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Country Connection: Rural Residents Ask FCC To Improve Internet Access 0

Country Connection: Rural Residents Ask FCC To Improve Internet Access

More than two million people across the Ohio Valley live in areas that lack any option for fast and reliable internet service. This week some of them had a chance to tell a member of the Federal Communications Commission what that means for their work, studies, and everyday life. 1 The Appalachian Connectivity Summit in Marietta, Ohio, explored possible local solutions. But the event came during a week that also saw large internet providers suing to stop one way to connect more people to broadband service. 2 Making Connections FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn sat in a high school auditorium as people from around the region shared their stories of life off the information grid.

Herron Linscott, a rising sophomore at Federal Hocking High School, in Athens County, Ohio, talked about how the lack of internet service affects her studies. Linscott said she tries to download or get hard copies of as much material as she can before leaving school in order to be able to complete her teachers’ assignments. “They’ll say, ‘That worksheet’s online, or that video is on Google classroom.’ Well, there’s just no way. I can’t get to it,” she said.

Clyburn said she was “moved and troubled” by what she heard. “We have some fundamental problems that we have yet to address,” she said. “We need our communities to be connected.” Student Herron Linscott tells the FCC how poor internet affects studies. New Law, New Lawsuit West Virginia State Delegate Roger Hanshaw sees limited broadband access as a major problem for people and businesses near his home in Clay County. Hanshaw said that communities like his are being shut out of the modern economy.

With few options for a good internet connection, there’s no chance of getting a job in growing areas like tech, e-commerce, or customer service . 3 In Clay County, he said, internet access is so unreliable that stores often can’t accept payments. “There’s just simply no excuse for service being so poor that we can’t process a credit card sale,” Hanshaw said. So Hanshaw sponsored a bill, now a law, encouraging locally-owned cooperatives to expand broadband service. But one section of the new law is being challenged by some of the state’s biggest internet providers, including Frontier Communications.

Frontier has recently been in the news for allegedly overcharging customers in West Virginia, and firing the West Virginia Senate President , a former sales manager, shortly after Hanshaw’s bill passed.   4 5 Elena Kilpatrick, a Senior Vice President at Frontier, said the company is now suing the state over a provision that would allow others access to utility poles.   “ Those requirements are inconsistent with pre-existing requirements established by the FCC,” Kilpatrick said. “We’re simply seeking a ruling that the federal requirements prevail.” Clyburn said she agrees that unskilled people should not be climbing utility poles but said, “I think we can work through the rest. We need to address issues causing the challenges, and gaps, and expenses that should not be.” Net Gains For more than a decade, Christopher Mitchell has been working on broadband expansion issues with the Minnesota-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance . Mitchell gave the connectivity summit’s keynote address , and Frontier got a mention in his talk. 6 7 Mitchell argued that too much of the federal money intended to expand rural internet access goes to large companies who’ve been building substandard networks.

The problem with counting on large companies like Frontier to build rural broadband, Mitchell said, comes down to a question of money and incentives. Urban areas have more customers in a smaller area, which means they’re more appealing to companies that are publicly traded and profit-driven. More than 2 million Ohio Valley residents lack high speed internet.

As good and capable as Frontier’s employees may be, Mitchell said, “in our economic system, they have a responsibility to get a good return on their investments for their shareholders.

And if we’re trying to solve connectivity for rural America, trying to get them to do it is the wrong approach.” Mitchell hopes that more money will go toward local governments and cooperatives, who have more incentive to build long-term solutions, including fiber optic networks that have the speed, capacity, and durability to meet communities’ needs for decades to come.

