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Call to Action: Ohio Residents! Urgent Need for Calls to Stop Anti-Broadband Bill

Urgent CALL TO ACTION for ALL OHIO RESIDENTS!

The Ohio Senate has inserted an amendment (AM4546-1) into the state budget bill that, if adopted, would ban almost all community and municipal broadband projects in the state.

We need everyone to make a quick phone call to their state senator to demand the amendment be removed immediately! A full vote on this is expected tomorrow, so you MUST make that phone call today or early tomorrow morning. It will take less than five minutes of your time.

Here is what you can say:

“Hi, I’m calling to ask Senator _________ to vote no on Amendment AM4546-1 that has been attached to the budget bill. This amendment would seriously harm efforts to get broadband service to rural residents of Ohio and is essentially a project killer amendment. If it is adopted, municipalities that have been contemplating bringing internet access to their communities would find it nearly impossible to do so. This amendment is nothing more than protectionism for big cable and phone companies and I object to it. We need more broadband service in this state, not less. Please ask the senator to reject this amendment.”

Contact information:

If you do not know who represents you, visit the Ohio Senate website and enter your address information and you will be given details.

Because time is short, please CALL your senator at the number below. Just ask the secretary to take a message for the senator and, if you need to know what to say, see the above sample script. Always be polite, professional, and persuasive and thank the secretary for their time. 

Ohio State Senators 

Antani, Niraj

Senator – 6-R

614-466-4538

 

Antonio, Nickie J.

Assistant Minority Leader – 23-D

614-466-5123

 

Blessing III, Louis W.

Senator – 8-R

614-466-8068

 

Brenner, Andrew O.

Senator – 19-R

614-466-8086

 

Cirino, Jerry

Senator – 18-R

614-644-7718

 

Craig, Hearcel

Assistant Minority Whip – 15-D

614-466-5131

 

Dolan, Matt

Senator – 24-R

614-466-8056

 

Fedor, Teresa

Senator – 11-D

614-466-5204

 

Gavarone, Theresa Charters

Senator – 2-R

614-466-8060

 

Hackett, Robert

Senator – 10-R

614-466-3780

 

Hoagland, Frank

Senator – 30-R

614-466-6508

 

Hottinger, Jay

President Pro Tempore – 31-R

614-466-5838

 

Huffman, Matt

President – 12-R

614-466-7584

 

Huffman, Stephen

Senator – 5-R

614-466-6247

 

Johnson, Terry A.

Senator – 14-R

614-466-8082

 

Kunze, Stephanie

Senator – 16-R

614-466-5981

 

Lang, George

Senator – 4-R

614-466-8072

 

Maharath, Tina

Minority Whip – 3-D

614-466-8064

 

Manning, Nathan

Senator – 13-R

614-644-7613

 

McColley, Robert

Majority Whip – 1-R

614-466-8150

 

O’Brien, Sandra

Senator – 32-R

614-466-7182

 

Peterson, Bob

Senator – 17-R

614-466-8156

 

Reineke, William

Senator – 26-R

614-466-8049

 

Roegner, Kristina Daley

Senator – 27-R

614-466-4823

 

Romanchuk, Mark

Senator – 22-R

614-466-7505

 

Rulli, Michael

Senator – 33-R

614-466-8285

 

Schaffer, Tim

Senator – 20-R

614-466-8076

 

Schuring, Kirk

Majority Floor Leader – 29-R

614-466-0626

 

Sykes, Vernon

Senator – 28-D

614-466-7041

 

Thomas, Cecil

Senator – 9-D

614-466-5980

 

Williams, Sandra

Senator – 21-D

614-466-4857

 

Wilson, Steve

Senator – 7-R

614-466-9737

 

Yuko, Kenny

Minority Leader – 25-D

614-466-4583

Frontier Admits the DSL Service it Sells is Not High-Speed Broadband Service

Frontier Communications told a federal court judge last week that the DSL service it sells across much of its service area in New York State is not remotely “high-speed broadband service” and is not fit for purpose if New York’s Affordable Internet Law takes effect next week and requires Frontier to deliver at least 25/3 Mbps service to state residents.

“Simply put, Frontier New York’s DSL-based service is not a ‘high-speed broadband service’ within the meaning of the statute, and an unreasonable interpretation thereof could be read to mandate the massive efforts and expenditures that would be required to provide the high-speed service standards set forth in the [Affordable Internet] Statute,” Frontier wrote in a filing with the court.

