North Carolina has Worst Broadband In Country at 17%

(This information was manually converted to html from the original pdf which can be found here. It was created by the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (SETOA).)


Although access to affordable, fast broadband connections now determines economic, health, and educational opportunities and even public safety, North Carolina ranks dead last.

According to a June 2013 report issued by the FCC Wireline Competition Bureau, North Carolina ranks dead last – superseded even by Mississippi now- with only 17% of its households subscribing to the level of broadband the FCC deems necessary to engage in modern life.

First the industry asked the NC legislature to be deregulated, and they did, terminating local build-out requirements. Then they asked the legislature to stop municipalities from providing broadband, and so they did. And THIS IS WHAT WE GOT. Worst broadband in the country.

The legislative experiments have failed.

Time to reverse them.

State At least 3/768 Mbps
(advertised) Connection
(in thousands)
New Jersey 2,436 3,215 0.76
Massachusetts 1,914 2,549 0.75
Maryland 1,503 2,156 0.7
Delaware 240 347 0.69
District of Columbia 175 268 0.65
New Hampshire 339 519 0.65
Vermont 156 256 0.61
Colorado 1,217 2005 0.61
Washington 1,608 2,657 0.61
Virginia 1,855 3,079 0.6
Connecticut 799 1,372 0.58
Pennsylvania 2,896 5,025 0.58
Utah 508 903 0.56
Oregon 854 1,539 0.55
Arizona 1,220 2,440 0.54
New York 3,939 7,345 0.54
Florida 3,830 7,463 0.51
Nevada 511 1,027 0.5
West Virginia 373 766 0.49
South Dakota 153 326 0.47
Minnesota 1,017 2,097 0.48
Michigan 1,775 3,848 0.46
Nebraska 328 727 0.45
California 5,609 12,712 0.44
Wyoming 102 231 0.44
Illinois 2,150 4,861 0.44
Georgia 1,542 3,648 0.42
Indiana 1,042 2,516 0.41
North Dakota 117 283 0.41
Tennessee 996 2,522 0.39
Montana 157 415 0.38
Kentucky 658 1,732 0.38
302 806 0.37
Alaska 88 260 0.34
Kansas 366 1,121 0.33
Texas 3,024 9,113 0.33
Idaho 180 593 0.3
Louisiana 535 1,756 0.3
Wisconsin 682 2,289 0.3
Alabama 564 1,902 0.3
534 1,831 0.29
Missouri 693 2,390 0.29
Maine 147 556 0.26
Oklahoma 416 1,476 0.25
Iowa 302 1,231 0.25
Arkansas 294 1,159 0.25
Ohio 1,154 4,597 0.25
Mississippi 237 1,120 0.21
North Carolina 668 3,818 0.17

Source: FCC Wireline Competition Bureau, Internet Access Services, June 2013, status as of June 30, 2012; based on Form 477 data provided by industry service providers. Note: PDF source is Internet Access Services: Status as of June 30, 2012, Industry Analysis and Technology Division, Wireline Competition Bureau, May 2013, Table 13 titled Residential Fixed Connections (Approximating the National Broadband Availability Target) and Households by State as of June 30, 2012.

Update: June 24, 2013 – I added a link to the FCC pdf that is the source of the data in the table above. -BrianR
Update #2: Added “(in thousands)” to the Households column to more acuartly reflect FCC document.

Exposing the lies of Telco shills

Check out this blog post by Fiona Morgan picking apart a “technical report” by the John Locke Foundation.

John Locke Foundation’s tech analysis: Epic fail

Some choice bits:

In a report bashing a city-owned broadband utility, the conservative John Locke Foundation reveals a stunning level of ignorance about technology.

“Wilson’s Fiber-Optic Boondoggle,” written by research director Michael Sanera and intern Katie Bethune, criticizes Wilson, N.C.’s $28 million investment in a fiber-optic network that makes high-speed Internet, cable TV and phone service to every resident and business in the city. The utility project, called Greenlight, is funded by bonds which under the city’s business plan are expected to be repaid through subscription revenue.

