Communications utility FAQ

Submitted by acohill on Thu, 09/01/2005 - 08:37

Opportunity Iowa has an excellent Communications Utility FAQ that is worth a read. Although some of the information is specific to what is going on in Iowa, it provides a nice, short, clear summary of some key issues and what they mean for communities.

Is Iowa the telecom battleground?

Submitted by acohill on Mon, 08/22/2005 - 10:28

Iowa may be the new battleground for broadband. Successful projects like the Cedar Falls fiber system and the statewide Opportunity Iowa project has shifted the battle from Louisiana, where the phone and cable companies lost a battle against the city of Lafayette.

The most interesting thing in the article is the arrogant attitude of the president of Quest:

Max Phillips, Iowa president of Qwest Communications International Inc., said the interests pushing the community fiber programs are misguided because people should focus on the speed and quality of service, not the medium that carries it.

Digital Cities: Iowa report

Submitted by acohill on Wed, 04/20/2005 - 11:58

Clark McLeod, the CEO of FiberUtilities of Iowa and the head of OpportunityIowa, gave a stunning keynote address at the Digital Cities conference on Tuesday. What follows is a summary of his remarks.

The incumbent telephone and cable companies have monopolized both infrastructure and services, and they will do anything--ANYTHING--to stop threats to those monopolies. Nonetheless, the incumbents are not the enemy. The enemy is the complacency of American communities, who are letting the incumbents win the battle.

OpportunityIowa is a statewide effort to educate citizens and elected leaders about the importance of broadband to the future of the community, and it is trying to address the urgent need to help those citizens and elected leaders understand that broadband is tightly tied to economic development. The project has made over 1000 presentations across the state to educate communities about the issues.

OpportunityIowa has a simple answer to the question of why communities should invest in broadband: To reverse the downward economic trends (fewer and fewer jobs year after year); to build 21st century community infrastructure; and because community broadband is primarily a local problem. One of Iowa's main exports are college graduates, who leave the state and never come back because of the lack of opportunity.

McCleod says that education is the core problem (or the lack of it).

Communities need a fiber utility; it will drive the cost of telecom down. Creating a fiber utility (just the legal entity, not building anything) gets the attention of the incumbents and often has immediate positive results because communities that create these fiber utility entities often get better service quickly, even if they have not spent any money to build out a network. The first step for any community is to create the legal entity that could and would own and manage a community fiber network.

McLeod suggests that the legal entity be created without any commitment to actually spending any money or building any infrastructure. The mistake many communities make is to rush to build something without having an appropriate community legal entity in place.

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