Category: Modems

What’s next for broadband internet on Virginia’s Eastern Shore? 0

What’s next for broadband internet on Virginia’s Eastern Shore?

Vermont: How to write a cover letter? (Credit: AP) ( Delmarva Now 1 ) — Eastern Shore of Virginia residents spoke about their current and hoped-for internet service at two town hall meetings this week. The Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority held meetings in Melfa and Eastville to hear from the public. The authority, a public not-for-profit company formed in 2008 by Accomack and Northampton counties, has hired CTC Technology and Energy, a consulting firm from Kensington, Maryland, to guide them through a strategic planning process over the next several months.

More than 40 people attended the meeting Wednesday at Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa. On the wall were maps of the Eastern Shore, with a small black star marking every 911 address and green lines denoting existing broadband fiber. “We just wanted to give people a visual to show there is a network that’s out there and it has grown over the past eight or nine years the broadband authority has been in existence,” said Robert Bridgham, ESVBA’s executive director. “Every day, we’re building farther and farther out. Our intentions are to continue to expand the network to try to reach more and more people,” he said.

Information from the meetings, and from county supervisors and internet service providers, will be considered as the authority works “to try to come up with a common plan that satisfies the needs of the Shore,” Bridgham said. “The question is, how do we do this in a strategic way … that’s sustainable,” he said, adding, “We certainly want to maintain stability and sustainability, but in a way that makes certain we continue to expand as fast as possible.” Andrew Afflerbach, CTC Director of Engineering, facilitated the meeting. “It’s a utility. As far as I’m concerned, it’s fundamental, like power and water,” he said.

A show of hands revealed about two-thirds of attendees currently get their internet service through Verizon. Afflerbach first gave an overview of the history of data speeds — from dialup modems to next-generation technologies like fixed millimeter wave. About DSL, the option available to many Shore residents, he said, “We’re really talking about rather slow speeds and we’re talking about also a technology that the phone company is really no longer interested in.

The phone company’s interested in mobile, so there’s not very much investment going on here.” Afflerbach pointed out the extent of the green lines on the map — indicating where fiber has been laid — saying, “It would be a shame not to make the best use of this resource, and that’s what we’re looking to do here — we’re looking to have a plan together.” Afflerbach asked what service attendees currently have, where they live, what works well, and what does not work well. Around 20 people responded, most of them expressing frustration with their present level of service. Terri Rose, incoming president of the Eastern Shore Association of Realtors, spoke first. “This directly affects my business.

When people get down a beautiful neck with the high-end property, and they want to move in, they ask if there is internet capability — and oftentimes there is not. So, it will kill a deal real quick,” she said. Rose and another speaker, Alex Vargas, both said they do not have broadband access, despite living within a few feet of a line laid by the authority. “I have DSL, which is horrible,” Rose said. “I telecommute, every day, so it really matters to me,” said Vargas, who works fulltime and also owns a software development company.

Vargas advocated for “fiber-to-home” service to be offered by the broadband authority, saying, “I think the strategy should be, build out to where you already have the fiber first, rather than going to areas that don’t have fiber yet.” He said “the money goes farther” under that scenario. Vargas said property values go up 5-7 percent when a house has fiber to home internet service, “so you’re talking about revenue to the county.” Terry Malarky of near Onancock said DSL service was extended down the neck where he lives about 10 years ago. “Internet is this century’s indispensable technology, as electricity was in the last century,” he said. Malarky said the Shore needs something similar to the rural electric cooperative model to provide internet access to remote areas. “I’m disappointed the broadband authority has never gone into retail,” he said.

The wireless internet service providers on the Shore “cherry pick” areas to cover, he said, adding, “They go for pockets of population, and I understand that, because they need to make money.” The authority in March did approve extending residential fiber to the home service for residences fronting its current fiber route in Keller, Bobtown, part of Pungoteague along Gospel Temple Road, Hollies Church Road, Beacon Road, Adams Crossing, Center Street, and Bobtown Road between Hollies Church Road and Harborton Road. It also approved extending service to residences fronting its current fiber route in parts of Northampton County. Malarky said Accomack-Northampton Electric Cooperative already has the infrastructure, rights-of-way, and a billing system to provide utility service. “With the right political will — some kind of combination between the broadband authority and A&N Electric — something could be made to work and we could all have access to this wonderful technology,” he said.

