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News and comments on community broadband networks, the communities deploying them and the technologies that support them. Published by Denise Frey and Al Bonnyman.

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Friday, April 09, 2004

 

Cell phone jammers also jam power utility wireless systems

The New York Times has an excellent article on the ethical and technical issues associated with cell phone jammers.

My employer, Fiber Planners, has at least one power utility client that's reported interference to its' internal wireless communications system. Their system operates on other licensed frequencies, indicating that at least some of the jammers are not very discriminating. Interference with licensed power utility radio systems is a violation of federal law.

This client spent several days investigating before they isolated the problem. Since the first occurrence, they've had a second, unrelated incident.

One of their jammer users was a strip joint that didn't want picture phone users sending pictures of dancers. The other was a church that didn't want interruptions.

(Link from BroadbandReports.com)

#

 

Nicaragua: ABB building cross-country fiber link for ENTRESA

In Nicaragua, Swedish-Swiss conglomerate ABB is building a fiber optic link from Managua to the remote town of Bluefields on the Atlantic coast for ENTRESA, the national power transmission utility. This link will cross dense rain forest and tie the capital into the ARCOS 1 undersea cable for the first time. Presently international voice and data traffic is routed via an old microwave system to Costa Rica before transmission elsewhere.

(For more information, see item 7 near the end of this round-up of Nicaraguan news.)

#

 

Israeli test confirms data transfer by pigeons is faster than DSL

... will the Salt Lake Tribune recommend it next as an alternative to UTOPIA?
Israel21c reports on a new form of wireless:
" A group of Israeli Internet enthusiasts have proven that good old fashioned pigeons transfer information faster than broadband ADSL - and it's not an April Fools joke. In mid-March, the inquisitive group met near the Sea of Galilee to witness a live test sending 3 homing pigeons a 66 mile distance each carrying tiny memory cards containing, in total, 4 GB of data. The purpose of the test was to validate a proof-of-concept for pigeon-empowered internet, and to measure and establish that the usage of pigeons enable to transfer data faster than ADSL ... The TCP (Transmission by Carrier Pigeons) was carried wirelessly, in three packets, each consist of 1.3 GB, delivered by a different pigeon ... the time of the transmission was measured by the last pigeon to arrive; the data contained in the memory cards was available and readable at the destination. No external sources of energy, such as batteries or electrical extension cord were used."

Ami Ben-Bassat has a lot more information in his blog. Apparently the story was also picked up by both Dan Gillmor and Slashdot, although I missed it at the time.

The Israeli work confirms an earlier Norwegian experiment; an RFC (Request for Comments) has been filed ("IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service") to define a new protocol.

Adam Gaffin also has a note on "Wi-Fly".

#

 

Last minute private sector offer to shoulder much of Salt Lake City's UTOPIA risk

The Deseret Morning News reports:
"Salt Lake City would shoulder a lot less financial risk but share a lot less profit under a new, 11th-hour deal to induce the city to stick with UTOPIA. Wexford Capital, LLC, a private Connecticut-based venture capital firm that already has ties to the proposed Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, is offering to cut the city's potential initial costs for the publicly owned fiber optic network."

"While final details of Wexford's deal are still being hammered out, the company's verbal offer to cover 75 percent of the city's costs the first 10 years would come in exchange for 75 percent of the city's UTOPIA profits for 25 years. That plan would slash the city's potential costs to $7.7 million from $28.7 million in the first decade of UTOPIA's operation."

"City Council Chairwoman Jill Remington Love said Wexford's offer to take away taxpayers' risk is intriguing. 'But if there is an investor that will take away that risk, is it because (UTOPIA) is such a good deal that maybe we shouldn't pass up getting that revenue?' Still, Love concedes that even with the new deal, UTOPIA is probably dead in Salt Lake City. She said she expects when the council decides Tuesday if Salt Lake is in or out, at least three members will vote against UTOPIA."

Interestingly, the Salt Lake Tribune chose not to report on this development; the Tribune has been very opposed to UTOPIA, frequently offering other technologies as superior to fiber (DSL, cable modems, BPL, wireless).

#

 

Utah: "Payson signs on to UTOPIA; Cedar City says no, again"

As previously noted, Cedar City, Utah has declined to financially back the multi-city UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency) FTTH (fiber to the home) project but will remain a member of the UTOPIA consortium. Payson has voted to back the project.
"Cedar City Mayor Gerald Sherratt said, 'I regard this vote as one of the most unfortunate in the history of the city. We have 20 percent of our people at the poverty level. UTOPIA would have brought good wages to our city. ... People would have come here from everywhere.'"

