Nevada City says ‘no’ to Verizon, again

Nevada City councilmembers struck down an appeal from Verizon Wireless on Wednesday night for its application to install wireless infrastructure in the downtown historic district that was denied by the city’s Planning Commission in Sept. 2016.

Nathan Giguiere, an employee with Epic Wireless representing Verizon, said the company is still searching for an appropriate site to install cell antennas in an effort to boost coverage in downtown Nevada City.

Full Report in The Union HERE.

How important is good cell phone coverage you ask?  Here is one report:

A new study from RootMetrics has revealed that U.S. adults seem to care more about cell phone reception than the quality of neighborhood schools when buying a home.

The survey of 2,000 Americans found that 60% rank good school districts as important, compared to 76% who called out mobile service—the same proportion that ranked hospitals as essential.

Even more important? Ninety-six percent listed crime rate, 90% local taxes, and 84% amenities like shops, parks and restaurants.

Though respondents in all age groups (even those most likely to include parents of young kids) said cell service was more important than school district, older adults unsurprisingly tended to rank hospitals as increasingly more important.

Here is another report:

Millennials are hooked on smartphone technology as witnessed everyday at restaurants, in traffic, and on public transportation. A new study by Zogby Analytics brings to light just how intense this obsession is.

According to the study, 87% of millennials say their phones never leave their sides. The first thing that 80% of millennials do every morning is reach for their smartphones, and 78% spend more than two hours a day texting, surfing, talking, and tweeting.

Millennials love the ease and speed of using their smartphone camera as a tool to get things done. About 60% say that everything will be done on mobile devices within the next five years.

More than 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 34 were surveyed. One of the biggest features millennials say they love about their phones is the camera, which they use for more than just taking selfies. About 90% of the people surveyed reported using their smartphones to take pictures at least once a week.

More importantly, millennials use their phone for businesses — shopping, banking, and more. Almost 50% use their smartphones to access businesses at least once a day.

How long will the millennials hang around Nevada City to shop with crappy cell phone service?   Maybe the City Council has an answer?

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Findings on the Economic Benefits of Broadband Expansion to Rural and Remote Areas

Increasing broadband access will be a boon to small-town economies by keeping local businesses competitive and attracting new residents. In a recent study by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, it was found that areas with one to three broadband providers experience a 6.4 percent higher employment growth rate and a 2.4 percent increase to the population growth rate compared to areas without broadband, both vital factors in maintaining a healthy community.

Full report is HERE

America’s Digital Divide

The Senate Joint Economic Committee report on America’s  digital divide.

Our economy is increasingly becoming dependent on access to high-speed internet connections.1 Access to the internet brings unprecedented economic opportunities for users, especially for people living in remote areas, for whom the internet opens a window to the world. The internet, and access to it, has changed our world in such a profound way that for many people, life without it is unimaginable. While most Americans are able to connect to the internet in some form today, many Americans can’t log on at the high speeds needed to realize the full potential of the internet. Americans living in remote, rural, and tribal communities, in particular, tend to have less access to the highspeed broadband internet connections that many newer technological innovations require. There are also affordability divides that prevent many individuals from getting online or accessing adequate speeds at home. While broadband internet access has increased over time, there remains a digital divide in access to and adoption of high-speed internet. Closing this gap must be a priority, and will take a substantial federal investment to do.

Full Report is HERE:the-digital-divide-

Sixty-one percent of California’s rural residents do not have access to broadband!

Senate & House Democrats Unveil ‘A Better Deal On Universal High-Speed Internet’

The U.S. Senate and House Democrats unveil one of the critical tenets of their new economic agenda – “A Better Deal on Universal High-Speed Internet.” The Senate and House Democrats will say that far too many Americans – many of them located in rural communities – lack the access to the high-speed, high-quality Internet that they need to succeed in a 21st Century economy. This vital component of the Democrats’ Better Deal agenda proposes to bring high-speed, affordable Internet to every American by investing $40 billion in federal dollars to build the kind of broadband infrastructure that will finally connect rural communities. The Democrats’ plan would also upgrade the nation’s critical safety infrastructure and create accurate maps of areas that lack adequate Internet access in order to ensure rural Americans are not left out. The Democrats will be joined by a medical professional from Tennessee, who relies on high-speed Internet access to save patients’ lives and bring healthcare to rural communities, via Skype.

 

Live Stream here at 9:45 Pacific Time, 12:45 Eastern Time.

SB-649 Wireless Telecommunications Facilities [Small Cell Towers]

The bill was passed the Assembly and Senate and sent to the Governor’s office for signature at 5:30 on 21 September.  The Governor has until October 15th to sign or veto the bill. 

A copy of the bill as amended is HERE:20170SB649_92

This bill was opposed by a consortium of rural organizations:

ALERT! Opposition to SB 649 (Hueso) – Elimination of public input, full design review, and public benefit conditions for installation of wireless industry equipment.Assembly Floor (as amended 9/6/2017)

The California Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA California), the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), the League of California Cities (League), the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), and the Urban Counties of California (UCC) are a coalition of local, representing nearly every Californian, that overwhelmingly OPPOSE SB 649.

