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Next Century Cities

Spurning Google Fiber, Portland Suburb of Lake Oswego Pushes Toward Broadband Partnership

in Fiber/Gigabit Networks/Smart Cities by

LAKE OSWEGO, Oregon, October 14, 2015 – This suburb of Portland, a potential candidate for Google Fiber’s Gigabit-speed internet service, has said it isn’t willing to wait around for the search engine giant.

At a city council meeting here on Tuesday night, elected officials in this city of 37,000 listened, questioned and debated between two proposed public-private partnerships that would result in the construction of Gigabit-speed fiber-optic infrastructure.

City Council Meeting in Lake Oswego, Oregon

City Council Meeting in Lake Oswego, Oregon

Instead of sitting and waiting for Google, the city council members appeared inclined to move forward on a public-private project with city involvement.

“There was a great buzz and excitement when Google announced” the possibility that it would come to Portland, said Councilmember Jon Gustafson during the session — but the city hasn’t wasn’t seen any action since that time.

Last year, Google announced possible expansion to Portland and five suburbs, including Lake Oswego. The company has made commitment, however.

“Google is still at the vapor stage,” added Chip Larouche, chief technology officer for the city. Speaking at the Tuesday meeting, he said that Google is “talking about how ‘we might make you a promise.’”

Instead, City Manager Scott Lazenby said that in June Lake Oswego put out a Request for Proposals to build their own Gigabit Network. The city received two responses from private companies, and one from the City’s own Public Works Department.

The City requested a comparative response from Public Works to price-check the private companies’ proposals. In an interview, Lazenby said that city staff began to lean toward a public-private partnership “once we saw that the private partners’ costs were not more expensive.”

Tuesday’s meeting was called to review the report about the two leading proposals that were released earlier this month on the city’s web site.

Each of the companies’ proposals take a public-private approach. One was from consortium led by the Oregon-based Sunstone Business Finance, and the other is from British-based SiFi Networks.

If selected, the winning bidder would finance, build and operate a fiber network for the city. It would serve every home and business in Lake Oswego. The city would make annual “lease” payments to cover costs of building and running the network. And after a period of 20 or 30 years, ownership of the fiber network would revert to the City.

Such public-private proposals for last-mile fiber networks are being considered much more frequently by cities across the country. One year-old non-profit group, Next Century Cities, provides information and support to cities that are seeking to consider such partnerships — or the steps necessary to build their own municipal networks.

At Tuesday’s meeting by the Lake Oswego City Council, Chris Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance offered advice to elected officials on the “hard decision” that they need to make to bring advanced networks to their towns.

Chris Mitchell, Institute for Local Self Reliance and Next Century Cities

Chris Mitchell, Institute for Local Self Reliance and Next Century Cities

“Option one, you don’t do anything, and Google doesn’t do anything and the incumbents don’t, either,” said Mitchell, who is also affiliated with Next Century Cities. “Speeds stay the same, with small upgrades, and it is more expensive over time. This is not an attractive option.”

“Option two, you do something and take on some risk, and the response from the other providers is to cut prices and invest in higher speeds. You have to struggle to make your investment whole because now, you are not fighting against incumbents with high prices and slow speeds.”

But, said Mitchell, this Hobson’s choice provides an opportunity for forward-looking cities.

Because they are not as concerned as private companies about their return on investment, but are more focused on the benefits of better broadband, such cities can succeed by making investments — as long as they can stomach the risk.

Public-private partnership such as those offered by Sunstone and SiFi Networks can help cities mitigate these risks, he said. Referring to the experience being assembled among more than the 115 cities that make up Next Century Cities, Mitchell said that “we are seeing a lot of different approaches.”

Most cities find that fiber-built networks can succeed, over time, so long as between 30 and 35 percent of households migrate to the new network, he said. The nearby town of Sandy recently built its own network, he said, and is enjoying such success.

2 - oswego

Council members reviewed the relative advantages of the proposals from Sunstone and SiFi Networks.

The staff report released by the city is recommending Sunstone over SiFi Networks on the basis of a lower cost over the life of the broadband project.

This is principally due to the fact that SiFi Networks’ proposal would finance the construction of the network over 30 years, while Sunstone’s proposal financed it over 19 years.

