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2015: The Trend Line for Communications Services -- Phone, Broadband, Internet, Cable TV & Wireless -- Sucks

2015: The Trend Line for Communications Services -- Phone, Broadband, Internet, Cable TV & Wireless -- Sucks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
As a telecom analyst for over 30+ years, I've been tracking the trend lines of communications services. And from the customer perspective -- your perspective -- 2015 will be like watching a train wreck in slow motion -- and continue over the next few...
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community broadband networks | Helping Communities Achieve True Self-Determination

community broadband networks | Helping Communities Achieve True Self-Determination | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
Helping Communities Achieve True Self-Determination | community broadband networks http://t.co/FPLM5VYd2O via @communitynets
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All Hands On Deck: Minnesota Local Government Models for Expanding Fiber Internet Access | community broadband networks

All Hands On Deck: Minnesota Local Government Models for Expanding Fiber Internet Access | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

In 2010 the Minnesota legislature set a goal: universal access to high speed broadband throughout the state by 2015. As 2015 approaches we know that large parts of Greater Minnesota will not achieve that goal, even as technological advances make the original benchmarks increasingly obsolete.

But some Minnesota communities are significantly exceeding those goals. Why? The activism of local governments.

A new report by ILSR, widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable organizations on municipal broadband networks, details the many ways Minnesota’s local governments have stepped up. “All Hands On Deck: Minnesota Local Government Models for Expanding Fiber Internet Access” includes case studies of 12 Minnesota cities and counties striving to bring their citizens 21st century telecommunications.

“When national cable and telephone companies have refused to modernize their communications systems, local governments have stepped up. And in the process saved money, attracted new businesses, and made it more likely that their youth will stick around,” says Chris Mitchell, Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s (ILSR) Community Broadband Networks Initiative.

--Windom, which is one of the most advanced networks in the state, built their own network after their telephone company refused to invest in their community.


--Dakota County showed how a coordinated excavation policy can reduce by more than 90 percent the cost of installing fiber.


--Lac qui Parle County partnered with a telephone cooperative to bring high speed broadband to its most sparsely population communities.

ILSR’s report is particularly timely because this week, the governor’s office began accepting applications for the state’s new $20 million initiative Border-to-Border program. “We hope that before communities submit their applications they read this report to learn what others have done,” says Mitchell.

 

Click headline to read more and access hot link to download the full report--

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Local Tennessee Communities Rally Behind Chattanooga's EPB | Lisa Gonzalez | community broadband networks

Local Tennessee Communities Rally Behind Chattanooga's EPB | Lisa Gonzalez | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

As the FCC contemplates the fate of the Chattanooga EPB's ability to expand to surrounding communities, some of those Tennessee communities are publicly announcing their support.

 

The Town of Kimball and Marion County, both part of the Chattanooga metro area, have passed resolutions asking state legislators to reconsider Tennessee's anti-muni law.

 

The Times Free Press reports that Kimball's Board of Mayor and Alderman unanimously and officially asked their state officials to introduce legislation enabling local authority. They requested action as early as the next legisaltive session.

 

Marion County passed a similar resolution in August - also unanimously. According to Kimball's City Attorney Bill Gouger:

 

"It is a situation where there are providers out there who would like to extend fiber-optic cable and high-speed Internet-type systems throughout our county," Gouger said. "The simple fact is, right now, our state laws make that really difficult to do, if not impossible."

 

County Mayor David Jackson is reaching out to the other municipalities in Marion County to increase support. From the article:

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Fiber fight: Broadening broadband Gig City touted as model in broadband debate - Chattanooga Times Free Press

Fiber fight: Broadening broadband Gig City touted as model in broadband debate - Chattanooga Times Free Press | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
In a growing number of cities, high-speed Internet is seen as another essential utility, like water, sewers, roads or electricity.
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The FCC To Host Net Neutrality Round Tables | TechCrunch

The FCC To Host Net Neutrality Round Tables | TechCrunch | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will host four "Open Internet Round Tables" to discuss a number of topics that relate to net neutrality. The..
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The Path to Community Broadband Runs Through an Army of Telecom Lawyers - Motherboard

The Path to Community Broadband Runs Through an Army of Telecom Lawyers - Motherboard | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
The Path to Community Broadband Runs Through an Army of Telecom Lawyers Motherboard But, in the meantime, another skirmish—over local communities' rights to take their broadband destiny into their own hands by creating local networks—has again...
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Cities to FCC: Remove Barriers to Broadband Competition - Governing

Cities to FCC: Remove Barriers to Broadband Competition - Governing | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
Cities to FCC: Remove Barriers to Broadband Competition
Governing
The fight over cities' rights to own, operate and expand community broadband networks now has a new battleground – the FCC.
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Minnesota's Lake County Fiber Network Begins Connecting Customers | community broadband networks

Minnesota's Lake County Fiber Network Begins Connecting Customers | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

The Lake County fiber network is now serving a limited number of customers in northern Minnesota. According to the Lake County News Chronicle, the network's triple-play services are lit and bringing better connectivity to Silver Bay and Two Harbors.

