Chattanooga sees $2.69 billion in community benefit over 10 years from Gig Network

EPB reports

Newly-released, independent research documents $2.69 billion in community benefit during the first ten years since EPB of Chattanooga built America’s first Gig-speed community-wide network and used it to establish the nation’s most advanced smart grid power distribution system.

Here’s how they come up with that number…

Key Community Benefits from Chattanooga’s Advanced Infrastructure:

  • Job creation and retention: The fiber optic infrastructure directly supported the creation and retention of 9,516 jobs which is about 40% of all jobs created in Hamilton County during the study period.
  • Lower unemployment rate: According to the study, since Chattanooga’s fiber optic network was deployed, it has helped keep the local unemployment rate lower. This effect has been magnified since the outset of the COVID crisis when fiber optics helped many businesses transition their employees to remote work very quickly. According to the latest available numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hamilton County’s unemployment rate was 4.7% in November which is significantly lower than Tennessee’s rate (5.3%) and two percentage points lower than the U.S. unemployment rate (6.7%) for the same period.
  • Bridging the digital divide for education: Having Chattanooga’s fiber optic network in place allowed EPB to join with Hamilton County Schools and other local and state partners in launching HCS EdConnect, a fiber optic broadband internet service provided at no charge to economically challenged families with K-12 students. Designed to continue providing the service for at least 10 years, HCS EdConnect represents a lasting solution for bridging the digital divide among students. Currently more than 12,000 students have internet access to continue their studies from home through HCS EdConnect.
  • Reduced power outages: Related to the smart grid’s ability to quickly re-route power around storm damage and other problems, the study documents a 40-55% annual decrease in outage minutes providing EPB customers with an average of $26.6 million in savings each year by helping them avoid spoilage, lost productivity, and other negative impacts.
  • Decreased environmental damage: The smart grid has helped EPB decrease carbon emissions by 7,900 tons through demand management and reduced truck-miles.
  • $110 million in Smart City research: In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy designated Chattanooga as a Smart Grid Living Laboratory. Since then, EPB has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and a range of other national and local research partners, like the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Center for Urban Informatics and Progress, to play a significant role in more than $110 million in Smart City Research.

It’s hard to put your arms around the benefits of a broadband network. How much do I save doing my banking online rather than drive to the building? I save time and gas. My work is entirely online – how much do I get paid. Just two examples. Now multiply that by households throughout a community and think about every occasion during the day you save/make time and money by going online. Ironically, this is easier to do during a pandemic and never have we missed going to the bank more – but you get what I’m saying.

It’s helpful to see how Chattanooga has done this and it’s amazing to see the results. Ten years gives enough time for the statistics to catch up to the street value.

Arvig extends FTTH to 10,000 households in St Cloud, Rochester and Twin Cities

Presswire reports (shares a press release)…

Today, telecommunications and broadband provider Arvig has announced it has installed a fiber optic connection into more than 10,000 townhome, condo and apartment units within the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, and Rochester area. The telecommunications provider continues to grow its high-speed internet connectivity offerings, a service that has become increasingly important with many now working and learning from home because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Le Sueur County gets Fiber from MetroNet thanks to CARES

From Business Wire press releases…

MetroNet is bringing the power of ultra-fast 100 percent fiber optic to cities in Le Sueur County, Mn., including Le Center, Le Sueur, Montgomery, Cleveland, St Peter, and Waterville. The Evansville, IN.-based company announced that construction of its fiber network in these markets is now underway, with connections to homes and businesses expected to begin soon.

MetroNet has worked closely with LeSueur County officials to utilize funding available through the CARES Act, which has provided local governments with financial support during COVID-19. MetroNet service will help to ensure that the community has quicker access to gigabit speeds and future-proof services for fiber internet, phone and IPTV. Residents may confirm that their address will be serviceable and view services and pricing at www.MetroNetInc.com

“We are very excited to provide these communities with fiber-to-the-home services,” stated Albert Brand, MetroNet’s area Market Manager. “The cities of Le Sueur County, Mn. have been great partners through this process. Barbara Kline and Carl Menk of the Le Sueur County Commission have worked with us closely to set up the infrastructure that will be the foundation for extremely fast, reliable fiber optic internet.”

“The residents and businesses of Le Sueur County were left behind with access to DSL and satellite services. The community was struggling to keep up with surrounding communities who had access to higher-speeds,” Brand said. “At MetroNet, we were proud to partner with city officials to bring this community cutting-edge fiber optic communication system, which will enhance the quality of life in the areas of education, retention and economic development.”

