Connecticut Gets Tired Of Waiting For State's Regional Broadband Duopoly, Starts Pushing Gigabit Networks

from the build-it-or-get-out-of-the-way dept

Connecticut is one of numerous states where incumbent ISPs have all but given up on seriously competing or improving service, urban and rural customers alike. AT&T was so disinterested in Connecticut it recently sold all of its fixed-line networks in the state to Frontier Communications, throwing customers from the frying pan (a totally disinterested AT&T) into the fire (a marginally-interested but now debt-saddled Frontier). For years Frontier has claimed its customers don't need faster broadband access, and its CEO is on record claiming that gigabit service is "hype" that only acts to "confuse customers."

Pixelpusher220 writes in to note that numerous Connecticut cities are tired of waiting for Comcast and Frontier to give a damn, and have issued a RFP/RFQ (Request for Quotation) to begin examining the construction of gigabit networks. Roughly 46 of Connecticut's 169 towns and cities (accounting for 50% of the state's population) have signed up so far, with an eye on striking a privately-funded, public/private partnership. What started with a $4 million federal broadband expansion grant by the NTIA, quickly shifted toward Connecticut making it easier for companies to come in and compete using pole attachment reform:
"Connecticut is the one state in the country that has fixed the unbelievably difficult issue of attaching wires to poles. Rather than letting pole owners hold up every requestor by creating delays and making demands for special payments (seriously: pole-attachment scuffles are the long-running soap operas of telecom), Connecticut requires pole owners to obey a Single Pole Administrator, adhere to uniform pricing agreements, and act to make way for new wires in a set time. Dramatic stuff. And Connecticut already had passed a statute giving municipalities the right to use a part of a pole, or “gain,” for any purpose. These two elements made Connecticut an extremely attractive place to string a network."
Well, attractive if you're actually interested in offering cutting-edge service. Less attractive perhaps if you're a regional duopoly or monopoly trying desperately to maintain the status quo and spend as little money as possible on customer service or your network. ISPs, as is so frequently the case, have responded with the usual assortment of false claims that either gigabit speeds already exist (only if you're talking about the core network), or customers don't really want this kind of speed:
"The incumbent cable and telcos are not standing idly by. The New England Cable Television Association, NECTA (essentially speaking for Comcast) has fired at the plan, variously claiming that (a) the state already has adequate capacity, so no one needs a gig, (b) if gig networks are needed, they’ve already been built, (c) if new networks are built via the Connecticut plan (a plan supported by the four largest cities in the state as well as 42 other towns), taxpayers will have to pay for them. None of this is true."
Of course none of this would even be possible in the twenty states where incumbent ISPs have managed to write and lobby for laws restricting towns and cities from getting involved in the broadband market, even if the goal is public/private partnerships to deploy service to areas ISPs couldn't care less about. While Google Fiber is certainly great, its limited deployment can only accomplish so much. It's really from the local level up that we're going to improve the nation's stagnant broadband fortunes. And like net neutrality, while framed as a partisan issue by the usual assortment of Congressional marionettes, being able to dictate your own community's infrastructure future has broad, bipartisan public support.
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Filed Under: broadband, competition, connecticut, muni broadband, municipal broadband


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  1. icon
    Jeffry Houser (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 4:27pm

    Go CT!

    I live in CT, and in one of the cities that has signed up. I would kill for Gigabyte connection; primarily so I could easily mirror my backup my repository off-site.

    I do want to say a few things about Frontier and Cox [the two Internet providers available to me].

    I had had DSL for ~15 years. It was SNET DSL, which turned into AT&T DSL, which forced me to upgrade to AT&T UVerse, which then turned into Frontier.

    The Frontier conversion was a nightmare; but every time I spoke to someone they were always polite and always tried to help. It seems the systems they were provided were incapable; though. My problem with that conversion was not with Internet, but phone service. Sometimes I forward my home office line to my cell--and that feature would not work.


    I switched to COX primarily for faster speeds. All the techs / support people I've worked with have been great. I routinely get download speeds close to double what I'm paying for; and upload speeds are often slightly higher.