 

About 100 customers in Silver Bay take service via the network; beta testers in Two Harbors are helping Lake Connections, the entity managing the network, straighten out any kinks in Phase One. Phase Two, which is more than 60% complete, will bring service to Duluth Township, Knife River, Silver Creek Townships, and Beaver Bay Township. Phase Two is scheduled for completion this summer; Lake Connections anticipates network completion in the fall of 2015.

 

The Lake County project has been plagued with problems, including delays cause by incumbents. Mediacom filed complaints with the Inspector General based on unsound allegations. While the cable company was not confident enough to sue, its accusations wasted time and money for Lake County. Frontier asserted ownership of a significant number of Two Harbors utility poles, even though the City has maintained them, and the two are still involved in negotiations over ownership and fiber placement on the poles. The Minnesota Cable Companies Association (MCCA) delayed the project further by submitting a massive data request.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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The FCC Is Our Best Shot to Restore Local Authority | community broadband networks

The FCC Is Our Best Shot to Restore Local Authority | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

For the first time in many years, we have an opportunity to repeal some particularly destructive state laws limiting investment in community networks. To be clear, this is our best shot. I've already covered the background and offered a blanket encouragement for you to post comments.

 

Chairman Wheeler has been looking for an opportunity to expand local authority by removing state laws that limit investment in Internet networks. The cable and telephone companies are marshalling their considerable forces to stop him. But we can, and must help.

 

We have spent years analyzing these state barriers for ways to restore local authority. The FCC, using its Section 706 power, is our best shot. The carriers have far too much power in the state capitals, which means that even when we have public opinion squarely on our side, the carriers easily kill state bills to restore local authority.

 

Anyone who thinks we have a better shot at rolling back state barriers individually in the states rather than with this FCC is wrong. Really wrong. Between Art Pope and Time Warner Cable lobbyists, there is no hope for any legislation that would threaten cable monopolies in North Carolina.

 

These petitions on municipal networks are not some FCC smokescreen related to the network neutrality proceeding. In fact, we at ILSR remain publicly frustrated with the FCC's failure to act more strongly in protecting the open Internet. But Chairman Wheeler, for reasons that seem somewhat personal to him, is particularly motivated to remove the anti-competitive laws passed by big cable and telephone company lobbyists. It strikes a chord with him and I, for one, am glad to see him taking action on it.

 

Anyone who claims action on municipal networks is some sort of trade for giving up on network neutrality is, once again, really wrong. For one thing, a trade requires two parties and I have yet to identify a single entity that would trade meaningful open Internet protections for rolling back a few barriers to municipal networks. Haven't found one. Not even us.

 

Further, restoring local authority on municipal networks is not a trade for the FCC later preempting local authority over the rights-of-way because once again, no one is ready to take that deal. Advocates of local decision-making authority tend to oppose preemption as a matter of course.

 

In the case of the current FCC proceedings, it must be noted that the FCC is actually being asked to preempt preemption, which is to say the principle remains that local authority should be respected. The FCC will remove state restrictions on local authority; no community will be required to take action it prefers not to.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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ILSR Submits Comments to FCC on Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet | community broadband networks

ILSR Submits Comments to FCC on Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance recently submitted comments to the FCC as part of its Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet proceeding.

 

ILSR focused on the issue of paid prioritization, reclassification, and regulation of content. We also provided some examples of municipal networks that provide fast, reliable, affordable service and do not rely on paid prioritization to serve customers.

 

From the ILSR comments:

 

"The FCC should be extremely wary of any arguments that claim paid prioritization or other discriminatory practices are necessary to increase investment in next-generation networks. These networks are already being built and paying for themselves in both public and private approaches (as well as partnerships mixing the two). ILSR sees no reason to believe any additional revenues gained by discriminatory pricing would be reinvested in improving DSL and cable networks as the largest firms operating these networks generally face little competitive pressure to upgrade. That is the problem, not a lack of revenue in the current model.

