Tennessee Fiber Spurs Economic Growth

The tiny town of Jackson, TN (pop: 60,000) has become a new hub for tech companies after rolling out its own municipal fiber project. These companies are doing everything from remote data backups to software hosting using the high-speed network built by the city's power agency. With these kinds of high-speed connections, area businesses don't have to maintain as much of their own IT infrastructure, instead accessing applications over the network. Businesses in Jackson's IT industry and looking to use the high-speed connections to spread across the country. Truly a world-class data network is essential for attracting cutting-edge businesses.

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Fiber Battle in Wilson NC Heating Up

Time Warner showed it wasn't afraid to flex some muscle at a recent public hearing in Wilson, NC concerning their planned deployment of a fiber optic network. Predictably, they pulled out the tired "taxpayer money" and "competing with private enterprise" lines like so many broken records. The city rightly demonstrated that the fiber system isn't even a comparable product since it's leaps and bounds beyond what the incumbent is offering. This is going to be one of the fiber battles to watch, just like the fight in Batavia, IL.

(See full articles here and here.)

Verizon Can't Make Up Its Mind on Fiber

As much as Verizon likes to hype its FIOS service, it seems to be very non-committal as to who exactly it's going to serve. It recently spun off its landline operations in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to Fairpoint Communications, a company with no plans to continue the FTTH network started by Verizon. In the meantime, the telecom giant is hyping projects in Washington state and New York City. This smells a lot like cherry-picking to me, and with its unquenchable thirst for state-wide franchise agreements, you can bet it's only downhill from here.

(See full articles here, here and here.)

Study Shows Benefits of Public Owning Infrastructure

A study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance argues that public ownership of telecommunications infrastructure is a major boon to taxpayers and municipalities. Among the benefits are increased competition, improved local revenues, lower end-user prices, true Net Neutrality, universal access, and economic development. It seems the only losers are the incumbents who've been used to gouging us while shutting out competition. No tears shed there.

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Qwest Biding Its Time on Fiber

Don't count on Qwest to roll out universal fiber services anytime soon. Qwest has decided to take its time with FTTH projects, preferring to only roll them out to popular master planned developments as opposed to wide-spread deployment. Given that they've only recently solicited bids for a major fiber project, I'd say that most or all of the original UTOPIA cities will be built out before Qwest has fiber anywhere but the Daybreak community in South Jordan. I guess they're not serious about competing internationally or providing us with the high-speed services we demand.

The big irony here is that Qwest got towns like South Jordan and Sandy to not join UTOPIA because they promised next-generation services in those towns Real Soon Now(TM). I guess we can chalk up a few more broken promises from this RBOC.

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US Broadband Still Low in Fiber

Several news stories have come out recently showing Japan, Korea, and China not only with more broadband deployments than the US, but faster growth as well. This is in spite of efforts by large providers like Verizon and AT&T to roll out new fiber projects like FIOS and U-Verse. Japan now tops 7 million fiber users and is having to upgrade backbones to over 40Gbit/s to maintain speed with 100Gbit/s on the horizon. The short of it is that our nation's telecommunications companies don't seem to have the will or vision to compete with other industrialized nations and maintain our edge, preferring to compete only with each other at our expense. Even when the service is semi-competitive on speed or features, the prices are significantly higher than what Koreans and Japanese enjoy. Now more than ever, we need market-leading fiber projects like UTOPIA to even the international scorecard.

(See full articles here, here, and here as well as more on U-Verse and information on SureWest pushing a 100% fiber network instead of a fiber/coax hybrid.)

iProvo Fires Back

Provo took the Reason Foundation to task on its assertion that iProvo is a financial sinkhole, showing that their report was ill-founded and premature. Not only does the city defend loans from the electric fund to make bond payments, but it also shows that the demand for the kind of service that iProvo provides is robust, scoring an average of 60 new subscribers every week with a market penetration of 25% of the available customers.

(See full articles here, here, and here.)

Qwest Planning Major FTTH Project?

Qwest has apparently started soliciting bids for new fiber equipment for a new major project, quite possibly a new fiber network designed to compete with projects like UTOPIA. They've already been trying out fiber in the South Jordan subdivision of Daybreak, and this would be a major escalation likely designed to try going head-to-head with UTOPIA and iProvo. The municipal projects, however, have a very large lead on deployment. Qwest will be left playing catch-up for years, especially since UTOPIA can flip a switch to up the bandwidth. Does Qwest have a chance? With their history of high prices and poor service, this seems like a case of too little, too late.

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Lawrence Lessig Talks Muni Fiber

Lawrence Lessig, a long time technology pundit, writes in Wired this month about how he was wrong to think that regulation would solve the monopoly problem with Microsoft. He continues that train of thought by proposing that maybe Net Neutrality can be saved not by regulations, but by more open networks like municipal fiber projects. And yet, somehow, he fails to mention UTOPIA, the biggest muni fiber project in the country? I have to wonder where his head's at on that one. It's a good read about how this shift in telecommunications will fix the problems of telco monopolies, just as has been done with Microsoft.

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