    When they're were problems--like when my phone service had no voicemail--they fixed them. [Via Twitter after I Sent them a link to a PDF receipt of my sign up confirmation]

    I do not have any nightmare customer service stories from either Cox or Frontier. Not a perfect experience, but nothing like what is floating around the Internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 4:32pm

    I thought pole taxes were illegal.

    That's the joke I came up with while reading and thinking: "Huh. The minion got through this without mentioning -- oh, THERE'S the Google Fiber propaganda!"

    How is it that such "limited deployment" -- 27,000 out of TENS OF MILLIONS -- still has to be mentioned EVERY ISP piece?

    Techdirt never disappoints me. Predictable as sunrise.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 4:33pm

    Mo' fasta' == mo' betta'

    I can easily saturate my 25-30mbps business U-Verse link. Since it is still DSL, it is still asymmetric in that I don't get those speeds up to the internet, which would be nice if I decided to host a good web site! Comcrap and AT&T lobbied (with million$) to keep our community from providing a public fiber to the home network some years ago. I have canvassed neighbors who voted against the initiative, and EVERY ONE has said they would vote for it now! I've been trying to get our local government to put this initiative to the vote again. No response... :-(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 4:34pm

    Meet your writer.

    "Karl Bode ... has been babbling, jabbering and prattling about technology, politics and culture ... for more than fifteen years."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 4:41pm

    "so no one needs a gig, (b) if gig networks are needed, they’ve already been built,"

    Hmm, I wasn't aware that the internet determined how much speed any particular area needs to deliver content to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 5:03pm

    Re: Meet your writer.

    What's the matter, the idea that the local ISP's might actually have to compete to keep their customers strike a nerve?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 5:09pm

    Re: I thought pole taxes were illegal.

    The troll is also as predictable as sunrise. Never reads the article, always has comments that rank right in there with the shills.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re: Meet your writer.

    I think it is likely that either his/her boyfriend/girlfriend tossed him/her out on his/her ear and has nothing better to do OR he/she is paid for disruption and just doesn't know how to accomplish that effectively. It is probably the latter, and the payer is not getting any value for their money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 5:19pm

    Sweet, sweet schadenfreude

    You can practically taste the desperation they have got to be feeling over the idea of some real competition entering the market.

    "You don't need gig connections, no-one needs gig connections! And who would want those anyway, that's way more than you could possibly use! And even if you did want it, we've already got the connections needed, you just need to pay us approximately all your money and we'll consider maybe hooking you up!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 5:25pm

    "Of course none of this would even be possible in the twenty states where incumbent ISPs have managed to write and lobby for laws..."

    Where is the list of these 20 states? How do I know if my state is one of the 20?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 6:12pm

    Re:

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    KRA, 1 May 2015 @ 6:22pm

    Re: Sweet, sweet schadenfreude

    A few months after I dropped cable I had some man knock on my door and ask me what I was doing for TV. I politely told him that wasn't his business. He started walking around my house and back yard and looking around. I assume that he was trying to see if I had a dish or a different provider. I asked him nicely to get off my property. He didn't. I asked him not-so-nicely to leave and he ignored me. It took a squirt from the hose and the threat of a drenching to get him to leave my property. He proceeded to walk around the yard across the street after that.

    I called the Cablevision to complain and was told that the man was an outside contractor and that they hired so many contractors, it would be impossible to know who he actually worked for. I asked them to never, ever send anyone to my house again. It's been a few years and I haven't seen anyone else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    HMTKSteve, 1 May 2015 @ 6:43pm

    need vs want

    It is true that most people do not need gigabit connections to the internet. It is actually refreshing that Frontier is NOT pushing everyone to buy the fast DSL regardless of their need.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Re: Sweet, sweet schadenfreude

    Be careful doing stuff like that!

    If a person is on your property and you tell him to leave and he does not, he is trespassing. Call the police; the law is on your side. But if you attack him--even if it's just with a hose--then the law is on his side and he could take you to court and have a pretty good chance of winning, even though he was trespassing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Meet your writer.

    Don't feed the trolls, d00d. Just click "report" and move on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Rekrul, 1 May 2015 @ 7:09pm

    I live in CT, in one of the towns on that list. I currently have 100mbps service with Cablevision, which works quite well. I have a much lower rate, grandfathered by the promotional plan I was on, than the normal price for it though.