 

Our reading of the various court decisions suggest the only option for the FCC to preserve the open Internet and prevent big cable and telephone companies from tinkering with the established principle of non-discriminatory carriage is reclassification and urge the FCC to take this step. However, we also urge the FCC to take actions to prevent any regulation of content. The FCC should concern itself with the transmission of information, regardless of what that information is, consistent with long-held Internet principles."

 

Click headline to read more and access hot link to download the complete ILSR comments--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Community Network Media Roundup: Week of August 1 | community broadband networks

Community Network Media Roundup: Week of August 1 | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

The effort to restore local authority in deciding whether or not to build a municipal fiber network is full speed ahead.

 

On Monday, the FCC responded to petitions from Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC by opening up formal proceedings on the matter, and requesting people weigh in on the issue. Reporters from the Washington Post to GovTech covered the story.

 

Starting off this week’s Media roundup, we hear from Carl Weinschenk with IT Business Edge. He stated what we’ve all been thinking (and saying) for a while now:

 

“The fight over the right of municipalities to build their own networks seems like such a no-brainer that it takes some digging to even figure out why opposition to the idea exists.”


The Switch’s Brian Fung helped do that digging, and wrote an excellent piece on how the municipalization of electricity in the late-19th century fits into the discussion, and how that history can help to build a case for community networks.

 

Click headline to read more of the roundup--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Benton Foundation | The Benton Foundation works to ensure that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance our democracy.

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Michigan's First Gigabit Village - Community Broadband Bits Episode 126 | community broadband networks

Michigan's First Gigabit Village - Community Broadband Bits Episode 126 | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

The small village of Sebewaing has become the first gigabit village in the state of Michigan. Superintendent of Sebewaing Light and Water utility Melanie McCoy joins us to discuss the project on episode 126 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.

 

With approximately 1,800 people, Sebewaing has cracked the code for a small local government to deliver gigabit services to the community. In the show, we discuss previous telecommunications investments by the village and how they financed the gigabit fiber deployment.

 

We also discuss how Michigan law, designed to discourage municipal networks, delayed the project and increased the costs as well as the annoyance to many residents who long ago became impatient with how long it took to begin turning on the Internet service.

 

Read our full coverage of Sebewaing here.

 

Click headline to listen to the podcast--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Lexington Plans RFI for Gigabit Network in Kent...

Lexington Plans RFI for Gigabit Network in Kent... | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
Lexington, Kentucky, the second biggest city in the state with the second slowest broadband speeds in the nation, has announced plans to issue a request for information for a gigabit network within the next six months.
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Lafayette, LA | Three New Companies Move to the Silicon Bayou | community broadband networks

Lafayette, LA | Three New Companies Move to the Silicon Bayou | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

In the past few months, Lafayette has drawn in three high tech companies that will create approximately 1,300 well-paying positions. In addition to the community's commitment to boost its high-tech workforce, better connectivity offered by LUS Fiber helped attract the new businesses.

According to a Daily World article, the most recent addition is Perficient, Inc. The information technology and management consulting company is based in St. Louis. Perficient will add 50 new positions by the end of 2015 and another 245 over the next 6 years; average annual salary will be $60,000. The area should also see 248 additional indirect jobs. Perficient leadership intends to recruit from South Louisiana Community College and University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

This past spring, CGI announced it would employ 400 high-tech employees in a new finance facility in Lafayette. CGI will also recruit from the local high-tech educational programs. James Peake from CGI told the Advocate that the company has made an effort to keep tech positions "onshore" rather than sending them overseas. From the article:

CGI Vice President Dave Henderson cited UL-Lafayette’s top-ranked computer science program and Lafayette’s growing workforce and fiber-optic network.

This past summer, start-up Enquero announced it would open a tech center in Lafayette. The Milpitas, California company plans to hire 350 new employees by the end of 2017. City officials also expect to see 354 new indirect positions. According to Bloomberg Business Week, Enquero executives considered New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and four other states.

From City-Parish President Joey Durel's official statement:

"These are exactly the kinds of jobs we had in mind when we launched Lafayette's fiber-optic initiative in 2004, so I am thrilled to see that companies are starting to recognize what Lafayette has to offer with its affordable, gigabit speeds...I know Enquero will not regret their decision to locate in Lafayette. This community’s investment in itself is paying off.”

