Fiber is Future Proof


One of the best forums I’ve attended in the last 6 years!

Kudos to Laurin for organizing the program, Casey, Lynda, Ray, Chad and Shannon! They all did fantastic presentations covering a broad range of muni-networking issues – NPO-model, governmental operational efficiencies, collaboration, school and community usage, etc.
[ Original Post: ]

The municipal networking forum has kicked off.

Casey Lide, of Baller Herbst , has started out with a broad overview of business models, technologies and reasons for municipal networking.

Casey brings up the “holy grail” of FTTH (fibre-to-the-home). It’s capital intensive, but as he says, “Fibre is future proof.”


Plenty of room and plenty of time if you want to come down….


37 responses to “Fiber is Future Proof”

  1. Administrator Avatar

    Casey is bringing up the heavy hitters of using the infrastructure for government-related operational efficiencies. Parking meters, housing inspectors, police access – and the capability to open the platform to wider public usage – “that’s gravy”.

  2. Administrator Avatar

    University presence is a HUGE plus.

  3. Administrator Avatar

    Economic development is a key benefit. FTTH moreso, currently, than Wifi but in either case it’s a big win. Where networking is competitively introduced, the prices of current communications services goes way down.

    “Part of the duty of a municipality is to serve the whole population.”

  4. Administrator Avatar

    Legal issues. Need to do a “red flag” check.

    “Privacy alone could fill 50 pages.”

  5. Administrator Avatar

    “3 or 4 years ago when we got started with this, we assumed the dominant provider would sue the municipality”

    Now “the tide is turning”. The dominant carriers have changed their tune – town’s can be less concerned about the [BS] legal impediments to the system.

  6. Administrator Avatar

    Talking of the states that have passed prohibitions on municipally-sponsored networks. Pennsylvania is particularly odious – isn’t aware of any other time a private business entity has veto power over local government offering a public service. A municipality in PA has to ask Verizon for permission to deploy a community-owned network.

    Ah, as Casey winds up, he recommends one of my favorite research sites

  7. Administrator Avatar

    Casey’s finished. Here’s the current top story from MuniWireless. — More Sock-Puppetry from the Telecom Ministry of Propaganda. is yet another prime example of astroturf in action. I can only suspect that telecom incumbents pay some sort of professional PR group to create websites like this specifically to misinform and mislead the public.

    Oh do I love puncturing Astroturf PR.

  8. Administrator Avatar

    Ray Reitz, Chief Technology Officer of Chapel Hill Carrboro School System is up.

    Most students tap the web today. The web is the primary research tool for our students today.

    Some students are “accessing this new technology called ‘blogs”. Brought up Ephesus school’s Katrina ‘blog.

    “Digital literacy is as important as the three-R’s”

    “Children of this digital age are described as millenials”.

    “Millenials want to learn – with tech, with one another, online, in their own time, in their own place, doing things that matter”

    Some of the folk teaching now are first-gen millenials, with the same requirements and desires of their millenial students. Unfortunately there’s the “digital divide” – which is a substantial barrier.

    “These students are not only caught in a digital divide but in an opportunity divide”

  9. Administrator Avatar

    “Children who spend more tome on the web perform better in school” – the reason, students moving from passive entertainments to the active, participatory media of the web – the tech requires more reading, more thinking.

  10. Administrator Avatar

    Ray’s covering Citrix now – a virtual remote desktop technology. I argued against this tech as it’s proven to be difficult to deploy, debug and support by many parents (it’s one of the most common tech support type question I help folk with [the curse of being a computer guy]).

  11. Administrator Avatar

    Digital divide – the biggest barrier – the monthly ISP bill. Many parents signed up with good intentions but this barrier is the big reason folk drop out of the school’s connectivity program.

  12. Administrator Avatar

    Roughly %10 of our students don’t have a computer, don’t have home access.

  13. Administrator Avatar

    “We’ve come to the conclusion that wireless is the best opportunity” for bridging the digital divide.

    We’re an important stakeholder in this discussion.

    Ray throws up a map showing the geographical distribution of our 16 Chapel Hill/Carrboro schools. If you take a look at that map (hope to get a link after this) and the map of our bus routes, you realize we could cover a major chunk of town between the two.

  14. Administrator Avatar

    Shannon Schelin, Ph.D. of the Institute of Government at UNC is up now.

    Why does high-speed connectivity matters for municipalities alone (forget the public access component for a moment).

    Public safety – interoperability, mobility, ubiquitous –

    “we’ve seen how current [technology] failed on 9/11”

    In Jacksonville, NC they’re deploying a first-responder system that incorporates realtime video from police cars – fire personnel can access building plans in realtime or find out if a building contains hazardous material

    Governmental affairs – efficiency, effectiveness, engagement, equity

  15. Administrator Avatar

    Efficiency in the governments “back office” operations

    Effectiveness, remote monitoring of electrical meters – building inspectors reducing trips to the office, etc.

    Equity – digital divide

    If you’re a government “wireless connectivity is essential” – maybe open for the public – but you must have this type network to deliver the type and quality of services we need in this high-bandwidth world.

  16. Administrator Avatar

    Shannon ends saying “one of the wisest investments of our time”.

  17. Administrator Avatar

    Chad Johnston, Executive Director of The People’s Channel, is up describing a NPO model for community-owned communications infrastructure.

    Covering the People’s Channel experience.

