Quality of life becomes another argument to validate rural broadband

Article

Tree on a country property

Local government could also improve the reality of proper broadband in the country

Good Broadband Helps Lift Rutland to Top Halifax’s 50 Best Rural Areas | ISPReview

My Comments

I have given increased coverage to the subject of rural broadband, including implementation of next-generation technologies in the country.

Here I have stood for proper rural broadband due to raising the bar for people who live or work in the country rather than treating them as second-class citizens, something I have experienced with radio, television and telephone. An example of this was a telephone service that was frequently riddled with crosstalk, a radio service with reduced access to music content or a TV service with unreliable reception.

In the UK, the Broadband Delivery UK programme assisted by British Telecom made sure that real broadband passed 98% of the county’s premises courtesy of fibre-to-the-cabinet technology. This was also complemented in some villages with fibre-to-the-premises technology courtesy of Gigaclear and Rutland Telecom. This has been demonstrated as a way to lift the value of the properties in these areas as the quality of broadband service can improve one’s online life.

But real broadband in rural areas has been seen as contributing to an improvement to quality of life in these neighbourhoods, which was highlighted in a Halifax survey that was just published. Halifax factored the quality of broadband service in to this list with a bandwidth of 2Mbps or greater as a positive influence. Here, the Rutland neighbourhood appeared at number 1 thanks to the Gigaclear and BDUK

These figures could be used by local government and citizen groups to substantiate why real competition is important for Internet service and why country areas need real Internet service that is reliable. It can also be used by national governments to define the standard of adequate broadband Internet service and justify having this service covered by a universal-service obligation along with protection of real competition for these services and the provision of public money to set these services up.

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Google Fiber available for all small businesses in Provo and Kansas City

Article – from the horse’s mouth

Google Fiber

Google Fiber for Small Business arrives in Provo (plus more of Kansas City)  – Blog Post

Video – what this means for small business!

My Comments

Those of you who subscribe to Google Fiber in Provo or Kansas City were limited by the fact that the fibre-optic next-generation broadband service was positioned just for residential users. This meant that you couldn’t really link up your home office, small business or community organisation to this service to benefit from real next-generation broadband.

Initially Google ran limited-participation program of their Google Fiber For Small Business service in Kansas City to see whether it would “cut the mustard” for a next-generation broadband service that you could trust your business to. Now they have launched the Google Fiber For Small Business service across their current footprint in Provo, Kansas City and Austin.

This is to provide Gigabit throughput along with a supplied router for USD$100 per month with static IPs at extra cost. I have written an article on this Website about getting your small business ready for whenever Google Fiber passes your doors and you sign up for it. Here, I was highlighting concepts like remote storage and cloud computing; telecommuting; VoIP and video telephony; IP-based video surveillance; and public-access Internet as well as drawing attention to your network equipment being up to the task such as supporting high throughput.

As Google provides competitive next-generation Internet service for small businesses, it could provide a real benefit to the small business’s bottom line when it comes to Internet-access costs and value-for-money.

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Wires-only self Install to come to UK FTTC services

Draytek Vigor 2860N VDSL2 business VPN-endpoint router press image courtesy of Draytek UK

Draytek Vigor 2860N VDSL2 business VPN-endpoint router

Article

Broadband Router Options for UK FTTC VDSL ISPs – 2015 UPDATE – ISPreview UK Page 2

My Comments

When a person signed up to “fibre-to-the-cabinet” next-generation broadband service in the UK, they would have to make an appointment with a BT Openreach technician to install their VDSL2 modem and rewire their telephone service. Here, you then had to make sure you had a broadband router with an Ethernet WAN connection on the “edge” of your home network which is something you would have to do for fibre-to-the-premises (all-fibre) setups.

Now BT and others are offering this service on a “self-install” or “wires-only” basis where they do the work with getting you ready for next-generation broadband at the FTTC cabinet only. You would have to buy your own VDSL2-capable modem router and microfilters to benefit from this service. This is similar to the current practice of providing ADSL in the UK, Australia and most other countries.

There are an increasing number of high-end modem routers available from most of the well-known home-network equipment names like Draytek, Billion, and TP-LINK. But the VDSL2 modem must work to UK standards which means that it would be a good idea to go to local online or bricks-and-mortar outlets to purchase that VDSL2-compliant modem router.

Bear in mind that some high-end ADSL2 modem routers that are advertised as VDSL2-ready may implement a software-programmable modem which can be set up to “do VDSL2”. Here, check on the manufacturer’s Webpage for a firmware update that opens this functionality and make sure this update is “fixed” to UK requirements.