As MetroNet finalizes the installation of their fiber optic network, making these communities Gigabit Cities, customers in the construction areas are likely seeing MetroNet vehicles in their neighborhoods. Residents have received communication by mail about construction activity in their neighborhood 30 days prior to starting. MetroNet has provided additional messaging, such as yard signs, to let residents know when the temporary construction process is beginning in their neighborhood. MetroNet crews are marked by ID tags and branded vehicles.

 

HBC Expands Broadband in Rural Winona and Dakota Counties

Big news for HBC as well as Rural Winona and Dakota Counties …

Construction is underway in parts of rural Winona and Dakota county to expand rural broadband Internet through monies provided by the CARES Act.
Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. (HBC) president, Dan Pecarina, announced HBC is expanding existing networks near Pickwick and Rollingstone in Winona County. And in Dakota County, construction is underway in Nininger Township and an area near Highway 46 and 160th Street.
“HBC is proud to be partnering with Winona and Dakota counties on these projects. Each project helps us in our commitment to expand broadband to the underserved and unserved areas of our region,” said Pecarina. “The COVID-19 pandemic has really underscored how important a broadband connection is in today’s world. When completed, these projects will help provide services that will not only help students learn from home but allow their parents to work remotely.”
Construction in the Pickwick area and Nininger township is currently underway. Michael Barker, Director of Technical Operations at HBC, said the plan is to finish all construction by year’s end.
“Right now, crews are actively working near Pickwick and Nininger (township),” he said. “If the weather holds, we should complete construction operations by the end of the year.”
In addition to the fiber-optic network expansion, HBC has already activated a broadband fixed wireless tower near Nodine in Winona County. HBC will also be activating five broadband fixed wireless towers in Dakota County.
Winona County has allotted $1 million in CARES funding to pay for rural broadband expansion projects. Dakota County has earmarked $800,000 for its broadband expansion projects.
“When work is completed,” Pecarina said, “more than 800 homes that previously had no highspeed broadband access will now have the access they need for learning and working from home.”

Itasca County Approves CARES Act Funding for Broadband

Itasca County has approved funding for broadband. I want to thank Tamara Lowney for the heads up in an email…

In addition to the grant overview, I worked with Arvig and Paul Bunyan to present 4 broadband infrastructure projects, 2 near Marcell (Turtle Lake area), 1 just north of Nashwauk, and 1 in Harris Township.  I am excited to report that all 4 projects were approved for a commitment of Itasca County CARES Funds of over $293,000.

Then I was able to find a little more info from Paul Bunyan

At their October 20 meeting, the Itasca County Board of Commissioners approved CARES Act funding to help support Paul Bunyan’s fiber broadband expansion into northern Nashwauk, the Bozich Addition subdivision, and areas of south of Pokegama Lake on Gama Beach, North Gama Beach, and South Gama Beach Roads!

Project Design and engineering work will begin right away. Due to the early freezing weather, services won’t be available until 2021.

Monticello’s municipal network FiberNet is 15 years old – catch up with them via ILSR

From the unique pronunciation of Monticello (think “sello” not “chello”), the town has never been afraid to stand out. Institute for Local Self Reliance’s Chris Mitchell talks to City Planner Jeff O’Neill about FiberNet, Monticello’s municipal network. It has been the subject of talk since it started 15 years ago. Spoiler alert, it’s going well, especially in the time of COVID. Here’s the description of the conversation from ILSR -and know that it’s a fun quick listen…

Christopher and Jeff delve into the history and development of the network over the last fifteen years. They discuss how business leaders began calling for the city to look for a solution to poor Internet speeds all the way back in 2005, why the city ultimately decided to build its own network, and how FiberNet persevered in the face of an early lawsuit so that incumbent provider TDS could slow competition as it began its own fiber buildout. Jeff and Chris then talk about the network subsequently weathering a vicious price war with Charter Spectrum which contributed to the fracturing of its relationship with early partner Hiawatha Broadband, but which also brought significant savings and better customer service from incumbent providers to everyone in town.

They end by discussing the multitude of community benefits realized today by having three competing providers in Monticello — two offering Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) in the city of 14,000 — and what it means for community savings and economic development for the city moving forward. Jeff ends by sharing some of the work he’s most proud of being involved in and what he sees as important for FiberNet in the years ahead.

