It appears that Google is experiencing the same pushback that many non-telco Internet Service Providers hit up against when attempting to install new state-of-the-art fiber optic networks. The obstacles are often in place to give favor to the incumbents. Incumbents who are satisfied making profits off of old and horribly outdated copper and cable networks. Google’s situation is detailed in a recent Kansas City Star article. Google chose Kansas City, Kansas as they were assured a rapid deployment. It appears they are faring somewhat better on the Kansas City, Missouri side of the river. It remains to be seen if an aggressive build out schedule can still be accomplished in Kansas City. An overview on how AT&T stifled progress in the 20th century can be read in Tim Wu’s “The Master Switch“, an excellent fast-paced “who done it” style read on media and infrastructure monoliths in the United States.
Currently, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is revising its requirements for access to the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), which provides monies for broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas in the state. One of the requirements for funding, waived during the availability of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for broadband, is that an applicant needs to be an Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) or a Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) in order to apply. AT&T is the ILEC in western Nevada County, so the application process for that status is essentially vetted by AT&T, a process they draw out as long as they can. Luckily, the other revisions in the CASF guidelines actually favor funding for projects in rural California. A good thing because the PUC has actually, and this is truly astonishing, had a difficult time doling out the funds over the past five years.
The future is fiber optics. Google knows it. Rural telephone companies and publicly owned utility companies are stepping up across rural America and deploying fiber to the home networks. Projects have or are in the process of being built in places such as Sunriver, Oregon; New Braunfels, Texas; and Lafayette, Louisiana. The shining example is the deployment of fiber to the home in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the local electricity utility built a fiber network for their new Smart Grid technology, only to be sued three times by the local cable operator when they announced that the same fiber deployed to each home would be used for ultra high-speed Internet access.
Aside from Verizon’s roll out of FIOS in select urban markets, which came to a screeching halt in 2011, rural American is taking the lead when it comes to fiber optic networks. Western Nevada County is primed for this type of connectivity. Are we ready to participate? And what will it take? … to be continued …