Information

Were we betrayed? The conditions that forced Northwest Connect into existence – thousands not connected to broadband services, no competition in broadband services, no timely upgrades in our region – grew from the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The Act exchanged universal service as a mandate for monopoly telecom services for competition in the telecom marketplace. For our region it has not worked out well. For us the Act has made universal service and real competition only possible through municipal ownership of new broadband networks.
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Broadband Rates Will Only Increase

Broadband 20 years ago meant 200 kbps; today it means 25 mbps; in ten years it may be touching a gigabit per second. Upward pressure will come from 4K and 8K television, the latter needing 90 mbps, plus the Internet of Things clogging local WiFi networks with constant messages, plus Augmented and Virtual Reality, plus uploading massive files that now take days. In ten years cable television networks will be as out of date as DSL networks are today. Increasing speed will drive Fiber to the Home networks

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All Roads Lead to Fiber

The global Internet includes tens of thousands of switches interconnected by fiber optic lines often operating at 100 billion bits per second (gbps).  Fiber will go much faster; copper will never get there.  As speeds increase the “last mile” will inevitably become fiber optic as well, replacing ancient twisted-pair and coaxial copper lines.  The only questions are who will be doing it, and when…

 

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Financial Analysis

No final costing can be realized before network engineering, which cannot happen before community approval.  But we can make reasonable estimates.  Trunk wiring on poles or underground will cost our 25 communities about $113 million.  As wire with forty or more years of life without replacement or upgrades, we may be able to get 40 year debt terms at 3%, which will be less than $5.50 per month per home in our region…

 

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Broadband

Broadband is an illusive term. Without putting numbers to it, the term simply means high capacity, much more than narrowband. But we must put numbers to it. We accept the FCC definition now, that broadband means 25 mbps download, 3 mbps upload. All uses of the term now for DSL lines or satellite links at speeds much slower are outdated and deceptive…

 

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Simplified Basic Network Simplified

We speak of Digital Packet Networks. They have one job—transfer a packet of binary digital information (bits) from one point on the edge of a network to another point on the edge based on addresses contained in the packet. It is just like the postal service sending letters. The network itself is fashioned from just two kinds of things—switches and links connecting switches together, rather like intersections and roads. The weakest link is the “last mile” created from old copper telephone and cable television wiring…

 

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Our Network

We are proposing a regional network with fiber-optic last mile links operating at 1 gbps to every home and business in our region.  The network will have a community component—the wires on the poles called trunk wiring—and a private partner component—the drop wiring from the pole to the home, home networks, and a regional electronic network.  It will be just like we treat roads…

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Isn’t the Answer 5G?

No. The reasons are many. 5G does promise gigabit speeds without wiring to your device. But it only gets those speeds with hundreds of thousands of new antennas and many new applications to pay for them. Most mobile traffic goes through WiFi networks now, not mobile networks. We do not see that changing. In fact, if 5G develops a strong footprint over the next ten years (which will be a real struggle) it will drive fiber to the home networks. Here is why…

 

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Let’s Kill All The Lawyers

As with many things Shakespearean, this line from Henry VI Part 2 in context very likely means its opposite, that to usurp the law we will have to kill all those who uphold it.  We certainly need lawyers for our project.  Frontier will resist whatever we do.  Unhappily, Connecticut law is sufficiently unclear that we find ourselves in legal and legislative battles to get this project done.  Here is the story…

 

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Your Gig is Here

Hundreds of communities in America have built their own fiber optic networks, just like hundreds had to build their own electric utility during the early days of wiring our country for power. Chattanooga was the first gigabit network, with first service in 2010. Now Leverett, Massachusetts has it. They did it from necessity. Our legacy carriers will not connect everyone and they will not upgrade their networks to next generation technology until they can afford it. Many are finding they have to do it themselves. Here are some of their stories…