References ^ lack any option (ohiovalleyresource.org) ^ Appalachian Connectivity Summit (muninetworks.org) ^ customer service (ohiovalleyresource.org) ^ overcharging customers (wvpublic.org) ^ firing the West Virginia Senate President (www.wvgazettemail.com) ^ Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ilsr.org) ^ keynote address (www.facebook.com)

Australia’s 15 Best And Worst Suburbs For Broadband Speed 0

Australia’s 15 Best And Worst Suburbs For Broadband Speed

Product comparison website Finder.com.au has crunched data to identify the best and worst suburbs for broadband speed in Australia. 1 A number of factors determine how quickly you can access the internet according to Finder.com.au’s tech expert Nick Broughall, including the type of NBN connection available in your area, the state of existing infrastructure, and how many homes were connected to broadband at once. The study found that Australia’s best broadband suburbs were the ones that had the most homes fitted with fibre-to-the-premise connections, capable of delivering 1000 megabit-per-second downloads. In contrast, the worst areas for broadband speed where the suburbs still fitted with the ageing satellite NBN connection, only capable of receiving the minimum speed guarantee of 25 megabits per second, despite being in close proximity to capital cities.

The worst broadband locations were dominated by Victoria, with seven out of the top 15 spots, including Werribee (which lies just 32km from Melbourne’s CBD), Kholo (22km from Brisbane CBD) and Kenthurst (39km out of Sydney).

However it wasn’t all bad news for suburbs close to capital cities, with some of the countries speediest broadband found in Glenorchy in Tasmania, Mill Park in Victoria, and Blacktown in New South Wales.

Australia’s worst connected suburbs 1 Werribee VIC 2 Bullsbrook WA 3 Kholo QLD 4 Diamond Creek VIC 5 Strathewen VIC 6 The Basin VIC 7 Harkaway VIC 8 Glenorie NSW 9 Martin WA 10 Canoelands NSW 11 Truganina VIC 12 Maroota NSW 13 Mulgoa NSW 14 Lysterfield VIC 15 Kenthurst NSW Australia’s best connected suburbs 1 Glenorchy TAS 2 Mill Park VIC 3 Blacktown NSW 4 Tullamarine VIC 5 Brunswick VIC 6 Para Hills SA 7 Auburn NSW 8 Lidcombe NSW 9 Boondall QLD 10 Blackmans Bay TAS 11 Runcorn QLD 12 Taigum QLD 13 Aldinga Beach SA 14 West Hobart TAS 15 Seaford Rise SA References ^ Finder.com.au (www.finder.com.au)

Altice Pushes Gigabit Broadband to Additional Markets 0

Altice Pushes Gigabit Broadband to Additional Markets

Altice (the foreign owner of both Cablevision and Suddenlink) today announced that the company would be expanding its gigabit broadband services into four additional Suddenlink markets. According to Altice, customers in Batesville and El Dorado, Arkansas; Maryville, Missouri; and Conroe, Texas all have access to the company’s DOCSIS 3.0-based gigabit service. Users in those markets are also being informed that the company’s 75 Mbps and 100 Mbps tiers are being bumped to 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps, respectively.

The upgrades are part of the company’s continuation of upgrades that had already been underway at Suddenlink before Altice acquired the company. “Today’s announcement is the next step in Altice USA’s Operation GigaSpeed initiative to provide gigabit broadband service to our Suddenlink customers,” the company said of the announcement. “We are pleased that Suddenlink’s ultra-fast gigabit service is now available in all of the neighborhoods and to all of the households and businesses we serve throughout these four new ‘Gig Cities’.” Users in our forums 1 say they’re being told this service is 1 Gbps down, 50 Mbps up, costs $110 a month (plus a $35 technician/install fee) and comes with a 550 GB monthly cap . While Suddenlink imposes usage caps, Altice-owned Cablevision does not — and the company hasn’t indicated whether they’ll be applying caps company wide as the two ISPs are integrated. The DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades at Suddenlink will ultimately give way to full fiber to the home service.

Altice announced late last year 2 that the company would be skipping DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades and instead upgrading the majority of its existing Suddenlink and Cablevision customers to full fiber to the home service.

Indications are that the first customers to see these upgrades will likely be in New York 3 sometime later this year.

References ^ forums (www.dslreports.com) ^ announced late last year (www.dslreports.com) ^ New York (www.dslreports.com)