February 6, 2018

February Smart Region Newsletter, in partnership with CATAAlliance

February Smart Region Newsletter

 750 U.S. Communities Now Invest in Their Own Networks!

Community Networks published an updated map showing that tracks a variety of ways in which local governments have invested in wired telecommunications networks:

TV White Space is the “Sweet Spot” for Millions of American Farmers

Elderly residents and farmers in rural America are hearing from a coalition called Connect Americans Now, which is dedicated to eliminating the digital divide by 2022. It has homed in on using what are known as TV white spaces to deliver rural broadband. TV white space refers to unused television channels on the broadcast spectrum that act as a buffer to avoid interference between active channels. It can reach long distances with reasonable data coverage. Local groups like Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, represented by spokeswoman Mary Jo Foley-Birrenkott say the internet has become increasingly important for farmers and ranchers to access real-time commodity markets, weather reports and precision agriculture tools: “Agriculture is the lifeblood of these rural areas. Any way they can become more efficient and build those business plans helps facilitate the survival of those towns.”

‘Global Broadband’ Is Needed To Save Rural Communities: i-Valley

Canada has particularly weak broadband in rural and remote areas of Canada, and a new Federal approach is needed to bring these populations into the digital world, according to industry expert and i-Valley Board member Bill Hutchison. Bill, who led the creation of Canada’s high-speed educational network and Toronto’s new ultra-broadband network, is calling on government to define a new term and set new goals for ‘global broadband’.

Smart Town Hall Demos to Focus on Farming, Elderly Care

A demo of the applications powering a “Smart Town Hall” will be given to Mayors and leaders in the Annapolis Valley in March.
A Smart Town Hall uses a broadband network to super-charge people’s lives, according to i-Valley Co-Founder Barry Gander. “At its most basic it connects citizens to city services, and beyond that it encourages e-democracy with people directly helping to create their own policies and regulations. It provides a portal for students to enter the world of Gigabit speed, called ultrabroadband, for immersive educational experiences like live virtual tours of the inside of the pyramids. Businesses can connect to more markets and learn how to enhance productivity and revenue.
“We will demo Smart Farming applications that improve crop yields, and new assisted living methods that help the aging, Our partners like Hanatech will be on hand with demos of these applications, and we will network with sector experts.”
The Smart Town Hall acts as a portal for enhanced activities, and also extends a network into the community for special services.
The demo tour is planned for the towns of Windsor, Wolfville, Kentville and Berwick.
Stay tuned for more information!

Town of Canmore, Alberta, Creates $14.3-million Broadband Strategy

The 13,000-person town of Canmore, Alberta, has examined what it would take to install broadband Internet access throughout the entire community. It has identified the price tag for the municipality at $14.3 million.
A consultant’s report said broadband is widely seen as an economic driver for communities like Canmore and the report examined the feasibility, scope and different service delivery models that could be used. “Broadband Internet provides fairly recognizable benefits for education, health care, wellness and hospitality sectors,” said Canmore IT Supervisor Allan Wingenbach, “but also benefits for existing businesses and economic development in newer areas as demonstrated by the recent Innovate Canmore initiative. Our past Canmore business and tourism group identified broadband, along with affordable housing, as areas (that need to be addressed) to attract technology and knowledge-based businesses to Canmore and we are starting to look at this.”
The feasibility analysis, based on a conceptual network design for residential and commercial locations, estimated the infrastructure cost at $14.2 million. The backbone of the system was estimated at $2.2 million; the infrastructure to connect businesses to it at $1 million and residential services could be in the range of $11 million to implement.
Canmore did a broadband speed survey and found that tis current average speed is 16.0/7.5 Mbps (download/upload); it wants to more toward an increased speed of 100.20 Mbps and future symmetrical speeds of 1,000/1,000 Mbps
While Council has accepted the plan, Mayor John Borrowman made it clear that does not mean any spending or approvals have been endorsed by elected officials.

Ammon: Community Benefits Outweigh Investment Cost

(Thank you, Pauline Raven, Councillor, Municipality of Kings, for pointing out this article)
Ammon, Idaho’s fibre network shows that communities and regions can invest in broadband without raising taxes, nor taking on unsustainable debt when they take a longer-term approach to assessing community benefits from municipal cost reductions, subscriber cost savings, maintaining and growing the economic base, and smart city / neighborhood services.
Starting in 2011, Ammon invested $1 million in a fiber network.
Ammon’s fiber network investment has been net positive, reducing municipal costs and improving public service and community anchor institution bandwidth tenfold (1 gigabit to 10 gigabits). Over 25 years, Ammon’s cost reduction benefits ($43.6 million) outweigh the fiber network investment costs ($8.6 million). The direct economic benefits are projected to be nine-fold greater at $78.2 million. The annual business economic impacts better (faster, more reliable) broadband enables plus the household savings are additional layers of community benefits that make an economic case for public investment in broadband as a utility. Ammon can also use their network to very cost effectively provide services such as traffic management, public safety, and closed-circuit camera networks (as opposed to build separate purpose built networks).