Cedar City will still be able to build a UTOPIA network, but only after the cities backing it financially have completed their networks. Cedar City also will not have access to lower cost financing.

#

 

"World Wide Packets looks overseas"

The Spokane Journal of Business has a profile of FTTH (fiber to the home) vendor World Wide Packets. The company is placing increasing emphasis on international sales.

#

 

Korea: Korea Electric Power negotiating BPL deal

In an article on trade ties between Spain and Korea, the Korea Times briefly noted that Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) and Spanish company Abengoa are in the process of working out a BPL (broadband over power line) technology licensing detail.

#

 

New York State: Penn Yan delays OK'ing BPL contract

The Village of Penn Yan, New York is delaying signing a 10-year contract with BPL (broadband over power line) service provider Data Ventures Inc (DVI) until certain unspecified contractual issues are worked out. DVI has been using Penn Yan's municipal power system to deliver broadband on a trial basis using Amperion equipment.

#

 

Missouri: Big River plans commercial BPL roll-out on Ameren system

Regional CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) Big River Telephone Company is planning to deploy a full-scale BPL (broadband over power line) service in Cape Girardeau, Missouri over electric utility Ameren's distribution system. Big River and Ameren have been working together in a trial of Main.net BPL equipment in Cape Girardeau for some time.

(Link from David Lewis)

#

 

Solomon Islands linked by narrowband radio e-mail

The BBC reports:
"A internet connection speed of 2 Kbps may not sound like much, but it is providing a lifeline for the people of the Solomon Islands. The struggling South Pacific nation has endured years of bloodshed, corruption and economic decline. But for the past four years, the People's First Network has tried to mend fences by using high frequency radio to send and receive e-mail.

The Solomon Islands consists of some 850 islands, mostly undeveloped, spread out over a wide area of the Pacific. The two main ways of getting in touch with people are short-wave radios or satellite telephones. But radio offers no privacy, whereas satellite phones are too expensive for most to use regularly.

At the moment that are 14 e-mail stations in schools or clinics in rural areas. The stations are owned by the community, with decisions taken by a committee of village chiefs and religious leaders.

Paul Goodison also has information on the project in his Broadband and Me blog.


#

 

Utah: Cedar City Council declines to back UTOPIA financially -- even with local contributions

Ed Kociela writes in the Spectrum describing the Cedar City, Utah Council meeting:
"Even with more than half of the first year's contingency money on the table, the three City Council members who voted down a measure to become a charter member of UTOPIA did not change their vote Wednesday night."

"Kirk Jones, who led a grassroots drive to raise the $617,000 the city would have needed as initial contingency money to bring the high-speed, broadband telecommunications system to Cedar City, said his group has raised $350,000 from 101 residents -- a significant jump from the $75,000 the group had raised as of Monday."

"'If we had more time, we would have had all of the money,' Jones said."

"Last night's council meeting was the most highly attended session in more than a decade, with the chambers filled and chairs set up in the lobby to accommodate the overflow crowd of mostly pro-UTOPIA residents."

"For two hours, the council heard comments aimed at persuading either Joe Burgess, Dale Brinkerhoff or Raymond Green to change their mind and reopen the project for another vote. The council then decided to forward a measure to become a non-pledging member of UTOPIA, meaning that the city would not have to put up any contingency money in the future, but would not be allowed to share in any profits UTOPIA earns and would have to wait until all of the charter cities are up and running on the system before work begins to bring it here. Green said that would solve the technology problem without the city putting up any money."

Ed goes on to describe the dynamics of the meeting. Given that local citizens were had already coughed up half the money needed and were confident they could come up with all of it, it's a bit hard to see why the three council members wouldn't give them a little more time. I wonder if they were under some external pressure or inducement to vote as they did. I suspect others may be wondering the same thing.

#



Thursday, April 08, 2004

 

Utah: Qwest promises Salt Lake City it will deploy DSL if it can keep monopoly

Qwest has a de facto monopoly on telecommunications in Salt Lake City, Utah and has slowly rolled out DSL service, making it available to about 60% of the city. In an effort to head off competition from UTOPIA, a multi-city FTTH system, Qwest is promising to offer DSL to another 30% of the city -- if the city will just stay out of UTOPIA. No mention of how the other 10% will get broadband -- I guess they're just out of luck.

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is reportedly excited by this unenforceable promise from Qwest to finally do what they were supposed to have done already. Like Qwest, he had no comment on the unlucky 10% that won't get broadband access.

