Sonic, the regional ISP that is transitioning from a copper-based DSL and telephone company to a fiber-to-the-home provider, has announced plans to expand its fiber construction to Brentwood, a Silicon Valley commuter town that will join Sebastopol, Calif., in getting gigabit networks. Sonic CEO Dan Jasper told me last week that the pilot network in San Francisco is still under construction and he has no sense of the timing on when it will go live, but plans to head to Marin next.
Hacker Lab, together with its partner Consolidated Communications, proved that communities needn’t fear the wrath of giant incumbents or grovel in hopes of receiving their broadband largess.
State laws that hinder efforts to build municipal broadband networks can be repealed or dismantled, and showing startups using gigabit networks and the promise of economic development is a good place to start.
ISPs and naysayers will argue the consumers and businesses don’t yet need gigabit broadband because there’s nothing people can do with it yet. But that’s not the point. The speed is the app.
The former president and co-founder of Gigabit Squared, a company that has apparently lost a contract to help bring gigabit broadband to Seattle, has resigned from any role in the company’s operations.
Drew Johnson, a columnist for Chattanooga Free-Press newspaper, recently wrote an editorial that blasted President Obama, “Take your jobs plan and shove it, Mr. President: Your policies have harmed Chattanooga enough.” The editorial, which lamented the gigabit fiber network built in Chattanooga, generated a lot of attention, but earlier this week Johnson was fired by the paper for changing the headline of the editorial without permission. The new headline for the editorial is – President Obama’s policies have harmed Chattanooga enough. Johnson later tweeted that he was the first person to be fired for writing the most read article in the newspaper’s history. The episode illustrates the heated debates around municipal funded networks (fiber or otherwise), often fueled by the lobbying dollars incumbent monopolies.
Seattle, the University of Washington and Gigabit Squared have teamed up to build out a gigabit network. The plan was announced on Thursday but I followed up with Gigabit Squared’s president to get more information on costs, technologies and when this network might be live.
With current broadband market is essentially a comfortable duopoly of cable and telecom operators with little competitive pressure that leads to forward looking features. It is no surprise that cities are looking to take matters in their own hands taking a cue from Bristol, Tennessee.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski spoke today on the state of U.S. broadband. He didn’t break new ground, but he did push for faster and higher capacity broadband in the U.S. The question is whether he plans to get the agency to do anything about it.
Google plans to launch a fiber network in Kansas City with the goal of seeing what people there can do with a gigabit connection. But as one city that already has a gigabit network can tell you, the answer so far may be, “Not much.”