As well, for anyone around the world who is benefiting from VDSL2-based “fibre-copper” services and having it on a “self-install” or wires-only basis, make sure that you are dealing with equipment or firmware that works to the standards supported by your ISP or infrastructure provider.

To start you off, consider the Draytek Vigor 2860N as a flexible VPN endpoint wireless router for your small business or the Billion BiPAC 8800AXL AC1600 wireless router as modem router ideas for your FTTC-driven home or small-business network.

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New York State to raise the bar for US broadband

Article

New York State plots broadband future | The Register

From the horse’s mouth

New York State Government

Governor’s speech (video)

My Comments

The New York State government are taking the bull by the horns to raise the bar for broadband in New York State. This is a regional-government effort to counteract the way that the US broadband Internet service has been going downhill.

This may rattle some “established” cages regarding public funding for projects but they are pitching US$500 million towards public-private broadband-service improvement projects through the state. Here, they want a minimum bandwidth of 100Mbps for most of the state with, in some rural situations, 25Mbps. This is compared to a state average of around 6Mbps.

Albany is also soliciting local input to guide development so they know of unserved or underserved neighbourhoods; aggregate the demand across across business, institutional and residential usage sectors; identify and detail the most cost-effective ways to achieve this universal-access goal along with leveraging their state-owned assets. The goal of identifying the unserved and underserved areas works well also to combat any redlining that is taking place concerning service provision.

Any of the developments that are taking place will be worked to support a “dig once, make ready” policy so that any further work to improve the state’s broadband doesn’t require any further major work that would be costly.

Of course, a lot of these efforts put forward the idea of increased employment and business development in the areas concerned.

But they would need to encourage the provision of competitive broadband by allowing those other than the incumbent telcos or cable-TV firms to lay down infrastructure or provide broadband service to the state’s citizens.

Could this light up New York State for Broadband?

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President Obama speaks out for real competition in US Internet service

Article

Obama’s Plan to Loosen Comcast’s Stranglehold on Your Internet | Gizmodo

From the horse’s mouth

The White House (US Government)

Report (PDF)

Video by Barack Obama

Click to view

My Comments

An issue that is constantly raised in the USA is the lack of real competition when it comes to Internet service provision.

This is because incumbent cable and telephone companies, especially Comcast and Time-Warner Cable, are using their lobbying power to influence state governments to proscribe competing interests like municipal Wi-Fi projects or Google Fiber from setting up infrastructure and service. Similarly, these companies effectively tie up fibre-optic and other backbone infrastructure also to prevent real competition. Here, this leads to an Internet service that simply is poor value-for-money due to prices that go up, reduced bandwidth, onerous terms and conditions and poor quality-of-service.

As illustrated in the video that President Barack Obama made regarding this topic, this limits the available throughput for Internet service and he compared the US situation to cities like Paris, France or Seoul, South Korea where they have the high-speed broadband.

He underscored the role of state and local government to pull their weight to support high-throughput last-mile Internet connections on a competitive level. Uncle Sam had already facilitated the backbone of the US Internet connection but he sees these governments being responsible for the connection to the customer’s door.

It also comes at a time where Comcast and Time-Warner Cable have registered an intent to merge and this is becoming a hot potato issue in the US due to the state of the Internet and pay-TV services that exist there.

One analogy I have used regarding the state of the US Internet service is that it is moving towards a similar standard to monopoly-era telephone service where a single privately-owned or government-owned post-office or telephone company looked after the telephone service. This led to situations like the poor quality of customer service, disinvestment in areas that weren’t considered profitable along with very high prices especially for service-provisioning costs or long-distance calls.

What I have liked about this is that someone “from the top” of the food chain is addressing the issue concerning the quality and value of Internet service in the USA.

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The soil has been turned for fibre-optic Internet in rural Yorkshire

Articles

Yorkshire Dales By Kreuzschnabel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

More Yorkshire villages to benefit from real broadband

B4YS Start Rural FTTH Broadband Rollout for Yealand, Silverdale and Storth | ISPReview

B4RN brings fibre to B4YS country | ThinkBroadband

From the horse’s mouth

B4YS

Home Page

My Comments

Real broadband is coming to some parts of rural Yorkshire sooner than you think. Here, the B4RN group who established fibre-optic Internet in some parts of rural Lancashire have cut in to the large Yorkshire county, especially Yealand, Silverdale and Storth because these villages abut Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Here, the B4RN community-funded Internet group have turned the soil for the fibre-optic links and have achieved Stage One funding of GBP£101,000 without need for any state aid. This capital is to establish the core network. This is achieved through shares being sold to local residents and local businesses offering to lend capital to the effort and landowners offering labour towards the effort.