Cara Burton, director of the Eastern Shore Public Library, urged the authority to “focus on who is not in this room tonight …  There are a lot of people on the Eastern Shore that cannot afford the internet.” She praised the authority for providing free public wifi in various locations – including Parksley’s town pavilion, Chincoteague’s Robert Reed Waterfront Park and Exmore’s Custis Park. Additional free WiFi hot spots the authority provides are at the Eastern Shore Welcome Center at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel; Indiantown Park in Eastville; the broadband authority offices in Exmore; the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce in Melfa; Accomack’s new Sawmill Park in Accomac; the Mary N. Smith Cultural Center in Accomac; and the Bloxom Tower in Bloxom, according to a map on the authority’s website. “I really strongly encourage that you do more of it,” Burton said.

Susan Martin, who homeschools her son, said the Shore is “going to have a drain of our youth from the Eastern Shore” unless internet service improves. Her son often would be in the middle of taking a test online and their Verizon DSL connection couldn’t keep up, she said, noting they have since gotten service from Neubeam, another internet service provider. “I think education online is the future, but we need to have the infrastructure for it,” she said. Joe Betit of Pungoteague said internet service “is as foundational as a road to your house.” Betit serves on the foundational and entrepreneurial subcommittee of the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission’s Economic Development Committee and has worked for years in technology fields.

It is costly to set up and maintain the necessary staff and equipment to service retail customers, he said, noting the broadband authority is “solvent.” “We need to understand what you actually can do with the degree of solvency you have,” he said, noting the two Shore counties do not contribute to the authority. “We have to get the fiber to the houses. What is the vehicle that is financially rational to allow us to do that, and how many years will it take to do this?” Betit said. Pat Coady, former executive director of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority, said the authority is financially “capable of doing a lot for us.

We have to decide what is we really want them to do. Do we want them to go out and get a bond … and build out a lot quickly and carry that bond cost, or do we want them to continue to build out the way they are building now?” Coady said grants the authority received paid to build about 200 miles of fiber.

Since then, the authority has built more than 100 additional miles, “all out of current cash flow.” Additionally, the authority has repaid the two counties their initial investment of $266,000. “You have a tremendous success story on the Shore with the current broadband authority, and it’s up to us, the citizens of the Shore, to figure out where we want them to go from here, and what we want the relationship between them and the competition to be,” Coady said.

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CityFibre seeks to raise £185m of funding to build its vision of Gigabit Britain 0

CityFibre seeks to raise £185m of funding to build its vision of Gigabit Britain

CityFibre is doing things differently to how full fibre roll-outs are seen by many people, i.e. they operator as the wholesale dark fibre provider with invariably local Internet providers partnering in the towns where their network has been rolled out with local authorities and large businesses often acting as the anchor tennant to ensure that the network does not sit dormant for decades and be just another fibre white elephant. The big news today it is raising £185 million to invest in expanding its footprint and crucially for the public to commence in 2018 actual fibre to the home roll-outs in five to ten new towns and cities in addition to the metro fibre network that underpins the Gigabit City claims.

CityFibre Infrastructure Holdings PLC (“CityFibre” or the “Company”), a designer, builder, owner and operator of fibre optic infrastructure in UK towns and cities, today announces that it intends to raise minimum gross proceeds of £185 million at 55 pence per share, fully underwritten by Citigroup, finnCap, Liberum and Macquarie (the “Banks”) (the “Firm Placing”), with the intention to raise further proceeds through an accelerated bookbuilding process which will be launched immediately following this announcement (the “ABB Placing”) (together, the “Placing”). In addition, the Company intends to raise further gross proceeds of up to £15 million through a non-underwritten offer for subscription (the “Offer for Subscription”). CityFibre on Investment The metro fibre network currently exists in 42 towns and cities across the UK and the expansion is intended to take this to not less than 50 areas by 2020.