Crow Wing Power on broadband updates in Crow Wing, Morrison, Cass and Aitkin Counties

In their most recent newsletter, Crow Wing Power spoke with local providers about broadband upgrades and expansion in the area, often spurred by great need in COVID.

From CTC…

  • Kristi [Westbrock, CTC CEO] explained that in mid-March, the company scrambled to extend finer to where it was needed and where they could reasonably expand, so students could have access to Internet for distance learning. It’s estimated that their efforts in the Brainerd ISD 101 school district provided broadband access to approximately 200 families in the region and set up 50 hot spots where kid cluster could go to study.
  • In 2019, CTC received an $830,587 MN Border to Border grant from the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to expand services to build to Ft. Ripley, and other areas in Crow Wing and Morrison Counties. This allowed CTC to build to 399 homes in portions of St. Mathias and Fort Ripley Townships, as well.
  • “Most recently, CTC received CARES Act funding from both Crow Wing and Cass County to build broadband to unserved areas of Welton Road, County Rd 10, Border Lake, Little Pine Road and unserved areas in Lake Edward Township. The funds must be used by December 1 so these locations will have access to fiber Internet.

From Emily Cooperative Telephone Company…

  • Five hot spots were also installed throughout the communities, which are still available. Josh [ECTC CEO] said they are updating 100 homes in the Crosslake area to finer services and reviewing other areas for 2021. ECTC also received a MN DEED grant of $376,000 to build fiber services to the Esquagamah and Round Lake area in Aitkin County.

Midco brings fiber to Scandia (Washington County) with MN broadband grant

The Country Messenger reports…

Midco is furthering its mission to bring broadband services to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for Sept. 16 in which the City and Midco will celebrate the communications company’s expansion of its Internet services.

“I’m impressed with the expediency in which Midco has implemented its Internet expansion in Scandia.  From the award of the grant at the end of January, Midco is on schedule to complete this project by the end of October,” said Scandia City Council Member Patti Ray. “I’m also grateful to Midco adding even more homes to the project. This shows what a good corporate partner Midco is to Scandia. The City looks forward to working with Midco on future expansions because it takes a strong government/corporate partnership to cover the costly installation of high-speed Internet in rural Scandia.”

Some details from the project…

In January, Midco was awarded a grant through the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, allowing the communications company to expand services in five different parts of Scandia.

The broadband network project will improve access to critical e-learning applications and health care resources enable telecommuting options for residents and make businesses and city institutions more efficient. Midco’s high-speed broadband connection will exceed Minnesota’s 2026 speed goal.

Waukenabo Township Is upgrading to 100 Mbps (Aitkin County)

The Aitkin Age reports…

On Aug. 27, residents of Waukenabo Township and nearby areas gathered at the Waukenabo Town Hall to celebrate the beginning of a new broadband project.

The project was delayed because of COVID but it’s on track now and they are looking at some serious speeds in the near future…

Midwest Utilities is installing the main line, and Zenergy, Inc. will be doing the drops to individual homes, starting on the west side of Equagamah Lake. Future expansion is anticipated.

“Right now, ECTC is only offering a 100 MB service,” said [Crosslake Communications/ECTC General Manager] Netland. “We expect to have 100 drops installed within three weeks.”

Co-op board members Norman (Rusty) Hawley, Ken Hersey, Kathy Hachey, Phil Yetzer and Randy Moritz were present at the groundbreaking ceremony. Netland and project team members Tyson Kincaid (plant supervisor), Kirsten Peterson (accounts) and Debby Floerchinger responded to questions from stakeholders.

Dickinson talked about the $375,000 Border to Border Broadband grant that ECTC received to help with the project.

Rock County chat: broadband made work, school and healthcare seamless during COVID

Looking at the map from the Office of Broadband Development (OBD), Rock County is green throughout, which means they are served with speeds of at least 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up. As Superintendent Todd said, they are like Little House on the Prairie with broadband. And that level of broadband means the pandemic is an inconvenience but not a stopper.

I spoke with librarian Calla Jarvie, Kyle Oldre at the county, Superintendents Todd Holthaus and Craig Oftedahl and Jane Lanphere at the Luverne Chamber of Commerce. I could keep this quick and say I asked if broadband was a help or a hindrance – they said help, dropped mic and left the room. Everyone had heard stories from other counties but in Rock County, they are set.