Other differences between the companies include SiFi Networks’ proposal for underground construction versus Sunstone’s proposal for aerial construction. Additionally, said Larouche, Sunstone is proposing putting more of its telecommunications equipment within a central office location. By contrast, he said, SiFi Networks would use fiber cabinets in the city’s rights of way to locate the bulk of its telecom equipment.

Although the council took no action on Tuesday, Lazenby said that a vote to begin negotiating with the selected entity would be put on the council’s agenda for its meeting on Tuesday, October 20.

 

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP, with offices in California and Washington, DC. He works with cities, special districts and private companies on planning, financing and coordinating efforts of the many partners necessary to construct broadband infrastructure and deploy “Smart City” applications. You can find him on LinkedIN and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.

Next Century Cities: GAO Report Should Prompt Accessible Broadband Performance Information

in Broadband Data/Press Releases by

Editor’s Note: Next Century Cities released the following press release, signed by representatives of 35 of the 95 cities supporting the organization’s six principles. The link to the release on the organization’s web site.

35 Mayors and Elected Officials Call for Accessible Broadband Performance Information Following GAO Investigation

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2015 – Today, 35 mayors and city officials sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  urging uniform and accessible reporting on broadband network performance. The letter, coordinated by Next Century Cities, was prompted by the findings of a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, BROADBAND PERFORMANCE: Additional Actions Could Help FCC Evaluate its Efforts to Inform Consumers. Cities signing the letter include major metropolitan areas such as Boston, Kansas City, and Seattle, as well as smaller communities such as Mount Vernon, WA, Salisbury, NC and Yellow Springs, OH.

“The GAO report offers an opportunity to assess how we measure network performance,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “If we are truly committed to ensuring access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband Internet, we need to think seriously about how we measure speed, cost, and reliability, and how we communicate this information to consumers.”

City leaders encourage the FCC to heed the recommendations of the GAO, consider standardized measurement of network performance, and develop easily-comprehensible materials to communicate this information to citizens. The signers feel strongly that reliable, understandable information is critical for citizens and governments alike as they seek to develop next-generation broadband Internet.

The GAO report found that current FCC requirements on network performance do not obligate providers to use standard measurements, while existing FCC reports on network performance are written in technical language that limits their usefulness to consumers. The officials signing onto the letter are members of Next Century Cities, a city-to-city initiative founded to support communities and their elected leaders as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet.

In support of this effort to provide clarity and transparency in the provision of broadband services, 35 Next Century Cities member communities wrote: “Efforts to develop this core infrastructure are impeded when our citizens are unable to accurately gauge the quality and speed of their Internet…As broadband Internet becomes increasingly critical to the well-being of towns and cities across the country, being able to reliably measure and compare network performance will help to ensure that we, as elected leaders, are delivering the essential infrastructure our communities need.”

Schools, Health and Libraries Conference a Vital Connection for Public Broadband

in Education/FCC/Health/Minority/NTIA/Universal Service by

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2015 – More than five years after the unveiling of the National Broadband Plan, policy-makers and on-the-ground-advocates seeking to build better broadband networks will convene here this week at the annual conference of the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition.

The conference, “Enhancing Broadband Through Innovation, Investment and Inclusion,” has become the regular Washington gathering point for those engaged in public broadband initiatives.

Among the keynote and plenary sessions at this year’s conference include addresses by Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, former Virginia Gov. and Sen. George Allen, plus Mayor Jill Boudreau of Mount Vernon, Washington.

Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition Conference

Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition Conference

Mount Vernon is building a Gigabit Network in its community, and she’ll be joined by Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities, the new non-profit coalition seeking to encourage municipalities to enhance next-generation broadband connectivity through advanced networks.

With so national and municipal developments advancing municipal and public-private networks – together with fast-moving developments at the FCC concerning the eRate and the White House’s ConnectED initiative – SHLB has become an important destination for those entities often called “community anchor institutions.”

These schools, hospital and health clinic, libraries and public computing centers serve as an important resource to ensure greater connectivity to, and knowledge of, our digital economy.

A pre-conference session on Wednesday include a two moderated discussion of the Healthcare Connect Fund, led by Jeff Mitchell of Lukas, Nace, Gutierrez & Sachs; and Bill England of e-Copernicus.