#

 

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson waffles on UTOPIA

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson's 2003 State of the City address:
"In the realm of economic development and business promotion, several new projects are on the horizon. First, we propose joining UTOPIA, a state-wide effort to build a fiber-optic network that will make available broadband Internet, data, and video services to every house and business in Salt Lake City.  While the project is just getting off the ground, the prospects are very promising that Salt Lake City can enhance its reputation for being the most wired city in the nation, at very little cost to taxpayers.  We look forward to bringing more details to you about this project as the UTOPIA inter-governmental organization moves into the implementation phase of its work."

April 2004 (from the Salt Lake Tribune:
"'There is no reason to think this is the right time for Salt Lake City to undertake a project like UTOPIA,' he said. 'You've had some very talented people lose billions of dollars in the telecommunications industry the past few years, and I'm not sure taxpayer money should be put at risk.'"

#

 

Utah: Roy votes to stay in UTOPIA

Roy, Utah's City Council voted 2-2 (with the mayor casting a tie-breaking vote) to stay in UTOPIA but not pledge financial backing. A 5th councilman who was pro-UTOPIA missed the meeting and did not vote.

#

 

Australia: More information on Telstra's FTTH trial in Queensland

Earlier this week, I noted Australian incumbent Telstra would soon be announcing a FTTH (fiber to the home) trial in the Brisbane area. Australian IT has more information on the trial, which will use Alcatel equipment

#

 

Idaho: Pocatello views Idaho Falls' municipal fiber network with envy

From the Idaho State Journal:
"The way Ray Burstedt sees it, businesses just got one more reason to locate in Idaho Falls, and Pocatello should consider playing catch-up, even though it would mean spending about $11 million. The latest item on a list of things which Idaho Falls has and Pocatello wants is a 50-mile network of fiber-optic cable, a technology which transmits data faster and better by shooting laser beams through human hair-sized lines.

Idaho Falls uses the recently-completed fiber-optic system for municipal purposes and leases so-called dark fiber, unused lines, to private companies to defray costs."

#

 

ARRL: "Utility Encounters Mixed Success in Avoiding Amateur Spectrum with BPL"

The ARRL is opposed to BPL (broadband over power line) technology deployment in the U.S. out of concern for potential interference to amateur and other HF (high frequency) radio operations. In North Carolina, Progress Energy has worked proactively with amateur radio operators near their Wake County BPL trial site to address interference concerns. An ARRL article reports on the project, which uses BPL equipment from Amperion.

I'm surprised the Amperion equipment requires operator intervention to shift frequencies when an interference issue arises; I hope they'll develop gear that does this automatically on the fly as it occurs. This is a capability we'd want to see before recommending it to our utility customers.

#

 

Japan FTTH update

As expected, Japanese FTTH (fiber to the home) subscribers passed the 1 million mark in February of this year. NTT alone expects to have 2 million customers by march of next year. The Japanese note in the U.S. fewer than 200,000 homes are passed by fiber.

NTT has been using ATM-based B-PON (broadband passive optical network) technology; it announced that it would shift to using Gigabit Ethernet PON (GE-PON).

#

 

Ontario and Michigan link fiber networks

"ORION and Merit Network, Ontario and Michigan research and educational networks, have signed what they hailed Tuesday as an historic agreement to link arms across the Canada-U.S. border. The groups said this is the first time research and educational networks in an individual state or province have paired up to 'make the borders a little less visible,' said Jennifer Wolf, manager of dedicated connections for Merit of Ann Arbor, Mich."

#

 

Spain: Power utility Union Fenosa offering satellite broadband

Spanish utility giant Union Fenosa is now introduce satellite broadband service in rural areas, but as this article points out, they may be a little late in entering the market.

Union Fenosa already has BPL (broadband over power line) trials underway in other areas.

#

 

Utah: "Risk and Fiber"

Ben Fulton with the Salt Lake City Weekly has an excellent editorial on Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson's waffling on the city's participation in the UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency) FTTH (fiber to the home) project. It succinctly captures the politics, the problems and the opportunities. Some excerpts:
"Support for UTOPIA may be a battle between optimistic futurists and pragmatic pessimists. Or it could be just about money ..."

"XMission owner and president Pete Ashdown was at first skeptical of UTOPIA's logistics and finances. It didn't take long for him to be won over. As a business owner, his Internet service provider business currently navigates all its customers along Qwest's DSL lines. Ashdown would love to be rid of that dependency, free to march his clients through a larger, faster, municipally funded network. 'We'd certainly like a situation where we didn't have to be overseen by our competition,' he said ..."

