Google Fiber in Utah: Contact Your Elected Officials

A critical component of convincing Google that their fiber optic build should be located in the Beehive State is participation not just from you and me, but also from elected officials. While it will be obvious that you should contact your city council members and mayor, have you also considered contacting your state legislators? Here’s what I wrote to Sen. Niederhauser and Rep. Beck:

Greetings Sen. Niederhauser and Rep. Beck;

As you may have heard, Google has offered to build a fiber optic network similar to UTOPIA designed to reach from 50,000 to 500,000 households. They are currently accepting proposals from municipalities and individuals in order to determine where they should build. The website with additional information and links to the applications is available here:

It would be absolutely incredible if Google decided to come to Utah to partner with or compliment UTOPIA’s efforts to improve our state’s critical telecommunications infrastructure. It would bring significant investment into the state and thousands of new jobs. I know you both likely have your hands full during this legislative session, but it would be very helpful if either or both of you would sponsor a resolution in favor of Google’s participation in our state and/or pass this along to the appropriate agencies within the executive branch. Google is only accepting proposals and nominations through March 26, so time is of the essence.

Thank you for your time and consideration. If you have questions about telecommunications or what Google is doing, please feel free to call or e-mail me.

While legislators are very busy people, especially as they consider how to balance the state budget, it can’t hurt to sent a short and concise e-mail urging them to adopt and pass such a simple resolution. If you don’t know who your legislators are, you can find out from the Utah Legislature website. You can also consider contacting your county government officials as well; the more support, the better!

Will President Obama Be Good For Broadband?

That depends on who you ask. Consumer groups are no doubt going to flip for his proposed expansions of online privacy, pushing providers to offer true next-generation speeds and fighting bandwidth caps. ISPs, free market types and the MPAA/RIAA are no doubt going to call foul on some of these proposals. Obama is also proposing to open up big chunks of wireless spectrum including the already-opened white spaces. Unfortunately, there’s no mention of fiber or enabling better competitive choice in our telecommunications options.

As a rarity, I’m going to ask that you drop your two cents into the comments and leave my opinion out of the main post. Do you think Obama will fix broadband? Which policies do you want to see him adopt?

UPDATE: Oops. Almost forgot to link to an article from DailyTech that details some of the proposals.

Broadband Bytes: Wednesday Edition

  • Popular Mechanics has an article about cable companies recompressing DTV signals. It also talks about bit rates and what makes HD look good or not.
  • Hate being forced to rent your cable box? This guy does to so he filed a class action lawsuit calling it an antitrust law violation. This would be one to watch the outcome here could mean the ability to purchase your HD Cable DVR from the company of our choice. Kind of like how you can walk into Walmart now and pick out a Cable modem of your choice.
  • Just how much bandwidth is enough? has an article with a few metrics. For those of you who read the EDUCAUSE article A Blueprint for Big Broadband these numbers won’t be much different. But a good summerized look at how much bandwidth it takes to push HDTV over that fiber.
  • Wonder what broadband speeds in Utah look like? The Communications Workers of America have their 2nd report out. The data is compiled from the speed test application on their site.
  • This was mentioned in the FreeUTOPIA forums by Capt. Video. It looks like 400 or so residents in Canada are going to own the last mile of fiber to their home. The fiber will terminate at a common peering location. Which they then will be able to choose their provider. The fiber is their’s they can sell it with the house, lease it to the neighbors, even roll the purchase into their shiny new morgage.
  • American Airlines began offering broadband today on flights. Unfortunately, you have to pay $12.95 to use it.