What’s the difference in Rock County? They have fiber to the home. They ranked number one for county coverage of broadband at speeds of 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up with 99.93 percent having access. They have received two MN Broadband Border to Border grants. [Addition – one grant was for $5 million and they county put in $1 million; the other had a smaller impact on the county becuase they were part of a 20-county middle mile project with an MVTV grant award.] The primary provider is a cooperative, Broadband Alliance, which attendees at the meeting today made sure to call out for their support.

So what does that mean? In Kyle’s house it means that his wife (a media specialist with a local school) and two sons (one home from college and one in high school) could all work online at the same time. They could even stream music while they did it. It really means everyone who could work online (based on their job requirements) could do it from home – no matter where they lived in the county.

The schools had a handful of students without access but that was a device and/or affordability problem. So they worked with the provider to get lower cost access. They worked with a local grant and with PCs for People to make sure everyone had a computer. As most of us will remember in March, schools had two weeks to prepare to move classes online due to the pandemic. That was enough time for Rock County to get the infrastructure ready because the work was minimal – but as someone pointed out, you can’t get fiber to everyone in two weeks.

The schools used Zoom to host classes and Schoology as a Learning Management System. They didn’t need to worry about paper packs for those without access. They are waiting to hear whether they will have class in person, distance or a hybrid – but it sounds like a likely solution will be in-person for grade schoolers and hybrid for high schoolers. They are prepared for the handful of folks who want to opt for online and for any changes in the plan based on COVID changes.

The libraries are open now, but even during the shutdown they were able to offer ebooks and special read-aloud events via Facebook.

Healthcare has moved online, which has been a boon. With changes in policy and reimbursement, nearly everyone has moved to online care. That has opened the door to greater mental healthcare coverage as counselors can now be located anywhere. It has improved privacy and has been a time saving for patients and their loved ones.

Civic engagement has never been easier, as county commission and other meetings have moved online. That makes it easier for citizens and county employees to pop in and see what’s going on.

Local businesses are doing well too. For many businesses it’s just been a matter of moving folks to work from home. For retail and restaurants, it’s been a matter of using online channels to sell and promote their business. Apparently one restaurant has done well promoting take-and-bake meals. And more and more local businesses are using social media.

Broadband has kept folks living facilities, such a nursing homes, in touch with each other and the outside world. It’s been a social lifeline to seniors who have otherwise had strict COVID quarantine rules in place. And that social connection is essential.

Everyone talked about how having sufficient broadband has allowed them to collaborate and innovate. They are living the future! It was fun to talk about the things that we’re glad to see change – like the option to work at home, telehealth and civic engagement. We’d all like schools and restaurants to open but recognize that life can continue seamlessly until they do.

They have had inquiries from potential new residents, including some from the Cities. When you’re top of the chart for broadband, you can attract people from anywhere.

CNS acquires WCTG creating unified state-wide fiber network

Big news from CNS

– Cooperative Network Services, LLC (CNS), a Minnesota fiber-optic transport carrier announced today that it has purchased the assets of West Central Transport Group, LLC (WCTG), a major fiber network in west central and southern Minnesota.

The deal will increase the CNS backbone network to a total of 2,500 route miles of fiber, and including partner assets, brings the network total to 10,200 route miles of fiber and 40,000 on-net/lit buildings.

Combining the assets of these two networks will enable MN’s rural telecom and broadband providers to deliver increasingly advanced services faster.

“This acquisition fits perfectly with the CNS purpose of Bringing More Broadband to More Rural Places… it creates new opportunities for success for many rural MN independent telecom providers, ensuring they have access to essential network services, and that they have a stake in the transport business for the future,” said Jason Dale, CNS CEO. “As technology and rural transport economics have changed, it’s clear that a unified state-wide network is a key ingredient to remaining relevant in the transport world. By combining these two complimentary networks, we’ve taken a huge step forward. We are extremely excited for this new chapter.”

The decision for combining these networks was an obvious one since eight of the owners of WCTG are also CNS owners, and the two networks have a long history of partnering together. These relationships will lend themselves to a quick transition, and early growth opportunities. The WCTG network will operate under the CNS subsidiary Fiber Minnesota, LLC.

“WCTG felt the CNS team was the perfect choice to continue meeting the needs of customers and neighbors,” said Jake Anderson, President of WCTG. “We are excited for the opportunities and crucial connectivity our combined networks will bring to the state of Minnesota and beyond.”