"'If Delta airlines ran the airport, don't you think they'd show favoritism toward Delta?' Enter private companies such as Qwest and Comcast, the 'Deltas' of which Ashdown speaks. Each opposes the use of public funds to compete against its own current and future telecommunications networks, and lobbied vigorously against UTOPIA during the recent legislative session, with some measure of success ..."

"Why not make Utah the leader? Three years ago a U.N. study ranked the United States fourth in telecommunications network speed. It has since fallen to 11th ..."


#

 

Ontario: Power utility links rural Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie with fibre

In Ontario, Great Lakes Power is upgrading power transmission lines between Sault Ste. Marie and rural Wawa; as part of the upgrade, the utility will also add fibre optic cable to the lines.

#

 

Washington state: Grant County PUD fiber users remain committed to FTTH

Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) in rural Washington state started a pioneering FTTH (fiber to the home) project several years ago. Internal politics and cost overruns led to the replacement of the general manager and a general stink about the project. Large power users such as irrigators were concerned that they were subsidizing the project (even though they still have some of the lowest power rates in the U.S.)

The 'Zipp' fiber optic project was much more expensive per user than most FTTH projects for at least two reasons. Most importantly, it was done in a low line density area. I don't have Grant County's exact statistics, but I know they are much lower than the 50 homes passed per mile that's typical of municipal broadband projects. Second, this was one of the first (if not the first) commercial FTTH deployments in the world. Costs have since dropped significantly; most new FTTH systems in areas with higher line density cost less than 10% of what Grant County has paid.

With all the negative press surrounding Grant County's project in the last few months, it's significant that a PUD meeting held to discuss the project turned up more than 75 attendees, almost all calling for continued commitment to the project and speaking of how important the fiber access was to their daily lives. The article quotes the different ways in which the Zipp network has become important to its users.

#

 

Washington: Donors supply PCs, wireless broadband to Sauk-Suiattle Indian reservation

Nancy Gohring has a good article in Wi-Fi Networking News about yesterday's announcement that donors are providing free PCs and wireless service to link residents living on the Sauk-Suiattle Indian reservation in Washington state.

The three donating organizations are the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians -- Economic Development Corp. (ATNI-EDC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Verizon Avenue.

#

 

Vendor offers free wireless broadband grant for one lucky small town

Sam Churchill writing in DailyWireless reports:
"Coastal Wireless provider Wheat Wireless has a great promotional idea with its new Wireless Community Initiative Grant. Through the grant, Wheat Wireless Services, Inc. is offering $100,000 in wireless networking hardware and network engineering services to one small town in the United States ... The town selected for this grant will have a resident population over 7,500 and fewer than 25,000. The target population must not currently have a commercial broadband solution such as DSL or cable Internet. The town's geography should be one advantageous to wireless line-of-site networking, such as a valley or flat community."

See Sam's article for the full story.

#

 

Utah: Payson pledges funds to back UTOPIA FTTH project

"The Payson City Council voted 3-2 to join the Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency, a proposed fiber optic system that, if built according to plans, will deliver sophisticated telecommunications to small towns and major metropolitan cities across Utah."

#



Monday, April 05, 2004

 

Utah: Four UTOPIA hearings to go

Only four cities still have more hearings to hold on the multi-city UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency) FTTH (fiber to the home) project:

Salt Lake City -- Tuesday, April 6th, 7:00pm
(This second public hearing on UTOPIA is due to errors in the process for the first public hearing.)

Lindon City Council -- Tuesday, April 6, 7:00pm
(Public hearing to be held due to errors in public notices prior to the February public hearing on UTOPIA)

Payson City Council -- Wednesday, April 7, 6:00pm

Roy City Council -- Tuesday, April 6, 6:00pm

(Schedule from Joel Wright)

#

 

Wisconsin: Village of Jackson commissions FTTH feasibility study

The Village of Jackson, Wisconsin has selected Brunetti DEC to perform a feasibility and design study for a possible municipal FTTH (fiber to the home) system.

Los Alamos County, New Mexico suspends fiber contract


The same article that announced the Jackson, Wisconsin project also reported that Los Alamos County, New Mexico has suspended the fiber project it had awarded Brunetti DEC.

