.

Fiber is different. It carries huge amounts of data and is the next generation of true high-speed Internet access. Wilson’s network, Greenlight, is ALL fiber. One cable company even advertises its “advanced fiber network”, but it’s mostly the same copper wires that have been in place for years. Greenlight offers the fastest Internet speeds in NC, and some of the fastest in the US.

Makes it a little more clear why the cable company is trying so hard to prevent Wilson and cities like it from building and maintaining next-generation networks.


NC Legislature tackling money issues; still no decision on broadband

Hasn’t been much to report lately in our battle with the monopoly bills. Long story short, our state’s elected leaders have had their hands full this summer and, apparently, neither bill has been worthy of a big push lately.

That said, the lobbyists from the cable company live in those buildings and have been pretty cozy with some lawmakers during our visits. They walk into the the back door of the committee rooms, the door with the sign that says, “For Lawmakers only” and one of them was handed the phone a few weeks ago after I called a senator’s office for more information. He was pretty surprised the assistant handed the phone to him. “Just happened to be walking by” he said. Mm hmm.

June 26th, and as of now, the lawmakers have focused on our state’s fiscal situation instead of passing either of these protectionist bills. That said, these things tend to flare up pretty quickly. Both are en route to study bills right now and could pop up anytime.

I’ll let you know if I hear anything. Thanks to all for everything.

Great municipal broadband site

Wilson is one of many US cities working to fill the gap for next-generation broadband coverage. There’s a site I learned about recently that has info about a lot of those places.

Municipal Networks and Community Broadband is a site run by Christopher Mitchell. It includes coverage of Wilson, the pro-monopoly NC broadband bills that were introduced by lawmakers and lots of other good stuff. His page also includes links to lots of other page – some that we’ve mentioned here.

Good luck, Christopher.

Letter from Google, Alcatel, other private companies

I want to make sure you see a letter that was sent a few weeks ago to NC Governor Bev Perdue, Speaker Joe Hackney and others. It’s from Google, Alcatel and some other household names.

Most are private sector. They understand that next-generation broadband networks like the City of Wilson’s Greenlight provide opportunity, not competition. You don’t see any of these companies pushing these protectionist bills.

Here’s the jointly-signed letter. Here’s a pdf if you’d like to print it.

The Honorable Joe Hackney
North Carolina House of Representatives
2207 State Legislative Building
Raleigh, NC 27601-1096

Dear Speaker Hackney:

We, the undersigned private-sector companies and trade associations urge you to oppose HB1252, the so-called “Level Playing Field Act.” HB1252 is “level” only in the sense that it will harm both the public and private sectors. It will thwart public broadband initiatives, stifle economic growth, prevent the creation or retention of thousands of jobs, and diminish quality of life in North Carolina. In particular, it will hurt the private sector by undermining public-private partnerships, hamstringing our ability to sell our goods and services, interfering with workforce development, and stifling creativity and innovation.

The United States is currently suffering through one of the most serious economic crises in decades. We also continue to lag behind the leading nations in per capita broadband adoption, access to high-capacity networks, cost per unit of bandwidth, and growth of new broadband users. To address these concerns, Congress and the Obama Administration have made more than $7 billion available to catalyze public and private efforts to accelerate deployment of broadband infrastructure and services. States can ill afford to enact measures like HB1252, which impair use of these broadband funds and the ability of the public and private sectors to work hand-in-hand to reverse these trends.

We support strong, fair and open competition to ensure users can enjoy the widest range of choice and opportunities to access content online, which is the heart of economic development in an information-based global market. HB1252 is a step in the wrong direction. North Carolina should be lowering barriers to public broadband initiatives rather than establishing new ones, so that we and other high technology companies can spread and prosper across this beautiful state. Please oppose HB1252.

American Public Power Association
Atlantic Engineering Group, Inc.
Fiber to the Home Council
Google, Inc.
Intel Corporation
Utilities Telecom Council
Telecommunications Industry Association

“Does anyone even NEED 100Mbps?”

That’s a paraphrase of a statement a cable company rep. told a reporter in this area not long ago when referring to Wilson’s municipal fiber optic network. After all, most people in the US are lucky to get 6Mbps download (and a fraction of that upload).

Wilson offers 100Mbps residential service today through Greenlight. Will there ever be mainstream demand for it, like the cable guy says? Check out what’s happening in South Korea where five MILLION residents have 100Mbps service in their homes. From Telecoms Korea:

The number of 100 Mbps Internet subscribers in Korea passed 5 million as of April, according to industry statistics.

Among 12.7 million Internet subscribers, 5.1 million (about 40 percent) subscribers are using high-speed Internet. The portion of 100 Mbps Internet subscribers rose from 20 percent in 2006 to 29 percent in 2007, and then 39 percent in 2008.

Some would have you believe that Americans don’t NEED triple-digit speeds. I think our friends in Korea would suggest otherwise.

FCC Looking at Rural Broadband Strategy

You’ve probably heard by now that the FCC is looking at a rural broadband strategy – a plan to make broadband access “ubiquitous’ and available to every one who wants it, regardless of where they live.

One of the reasons our city built its own next-generation broadband system is because the large companies typically make improvements in the more populated areas. If you’re the cable company, you would improve your aging infrastructure in Charlotte, for example, before you would in Wilson. That’s understandable, because the motive is profit.

The motive for a local community like ours is to have that infrastructure in place now. We didn’t want to wait until we were profitable enough for the improvements.

You can read the entire report online. Here’s an exerpt from Michael Copps, acting FCC chairman:

Although we are at an early stage in the national effort, the Report makes a number of recommendations that I hope will facilitate the rapid and widespread buildout of state-of-the-art broadband access facilities to every street corner and winding road, and every home and business in America. Such a transformation will rival the building of the roads, canals, and ports that made commerce possible in pre-Civil War America; the transcontinental railroads that made us a continental power in the late nineteenth century; the national highway system that opened the way for rapid transportation and demographic migration in the last century; and the immense efforts to extend telephone and electrical service to the far corners of America.

Acting FCC Chair nails reason for municipal broadband

Government isn’t always known as being proactive. In many cases, the private market handles America’s needs and wants quite well.

But, there are cases when a service is absolutely appropriate for government; highways, clean water, police and fire.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps said recently that local government also has a role in providing broadband to under-served areas. I love this quote:  “Relying on market forces alone will not bring robust and affordable broadband services to all parts of rural America,” he writes. “Therefore, all levels of government should explore ways to help overcome the high costs of rural broadband deployment.” You can read his full comments at Daily Yonder.

We’re still waiting here in NC to see what happens to the anti-city broadband bills, HB 1252 and HB 1004. Both are going to commitee, but there’s a lot of lateral movement in Raleigh and you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen. We’ll do our best to keep you up to date.