Similar to surrounding states

Minnesota’s fiber transport landscape has long been made up of smaller regional networks, but as technology has progressed, so too is the need for a larger, unified network.

For years, Minnesota has differed from neighboring states, where the independent telephone/ broadband providers joined forces decades ago to create statewide networks – enjoying robust facilities and advanced centralized solutions.

“This is a big win for the independent telecom providers in MN,” said Dean Bahls, CNS’ Network Manager. “The increased footprint will provide direct connectivity to more CNS owner companies, as well as connectivity to many more on-net customers throughout large portions of the state.”

The CNS Network currently uses Cisco NCS2K/15454 ROADM and has a proven track record of uptime. The newly acquired network also uses the same platform and will mesh together seamlessly.

Streamlined quoting and turn-up

With the increase of on-net route miles, quoting circuits will be faster, and pricing will be more competitive. Customers will enjoy highly available services, with faster resolution times.

Network of Networks

As with the current CNS network, through partnership with 702 Communications, the newly combined network will be branded under the Aurora Fiber Optic Networks name and will continue to be a part of the INDATEL nationwide network of networks.

The CNS purpose is to Bring More Broadband to More Rural Places. With that goal in mind we provide a variety of services to the rural telecommunications industry.

Cooperative Network Services (CNS) is a key provider of high-capacity fiber-optic backhaul for much of Minnesota, providing IP/TDM Transport, Special Access Circuits, and Ethernet services to the carrier, enterprise, and SMB markets.

CNS’ ownership consists of 20 cooperative telephone and broadband providers operating in and around Minnesota.

In addition to the CNS transport network, we also provide professional services to rural providers throughout the country, including: Engineering, Consulting, Video Product Management, Human Resources, and Graphic Design services.

Our ownership consists exclusively of cooperative telecommunications providers, and CNS reflects the cooperative spirit and values of its owners in the services it provides. By working together as a group, CNS provides the benefits and efficiencies of consolidation that much of the rest of our industry has experienced in recent years, while at the same time offering services that no single member could offer alone. This is very much in keeping with the cooperative mission. Do More. Together.

CenturyLink to bring fiber to 1,000+ homes in Nessel Township, MN (Chisago County)

Yahoo! Finance reports…

CenturyLink, Inc. CTL announced its plans to bring fiber to more than 1,000 homes and enterprises in Nessel Township, MN. Residents of this rural area will have access to reliable and high-speed Internet. The Monroe, LA-based communications company’s fiber and IP-based network capacity combined with its financial strength positions it well to support customers and boost shareholders’ value in the long term.

CenturyLink has a significant presence in Minnesota, with more than 17,000 miles of fiber and one million connections. The company’s investments and Minnesota’s Border to Border Broadband Development Grant Program will help meet the state’s goal of extensive broadband service. This public-private partnership project is aimed at providing the fiber and electronics needed for high-speed connections of up to 940 Mbps. It complements other similar projects in Minnesota’s underserved areas, providing more than 3,300 connections since 2014.

Paul Bunyan Communications Returns Capital Credits Early; Over $4.1 Million Distributed, Largest in Cooperative Histor

I don’t usually share such business-focused press releases, but it’s a good time for good news and it seems like a sign that you can make a business case for rural broadband at Gig speeds…

Instead of the regular fall distribution, Paul Bunyan Communications has sent out the 2020 Capital Credit return early to its members and it is the largest return in the cooperative’s history, over $4.1 million.
Paul Bunyan Communications is a not for profit company that strives to provide the highest quality service at the most affordable rates. As a cooperative, membership in Paul Bunyan Communications includes sharing in the financial success of the company. Profits are allocated to the members based on their proportional share of the allocable revenues. These allocations may then be returned to the individual members through capital credit retirements.
The 2020 distribution includes 20% of credits earned in 2019 and the remaining credits earned in 2002. For current members with a distribution amount of $100 or less, a credit has been applied to your June bill. Checks have been mailed out to members receiving more than $100. “The state of the cooperative is strong and our all-fiber optic network, the GigaZone, is one of the largest rural gigabit networks in the country. This enables our members to keep connected to work from home, distance learn, use telehealth services, watch streaming video, and much more. To help our members in these current circumstances, our Board of Directors felt strongly about paying out capital credits as aggressively and as quickly as possible” said Gary Johnson, Paul Bunyan Communications CEO/General Manager.
“Our cooperative member-owned structure and rural focus allows us to provide technologies and a level of service to our members unlike other providers. We are well prepared and committed to provide our members the critical communication services they need with the local customer service they deserve now and well into the future. Thank you to all of our members for being a part of Minnesota’s largest broadband cooperative!” added Randy Frisk, Board President.
“Our cooperative provides the latest in technology at cost. There is no membership fee to join Paul Bunyan Communications and there are no annual membership dues. To become a member of the cooperative, all you need to do is subscribe to either local phone or broadband Internet service. You get the latest in technology backed up by our talented team of over 130 local employees that all live and work here” added Dave Schultz, Paul Bunyan Communications Chief Financial Officer.