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Community Broadband Media Roundup - November 30, 2014 | community broadband networks

Community Broadband Media Roundup - November 30, 2014 | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

This week in community broadband, more communities are adding broadband to the list of essential utilities, and many of them are turning to Chattanooga as a model “gig city.”

 

As Times Free Press’s Dave Flessner reports, the great thing about Chattanooga's approach is that it’s not just about Internet. In fact, the broadband boom is really an unintended benefit of the city’s cutting edge smart grid, which keeps the city’s lights on and powers the economy as well.

 

"What we're going to try to do is bring some of the brilliant people from Warner Bros., Fox, Disney and IBM down here to Chattanooga to help them get their heads wrapped around this notion that you've got to stop worrying about scarcity," [Annenberg Innovation Lab director Jonathan] Taplan said.

 

Last year, T-Bone Burnett, a Grammy Award winner, performed "The Wild Side of Life" from a Los Angeles studio with Chuck Mead, a founder of the band BR549 who was on stage in Chattanooga.

 

"They sang a song together over 2,000 miles apart," Taplin said. "That's the power of gigabit Internet. I think we're just beginning to think of the possibilities of what this thing can do."

 

And Android Authority’s William Neilson Jr. explores the desire for faster connections and more choices.

 

“Isn’t it amazing how much faster broadband speeds are in parts of the country where there are a number of broadband options available to residents? How many times am I going to write an article detailing a broadband provider telling a city that they don’t need “fast” speeds even though the city is universally angry at their lack of broadband options?”

 

Of course, we see the product of how increased competition brings better service even more clearly in communities that have municipal networks, not just in Google's Kansas City network. It is an outcome that all communities can achieve if they regain the authority to do so. 

 

In the beginning, Lafayette, Louisiana created its own utility system. And it was good. Steve Stackhouse Kaelble goes back to the very beginning of municipalization of utilities in his research on public power this week:

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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North Carolina Town Saves Public Dollars With Its Own Network | community broadband networks

North Carolina Town Saves Public Dollars With Its Own Network | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

On June 18 Holly Springs, home to approximately 25,000 people, started saving money with its new fiber I-Net. Last summer, the Town Council voted to invest in fiber infrastructure as a way to take control of telecommunications costs. Just one year later, the 13-mile network is serving community anchor institutions.

 

After exploring options with CTC Technology and Energy, Holly Springs determined that deploying their own $1.5 million network was more cost effective than paying Time Warner Cable for data services. Annual fees were $159,000; over time those costs certainly would have escalated. According to the Cary News, Holly Springs anticipates a future need for more bandwidth:

 

“And we wouldn’t have been able to actually afford as much (data) as we need,” [Holly Springs IT Director Jeff Wilson] said. “Our costs were going to be getting out of control over the next couple of years.”

 

Because state law precludes the town from offering services to homes or businesses, Holly Springs plans to use the new infrastructure in other ways. State law allows the community to offer free Wi-Fi; the town will also lease dark fiber to third-party providers. According to the News article, the town has already entered into a 20-year contract with DukeNet, recently acquired by Time Warner Cable. DukeNet may expand the fiber to the Holly Springs Business Park for commercial clients.

 

The community's free Wi-Fi in public facilities is approximately 20 times faster than it was before the deployment, reports the News:

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Who Should Decide? States' Rights, Local Authority and the Future of the Internet - Huffington Post

Who Should Decide? States' Rights, Local Authority and the Future of the Internet - Huffington Post | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
Who Should Decide? States' Rights, Local Authority and the Future of the Internet
Huffington Post
Of the 160 municipally owned broadband networks, the successes vastly outnumber the failures.
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UT: Utopia at a Crossroads: Part 3 | community broadband networks

UT: Utopia at a Crossroads: Part 3 | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

This is the final installment of a three part series, in which we examine the current state of the UTOPIA network, how it got there, and the choices it faces going forward. Part I can be read here and Part II here. 


In Part I of this story, we laid out the difficult situation the open access UTOPIA network finds itself in and how it got there. Part II gave the broad outlines of Macquarie’s preliminary proposal for a public-private partnership to complete and operate the network. The numbers we deal with here are mostly from the Milestone One report, and assumed the participation of all 11 cities. It should be noted that since five of eleven UTOPIA cities opted out of proceeding to Milestone Two negotiations, the scope and scale of the project is subject to change. The basic structure of the potential deal is mostly set, however, allowing us to draw some reasonable conclusions about whether or not this deal is good for the citizens of the UTOPIA cities.