The York trial is described as demonstrating strong demand and apparently negotiations are at an advanced stage with retailers to market full fibre services using an expanded CityFibre network. Hopefully this means that as 2018 progresses rather than talking about a rapidly increased number of premises actually passed by FTTH from CityFibre and as with York report on the speeds people are getting (homes passed using the internationally accepted definitions means in York there are 20,000 to 25,000 premises believed to be passed currently. The recent placing of CityFibre in the centre of the £400m HM Treasury Ultrafast broadband investment fund is now much clearer since CityFibre appear keen to continue raising capital to continue to take custom anyway from the traditional leased line market leaders but are also seeking to expand more into the consumer arena with partners.

The purchase of Entanet for £29 million may be a surprise for some, but with Entanet as a well established wholesaler that has some 1,500 partners it providers a perfect avenue for dealing with the long tail of smaller providers who often provider local IT services in addition to broadband connectivity to businesses operating in their local area. This should help to increase the number of business customers and home workers/prosumers signing up to the full fibre services. What is clear for the next few years is that firms who do cable laying are going to be very busy and it may be that access to labour and potentially rising costs if supply is short might actually be what holds back a vision of a full fibre UK more than access to funding.

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Peak and off peak performance at largest broadband providers in June 2017 0

Peak and off peak performance at largest broadband providers in June 2017

Peak and off peak performance at largest broadband providers in June 2017 It is time to take a harder look at what the masses of speed test results that we get from our broadband speed test 1  tell us about the largest broadband providers and by looking at this each month of the year over time it is possible to get a sense for which providers get closest to keeping people happy during the busiest times of the day. Off-Peak Tests Results June 2017 Off-Peak defined as midnight to 5.59pm Median Average Provider tbbx1 Test (1 download) httpx6 Test (6 downloads) % difference Upload Speed Quality Latency BT 25.9 Mbps 29.1 Mbps -11% 5.9 Mbps 1.00 41ms EE 11.3 Mbps 12.3 Mbps -8.1% 0.8 Mbps 1.00 49ms Plusnet 19.7 Mbps 22.2 Mbps -11.1% 1.6 Mbps 1.00 48ms Sky 13.6 Mbps 16.4 Mbps -17.1% 3.1 Mbps 1.00 52ms TalkTalk 12.2 Mbps 13.9 Mbps -12.2% 0.9 Mbps 1.00 54ms Virgin Media 40.3 Mbps 61.4 Mbps -34.3% 6.1 Mbps 1.00 44ms The quality metric stands out a lot this month as all of the big five are identical, or more precisely figure is capped at the value of 1 (i.e. the best value we display).

After many months of monitoring this score this is the first time this has happened, and suggests maybe its time for a recalibration and further extra investigative work. The good news is that on the basis of the median scores that the five major providers overall have had a good month, though as always with an average no matter whether its the median or mean there are always those that under perform and over perform. Peak Tests Results June 2017 Peak time defined as 6pm to 11:59pm Median Average Provider tbbx1 Test (1 download) httpx6 Test (6 downloads) % difference Upload Speed Quality Latency BT 25.7 Mbps 27.5 Mbps -6.5% 5.6 Mbps 1.00 43ms EE 11.7 Mbps 13.5 Mbps -14.6% 1.3 Mbps 1.00 50ms Plusnet 19.3 Mbps 23.1 Mbps -16.4% 1.7 Mbps 1.00 48ms Sky 12.1 Mbps 15.6 Mbps -22.4% 2.3 Mbps 1.00 55ms TalkTalk 11.9 Mbps 14.4 Mbps -17.4% 1 Mbps 1.00 56ms Virgin Media 33.7 Mbps 53.2 Mbps -36.6% 5.9 Mbps 1.04 39ms The main speed test results suggested that Virgin Media had improved and at peak times they are only provider from the big 6 to breach the magic best score of 1.00 on quality, telling us that there is still a sizeable tail of users having problems, but that this is less of an issue than it was in May.

In fact looking through our monthly data sets the quality score is back in line with results from 2015.

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