FCC's muni broadband distraction shudders to a final stop

4 October 2016 by Steve Blum
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It’s officially over: the Federal Communications Commission does not have the authority to preempt state authority over municipal broadband systems, even when it thinks the way in which that authority is wielded constitutions a barrier to infrastructure investment. The federal appeals court in Cincinnati made that decision in August, in a case brought against the FCC by Tennessee and North Carolina, and issued the final order yesterday. It was a formality that brings the case to an end.… More

Federal reserve urges banks to invest in broadband

31 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Banks should be in the business of increasing Internet access and use in their communities, according to the Dallas branch of the federal reserve bank. Its white paper, Closing the Digital Divide, is a broadband primer for local bankers and those who would like to work with them. It details how broadband development initiatives can help banks meet obligations for local investment imposed by the federal Community Reinvestment Act.

The white paper makes three useful points.… More

Cooperative broadband is rare, but successful in California

28 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Rural utility cooperatives have gotten a lot of good ink recently, as a possible alternative to investor-owned broadband companies. Although it’s a business model that’s far more common in the U.S. midwest and south, it’s been successful in California too. At least as far it goes – there are only three rural utility co-ops here.

Anza Electric co-op in Riverside County is in the process of building a fiber to the home system using a grant from the California Advanced Services Fund.… More

FCC preemption loss is muni broadband win

17 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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One more vote, and you’re mine.

Waving the magic federal wand and erasing state restrictions on muni broadband seems like a wonderful idea, until the wand waves the other way and muni broadband disappears. That’s why last week’s federal appeals court decision overturning the FCC’s preemption of Tennessee and North Carolina laws limiting muni broadband systems was welcome news.

The current Federal Communications Commission majority tried to preempt the state restrictions during a burst of presidential community broadband populism a year and a half ago.… More

FCC's muni preemption attempt looks gone for good

14 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Wednesday’s appeals court decision that tossed out the Federal Communications Commission’s preemption of state limits on municipal broadband is looking more and more like the final word.

The reaction of those on the losing side of the judge’s decision – the FCC and the cities of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wilson, North Carolina – can be summed up as disappointed resignation. Lots of sorrow but no fighting words, as in they got it wrong and we’re gonna take it all the way to the supreme court.… More

FCC can't preempt state limits on muni broadband, appeals court rules

10 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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Park the bulldozer.

Congress did not give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to override state government-imposed limits on expansion by municipal broadband systems. That’s the simple and – as far as it goes – unanimous opinion of three federal appeals court judges who overturned the FCC’s preemption of muni broadband restrictions in Tennessee and North Carolina.

In general, a state has complete authority to determine what cities and counties can do, within the limits of the law.… More

Federal appeals court rejects FCC's muni broadband preemption

10 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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The FCC cannot preempt state law in Tennessee and North Carolina, and give local governments permission to extend the reach of municipal broadband systems if state legislatures say otherwise. That’s the bottom line from an appeals court decision issued this morning by a three judge federal appeals court panel in Cincinnati. I’ll have more when I’ve finished reading the decision, or you can read it for yourself here:

Federal appeals court opinion reversing FCC municipal broadband preemption

Is Atherton Fiber living in the real world? Part 2

14 July 2016 by Steve Blum
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Urban living, Atherton style.

An appallingly high take rate – 70% – and a vague reliance on third party ISPs to do the heavy lifting of achieving it are two reasons to be skeptical about Atherton Fiber’s plan to build a fiber to the home system that would reach all 2,500 households (there are no commercial properties as such) within the city limits, as discussed more fully in Part 1. It would not work in a typical Californian community.… More

Is Atherton Fiber living in the real world? Part 1

13 July 2016 by Steve Blum
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A deeper dive into the Atherton Fiber business model raises questions about its sustainability, given the assumptions that appear to have gone into it. The proposed fiber-to-the-home project would pass all 2,500 residences in Atherton. It seems there are no brick and mortar business customers there – the whole town is residential. Yes, it’s that exclusive.

The first red flag is an assumed take rate of 70% within four years. In a typical Californian community that assumption would be delusional.… More

Atherton FTTH plan has seed money and a quick timeline

11 July 2016 by Steve Blum
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Click for the big picture.

An Atherton venture capitalist put $500,000 into a fiber to the home project there. According to papers filed with the California Public Utilities Commission, Michael Farmwald made the investment in Atherton Fiber LLC, via his Skymoon Ventures Management Company, to get the ball rolling…

To finance the project, Atherton Fiber plans to raise approximately $3 million via a traditional investment mechanism and other interested Atherton residents. The remaining funds would be raised by selling interested property owners a “set” of bundled fibers to their home that they would own directly.