New York’s Affordable Internet Law, now being challenged in federal court, would require internet service providers to deliver at least 25 Mbps broadband service for $15/month to low-income state residents.

Frontier fears that if that new law takes effect, it could face mandatory investments in the tens of millions to upgrade its dilapidated copper wire network across most of its service areas in New York. Frontier told the judge it cannot provide reliable service over its copper wire facilities even at 15 Mbps, and many addresses recently added to Frontier’s internet service area are only getting service at 10 Mbps.

“Any attempt to require the consistent delivery of 25 Mbps through copper loops would require different network architecture, new equipment at Frontier New York’s central offices, new equipment in the field, and alternative methods and procedures,” Frontier complained. “Any such changes would constitute a new service rather than an upgrade to Frontier New York’s existing DSL services. The extensive time, effort and  money required would require the reallocation of capital and resources that are focused on forward-looking projects rather than backward-looking technology.”

Frontier added that the state should look to other providers to deliver service that meets minimal qualifications for broadband — service it does not provide today to most of its New York customers.

“FCC data and mapping indicates that speeds equal to or exceeding 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload through technologies such as cable, fiber, fixed wireless and satellite are available across the state,” Frontier wrote.

Des Moines Welcomes Fiber Competition for Mediacom and CenturyLink

The capital city of Iowa will soon get citywide access to gigabit service from a new competitor when MetroNet fires up its fiber to the home network beginning in the spring of 2022.

MetroNet, based in Indiana, has developed a lucrative business competing with some of America’s lesser known telecom companies, which have generally offered poorer service and slower speeds. When MetroNet cuts the ribbon on its gigabit fiber network, it will compete with usage-capped cable operator Mediacom, which Consumer Reports has bottom rated for at least a decade, and underfunded phone company CenturyLink, which has struggled to keep up with cable operator upgrades.

Des Moines, Iowa

According to the Des Moines Register, the fiber overbuilder will invest $70 million in its Des Moines network, and will be the third local competitor for internet, phone, and video service. The company traditionally undercuts competitors on regular pricing and at least matches their introductory pricing. In Des Moines, Mediacom offers new customers gigabit speed for $79 per month, which almost doubles to $139.99 when the promotion ends. CenturyLink’s limited fiber network starts at $65 a month, but also rises significantly after the promotional pricing ends. MetroNet will charge $60 a month for gigabit speed with a $100 debit card rebate, with prices increasing after the sixth month to $69.95 for the next 12 months. After the 18th month, regular pricing ($89.95) will apply.. MetroNet does not impose any data caps or usage based pricing.

MetroNet already offers service in Davenport, Ames, and Bettendorf, and has similar networks under construction in Ankeny, Urbandale, Gilbert, Grimes, Johnston, Clive, Le Claire, Nevada and Mason City — all in Iowa.

Google Fiber also has a nearby presence in West Des Moines. The city is constructing a fiber network that Google will license to provide its fiber internet service to residents in that area.

MetroNet received significant assistance from “red-tape-cutting” city officials, and the network will use existing rights-of-ways, with cables placed on poles and underground. MetroNet expects construction to take up to three years to complete, and residents can follow the company’s progress on a special website.

KCCI in Des Moines reports on MetroNet’s entry into Iowa’s largest city. (1:59)

A Tale of Two Homes in Spectrum Territory: What Competition Does to Pricing

Phillip Dampier May 26, 2021 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News 6 Comments

Competition is a wonderful thing. A case in point is the enormous difference Charter Spectrum charges new customers in areas where competition exists, and where it does not.

Charter’s offers are address sensitive. The cable company knows its competition and almost exactly where those competitors offer service. That is why the company asks for your service address before it quotes you pricing.

Stop the Cap! compared promotional new customer offers in the metro Rochester, N.Y. market where Spectrum faces token competition from Frontier’s slow speed DSL service. Then we checked pricing in neighborhoods where a fiber to the home overbuilder called Greenlight also offers service.

In neighborhoods where Spectrum enjoys a broadband monopoly, here are the offers for internet-only service available to new customers. Notice they expire after 12 months:

Spectrum promotional prices in non-competitive service areas.

Just one street away, where Greenlight offers customers the option of gigabit speed over a fiber to the home network, Spectrum’s promotional prices are quite different. Notice these offers last 24 months, twice as long as in non-competitive neighborhoods:

Spectrum promotional prices in some areas where customers can choose a competitor offering fiber to the home service.