Additionally, the FCC, the Commerce Department’s National  Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the newly-formed National Digital Inclusion Alliance will be hosting related events on Wednesday afternoon.

Thursday’s agenda includes addresses by Allen, Quinn, and an address on “Healthcare’s Invisible Strength” by David Hotchkiss of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Panel sessions will address developments in the eRate, wireless policy, ConnectED, Net Neutrality, municipal broadband, plus broadband research and planning.

Friday features a keynote by Clyburn, plus additional sessions on broadband adoption and digital inclusion. The closing plenary will feature Ray Timothy, CEO of the Utah Education and Telehealth Network and Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the Washington, DC, public library.

Created in 2009 to address the shortage of broadband for anchor institutions, the SHLB Coalition aims to organize these entities together with commercial companies and non-profit broadband providers to improve broadband connectivity for anchor institutions and their communities in all regions of the country. John Windhausen is the coalition’s executive director.

“Anchor institution personnel can train people about broadband services and technologies, thereby stimulating broadband usage and demand,” reads the SHLB Coalition mission and vision. “Furthermore, high-capacity ‘middle mile’ broadband networks serving community anchor institutions can be used as ‘jumping off points’ to serve surrounding residential and business consumers. Several studies show that building high-capacity broadband to community anchor institutions has a multiplier effect that generates tremendous economic growth for the community and the nation.”

Registration and agenda for the SHLB conference. The event is taking place at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.

FCC to Put Its Legal Weight Behind Preemption of State Laws That Limit Community Gigabit Networks

in Broadband's Impact/FCC/Fiber/Gigabit Networks by

February 3, 2015 – The Federal Communications Commission will put its legal weight behind a petition that would preempt laws in North Carolina and Tennessee  that restrict the ability of community broadband networks to expand operations.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will urge his fellow commissioners — and is expected to obtain support from a majority of them — to vote against restrictions on municipality-supported networks in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Wilson, North Carolina.

“After looking carefully at petitions by two community broadband providers asking the FCC to pre-empt provisions of state laws preventing expansion of their very successful networks, I recommend approval by the Commission so that these two forward-thinking cities can serve the many citizens clamoring for a better broadband future,” Wheeler said in a statement.

Wheeler intends for the agency to take the action at its open meeting on February 26, 2015.

The proposed preemption of state restrictions will be limited to the laws of North Carolina and Wilson, agency officials said, because those were the state putting forward a petition for preemption.

According to a fact sheet released Monday by the agency, “the proposed order finds that certain provisions of the state laws are barriers to broadband investment and competition and that preemption is warranted.”

Agency officials said in a conference call that Congress and the FCC have the power to regulate interstate commerce and interstate communication. Because internet access crosses state lines, these officials said, the FCC has the authority to preempt state laws when acting pursuant to a specific grant of authority.

Agency officials said that FCC will take the action under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act, which directs the FCC to remove barriers to broadband competition.

Agency officials distinguished the new preemption from a 2004 Supreme Court decision, Nixon v. Missouri Municipal League, upholding states’ authority to limit telecommunications competition from municipalities.

“While states retain authority to grant or withhold the ability of their cities and towns to enter the broadband market, once states have granted that authority, they may not impose on community providers regulatory burdens that act as barriers to infrastructure investment and competition,” the agency said in a fact sheet released Monday.

The move by Wheeler comes less than three weeks after President Obama announced efforts to end laws that harm broadband competition, steps to support a growing national movement of local leaders for Gigabit Networks, and new federal funding and a new initiative to support community broadband.

Next Century Cities, a new group designed to foster ultra-high-speed connectivity by cities reacted favorably. “Any move to expand choices for towns and cities is good for innovation, competition, and for the country,” said the group’s Executive Director Deb Socia.

“Just last week, mayors and elected officials from 38 of our member communities wrote urging the FCC to respect the principles of local choice and self-determination. We applaud the Chairman on his response, and this draft decision is a key step forward.”

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Kirton McConkie, based in Salt City City, Utah. You can find him on LinkedIN and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com  and affiliated social media are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors. Clark brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband: job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, energy, transportation and eGovernment. 