MN Cooperative Fiber Coverage up 1,000 square miles from 2019

The Institute for Local Self Reliance has updated their 2017 report on how Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America; they update it on a regular basis. The quick take from the Minnesota perspective – coverage in Minnesota has increased by 1,000 square miles – or percentage wise from 21.6 to 22.3 percent in the last year.

2020 Coverage

2019 Coverage

And here are recommendations…

Federal and state governments must recognize that cooperatives are one of the best tools for ubiquitous, rural, high-speed Internet access.

  1. Design funding programs with cooperatives in mind.
    1. Letters of credit from the largest banks may be hard to come by for smaller cooperatives.
    2. Make applications as simple and easy as possible. Staff time is limited at small cooperatives.
    3. Develop grant and loan programs rather than create incentives in the tax code for infrastructure investment.
  2. Encourage cooperatives by removing barriers and encouraging partnerships.
    1. Remove barriers to electric cooperatives exploring the possibility of fiber network. Cooperatives should not be prevented from applying to federal grants that they are eligible for because of hindersome state laws.
    2. Encourage partnerships, including with existing muni networks.
  3. If you live in a rural area, talk to your neighbors, co-op manager, and board members about the potential for Internet networks. Successful cooperative projects are community-led projects. About 70 percent of electric cooperatives have less than 10 percent average turnout for their board member elections.25
    1. Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Missouri had excited members go door-to-door and gave out yard signs to encourage folks to get involved with the project. Many community members also wrote letters of support for the project.
    2. In New Mexico, the local business community voiced their needs at Kit Carson Electric Cooperative board meetings to encourage the co-op to build a fiber network.
    3. Delta Montrose Electric Association in Colorado overcame an initial reluctance to develop an Internet access project after overwhelming demand from its members.26
  4. Make it clear that rural connectivity is about more than entertainment. Farmers, programmers, and entrepreneurs all need high-speed Internet access. Rural connectivity also supports needed research.
    1. Allband Communications Cooperative started a non-profit called ACEWR, which collaborates with universities and research institutions across the United States. It is a prime spot for research on local wildlife, endangered species, and conservation projects. The nonprofit also has an online workforce development program to train locals in new skills, empowering them to succeed in the 21st century economy

Duluth New Tribune Letter to the Editor lifts up fiber as the broadband solution

Duluth New Tribune posts a letter from Kyle Moorhead, chief technology officer who makes some assertions about current broadband providers…

In my 30 years in the business, I’ve observed a few things.

Most telecommunications companies have quietly abandoned rural and suburban communities. Due to economic realities, they have applied bandages instead of replacing old equipment. Fixes and installations are done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Then it is onto the next project. Later they send a repair truck to try to fix problems.

And offers a recommendation…

Local, state, and federal officials are trying desperately to solve the problem. But after spending hundreds of millions of dollars, in many cases, the problems still exist and few people understand why. Sometimes the system works, sometimes it doesn’t. People are clear about what they want: reliable, affordable, high-speed service.

This is critical infrastructure, and it needs a complete redesign. But that doesn’t mean cities become internet providers. That economic model doesn’t work either. A new model must continue to allow internet and cell phone companies to provide their services. The community’s role is building and taking control of the fiber infrastructure through public-private partnerships. Just like public entities build roads today, they need to build a reliable fiber “road.”

Reliability demands a completely different design coupled with a well-built fiber infrastructure. This approach ensures low ongoing maintenance costs. It means combining all the public and private grant money available to cities, counties, townships, school districts, and other public entities to design and install a fiber infrastructure. It means taxpayers help foot the bill once for a network that serves entire communities’ needs not only today but also well into the future.