Spectrum does not even bother offering new customers its entry-level 200 Mbps plan in areas where it has significant fiber competition. For $20 less per month, you get double that speed. Gigabit service is $20 less in competitive areas, too.

Spectrum charges a hefty $199.99 compulsory installation fee for gigabit service in non-competitive neighborhoods. Where fiber competition exists, sometimes just a street away, that installation fee plummets to just $49.99.

Note similar pricing variability exists in Spectrum service areas around the country, with the most aggressively priced offers reserved for addresses also served by a fiber to the home provider or multiple competitors (e.g. cable company, phone company, Google Fiber or other overbuilder). Current customers typically have to cancel existing service and sign up as a new customer to get these prices.

Greenlight Networks has four internet plans that range from $50-200 a month. They do not offer promotional prices, instead marketing “what you see is exactly what you will pay” pricing. As a relatively new company, they charge an installation fee that helps recoup the investments they are making to dig and string fiber cables in neighborhoods across Rochester (and Buffalo as well, where they are expanding). Spectrum (and its predecessors) use pre-existing cable lines that have been there for decades.

Greenlight Networks pricing

Charter’s promotion strategy is designed to undercut the competition on price, believing customers will choose 400/20 Mbps service for $29.99 a month over Greenlight’s 500/50 Mbps service for $50 a month. Of course, after two years Spectrum’s regular prices can kick in, more than tripling the cost to around $94.99 a month, although customers usually get a less attractive secondary promotion after the original one expires, usually offering around $10 off per month.

AT&T To Strand Some DSL Customers With Fixed Wireless; Rural Areas Unlikely to See Fiber Upgrades for Years

AT&T CEO John Stankey is still looking to wring costs out of the business, and the company’s rural landline customers are next to take the cut.

At this morning’s J.P. Morgan Technology, Media and Communications Conference for investors, Stankey said AT&T is considering mothballing landline facilities in rural parts of its service area and offer wireless service instead.

“We have a voice replacement service now, so that allows us to look at our options around the footprint […] and begin the work of starting to shed some of that footprint and reduce the number of square miles that have that fixed infrastructure in place [where] you’re never going to have an incentive to ultimately upgrade to fiber,” Stankey told investors, quickly correcting himself over use the word ‘never’ in favor of “the next several years.”

“The best way to serve them is with robust wireless infrastructure and stepped up investment in that case and we will do that,” he added.

AT&T has been testing fixed wireless replacement phone service in parts of the southern United States for several years, to very mixed reviews. In these trials, AT&T rural landline customers receive a wireless modem that connects with existing home phone lines. Internet service is provided over AT&T’s 4G LTE network.

Stankey

AT&T ceased marketing its DSL service last October, although some Stop the Cap! readers claim they still occasionally receive targeted invitations for DSL service in some areas. The company has allowed its current rural DSL customers to keep their service, but many don’t. The company lost almost 39,000 DSL customers in the first three months of this year, with so signs of stopping. Across AT&T’s landline footprint, which extends from the Great Lakes region to the South as far west as Texas and east to Florida, there are only about a half-million AT&T DSL customers remaining. Most of those customers keep the service because they have no other options.

If AT&T wins FCC approval to decommission its wired network in rural areas where it has no plans to provide fiber to the home service, customers will lose traditional landline phone service and DSL.

Stankey said any serious effort in that direction is unlikely to begin until 2023, largely because AT&T will not make the investments to bolster its rural wireless infrastructure until then.

The CEO also foreshadowed no immediate plans to follow Verizon into the 5G wireless home internet business. In fact, Stankey admitted AT&T’s network is likely inadequate to support the data demands of home broadband customers.

That leaves rural customers in AT&T’s service areas with no hope of high-speed upgrades unless a community broadband provider launches or a cable operator agrees to wire rural areas. There are still questions about the capacity next generation satellite internet service will have in rural areas and whether service will be adequate to meet today’s data demands.

AT&T’s customers in urban and major suburban areas have a brighter future, however. Stankey told investors AT&T will expand its fiber to the home service to another three million households in 2021 and at least four million more in 2022. Overall, AT&T plans to provide fiber service to around 30 million homes and businesses in its wireline service area. If adequate returns on investment can be realized, along with reduced upgrade costs to reach each home, Stankey suggested another 10 million customer locations could one day see fiber service as well.

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