Press Release: Kirton McConkie Presents Webinar for Municipalities on Building Gigabit Networks

in Gigabit Networks/Press Releases by

SALT LAKE CITY, January 15, 2015 – President Obama’s vigorous support of a growing national movement to build Gigabit Networks highlights the need for municipalities to prepare wisely for their high-speed Internet future, said Kirton McConkie attorneys Drew Clark and David Shaw.

Kirton McConkie announced a practical four-part webinar series on “How to Build Your Gigabit Network,” beginning on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, from 2 p.m. ET to 3 p.m. Subsequent webinars will take place on following Tuesdays: February 3, February 10 and February 17.

Registration for the webinars, which are available for free to the public, is at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6437609058631730178

President Obama was set on Wednesday to travel to Cedar Falls, Iowa, the White House said, to “announce steps he will discuss in the State of the Union to help more Americans, in more communities around the country, get access to fast and affordable broadband.”

Among those steps include the creation of a national Broadband Opportunity Council charged with “speeding up broadband deployment,” a Community Broadband Summit of mayors and county commissioners in June 2015, the launch of BroadbandUSA by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and urging the Federal Communications Commission to support local broadband competition.

“There are many ways that cities can build Gigabit Networks, and President Obama is smart to highlight this bi-partisan issue in the State of the Union Address,” said Drew Clark, Of Counsel at Kirton McConkie. “Whether municipalities choose to support traditional telecom companies or new entrants, local governments play a central role in facilitating next-generation networks. A municipality that isn’t thinking about Gigabit Networks isn’t being a good guardian of its rights-of-ways.”

“Municipalities know they need to plan for deploying fiber-optic infrastructure, but many are daunted by perceived financial and legal obstacles to constructing such networks,” said David Shaw, Shareholder at Kirton McConkie. “Hundreds of cities have constructed or operate high-speed broadband networks by themselves or through public-private partnerships. We expect that number to grow to thousands of cities – if they follow best practices for building Gigabit Networks.”

The agenda for the “How to Build Your Gigabit Network” webinar series is below. All four events will be hosted and moderated by David Shaw and Drew Clark:

Webinar 1, January 27 - “How to Build Your Gigabit Network: Avoiding Mistakes Before You Begin” 

Addresses the nuts and bolts of cities’ efforts to build next-generation infrastructure. How many municipal networks are there? What key things do municipalities need to know before they begin?

Guests:
David Evertsen, CEO, Municipal Solutions
Zane Logan, City Manager, Powell, Wyoming
Masha Zager, Editor, Broadband Communities

Webinar 2, February 3 - “How to Build Your Gigabit Network: Lessons from Municipal Success Stories”

Brings together some of the lessons learned by municipalities in building their Gigabit networks. Officials from cities that have designed and built networks discuss their goals and expected outcomes. How can we measure the success of these networks?

Guests:
Andrew Cohill, Danville, Virginia
Bruce Patterson, Ammon, Idaho
Deb Socia, Executive Director, Next Century Cities

Webinar 3, February 10 - “How to Build Your Gigabit Network: Resources for Municipalities”

What resources are available to cities as they approach Gigabit Networks, alone or in public-private partnerships? Interest in Gigabit Networks is growing and municipalities that go down that path are not alone.

Webinar 4, February 17 - “How to Build Your Gigabit Network: Selling the Benefits to Users”

What are the benefits to cities, citizens and businesses from building Gigabit Networks? Emerging high-bandwidth apps require greater connectivity speeds, made easier by fiber networks. Who is experiencing such benefits today, and how we can use their stories?

To Register, go to: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6437609058631730178

Kirton McConkie is a leader in legal issues surrounding building, financing and operating municipal broadband networks. We enhance state and local governments’ ability to deploy broadband infrastructure in their economic development activities. We represent municipalities, inter-local entities and cooperatives from an exploratory phase, through bid processes and beyond.

Additionally, we assist clients as they construct and operate their high-speed broadband networks by negotiating with public-private partnerships. We know the players in the broadband community, the financial options available to cities and local governments and the best practices for building Gigabit Networks.

For further information, please contact:

David Shaw, dshaw@kmclaw.com801-426-2108
Drew Clark, drewclark@kmclaw.com801-426-2123

Drew Clark: The Year of Community and Municipal Gigabit Broadband

in Broadband's Impact by

December 18, 2014 – While net neutrality captured Washington policy headlines, the most significant communications development in 2014 was the emergence of new and more viable approaches to building community and municipal Gigabit Networks.