 

Let’s first turn to why Macquarie wants to make this investment.  This would be the firm’s first large scale broadband network investment in the U.S., allowing it to get a foothold in a massive market that has a relatively underdeveloped fiber infrastructure. To offset network build and operation costs, it will also be guaranteed the revenue from the monthly utility fee, which my very rough calculations put between $18 and $20 million for the six cities opting in to Milestone Two (or between $30 and $33 million per year for all 11 cities) depending on whether the final fee ends up closer to $18 or $20 per month.

 

Jesse Harris of FreeUTOPIA puts Macquarie’s base rate of return between 3.7% and 4.7%, which is slim enough that they should have the incentive to make the network successful and truly universal, boosting their share of the revenue from transport fees in the process.

 

The monthly utility fee is a difficult pill for UTOPIA cities to swallow politically, and has allowed opponents to paint it as a massive new tax.  But this claim ignores the costs of the existing $500 million debt (including interest), which will have to be paid regardless of whether the network is ever completed or any more revenue is generated.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Rural Indiana Looks to Tax Increment Financing to Build Fiber Networks | community broadband networks

Rural Indiana Looks to Tax Increment Financing to Build Fiber Networks | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

Wabash County, Indiana wants to expand its access to high speed internet through a fiber optic network build out, and is planning to use a distinctive financial tool to do so. The Wabash County Redevelopment Commission has begun the process of assigning a special Economic Development Area designation for the purpose of helping to finance new fiber deployment through parts of the mostly rural county of 33,000 people.

 

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is method of public financing that uses future gains in property or sales taxes within a defined area to subsidize a redevelopment or infrastructure project. A local jurisdiction can borrow money up front, build the project, and then use the increased tax receipts it generates to pay off the debt over a period of years. The concept is actually pretty simple: capture the value that something will have in the future to build it now.

 

TIF  has been a popular approach among local politicians around the country for decades as a way to work around tight budgets and finance improvements in blighted areas, often in the form of public infrastructure. It has sometimes drawn criticism, especially in cities like Chicago where it is very heavily used. One downside is that it effectively takes properties off the general tax rolls. 

 

More important for our purposes, however, is that the use of TIF for next generation fiber optic networks is a fairly new phenomenon. While municipal networks around the country have used a wide range of financing approaches to cover upfront costs, most have revolved in some way around bonds that are repaid from network revenue. Using TIF to capture the increased property value that a fiber optic network would create is an interesting approach.

 

In the case of Wabash County, it’s not yet clear exactly how the funds would be used. There is a local private incumbent provider, Metronet, which received $100,000 last year to match its own $1 million investment to bring fiber to a town on the north edge of the county. The county also has a cooperative utility (Wabash County REMC) that provides power and telephone services in rural areas and has expressed interest in using TIF to build out a fiber network. Whichever entity ultimately receives TIF money, it does not appear that the county is interested in owning the network itself.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Oklahoma's Sallisaw Passes Resolution to Support FCC As It Considers Preemption | community broadband networks

Oklahoma's Sallisaw Passes Resolution to Support FCC As It Considers Preemption | community broadband networks | Community Broadband | Scoop.it

Sallisaw,OK home of DiamondNet, is the latest community to publicly express its desire to put telecommunications authority in the hands of the locals. On July 14, the Sallisaw Board of City Commissioners approved Resolution 2014-17 in support of the FCC's intention to preempt state anti-muni laws.

 

A Resolution Supporting Telecommunications Infrastructure For Local Governments

 

WHEREAS, local governments, being closest to the people are the most accountable level of government and will be held responsible for any decisions they make; and

 

WHEREAS, community/municipal broadband networks provide opportunities to improve and encourage innovation, education, health care, economic development, and affordable Internet access; and

 

WHEREAS, historically, the City of Sallisaw has ensured access to essential services by providing those services that were not offered by the private sector at a reasonable and competitive cost; and

 

WHEREAS, in 2004 the City of Sallisaw took steps to construct its own Fiber to the Premise telecommunications system and now provides the community with quality state-of-the-art broadband services including video, High Speed Internet and telephones services, that otherwise would not be available today; and 

 

WHEREAS, local government leaders recognize that their economic health and survival depend on connecting their communities, and they understand that it takes both private and public investment to achieve this goal; and

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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3D printing & community broadband will change the world! Are you ready?

3D printing & community broadband will change the world! Are you ready? | Community Broadband | Scoop.it
Feetz don't fail me now! Chattanooga this week unveiled several awe-inspiring 3D applications that development teams created this summer on the city's gig network.
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