Posts tagged ‘Stimulus’
The stimulus won’t actually change the business of providing internet service, but it did demonstrate what the current administration would like ISPs to be doing. Those that got funded were, for the most part, already deeply involved in their community. Many projects were already in the planning stages or had even been partially implemented before they received stimulus funds.
An example is the OpenCape project, which I wrote about here. Planning for it began years ago. It involved local emergency services, educational instutions, and the local small business association.
ISPs should already be working these institutions (if they are reasonable as customers).
While Alaska’s governor chose (letter available here but I could not find it on California government websites) to recommend no applications, California governor Schwarzenegger (R) chose to recommend most of them, including many multistate projects based in California.
The most egregious might be Wi-Zee’s, which will “educate” consumers by delivering the company’s CPE to them, but the application was mostly redacted, a shocking violation of transparency.
I think Schwarzenegger did his state no favors by recommending such a large number of applications.
Meanwhile, this article updating the NTIA’s progress suggests that stimulus money should be allocated in November. I expect round 2 questions to start any day now.
Why aren’t more cities with fiber landings trying to access the fiber that passes through their land? As far as I know, there’s only one city doing this, its application brought to my attention by the Stimulating Broadband blog. Here’s their article.
The fact is that on both coasts there are large cities and also small towns that sit next to the fattest pipes in the world but which have no access to them. The stimulus should help change that.
When I saw his name on the list of stimulus applicants, I got back in touch.
The stimulus has allowed him to consider a rapid expansion, using the best available equipment, and working with neighboring ISPs in the NorCal Broadband Access Consortium, which he leads. The Consortium aims to provide WiMAX to rural California counties of Lake, Glenn, Colusa, Napa, and Solano. PNC applied for a $3,136,103 grant and a $2,568,883 loan. The Consortium applied for about $200 million, Tenenbaum said.
Art Brodsky at Public Knowledge first sounded the alarm about Connected Nation at the start of 2009, saying the organization was connected to Kentucky’s Republican governor and to telephone company lobbyists, enabling it to charge the state $400,000 and then make the state do the work.
More recently, Brodsky claimed that bids were rigged in Connected Nation’s favor in the state of Florida, arguing that there was no other explanation why the highest bidder won a broadband mapping contract.
Maps are important. They show where the government should invest money. They say who has broadband and who does not. If the maps are drawn by the phone companies, they could direct stimulus money only to the areas they don’t care about, bypassing wealthy areas they would like to deliver service to but have not yet built out.
Today, NYPIRG is calling out such policies. In its report (available in .pdf format here), NYPIRG says, “Contracts or grants to map data … must include requirements
that the mapping entity disclose any financial or other relationships to broadband providers. If data are self reported by a broadband provider and not independently verified, that should be disclosed and the data should not be considered accurate until independently verified.”
The report does not specifically name Connected Nation, but readers understand that’s the problem that’s addressed by this recommendation — a recommendation that is so obvious that it should not have to be said.
The report contains a massive number of other good ideas, endorsing structural separation, better data collection, an internet literacy curriculum and more.
NYPIRG’s report is a masterpiece.
Satellite broadband is a special case. Although it can reach virtually anywhere in the U.S. — to any place from which you can see the Southern sky — it has unique flaws.
Satellite signals are transmitted over a sufficiently long distance to introduce latency, a delay of almost a full second that can degrade or even break some applications — especially those employing voice.
I don’t believe that 10 percent of the stimulus should be spent on delivering this lower quality service. Instead, I hope that the stimulus will be spent on delivering the same quality of service to rural areas that is currently enjoyed in wealthy areas of the United States.
I do see a limited use for satellite. There is an application from Motorbrain Consulting, Inc. of Lincoln, Maine, to deliver satellite service to 3,400 homes that have no other option, free to the customer, for 2 years, at a cost of $ 5,571,784. That’s less than $100 per home per month, and seems reasonable.
The state of Maine is mountainous and heavily forested, making it difficult (but not impossible) to bring wireless or fiber service to many homes. I think that Motorbrain’s application has merit.
The Stimulus grant requests are in, and a complete listing is available here.
Parts of some applications have been redacted. For example, parts of the executive summary of a $150 million + proposal from Hughes Network Systems, available here in .pdf format, are blacked out.
This appears to violate the promised accountability and tranparency of the stimulus.
I am looking into this and am eager for comments and links.