A confluence of factors in the worlds of broadband, energy, transportation, manufacturing and civic engagement have underscored the need for next-generation internet networks. Evidence of this gathering momentum behind global Gigabit Cities include the high-profile emergence of public-private financing models and a growing network of high-bandwidth computing applications.

This year’s fight over net neutrality is not unrelated to the push for Gigabit Networks. The Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet proceeding is a battle over scarcity: The prioritization of traffic on lower-capacity networks. From the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision striking down FCC rules in January to President Obama’s decision to directly intervene in the new FCC proceeding, it’s been an all-consuming public battle.

But viewed from the vantage point of the future, the far more significant development will be the emergence of opportunities outside of Washington for high-capacity broadband networks. It’s a world in which cities and municipalities are playing the leadership role.

Smart Cities Equals Gigabit Global Cities

Take, as a recent example, this New York Times story from last week: “Copenhagen Lighting the Way to Greener, More Efficient Cities.”

Not once did this article mention the words “broadband” or even “internet.” And yet the piece was all about the “software and services for critical infrastructure to utilities and cities and [how technology companies are] helping design and operate the traffic and street lighting project here in Copenhagen.”

On a main artery into the city, truck drivers can see on smartphones when the next light will change. And in a nearby suburb, new LED streetlights brighten only as vehicles approach, dimming once they pass.

Aimed at saving money, cutting the use of fossil fuels and easing mobility, the installations are part of a growing wireless network of streetlamps and sensors that officials hope will help this city of roughly 1.2 million meet its ambitious goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.

Eventually, the network will serve other functions, like alerting the sanitation department to empty the trash cans and informing bikers of the quietest or fastest route to their destinations. It’s all made possible through an array of sensors embedded in the light fixtures that collect and feed data into software.

The Copenhagen smart city one example of how cities have recognized that information communications technology is a necessary part of the “plumbing” of modern life. The common-sense capabilities being deployed in Copenhagen demonstrate how cities see that they must engage in the innards of fiber-optic wires and wireless transceivers if they want to remain good steward of their public rights-of-way.

Indeed, the thinking behind the concept of a “smart city” has grown well businesses like Cisco, IBM or Siemens. There is now a percolating effort to probe the cost-saving, public safety and competitive advantages for cities:

  • The Brookings Institution’s “Global Cities Initiative,” a $10 million, five-year project launched in March 2012 with JPMorgan Chase, is aimed at strengthening regional economies and their role in the global marketplace.
  • The Atlantic Magazine’s CityLab.com (rebranded in May from its original title of The Atlantic Cities), is a new an editorial hub squarely focused on urban solutions to the issues and ideas facing the world’s metro areas and neighborhoods.
  • Susan Crawford’s and Stephen Goldsmith’s September book, “The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance.” They write: “A confluence of technology advancements now promises broad and constructive change in local government, altering everything from the way workers perform basic functions to the way citizens engage with government.”
  • The Global Cities Team Challenge, an effort championed by US Ignite in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, plus the Departments of Transportation, Energy, Health and Human Services and the National Science Foundation. After its September kickoff, the challenge has been called “Shark Tank meets smart cities” — its an effort to pair up the high-bandwidth applications cultivated by US Ignite with funding from NIST to achieve civic ends. About $10 million in funding will be available for 6-10 projects, and applications are due January 21, 2015.

New Models for Municipal Broadband

The aborning effort to stimulate Gigabit Global cities isn’t just about faster internet. Indeed, that’s precisely the point. High-bandwidth broadband is not a good to be sought on its own. It is fundamental infrastructure upon which next-generation city managers — and next-generation business and social entrepreneurs — are coming to rely.

The most direct crystallization of our municipal broadband moment is the new non-profit coalition dubbed Next Century Cities. Launched less than two months ago in Santa Monica, it now boasts membership from 50 cities, representing 25 states. From Los Angeles to communities along the Pacific Northwest, from Lafayette in Cajun country to Chattanooga, and from patrician Boston to a city that got its start as a cow town, Kansas City, each of these 50 cities have different motivations and approaches to Gigabit Networks. But they agree on these six core principles:

  1. High-speed internet is necessary infrastructure.
  2. The internet is non-partisan.
  3. Communities must enjoy self-determination in selecting public, nonprofit, corporate or public-private solutions.
  4. High-speed internet is a community-wide endeavor.
  5. Meaningful competition drives progress.
  6. Cities can learn from the experiences of others as they build Gigabit Networks.