JLF leads with the critique that the technology “could be obsolete before it’s paid for.”

Come again?

“WiMax wireless Internet technology is rapidly leapfrogging fiber-optic cable technology, making it obsolete.”

To anyone who actually follows Internet technology, that statement is a howler.

Fiber is far and away the most advanced technology available for connecting to the Internet. It offers effectively unlimited capacity and speed. WiMax is the next generation of wireless technology, reaching further and moving data faster than the WiFi most of us use now — but nowhere near as fast as fiber. And every wireless system has to connect up to some kind of backbone. WiMax works best if connected to a fiber network.

High-speed Internet must be a part of Carrboro's infrastructure

People who live, work and visit Carrboro love the free wireless Internet. But the Town of Carrboro’s wireless is a victim of its own success. I’ve heard from a lot of people who have problems with it and wish it worked in their homes. Fact is, the area the wireless signal covers is too small, the connection is unreliable and the bandwidth is too little. Now is the time for the Town of Carrboro to take the next step. I propose the town support the construction of fiber optic Internet connections to buildings within the downtown business district.

The idea of building a fiber optic network in Carrboro isn’t farfetched. Matter of fact, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT) and the Town of Chapel Hill are already working on it. The Town of Carrboro and the Town of Chapel Hill share an old copper-wire traffic-signal system. Last year, the Town of Chapel Hill budgeted $50,000 toward a joint investment with NC DOT to replace this old signal system with fiber optics. One strand is planned for traffic signals and another is for the town’s use. Little has been publicly discussed about this project, which is slated for completion in 2012.

The small size of Carrboro’s downtown makes the cost of extending the network practical – primarily because the distances from traffic signals to local businesses are short. Right now, the Town of Carrboro rents the signal system from the Town of Chapel Hill. If Carrboro isn’t a full partner in this resource, they may not have the power to build our future access. Supposedly, the NC DOT is trying to squeeze the Town of Chapel Hill for more money to build a fiber loop. Now is a good time for Carrboro to put in.

There’s already a large customer base for high-speed Internet service in Carrboro. We have five planned new construction projects, including a mixed-use hotel, office and retail space. Public safety organizations like rescue, fire and police also could use the bandwidth, not to mention other creative and talented people. Fiber optic Internet can provide reliable upload and download speeds in excess of 100 Mbps. We can do a lot with that!

Diversifying our community’s tax base to relieve stress on property tax has been a goal for years. One way to do that is by enticing new businesses to move here and convincing existing ones to stay. A major bit of bait can be fiber-speed bandwidth for data and voice. Now is the time to invest in building the last mile of high-speed infrastructure in Carrboro. Not later, after the recession has killed development projects. Not after the Town of Chapel Hill gets around to doing something, but now on the cusp of major national infrastructure projects promised by our new president-elect.

Brian Russell is founder of Orange Networking,

(The above is an article I wrote for the Carrboro Citizen.)

Question for Presidential Candidates about Public Broadband

The site is gathering video questions for presidential candidates. Think of it as a truly democratic YouTube debate without CNN. There are two phases. Round one: 1. You ask a video question to the presidential candidates. 2. You vote on the best questions. 3. The top ten questions get selected. This part ends on November 14. Round two: 1. The top ten questions are presented to the candidates. 2. Candidates post their video answers. 3. You decide if they actually answered the questions. That part starts November 17 and ends December 31.

Here is my question and video:
If you become president what would you do to support the creation of publicly owned broadband? By both municipalities and community groups.

Go add yours now! Its your chance to participate directly. This is how our 21st century democracy should operate!

BTWRuby has a video question up on and about transparency.

Orange Networking is a real 501c3

Last night I opened an envelope from the IRS. In it was Orange Networking’s acceptance letter giving the organization official tax exempt status. Orange Networking is now a real 501(c)(3) organization! YEAH!

Orange Networking (ON) is a non-profit organization working to foster equal access to the Internet so that all people may benefit from the use of digital communication tools. ON shall provide support to people who live or work in Orange County, North Carolina in the use of open, safe, and accessible computer networks.