  18. Administrator Avatar

    “You can draw a horse to water…”

    I think we’ve demonstrated there’s a great demand for this type service: governmental operations, the schools, the University (I had two students ask me today about community-access), the 5 folk typing away currently in the Council chambers, etc.

    Community NPO – the community is the “boss” – local control addresses non-monetary concerns – social justice, grassroots outreach, community organization

  19. Administrator Avatar

    Other NPO benefits: preserve network neutrality, privacy – protect our citizen’s right to access the network privately, eliminate the threat of data mining, help folk learn about safe and secure usage of the ‘net.

    8:20pm – Lynda Goff, Executive Director of WinstonNet in Winston-Salem, NC is up next – hope we have time for some Q & A.

  20. Administrator Avatar

    Wireless Winston.

    Commends us for putting this before our Town Council.

    WinstonNet is a technology NPO – organized on behalf of the citizens of Winston-Salem and Forsythe. Genesis came from laying fiber between Wake Forest University and their Health Sciences complex. Took excess fibre and capacity and laid 25 mile loop around town.

    High-speed, low cost access to every stakeholding organization – all higher ed, local schools, governments – total of 14 diverse groups.

    They’ve deployed computer labs throughout the community – 44 total – 12 churches, 17 schools, 14 libraries, some Y’s, etc.

    Use donated equipment as “dumb terminals” – access via Citrix to central servers.

  21. Administrator Avatar

    Lynda – We “hired experts” – in this case Civitium to walk them through the RFP process.

  22. Administrator Avatar

    Membership is government and education but called on local businesses – Sara Lee, RJR, BBT to get a sense of aggregated demand they’d bring – identified 100,000 [business?] users to bring to the table as a bargaining chip in RFP negotiations.

  23. Administrator Avatar

    Demand in first phase – 100,000 users over 109 sq. /miles – population of 186,000 – need to make Winston-Salem attractive because of wide area (eventually Forsythe county) means lower population density.

    RFP is available on their website (I’ve read it – quite thorough).

  24. Administrator Avatar

    Initial pilot sometime in 2007 covering 5 or more square miles (wow! that would cover a great chunk of town).

  25. Administrator Avatar

    Mayor Foy, Council members Harrison, Greene, Strom, Easthom attended.

    Local ‘bloggers OrangePolitics and eric isThatLegal are here.

    Uzoma, Brian, Steve, Martha, Terri, Arek and Bob (and me, of course) from the now defunct Technology Board.

  26. Administrator Avatar

    Wow! Brian Russell just announced the formation of a new NPO to bring wireless to the community!

  27. Administrator Avatar

    He’s pledged to bring networking to our community, looks forwarded to working with the group to make it happen.

  28. Administrator Avatar

    Terri B. is asking Lynda Goff about the Umpstead Act – “can you comment?”

    “No.” – “What is that?”

  29. Administrator Avatar

    MobilePro representative asking Lynda Goff what kind of incentives a municipality can offer to get a city-wide deployment.

    Goff – “we’re collaborating with 10 of the largest businesses in our community”. She’s making a plea to bring together a regional effort – Durham/Chapel Hill – Duke/UNC and the population of the RTP. Chapel Hill is uniquely located in tech central – a great asset to bring to the table.

  30. Administrator Avatar

    An audience member asked about a potential disconnect – a lack of computers in the home. Ray responds that our real problem is connectivity – Blue Cross, Blue Shield ditches hundreds of computers, many other companies do – we use those computers – “the real problem is connectivity”

  31. Administrator Avatar

    Another audience member is concerned about “Chapel Hill values” – how can you use the ‘net safely?

    Ray – Chad’s comment about computer literacy is key

    Chad – media production saavy helps educate – “when you learn to produce stuff, you remove some of the [literacy problem]”

  32. Administrator Avatar

    Someone watching has asked about the reliability of the network vis-a-vis remote medical monitoring.

    Casey – explaining MESH technology – difficult to gaurantee but unlike other technologies can suffer large losses – hundreds of nodes – and it self-heals

    Casey – In New Orleans, after all the other communication modalities were wiped out – the only remaining functioning system was a Wifi-MESH system.

    Same caller ask about priority communications for first-responders. Casey answers – QOS – quality of service – tech today can prioritize one packet (say first-responders) over another (like mine from Town Hall).

  33. Administrator Avatar

    Whoops! That wasn’t Eric in the back row! Sorry Eric.

  34. Administrator Avatar

    Lynda Goff – The business community in WinstonNet sees some real advantages – stresses mobility applications – real-estate agents, RJR trans-shipments, etc – as a very innovative application with profound business impacts.

    Walker Rutherford, 2005 Council candidate, is asking about owning the infrastructure vs. private ownership.

    Casey – “interesting question” – suggests you could make the equipment – like the radios – seperable from the ISP. The equipment could be used by multiple vendors.

  35. Administrator Avatar

    I think one of the chips we could bring to the table is to tag-a-long with the NC-DOT project. With a great population and ownership of 15-20 miles of fibre, I think we could cut a great deal.

  36. Brian R. Avatar

    Thanks for live blogging this Will. I’ll link to it when I can. An important record.

  37. […] Chapel Hill citizen Will Raymond has taken a bunch of notes (aka live blogging) about the community wireless forum we had tonight. Check out what he is writting over at his blog Concerned Citizen (check out comments) and what all kinds of people are discussing over at Orange Politics. The event was recorded and broadcast on channel 18 our local community government access station. We need to figure out how to get that footage online. […]

Leave a Reply