See also: The new paradigm in thinking about sustainable broadband:

The Franklin County Broadband Initiative presented findings to the public In a public meeting on February 1st, on plans to bring faster and more reliable Internet service to the region. Educators and health care providers shared with the audience specific examples of how faster internet would benefit the community such as providing rural residents with opportunities to access classes, programs and healthcare: “Broadband is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” Franklin Memorial Hospital Clinical Educator Tania Dawson said. In addition to opening doors for local residents, faster speeds online relate to a number of facets of economic development, ranging from bringing in new businesses to real estate to allowing employees to telecommute with their employers. In order to map the current Internet options in the area, FCBI members traveled along every road in the county documenting the apparent providers based on the remote terminals installed at utility poles. The proposed solutions range in price from $70 million for fiber cable connectivity to $4 million for the slowest DSL option. Franklin County has a population of 30,000.

U.S. States Fight Back Over Net Neutrality

Montana has become the first U.S. state to enact a policy that bars Internet Service Providers from entering into state contracts if they don’t practice net neutrality. Multiple states have followed suit. Net Neutrality ensures an open Internet without fast or slow lanes.

If Lincoln Tweeted: Build Your Own Networks

An editorial in a U.S. newspaper was critical of the efforts of communications companies to quash municipal efforts to improve broadband, quoting Abraham Lincoln: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but can not do at all – or can not so well do – for themselves … .”
It was 1854, but he might have been talking today about rural broadband.


Community-Owned Networks Are Least Expensive, Fastest –  Harvard Study

In January 2018, Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society published a study concluding that municipal broadband was a better deal for consumers. Authored by David Talbot, Kira Hessekiel and Danielle Kehl, the study focused on comparing community-owned fiber-to-the-home networks with private ISPs.

Net Neutrality Drives Municipally-Owed ISPs…in Canada!

Although Canada is not directly affected by the recent over-turning of ‘Net Neutrality’ laws in the U.S. – the basic principle that prevents internet service providers like cable or phone companies from speeding up, slowing down, or blocking any content – it is being affected by the reaction of American communities to opt out of “big telecom” and build their own broadband networks — on their own terms. It is accelerating a rural rebellion in communities like Olds, Alta., Stratford, Ont., and Coquitlam, B.C., which were all early adopters of the municipal model, though access, cost and connection speed are often what motivates rural areas most.

The Shift From Publicly-Traded Internet Providers to Publicly-Held Internet Providers

Internet service created and maintained by the community it serves provide on average better and less expensive service than private companies. We may be witnessing the shift from publicly traded internet providers to publicly held internet providers.

Michigan Editorial: Private Sector Not Enough for Broadband

Proclaiming that broadband is as vital for citizens as roads and electricity, an editorial in the Port Huron Time-Herald reminds readers that “Michigan has not had a privately-owned highway since the 19th century, when the state got fed up with disorganized, deteriorating and often abandoned toll roads and began an organized system of highway development. The state needs to take the same tack with broadband internet access. Private enterprise is not going to do it.”

U.S. Farmers Are Advocates for Broadband

Farmers in Mississippi use new geo-referenced technology to create maps based on radio tags in their cotton bales to data to develop strategies that will improve their fiber quality and yields. They are also painfully aware of the limitations placed on so many Americans living in rural areas where the lack of broadband service has created a digital divide.

Will the U.S. Government Create a Nationwide High-Speed Network?

Rumours abound that about a proposed centralized nationwide 5G network, targeted to roll out in the next three years. It will not just bring faster connection, but even other benefits like additional income, since carriers will probably rent access to the system. If the U,S, gets into the network ownership game, would Canada follow suit?

Virginia Electrical Co-op To Build Fibre Network

The Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) has created a five-year plan to deploy a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network to premises within its distribution area. Because so many of its members live in rural areas, they don’t have access to high-quality Internet services. “CVEC believes that access to reliable, high-speed Internet today is becoming as important as access to electricity in 1937,” said CEO Gary Wood. “Give the great need for connectivity, CVEC will leverage its fiber network to provide a broadband Internet solution that will serve the community now and for the future.” As a prospective subscriber said: “With an Internet bill over several hundred dollars a month for relatively crappy service, I’ll happily spend my money with someone who actually cares! Shut up and take my money.”

Australia’s Rural Students To Get Home-Based Satellite

15 locations in northern Australia will soon participate in a ‘multicast’ service trial provided over the NBN Sky Muster satellite service. The service aims to enable students to share large files and participate in high-resolution virtual classrooms from home without interfering with their standard broadband connection.

U.K. Hits 95% Broadband Coverage

“Over the last 5 years, the Government’s rollout of superfast broadband has made superfast speeds a reality for more than 4.5 million homes and businesses who would otherwise have missed out,” said the U.K.’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock.

Trends: 18 Months Until Self-Driving Uber Cars; Decade to ‘No Drivers’

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expects to have autonomous cars on the road within 18 months and within 10 to 15 years to be able to serve most cities competently with comprehensive autonomous tech. Asked whether a child born today would even have to learn how to drive, Khosrowshahi confidently said he didn’t believe they would.
Why does this matter to rural areas: autonomous truck and farm vehicles will threaten the jobs of thousands of workers. Prepare for the shift.

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