I was present at the Santa Monica launch of Next Century Cities. I’m excited that, increasingly, city managers aren’t afraid to take responsibility for what is traveling over their rights-of-way. I also recently listened to the three-and-a-half hour webcast of its November 18 field hearing, “Envisioning a Gigabit Future,” in Chattanooga. (It was time well spent!)

What’s important about Next Century Cities is that it represents a “big tent” approach to community broadband. For cities that want to bring Gigabit Networks to their communities, there are effectively four major routes, all of which are represented within the coalition:

  • The corporate model. Google Fiber’s launch in Kansas City has shaken up the tight telecom word of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications. When a city has confidence in a private provider’s promises in accessing rights-of-way, the corporate model can be hassle-free.
  • Non-profits and cooperatives. In many cases, co-ops and non-profits have been among the first to deploy fiber. Cleveland’s OneCommunity is terrific example of a non-profit community resource spurring on next-generation networks for its anchor institution and business tenants in Northeast Ohio.
  • Public-private partnerships. Although less well-known in the telecom space, public-private partnerships are the default model, world-over, for the construction of highways, tollways, ports and airports. This year has seen great innovation in using public-private partnership to build Gigabit Networks.
  • Municipal retail broadband. According to Broadband Communities magazine, more than 143 cities in the U.S. have some form of fiber-optic networks, many of which retail broadband services to city residents.

With the exception of using a corporate providers like Google or AT&T, each of the other three models leave room for open-access opportunities.

As I wrote in another context:

A public-private partnership is a way of leveraging government resources without incurring the expense of going to the capital markets and incurring more debt. Public-private partnerships also give governments a means of ensuring “asset performance,” since payments to the private entity are based on fulfillment and performance. Such normal burdens as labor issues, debt and managing costs fall to the private partner.

Under the public-private partnership model, municipalities have oversight responsibility, but no direct day-to-day role in the build-out and operations of the network. A public-private partner becomes the network operator and wholesaler, overseen by a public entity composed of participating municipalities, to ensure that the contractually agreed performance standards are achieved. The network remains an open access network, with the public-private partner’s role being maximization of competition between providers on the network. The cities retain ownership of the network assets, and the public-private partner takes operational responsibility for the network over a 30-year period, effectively leasing the network from the cities.

Under the public-private partnership/”open access” model, the network operator becomes the provider of the “fiber highway” that an existing or new entrant can use to deliver data, voice, video and other services to customers. This highway is open to any provider that wishes to use it, including the incumbents.

The emergence of new opportunities for entrepreneurs’ open access to Gigabit Networks is one of the most promising developments of the focus on fiber-enhanced Smart Cities.

Applications and Networking (the Human Variety)

An equally important point about municipal Gigabit broadband is the human networking that takes place in the creation of a Gigabit community. Beyond the infrastructure, how are consumers making use of much-expanded broadband capabilities?

This is the essence of Next Century Cities’ point number six: Collaboration benefits all. We have seen extensive public dialogues in Kansas City (because of Google Fiber), in Chattanooga (owing to EPB, the public electric utility turned broadband provider) in Danville, Virginia (through nDanville, the open-access fiber network), and elsewhere. These kinds of public broadband discussions are different from what we used to experience in the provider-centric broadband model of a decade ago.

On a personal level, I’ve seen the benefits of “Better Broadband, Better Lives” first-hand in rural and urban Illinois, where I led the Partnership for a Connected Illinois from 2010 to 2013; and since then in Utah, where I’ve continued to be involved in ensuring the fastest possible internet services for everyone.

In addition to our public mapping activities, Broadband Illinois actively promoted the opportunities that high-speed internet offers for jobs, education, energy efficiency, healthcare, public safety, agriculture and government. As the State Broadband Initiative entity for the land of Lincoln, we collected and published telecom maps and information, collaborated with internet providers and economic development officials for deployment, and educated individuals and organizations on how to effectively use broadband.