They are using a low-impact mole plough so that the land that the fibre-optic connections pass through isn’t disturbed heavily. Use of private land is totally with the landowner’s permission as it should be and there is encouragement for landowners to help with the work of installing the fibre-optic cable.

They intend to have the first premises connected sometime this year but there have been issues of this requiring the second-stage funding of a similar amount and B4YS are building up that capital. Users benefit from a Gigabit-throughput unlimited broadband service for £30 per month VAT inclusive and a one-off connection fee of £150.

If the B4YS project takes off well when it comes to connections, this could be a chance for this chapter of the B4RN project to work outwards and service more of the North Yorkshire villages, thus creating a force for real broadband Internet in the rural communities there.

But what is being allowed for here in the UK is for local communities and small businesses to deploy fibre-optic broadband to serve these small communities to allow them to benefit from real broadband Internet. This is alongside the BT Openreach service who are establishing fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband Internet in most of the UK and is a way to use competitive services to achieve the same goal.

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Google Fibre breaks the digital divide in one of Austin’s public-housing communities

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Google Fiber

Blog Post

Housing Authority for the City of Austin

Digital Inclusion document (PDF)

My Comments

Lenovo Thinkpad G50-70 Laptop

Google Fiber to enable digital literacy in poorer communities

Google Fiber is participating in a community-based initiative to break the digital divide in the public-housing communities in Austin, Texas as part of their rollout in to that city.

This is a public-private affair in co-operation with the Housing Authority for the City of Austin which is a local-government-run public-housing authority in that city. The main premise of this exercise is that every child to have a chance to succeed in the 21st century global economy, but I also see as being important adults including mature adults and senior citizens who haven’t had much exposure to computing and technology in their school and work life also benefiting.

It is also encompassing training and study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As well, the program is also providing access to devices and affordable Internet connectivity in the public-housing districts. For example, Google Fiber is intending to provide for HACA development in their fibre footprint, free basic Internet service for each household for 10 years, with the option to upgrade to the “full-on” Gigabit connection for extra cost.

There is the all-important support for the household’s devices including the necessary digital-literacy training, something that typically is provided on an ad-hoc basis to these households by family and friends and it is being provided by Austin Free-Net.

What I see of this is an attempt by public and private efforts to help poorer communities with access to today’s technology for productive activities and expose people, young and old, to today’s technology. What needs to be underscored in the remit for these programs is that it is not just the children who are intended to benefit but adults, especially mature adults and senior citizens who spent most of their school and work life before the desktop-computer-driven 1980s, who need to become technologically literate. As well, the remit to help with computer literacy for older generations cuts across all social classes.

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Local Government to become an Internet provider option in Australia

Article

Watch out Optus and Telstra: local councils want to become NBN internet providers | The Age

My Comments

Tree on a country property

Local government could also improve the reality of proper broadband in the country

As the Australian National Broadband Network’s technology option changes towards something akin to BT Openreach in the UK which is based around a fibre-copper technology, another option for service provision is creeping in to the equation.

This is where some local councils are stepping in to become local retail Internet service providers with the NBN as a wholesale backbone. This kind of practice has been tried in Australia for some utilities normally sold by a larger government-owned or privately-owned entity that has a larger geographic remit. An example of this is the retail-level sale of electricity to the consumer by some local councils or entities ran by these local councils, one of which was the former City of Box Hill in Melbourne.

As far as Internet service is concerned, some local governments have provided free-access Wi-Fi hotzones in their towns’ central-business-districts in the USA. This was much to the ire of established incumbent telecommunications providers and cable-TV companies who see this “threatening their patch”. It also raised the ire of Republicans, especially those supporting the “Tea Party” agenda, along with various libertarian and pro-business think-tanks because this was appearing to be government having a strong hand in the provision of public Internet service.

Some people can easily see this as a “do-good” effort by local government to raise the digital-access standards in their neighbourhoods of remit such as by, for example, using council rates to cross-subsidise the prices charged to householders for the communications services. This could be targeted at households who are on limited means like pensioners or people looking for work, or could be targeted at community organisations and small businesses that the council is nurturing.