200kbps is NOT modern Broadband

The Daily Tar Heel has a new article about broadband in Orange County. Its called Initiative looks to expand high-speed internet access. Here is a small bit of it:

About 90 percent of Orange County can access high-speed Internet, according to a report released Friday by the e-NC Authority.

The report reviewed an annual study that began in 2002 to track the availability of high-speed Internet access across North Carolina.

“We look at high-speed access based on the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of 200 kilobytes or higher per second,” said Cary Edgar, communications director for e-NC.

e-NC works with Internet service providers to determine what percentage of households in a given area has the ability to subscribe to a high-speed Internet connection.

Here is how I responded in there comments:

When considering these numbers I think its important to know how e-NC defines broadband. New studies put the United States lower on broadband adoption because more modern studies defined “broadband” as higher than services provided to most subscribers in Orange County. Also methods of measurement where flawed in old studies. Such as determining that broadband was available in an area because one company had a T1 line while the rest of the community had nothing.

From e-nc’s website
“According to the Federal Communications Commission, high-speed Internet access is considered to include connection speeds of 200 kilobits-per-second (kb/s) and higher.”

200 kbps is an old number than needs to be updated. It is no longer an accurate measure of what Orange County residents need. Its also important to consider that broadband services in our area are asynchronous. Meaning download speeds are faster than upload speeds. Plus the actual usable speeds of our cable modems are not constant. They fluctuate based on the traffic on them and the bandwidth shaping that is done by service providers routers.

I recommend a report called the Broadband Reality Check for more information about the actual state of broadband in the US.

I will write something later to elaborate further and provide links to more info. There is also the Broadband Reality Check II.

AT&T Spies on you AND Censors Speech

Last week AT&T got caught cutting part of a live Perl Jam concert when singer Eddy Vedder criticized President Bush.

During the performance of “Daughter” the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” but were cut from the webcast:

– “George Bush, leave this world alone.” (the second time it was sung); and

– “George Bush find yourself another home.”

This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.

AT&T’s actions strike at the heart of the public’s concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.

via Perl Jam website

AT&T spokes people have denied, spun, and apologized. Turns out this wasn’t the first time they’ve done this.

One fan who contacted The Times Friday said AT&T’s Blue Room webcast bleeped the sound during performances by the Flaming Lips and the John Butler Trio at the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee in June.

via LA Times

Nor was it an accident. A “crew member” who worked on this live video feed has spoken to Wired magazine saying,

“I can definitively say that at a previous event where AT&T was covering the show, the instructions were to shut it down if there was any swearing or if anybody starts getting political. Granted, they didn’t say to shut down any Anti-Bush comments or anything specific to any point of view or party, but ‘getting political’ was mentioned.”

As if helping the American government spy on its own people wasn’t enough these Net Neutrality deniers are guilty just of what we thought. They have no intention of keeping the Internet free for all to use equally. Its is now very clear that AT&T intends to let us plebes use THEIR network how THEY see fit. Does that sound very American to you?

So iPhone owners… is this enough for you to reconsider using AT&T?

More Info:
AT&T Gets Caught in its Own Spin Cycle

Crew Member: Previous AT&T Show Had “No Politics” Policy

AT&T apologizes for censoring performer webcasts (LA Times)

Pearl Jam protests censoring of Lollapalooza webcast
(LA Times)

Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room

Muni WiFi helps bridge disaster recovery points me to a good article at Computer World called New Wi-Fi network proves critical in Minneapolis bridge disaster.

“Thank goodness we had it in and that this piece of the network was already up and operational,” said Minneapolis City CIO Lynn Willenbring. “We could not have been as effective if it were not for that.”

The article explains how the Wi-Fi network near the disaster site helped rescuers download maps, connect webcams, and obtain other data. Another benefit was relieving cell networks from the massive increase in connections.

The use of municipal Wi-Fi networks in emergencies has been talked about for years in scenario white-board planning, he said, [Joe Caldwell, the co-founder of Minneapolis-based US Internet and CEO of USI Wireless] but “it has never really been put into play. … What we found out is that it is definitely viable and definitely makes a huge difference.”