#

 

More BPL (broadband over power line) articles

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is opposed to the deployment of BPL (broadband over power line) service in the U.S. They have a couple of new articles on BPL on their web site:

ARRL: "FEMA Appears to Backpedal in BPL 'Clarification' Letter"

ARRL: "What's Really Happening in Penn Yan?"

BroadbandReports.com: "FEMA: BPL No Longer a 'Grave Concern' -- Agency clarifies the record"

BroadbandReports.com: "Electrified Manassas -- 1Mbps BPL for $27 a Month"

DailyWireless: "Powerline Broadband Turned On"

Toronto Globe and Mail: "Service brings meaning to 'plug and play'"
An article on the first BPL trial in Ontario; it's being conducted by PUC Telecom Inc., a division of Sault Ste. Marie's municipal utility company using Amperion technology.

The article also notes BPL interest at two other Canadian utilities. Hydro Québec is studying the technology and may or may not conduct a trial. Telecom Ottawa, owned by municipal utility Hydro Ottawa, is conducting BPL trials but is still uncertain as to the economic viability of BPL in the Ottawa market.

Cable Datacom News: "Electrifying Rival Emerges For Cable Modems And DSL"

LocalTechWire: "WindChannel Provides Backbone Connectivity for Progress Energy Trial"

#

 

Salt Lake Tribune suggests BPL as an alternative to UTOPIA FTTH project

The Salt Lake Tribune, implacably opposed to the multi-city UTOPIA (Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency) FTTH (fiber to the home) project, has an article on BPL (broadband over power line). Previously, they've brought up wireless broadband as a possible alternative to FTTH.

Wireless or BPL advocates unfamiliar with the Tribune's UTOPIA coverage should understand that, given their hostility to UTOPIA, I am sure the Tribune would be just as opposed to any similar municipal wireless broadband or BPL project if it really looked like it might get off the ground.

Local TV station KSL, another UTOPIA foe, just ran a "news story" on the project's costs and incumbent Qwest's concerns:
"... part of an organized effort to kill UTOPIA. Qwest, and Comcast are both helping lead the effort, because they say it's expensive, risky, and not needed."

The reporter, Richard Piatt, seems to take this noble sentiment expressed by the incumbents at face value without asking any questions about their real motivations. Even Kent Brockman does a better job with the news than this.

#

 

Another article on Central Virginia Electric Cooperative BPL project

FCW.com has an article on Central Virginia Electric Cooperative's plans to offer BPL (broadband over power line) service on a trial basis to 4,000 coop members. (For more links, see last week's post on the project.)

#

 

Virginia: LENOWISCO selects World Wide Packets for fiber network

"World Wide Packets, the leading provider of Ethernet Access networking solutions, today announced that its LightningEdge(TM) suite has been selected for deployment by LENOWISCO Planning District Commission, a central planning agency for the Lee, Wise and Scott Counties and the City of Norton, Virginia. World Wide Packets' LightningEdge solution will provide residential and business customers access to an impressive fiber optic loop - more than 220 miles in total. 'With this step, Southwest Virginia becomes one of the most connected areas in the country,' said Ron Flanary, Executive Director of LENOWISCO. 'LENOWISCO exists to leverage the best shared services for our member areas."

World Wide Packets has also announced that its' FTTH (fiber to the home) products have received RUS approval:
"World Wide Packets, the leading provider of Ethernet Access networking solutions, today announced that its LightningEdge(TM) suite has been accepted for inclusion in the USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) List of Materials. Products featured on the list are eligible to be purchased with funds from RUS grants and loans. LightningEdge was listed for both optical and copper deployments and includes options for indoor and hardened installations.

#

 

New York State: CLEC captures 62% of Plattsburgh commercial market with FTTP

In upstate New York, CLEC (competitive local exchange company) Primelink has captured 62% of the commercial market in Plattsburgh by offering FTTP (fiber to the premises) service using equipment from Optical Solutions. Primelink is owned by Champlain Telephone, a nearby rural telephone company that dates back to the late 1800s.

#

 

India: Tata Power expands carriers' carrier business to new regions

In India, utility Tata Power continues expanding its' fibre optic business:
"Tata Power Company plans to spread the reach of its Broadband division to other cities including Bangalore, Delhi and Pune. The company plans to invest Rs 100 crore in reaching the carriers' carrier to cities outside Mumbai. 'We would like to extend the carriers' carrier model across other cities. We are looking at Pune, Delhi and Bangalore. That's the immediate phase. Since there is a lot of fibre already in ground, don't have to invest in networking. The investments would be around Rs 100 crore,' Firdose Vandrevala, Managing Director, Tata Power, told Business Line."