House that may be fixed up

Local government being involved with providing Internet could raise the value of a neighbourhood

Similarly, the councils could use their power as retail ISPs to pay the NBN to equip neighbourhoods with fibre-to-the-premises or equip rural settlements or townships not considered large enough to equip with a fibre-copper service with one of these services. This would be part of their effort to invest in their cities and towns by raising the bar for Internet service in these areas, thus bringing in one or more valuable employers or raising residential property values.  This same effort could also be about making it harder for NBN or a retail carrier or ISP to postpone setting up a neighbourhood for next-generation Internet because it is on the “wrong side of the tracks”.

To see this work properly, local government has to realise that they will be competing with other retail telecommunications carriers and Internet service providers when reselling consumer and small-business telecommunications and Internet service.

If the idea of a local council obtaining a carrier licence and setting up as an ISP doesn’t play properly, they can do what has been practiced in Europe. This is where local government, along with a local chamber-of-commerce actually pays NBN to install fibre-to-the-premises through the town as a way to raise the property values or draw in the high-value employers.

At least the local government in Australia are seeing the potential that the National Broadband Network has and are looking towards taking it further to improve that town.

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UK to benefit from Naked FTTC broadband

Article

Naked fibre to the cabinet may be on the way from Openreach | ThinkBroadband

My Comments

AVM FRITZ!Box 3490 - Press photo courtesy AVM

AVM Fritzbox 3490 – an example of a VDSL2 modem that could be part of the naked VDSL2 service offered in the UK

I have written up an article about broadband Internet options available for those of us who use the mobile phone as the main voice telephone. Here, I was highlighting the kind of options that are available without you needing to pay line rental to an incumbent voice-telephony carrier and highlighted services like FTTP fibre-optic Internet or cable-modem broadband service which are hosted on separate infrastructure.

But I also highlighted the concept of “naked DSL” or “dry-loop DSL” which is a DSL service using your phone carrier’s wires but you don’t have a local voice telephone service a.k.a a “dial-tone” service. A lot of countries offer this as a service option for most DSL-service packages but the United Kingdom doesn’t offer that kind of service at all.

Things are to change for the UK with Openreach offering the “naked DSL” option for people who sign up to VDSL2-based “fibre-to-the-cabinet” next-generation broadband. They will maintain the subscriber’s circuit from the FTTC street cabinet to the exchange just for line testing or if a subsequent subscriber wants to sign up to a full service with the legacy voice telephone component.

But this is a service that is considered a proposal but should really be available for UK households who start out “mobile only” or want to use that second line that was created for the fax or for someone’s independent telephony needs for their fibre-copper next-generation broadband needs.

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Cumbria to benefit from fibre-optic rural Internet

Articles

Fibre GarDen to Start Community FTTP Broadband “Big Dig” in Cumbria | ISPReview.co.uk

From the horse’s mouth

Digital Dales

Product Page

My Comments

Yorkshire Dales By Kreuzschnabel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

Two Yorkshire Dales villages near Cumbria to benefit from real broadband

Another independent rural-broadband campaign is taking place in England to provide fibre-to-the-premises broadband in to some rural communities. This time it is being facilitated by Digital Dales and is to serve Garsdale and Dentdale in Cumbria, just north of the Yorkshire Dales. It, along with Gigaclear’s efforts, seen to be the only two non-BT rural broadband project to be taking place in the UK.

Digital Dales, which is a community-owned cooperative, have raised enough money to commence construction of this infrastructure on the 5th October 2014. In the early days, this enablement project had a bumpy start and was riddled with uncertainty. The funds have been sourced from the Rural Community Broadband Fund which provides money to facilitate real broadband in the country areas, along with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainable Development Fund.

They had achieved the go-ahead for landowners’ properties to have the fibre-optic cable pass through them and the operation will be described as a “Big Dig”.

Once the infrastructure is in place and the service is live, householders will expect to pay GBP£30 / month for 30Mbps or GBP£50 / month for 100Mbps bandwidth. These services will comes with free basic landline telephone service, but the householders can upgrade their phone service to the same standard as BT for GBP£2 – £3 per month extra.

Personally, I would see this as effectively “lighting up” the villages with real broadband which could benefit small businesses, professionals who work from home, the tourism industry amongst other users. It could even allow Garsdale and Dentdale to become more attractive to live in for “tree-changers” as the availability of next-generation broadband is being used to assess a community’s liveability.

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