    In any case, while I think it's great that the towns want to build their own network, I question whether this is the wisest use of cash. I've been hearing that the towns/state can't afford to maintain the roads (there are quite a few potholes, especially after last winter) and supposedly they want to add tolls to some of the highways and impose a separate tax based on how much you drive. Our property taxes are already quite high and I just recently got a questionnaire in the mail wanting to know if I've made any home improvements, what condition my home is in, etc. The only reason to do this is if they're looking for an excuse to raise our taxes.

    Businesses are closing left and right. It's rare to drive down a street and not see at least one For Sale sign in front of a house. Sometimes you see 2-3 of them within walking distance of each other. It's like rats deserting a sinking ship.

    I doubt that faster internet service is going to magically reverse this trend.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Sweet, sweet schadenfreude

    So you don't 'attack' him with the hose, just tell him if he's not gone in 2 minutes you'll be turning the sprinklers on. Somehow I doubt 'He attacked me with the sprinklers when I wouldn't leave his property!' would go over very well in court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 7:39pm

    Re:

    So you advocate "doing nothing" to change the failing status quo is the preferred approach to the problem?
    Here is and old example of how doing something pro-active helps solve the problem:

    http://www.muninetworks.org/content/communities-seize-broadband-initiative-benefits-flow-fas t

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Re:

    Thank you... but seriously... is this like a "Tootsie Pop" commercial? How many (c)licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6rHeD5x2tI

    In any case I'm sad to see my state on the list.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    miatajim (profile), 2 May 2015 @ 2:58am

    Re: Go CT!

    Basically to echo Jeffry. Before we bought this place in '99(Southington) we had dial-up/DSL in Waterbury. We (well mostly me) refused to buy any house with out cable modem service. Cox has been fine for the most part.

    Wish the upload was better.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    RD, 2 May 2015 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Sweet, sweet schadenfreude

    "If a person is on your property and you tell him to leave and he does not, he is trespassing. Call the police; the law is on your side. But if you attack him--even if it's just with a hose--then the law is on his side and he could take you to court and have a pretty good chance of winning, even though he was trespassing."

    Thats nice, but by the time the lazy, corrupt police can tear themselves away from murdering innocent citizens who look at them the wrong way for more than 2 seconds to respond to your call, they fake cable installer guy will have moved on.

    Don't attack the guy, but a good implied *threat*, say coming out of the house with a shotgun (pointed in the air) and THEN asking politely that he leave, would do the trick more effectively. And you can always use the same "I was in fear for my life because this guy wouldn't leave/I felt threatened" reason (same as the cops) for why you brandished a shotgun (but did NOT aim it at him) in your interaction with said individual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 2 May 2015 @ 9:36am

    Re:

    Of course, the goal is for it to be privately funded, not taxpayer funded.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2015 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Go CT!

    See, I'd actually agree with your basic premise; Cox and Frontier aren't utterly horrible shitbags, when it comes to dealing with people.

    But they are still a part of the problem, which is that monopsonies in the US are one of the largest hindrances to technological innovation around. Having lines be rented out by the states and municipalities might be the easiest way for those in the area to increase their 'Net access speeds.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    nasch (profile), 2 May 2015 @ 6:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Sweet, sweet schadenfreude

    Thats nice, but by the time the lazy, corrupt police... respond to your call, they fake cable installer guy will have moved on.

    So, problem solved, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    me, 4 May 2015 @ 4:27am

    Re: Go CT!

    Roger that on Frontier. Two choices in my area; Frontier or Comcast, ie: frick or frack. I was converted from AT &T to Frontier, and the speeds are slower since and they were kind enough to rip out the wiring to myc onnection on one occasion for reasons noone was willing to admit to. Service was restored only after 3 days of screaming at these idiots and "knowing someone". I cnverted to AT &T originally due to similar treatment by Comcast. These providers suck, hugely and any workable alternative is welcomed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2015 @ 6:55pm

    Re: I thought pole taxes were illegal.

    'While Google Fiber is certainly great, its limited deployment can only accomplish so much. It's really from the local level up that we're going to improve the nation's stagnant broadband fortunes.'

    Yeah... really sounds like shilling for Google, doesn't it? Reading is fundamental!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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