Among those educational effort including launching the Illinois Broadband Innovation Fund, which awarded 14 grants to entities using broadband in unique and innovative ways, and working with the Federal Communications Commission on one of the agency’s first broadband lifeline grants to rural Western and Southern Illinois. We also worked closely with Gov. Pat Quinn on his Gigabit Challenge Initiative — one of the first in the nation — and which was announced on February 1, 2012.

When Broadband Illinois held its first conference in Carbondale, in Southern Illinois, in June 2011, the president of Southern Illinois University declared the city to be a “broadband desert.” Yet last week Carbondale officially became a Gigabit city (and recently a member of Next Century Cities), with the launch of a Gigabit Network by Frontier Communication.

I speak of these sorts of educational and entrepreneurial gains in Illinois because of my knowledge and work in the state. These sorts of stories have been replicated throughout the nation over the past five years through the efforts of the State Broadband Initiative program. Yet with the national program coming to end in March of 2015, the question becomes: Who will help convene the public broadband dialogue both on infrastructure and on applications?

US Ignite and Next Century Cities are two important groups stepping in to fill the breach. There will certainly be others, too: Such as the Rural Telecommunications Congress, that works to ensure rural areas aren’t left out of benefits available to “next century cities.”

But the direction toward Gigabit Networks – and the leadership role being played by states and by municipalities – is truly positive. In 2014, for the first time, Gigabit Networks have become an undeniable force that has reached a tipping point.

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club, the premier Washington forum advancing the conversation around broadband technology and internet policy. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. You can find him on LinkedIN and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com  and affiliated social media are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors. Clark brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband: job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, energy, transportation and eGovernment. 

Drew Clark: Cities Crave Gigabit Networks, and Meet on Monday in California to Launch ‘Next Century Cities’

in Broadband's Impact/Expert Opinion/Fiber/Gigabit Networks/The Innovation Economy by

October 17, 2014 – Fiber-optic communication is increasingly being recognized as a new necessity of urban life, with momentum for cities to obtain Gigabit Networks enabled by fiber is growing every week.

On Monday, October 20, a new group of cities — called Next Century Cities — launches a “city-to-city collaboration that supports community leaders across the country as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable and reliable internet.”

The event is being launched in Santa Monica, Calif., with officials representing more than 30 cities, including Chattanooga, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; Lafayette, Louisiana; Raleigh, North Carolina, and Santa Monica.

I’ll be at the event in Santa Monica, and hope to provide readers of Broadband Breakfast with an update soon after the event, plus live-streaming via http://twitter.com/broadbandcensus. The event, which begins at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT, is also being webcast at http://bit.ly/next-century-cities

In an announcement about the event, Next Century Cities Executive Director Deb Socia said: “Our event will bring together mayors from communities across the country, as well as successful technologists who have helped to implement and run some of the nation’s most impressive broadband networks. We’re proud to host mayors and leaders from across the country for a series of thought-provoking discussions about how high-quality broadband internet has begun to empower American communities.”

Participating in a panel discussion with mayors and city leaders will be Susan Crawford, visiting professor at Harvard Law School, and former special assistant to the Obama Administration for science and technology policy.

Other cities participating in the event include Ammon, Idaho; Boston, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon; Mount Vernon, Washington; and Wilson, North Carolina.

As was reported in a recent piece on BroadbandBreakfast.com, about Susan Crawford:

“Crawford, a leading architect of the Obama administration’s aggressive efforts to stimulate the growth of high-speed internet networks, has been one of the nation’s leading visionaries for the power of fiber-optic communication. Of all available internet technologies, fiber is unparalleled in its ability to offer resilient ultra-high speed broadband connections.

“Crawford’s latest book, The Responsive City: Engaging Cities Through Data-Smart Governance, tracks the role that fiber now plays in the democratic relationships on a civic level. Such technologies that enable greater transparency and problem solving by public officials and residents, the book co-authored with Stephen Goldsmith builds a case for deeper urban interconnectedness through broadband technologies.”

Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club, the premier Washington forum advancing the conversation around broadband technology and internet policy. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Kirton McConkie, based in Salt City City, Utah. You can find him on LinkedIN and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com  and affiliated social media are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors. Clark brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband: job creation, telemedicine, online learning, public safety, energy, transportation and eGovernment. 

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