Despite promises made by the wireless industry, the sponsor of SB 649, this bill fails to deliver on its most basic promises. Fundamentally, SB 649 seeks to eliminate public input, full local environmental and design review, mandate the leasing of publicly owned infrastructure and eliminate the ability for local governments to negotiate leases or any public benefit for the installation of “small cell” equipment on taxpayer funded property.

Letter of Opposition to Assembly is HERE:SB_649_Joint_Floor_Alert_to_Asm_09072017

It occurred to me that the rollout of G-5 Small Cell Towers is going to be opposed by multiple states, counties, and cities, thus the Federal Government may be prodded into action. The formation of this FCC committee could the first step in that process:

FCC ANNOUNCES THE MEMBERSHIP OF TWO BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE WORKING GROUPS: COMPETITIVE ACCESS TO BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE AND REMOVING STATE AND LOCAL REGULATORY BARRIERS

GN Docket No. 17-83

This Public Notice serves as notice that Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) Chairman Ajit Pai has appointed members to serve on two Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) working groups, Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure and Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers.1 The members of these working groups are listed in Appendix A. The selection of members for the Streamlining Federal Siting working group is in progress, and final selections for this group will be announced at a later date.

The BDAC is organized under, and operates in accordance with, the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).2 The BDAC’s mission is to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access.3 The BDAC held its first meeting on Friday, April 21, 2017. 

If the Federal Government steps in State and Local Regulations could be null and void and telcos will get unfettered access to the infrastructure needed to host the small cell towers, including attaching the cell sites and antennas to existing buildings, light poles and power poles. Stay tuned, this going to be a very interesting year for telecommunications and local control.

Your thoughts on this issue are most welcome in the comments.

Slow Fiber in Nevada County — FCC Help on the Horizon?

Union Columnist George Boardman reports that Spiral’s fiber-optic network has been delayed again.

Nevada County’s long-promised high-speed fiber-optic network has been delayed again, and John Paul, CEO of Spiral Internet, is not making any promises about when groundbreaking will occur and the first customers will receive service.

Perhaps Paul has concluded that he is no good at making predictions. As recently as May, he told the Economic Resource Council that high-speed internet access would be available to its first customers in late fall.

Then there was February, when he said the first customers would be online by late spring.

Of course, in October of 2016, Paul predicted service by spring of this year.

Lack of such connectivity guarantees an area will be left behind as the economy increasingly demands that companies compete not just with their neighbors next door, but with the entire world.

And when the state Public Utilities Commission approved $16.7 million is taxpayer funds for the project in December of 2015, Paul said groundbreaking would take place in spring of 2016, with some homes getting service in fall 2016.

The most telling part of the column was the reason for the delay.

It has taken over a year to complete the environmental report. Now Spiral can begin the network design, which will have to be approved by the county and city of Grass Valley before permits can be issued. Paul expects that process to take a few months.

Earlier this summer I was talking with the Chief Engineer at CalNet who was awarded funds for three projects by the Public Utilities Commission several months before Spiral received their funding. They were just getting started on the first of the three projects, having just won approval for their project CEQA Report. It took a whole year for an environmental approval for the first broadband network. They are still working on the second and third project environmental report.

Mr. Boardman continues:

Adopting their usual posture of leading from behind, the supervisors prefer to let others solve the problem instead of providing the leadership required to come up with an innovative solution — like, for example, creating our very own high-speed communications utility.

The county could create its own public utility with the specific task of bringing high-speed communications to the county. Startup costs could be funded by a bond issue that would be retired with profits generated by the utility. And instead of spending a lot of time and money trying to acquire rights-of-way, the utility could make a deal to run its equipment along NID land. The same people who need water also want high-speed internet service.

I agree with Boardman’s statement with one NID exception discussed below. The County could have created a public service company and build out broadband, competing with Comcast and AT&T and the wireless providers like SmarterBroadband, like the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation(MBC)  MBC owns and operates 1,800 route miles of fiber … MBC supports a 100GB research network in Virginia for the Mid-Atlantic Research Infrastructure Alliance. More on the MBC in future posts, as they have teamed with Microsoft to develop TV Whitespace networks for areas not covered by their fiber networks.

The FCC has taken note of the delays caused by state and local regulatory barriers like Spiral has been experiencing and will again as they apply for construction permits.

FCC ANNOUNCES THE MEMBERSHIP OF TWO BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE WORKING GROUPS: COMPETITIVE ACCESS TO BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE AND REMOVING STATE AND LOCAL REGULATORY BARRIERS
GN Docket No. 17-83
This Public Notice serves as notice that Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) Chairman Ajit Pai has appointed members to serve on two Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) working groups, Competitive Access to Broadband Infrastructure and Removing State and Local Regulatory Barriers.1 The members of these working groups are listed in Appendix A. The selection of members for the Streamlining Federal Siting working group is in progress, and final selections for this group will be announced at a later date.
The BDAC is organized under, and operates in accordance with, the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).2 The BDAC’s mission is to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on how to accelerate the deployment of high-speed Internet access.3 The BDAC held its first meeting on Friday, April 21, 2017.

The NID exception. The idea of using NID right away was explored by the ERC’s Telecommunication Resources Committee, and according to NID, any communications conduit would have to be 6 feet from any treated waterline. Thus separate ditches would have to be dug, negating any cost savings of using a single ditch. NID did not embrace any overtures to cooperate with fiber-optic telecommunication companies.

Your views on the delay are most welcome.