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498 weeks ago @ Telecompetitor - Stakeholders Seek Dive... · 1 reply · +1 points

Isn't this a rather empty D.C. discussion? It's every single bill-paying customer that gets hit for USF/CAF payments. What is it, 14%, 15% of my phone bill gets sucked into a $4 + billion pot of money *per year* that ends up mostly in the pockets of Verizon & AT&T?

509 weeks ago @ Political News and Opi... - Real Options for Poor ... · 0 replies · +1 points


Nice to see you again. Good to see you're reading my column.

This is an interesting column you reference from John Bennett. Since you've referenced it before, I'll assume it's part of your counterpoint to my comments. So I'll respond in the context of his thoughts.

My comments really aren't about Black folks being too poor to afford broadband, nor are they about what Bennett refers to as "false victimization." I've been doing broadband analysis and consulting work since 2005. One of these days maybe a greater segment of the population will understand that having Internet access, and having Internet speed and quality of service to achieve certain economic outcomes, are NOT one and the same.

Here's a simple example. Lots of people say poor folks and others need the Net to find jobs. My annual survey of economic development professionals shows only 5% believe making job searching easier is how the Net will have the biggest impact on improving individuals' ability to raise their personal financial status.

The main value, say the people who work every day on these issues, comes when low-income people can use the Internet to improve their job skills, transition to a new industry (with better opportunities) and start home-based businesses. And here's the kicker. Those pros say that communities need much faster broadband to achieve these goals than what's available in many urban AND rural communities.

You should check out this item - It will help you with your research.

In my column, the Youth Institute can afford much better broadband than what they're getting, but Verizon won't make the same technology available to them that's available in the wealthier areas of the same town. The big telcos rather consistently ignore low-income urban and rural areas with services that could pull them out of poverty when used effectively because the telcos can't make enough money from poor folks. Hell, they won't even serve rich folks if not enough of them are concentrated into a service area (one of the lessons I learned in my first book on community broadband).

So, unless and until communities tackle the issue of availability of broadband that is capable of delivering the speed and quality sufficient to produce a number of significant economic outcomes, there will be a divide in what those with less money can do online relative to what wealthier folks can do. By the way, my advice to urban communities isn't to ask for free service since free is worth what you pay for it. I tell communities to build and own our own infrastructure, provide our own Internet services and applications.

And just a side note. I've coached two adult women's soccer teams three times a week for quite a few years. If I ever wrote a column titled "If I Were a Poor White Girl," 10 seconds after I hit the "Submit" button, the blowback from my teams would be off the chain, as your ball players might say. And these women know me. No matter how enlightened and feminist leaning I may be, I'd be skating on mighty thin ice. It may seem a little thing, this particular choice of words "If I were [fill in the blank].." But they come with heavy "I know it all" baggage. But you probably know that by now.

521 weeks ago @ Telecompetitor - New Kansas Broadband N... · 0 replies · +1 points

Hats off to Emporia! Way to get it done. And more good news, it's not just Kansas that's getting the hang of getting community investors for broadband. Check out this story about two regional projects being funded this way -

535 weeks ago @ Longmont Times-Call - Anti-2A spending appro... · 0 replies · +1 points

[I posted this yesterday, maybe it'll stick today]

If you have some time to listen to the facts and history behind 2A, check out this interview with a couple of Longmont residents and active 2A supporters on the radio talk show, Gigabit Nation -

535 weeks ago @ Longmont Times-Call - Utah telecom part of L... · 0 replies · +1 points

If people want to get the full details on UTOPIA's transition under Todd Mariott, but more importantly learn how this one approach works for the communities involved, listen to this interview with Todd on Internet radio talk show Gigabit Nation - Not only is this a story about how one group of communities turned near disaster into a success, it offers another option that Longmont can weigh out along with other options.

563 weeks ago @ Telecompetitor - NCTA Comes Out Swingin... · 0 replies · +4 points

Here. Let me swing back.

Just because a community has a private sector provider DOES NOT mean the service provided is adequate to meet the economic development, education, telemedicine and other needs of the community that require tens, if not hundreds, of megs of speed. It is borderline criminal how giant telecom and cable companies have suckered some Congresspeople into believing an area covered by "advertised speeds" means individuals and businesses actually have broadband coverage.