Broadband Bytes: Weekend Edition

  • Could things get ugly at Qwest? They still have not reached a labor agreement with the Communications Workers of America. Those 20,000 workers could begin a strike as early as Sunday (tomorrow), the day their existing contract expires.
  • “The U.S. may be winning world speed records in swimming at the Olympics, but not in average Internet speeds. According to a new report, the country that invented the Internet has now sunk to 15th worldwide in the percentage of the population subscribing to broadband.” This is a great AP News article that summarizes the state of broadband today in America and compares it with other countries. In other parts of the country, like Oklahoma, they are significantly behind. According to this article, Oklahoma ranks below most other states in broadband, which is a worry for officials. “Infrastructure and connection is so important to economic development…Many future industries will be knowledge-based.”
  • Could fiber optic networks get even more efficient in the future? New technological innovations suggest that by slowing down light, we can speed up the Internet.
  • The FCC has a proposal to build a national, free, wireless broadband network that nearly everyone could access. It is inching forward despite controversy and worries by T-Mobile and others about interference. They are seeking feedback on this plan. I would like to point out though that this will never replace the interference-free, low-latency, high-bandwidth connections that are possible with fiber optic networks.
  • We are in a political season, and broadband has now become an issue for politicians. One politician in Maine (Rep Tom Allen) declared in his race that “Affordable, accessible broadband is essential to our state’s economy,” placing it in importance next to other issues like health care and energy. In Ohio, a local congressman (Rep Zach Space) announced that he secured an agreement to allow a new telemedecine network to provide consumer high-speed service.
  • In the presidential race, net neutrality and other broadband issues have become points of contrast:
    • John McCain’s position: “John McCain does not believe in prescriptive regulation like “net-neutrality,” but rather he believes that an open marketplace with a variety of consumer choices is the best deterrent against unfair practices. John McCain has always believed the government’s role must be rooted in protecting consumers.”
    • Barack Obama’s position: “So here’s my view. We can’t have a situation in which the corporate duopoly dictates the future of the internet and that’s why I’m supporting what is called net neutrality.”
    • John McCain has put forward an excellent bill in the Senate called the Community Broadband Act of 2005, which Barack Obama has not yet signed on to. Interestingly, this bill is supported by EDUCAUSE and more than 40 education and trade associations, public interest groups, etc. This bill would protect the ability of local governments to provide Internet services
      to their communities. Jonathan Karras and I have talked about EDUCAUSE before. Though Obama hasn’t signed on to this bill, he has stated that “Every American should have the highest speed broadband access—no matter where you live, or how much money you have. We’ll connect schools, libraries, and hospitals. And we’ll take on special interests to unleash the power of wireless spectrum for our safety and connectivity.”
  • Many cities haven’t been as successful as they hoped in building various municipal broadband network, primary wireless networks. The first of these was Philidelphia. “Philadelphia’s goal to cover 135 square miles with a cloud of Internet connectivity was ambitious. But the need was undeniable. High-speed Internet access was fast becoming an economic, educational, and social necessity.” This article has an in-depth look at a lot of municipal networks around the country, but no mention of UTOPIA or IProvo.

Update: Qwest reached a tentative agreement with the labor unions.

Broadband Bytes: Wednesday Edition

By: Mike Taylor and Jonathan Karras

The fact that we will be doing a regular feature on broadband news shows that there is a lot of interest in this space.  At a recent Qwest webinar, lots of business attendees mentioned slow network speeds are a major concern.  Many people are supportive of UTOPIA for different reasons and come from different political persuasions, but the one cause that unites us is a desire to bring our communities into the future by supporting advancements in broadband deployments.  We feel it can’t be stressed enough that networks are the railroads of the 21st century.  Those cities that have it will prosper, those that don’t will be left by the wayside. 

Major telecom incumbents have been slow to invest in our communities and bring us faster network speeds that will be crucial for our economy and our quality of life.  In addition, these incumbents have fought and continue to fight efforts by others (like us) to improve broadband even when they themselves refuse to improve broadband speed, quality, and availability.  Our goal is to share news developments and insights pertaining to broadband in the hope that with a more informed community we can make better decisions to improve the availability of fast, consumer-friendly, choice-driven, high-quality broadband.  This kind of broadband is severely lacking in many parts of Utah, though fortunately, UTOPIA is changing that in more ways than one.

Without further ado, here is our first edition of Broadband Bytes:

  • Charter Communications says out with the old and in with the new. DOCSIS 3.0, SDV, and all digital in the works.  (Goodbye analog spectrum)
  • Delta: we love to fly with WiFi. Delta to offer WiFi on entire fleet.
  • Telecom sues Minnesota city for wanting to build FTTH network. Similar to UTOPIA except bonds were not backed with tax pledge.
  • A little older but interesting none-the-less: A firm in the UK to offer 100/Mb service over fiber run through the sewers. Wonder what those splices look like.
  • Qwest wanted to raise wholesale rates charged to competitors using its phone lines in four markets and the FCC said no.  XO Communications and the Arizona attorney general are pretty happy about it.

The Need for Speed: Comcast's Plans to Squeeze More Bandwidth From Aging Copper

In the quest to prepare for DOCSIS 3.0 without undertaking the necessary step of replacing aging coax with fiber, Comcast has been playing around with several solutions designed to postpone the inevitable and squeeze more bandwidth from their copper turnip. The end result? Freeing up anywhere from 25% to 50% of their available bandwidth on the coax last mile.

Continue reading