#

 

Australia: Incumbent Telstra getting serious about FTTH as it deals with copper deterioration

An interesting article on Australian incumbent Telstra's fibre initiatives and copper problems:
March 30 -- "Telstra will work with property developers on a major trial of fibre-to-the-home technology to be unveiled in Brisbane by chief executive Ziggy Switkowski next week. The telco is also moving to replace and bypass technology that limits the delivery of high-speed internet services, as concerns grow over its copper network. Telstra Countrywide chief Doug Campbell said: 'The programs we have in mind are greenfield locations and high-rise, multi-dwelling units ... Over the next two-to-three years all new estates will be candidates for fibre to the premises,' he said ..."

"Other problems loom on Telstra's copper network. In 2002, Telstra had a nationwide problem with a cable gel sealant used to protect joints in its network from weather damage. But in humid and moist conditions the gel was found to corrode the joints instead of protecting them. Two years later the gel continues to cause problems. During the recent Queensland floods fault rates on gel-sealed joints rose to 5 per cent, a Telstra spokesman said yesterday. 'We continue to replace that gel as we proceed with regular maintenance,' Mr Campbell said."

"Telstra's copper network came under the microscope following the tabling of a leaked internal document in federal parliament last month, which included the damaging statement: 'Fault rate growth appears to be due to general network deterioration rather than a specific exceptional cause.' Telstra management had previously insisted that one-off weather events caused rising faults rates. Telstra infrastructure services group managing director Mick Rocca admitted the company's network was ageing. He likened the pattern of network faults to a "sine wave" with faults rising during bad weather and falling during dry spells as backlogs of faults were fixed. But the document shows that at each dip in fault rates, faults remained slightly higher than the previous dip."

#

 

Utah: "Give UTOPIA a chance"

Grant Sperry with local ISP Xmission writes a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune supporting the multi-city UTOPIA FTTH (fiber to the home) project

#

 

AT&T finds last mile quality of service issues affect VoIP

"Broadband Net-phoning services pushing aggressive expansion plans are discovering a harsh reality: Some residential Internet service providers in the United States currently can't guarantee the bandwidth required to handle calls effectively."

"AT&T Vice President Kathy Martine said she learned that lesson the hard way during recent trials of the company's CallVantage Net-phoning plan, which it hopes to introduce in 100 markets this year. Some customers' broadband connections just weren't good enough to provide "AT&T-like" quality, she said. So the company was forced to help the broadband providers fix their connections."

#

 

Washington Times: "Electric companies begin offering broadband service"

The Washington Times has an overview of BPL (broadband over power lines) this morning. The article primarily discusses the nearby City of Manassas project but also touches on BPL trials elsewhere. Manassas presently has 60 residential subscribers plus a backlog of 1200 more that have signed up for the service, giving the system about 10% penetration when the new subscribers are hooked up. The utility is charging $26.95 per month, which makes the service somewhat cheaper than broadband service offered by local providers Verizon (DSL) and Comcast (cable modem).

The article goes on to note that about 300 homes nationwide are currently paying for BPL service.

#

 

Michigan: Battle Creek considers using municipal fiber network to create "Downtown Learning District"

The Battle Creek Enquirer has an interesting opinion piece on a proposal to create a "downtown learning district" using the city's municipal fiber optic cable system. Excerpts:
"At this stage, it is only an idea - but a very intriguing one. Battle Creek Unlimited's concept paper on creating a 'Downtown Learning District' has the potential not only to improve educational opportunities and better utilize Battle Creek's various learning-related assets, but also to build a stronger, more unified community with a brighter future."

"... Perhaps it's best to start by dropping some of our preconceived notions and taking an objective look at the assets that this community has - many of which we often take for granted. The list is longer than you might think: Willard Library, Kingman Museum, Leila Arboretum, Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center, Calhoun Area Technology Center and Binder Park Zoo all provide wonderful opportunities for young people to learn. Places like the Family Y Center and Full Blast offer recreational activities that promote both good health and healthy lifestyles. Facilities such as the Community Music School, Battle Creek Public Schools' Fine Arts Center and the UAC Discovery Theatre all have the potential to give kids outlets to perform or otherwise hone their varied talents. Cereal City USA, Kimball House Museum and Historic Adventist Village help preserve our community's roots and explain how we got to where we are today."

"... For example, is it possible to form a partnership between local schools and the Community Music School that would help maintain or enhance schools' music programs in this era of declining funds?"

#





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