Communities applying for grants had to go through a lot of hoops to show that 1) people in areas supposedly served by incumbents indeed were - or were not - getting services, and 2) the speeds at which they are getting coverage meets minimum broadband levels at which you can run meaningful applications. Using 3G as a benchmark to support their claims is a pretty weak argument. If we're going to spend millions to put broadband infrastructure, it's counterproductive to build down to the lowest denominator. Applicants got bonus points for delivering faster speeds, and I believe that's a good thing.

It's tiring listening to the large incumbents whine about "duplicate coverage" when so many of them fail to deliver speeds that impact local economic development. We have to stop being taken in by the hype of the industry, and get into the community trenches to see what they're really dealing with, and why these stimulus awards make sense. Communities and RUS did right when they supported and partnered with smaller regional or local telcos to build local infrastructure that's a counterpoint to inadequate services from larger companies.

566 weeks ago @ Telecompetitor - Are Community Broadban... · 3 replies · +1 points

Well, for starters, there are plenty of communities private sector companies won't serve at all. So it would be nice if the incumbents such as Time Warner in NC would stop acting like jackasses and let those communities do their thing. Then there are places such as Keen, NY and Franklin County, Va where the communities partner with private sector companies to give companies the financial boost they need to build a business.

There's a growing interest in creating arrangements in which the communities own the infrastructure and service providers offer services. Everyone wins. The problem is too many private companies lack vision or have an inability to drag their minds out of mid-20th Century thinking. The mantra of free market has become an anchor and chain about their ability to find creative solutions for a changing world. Sort of Neanderthal meets Einstein. It's not a pretty picture.

566 weeks ago @ Telecompetitor - Are Community Broadban... · 6 replies · +1 points

Here's a list of 10 community networks, most of which have been around for 5 - 10 years or more - And there's more. This column deconstructs the myth that muni networks are all failures. Far from it - And this article on the state of broadband in Washington, DC shows why community networks are a good idea in urban areas that are supposedly well served - The disparities described here are part of the reason DC got broadband stimulus money to build community infrastructure.

568 weeks ago @ Telecompetitor - Rural Telco Industry C... · 0 replies · +4 points

I wonder if anyone's pondered the question, are rural telcos being demonized by subtle wireless industry tactics? AT&T and Verizon, who reap the lion's share of USF money, have been vigorously selling (through multi-million dollar lobbying) a narrative that they walk on water and their sweat doesn't stink. Is it possible this report could have little to do with objective research, but something quietly encouraged by one of the big dogs to start an anti-rural telco narrative conveniently just at the time the FCC is deciding who continues to get USF money? If any of this is indeed the case, rural telcos need to think about collectively doing some all-out PR/lobbying to make their case for a bigger seat at the USF table.

581 weeks ago @ Telecompetitor - The Myth of Broadband ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I hear arguments like Frank's all the time. However, I find most of this off the mark. In the example of the industrial park, the issue isn't totally one of companies not providing services, it's that most of the services are inadequate to meet the current and projected needs. The city is doing a cost-analysis exercise to determine how much the long-term benefits of improved economic development justify the investment in city-own infrastructure, or infrastructure they own in partnership with a private company.

The ROI here from the city perspective is a combination of local economic growth and potential revenues to be generated. This is not the same ROI that many businesses can live with, or at least the time required to get a sufficient payback to satisfy company owners. So, if the community decides there is adequate payback to justify the investment, they will decide to move forward. They are justified - and accountable to local constituents not incumbents - in making whatever decision they make.

This move by the city I work with or many other cities will almost always result in companies jumping into that market to provide cheaper service and promises of faster services. We see it time and again. Incumbents whine about not being able to afford to bring business to an area, they moan about unfair competition. But once it becomes clear that the city's making the move, here come the private sector to build out infrastructure, offer local government partnerships, throw up all kinds of price "specials."

As I point out in my column, there's too much national telco b.s. when it comes to discussing competition. To their credit, I find that at least a good number of the small telcos and service providers make earnest efforts to partner with local communities.