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March 13, 2018 - 4:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27, broadband, news.

Press release:

On the heels of a rural broadband roundtable, Friday afternoon with local community leaders, Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) called for easing regulations on Internet service providers helping them to invest in underserved communities like northern Niagara, Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties.

“It is staggering that 65 percent of my Congressional district is underserved by high-speed Internet, which is why it is so important government and providers work together to make sure our communities have the services they need,” Collins said.

Collins also expressed concern about recent efforts by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator Chuck Schumer to implement overbearing regulations that would make it harder to provide internet service in these areas.

“Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer could hurt rural Internet expansion by falsely claiming that the internet is broken and the only way to fix it is more regulations. Their actions would be detrimental by creating more red-tape that providers would have to navigate,” added Collins.

Collins pointed to the Obama Administration’s implementation of heavy-handed rules that deterred Internet providers from investing in Western New York’s rural communities. As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Collins has worked to correct discrepancies in current law to make sure companies who build the groundwork to provide everyday Americans with internet service are able to continue expansion.

"The promise of reliable and affordable high-speed Internet in the rural parts of our counties has been an elusive dream for over seven years, and our residents and businesses continue to be frustrated with the progress to-date,” said David Godfrey, Niagara County legislator.

“Current Internet services in the rural areas fall well short of the expectations of our taxpayers, and the promise for newer technology seems well over the horizon. Thank you, Congressman Collins, for always being here for us."

"Our meeting with Congressman Collins brings continued hope that our counties will receive the technology they deserve and desperately need,” said Lynne Johnson, Orleans County legislator. “The Congressman has always given his fullest support to the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance (NORA) as we push for those services that will help ensure every resident, student, school, small and agribusiness across our two counties, and the entire GLOW region receive internet that is equal to that of more metropolitan areas in New York State."

Collins said “We need to work together to ensure our communities have the resources they need to run their businesses, pursue educational opportunities, and connect with their loved ones. I am thankful for the support of local leaders that know what is best for Western New York as we continue to fight for an environment where businesses can succeed so consumers can benefit.”

January 17, 2018 - 11:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in broadband, chris collins, NY-27.

Press release:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) introduced legislation today that would create a national federal registry of communications infrastructure to help address the lack of high-speed Internet access in rural areas. This registry will help determine which assets are available for lease to better expand access and will facilitate coordination between federal, state and local governments, as well as between carriers.

“It is almost unbelievable to think that approximately 65 percent of my district is underserved by broadband technology and about 3 percent is completely unserved,” Collins said. “Broadband access is important to our rural communities as our reliance on the Internet continues to grow for education, starting and administrating a business, receiving care from a doctor, or just plain shopping.”

Broadband companies have found it time-consuming, expensive and complicated to reach the communities that currently lack access. This inventory would be available to communications providers and include a description of assets, their locations, and a point of contact from each agency for more information on a given asset.

Collins sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which will be holding a series of hearings in the coming weeks to address removing barriers to infrastructure buildout, supporting innovation, and strengthening the public safety benefits that come with access to broadband Internet.

Collins added: “We need to think about things like public safety, making sure law enforcement has the ability to receive notification of an emergency and quickly respond. Our communities need broadband Internet access to stay connected, and I am confident we are taking steps in the right direction."

For more information about the Inventory of Assets for Communications Facilities Act of 2018, click here.

December 14, 2009 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in AT&T, business, broadband, wireless.

iphone.jpgiPhone owners in Genesee County: Rejoice. We now have the 3G network available to us.

I was pleased to notice "3G" next to the reception bars on my iPhone this morning. And then a little while ago, I got a press release from AT&T announcing the network upgrade.

The PR says enhanced cell sites are located in Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Brick House, Corfu, Darien, Elba, Leroy, Oakfield, Pavilion and Pembroke. (Brick House?)

3G is mobile broadband, meaning AT&T customers in Genesee County can now surf the Web and download e-mail a bit faster.

Now, if AT&T would just do something about the fact there is no place to buy iPhones or accessories in Genesee County.

April 15, 2009 - 8:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Chris Lee, broadband, Time Warner Cable.

City Paper's Jeremy Moule caught up with Congressman Chris Lee at a press conference and asked an unrelated question: What is his position on Time Warner's plan to tier broadband pricing.

Here's what Moule wrote about Lee's response:

Representative Chris Lee says that the federal government should get involved with Time Warner's broadband rate change only as a last resort.

He's looking into Time Warner's proposal and is aware that there's broad concern over it. Public officials should make sure "consumers are protected and that they pay a fair rate," he said after an unrelated press conference this afternoon.

The company has agreed to hold a public session on the plan, which would implement tiered, usage-based rates. Ideally, it would be able to develop fair-rate plans, said Lee, Monroe County's lone Republican Congressional representative.

Lee had called the press conference to support his push for a passport office in Western New York.

April 13, 2009 - 4:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, broadband, Time Warner Cable.

For any Batavians who thought maybe Time-Warner Cable wouldn't test its new tiered broadband pricing plan in Genesee County, we have some bad news. We just received this message from Lara Pritchard, public affairs manager for Time Warner Cable, WNY Division:

Our trial for monitoring internet usage will rollout across our entire Rochester footprint. Batavia customers will also be enrolled to work with us and provide feedback on their usage /plans.

For those who haven't heard, TW is planning to switch Rochester-area customers from a flat-price service for broadband (cable modem, in this case) Internet service to one which offers different pricing plans, based on anticipated usage. Heavier users would be faced with potential monthly overage charges, or plan on spending up to $150 per month for unlimited usage.

WHAM 13 explains the tiered plan here:

The "trial" is expected to begin in August.

For it's part, this is what TW says about the need for the pricing scheme:

Time Warner Cable said that steady increase in use, along with massive bandwidth consumption by a small percentage of customers, is the reason it's testing the new pricing policy. The company said it needs to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

Commenting on the criticism of the plan, company spokesman Alex Dudley said, "Customer feedback is a critical part of the trial."

But not so fast. As others have noted, there isn't really a cost justification for TW's plan.

Ars Technica:

Britt's rationale for the change—infrastructure is expensive—is tough to understand. Cable's physical plant has been in the ground for years; even hybrid fiber-coax systems have been widely deployed for some time. Internet access simply runs across the existing network, and one of cable's big advantages over DSL is that speeds can be upgraded cheaply by swapping in new DOCSIS headend gear, with DOCSIS 3.0 the current standard. Compared to what Verizon is doing with fiber and AT&T with its quasi-fiber U-Verse, cable Internet is a bargain (well, for the operators).

But perhaps consumers are insatiable bandwidth hounds who are simply overloading TWC's system—or perhaps not. The BusinessWeek article notes that only 14 percent of users in TWC's trial city of Beaumont, Texas even exceeded their caps at all. My own recent conversations with other major ISPs suggest that the average broadband user only pulls down 2-6GB of data per month as it is.

A site called Stop the Cap dug through some of TW's communications for shareholders and found that TW is telling its investors its costs are actually decreasing. (via Fighting 29th)

High-speed data costs decreased for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2008 primarily due to a decrease in per-subscriber connectivity costs, partially offset by subscriber growth.

April 1, 2009 - 8:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, rural, broadband.

The Obama stimulus package includes $7.2 billion to help rural America access the Internet more easily, and officials in Genesee County would like to ensure some of that money benefits the region.

Known as "Title VI--Broadband Technology Opportunities Program," the allocation is a mere 1 percent of the entire stimulus program.

County Manager Jay Gsell clued me in a couple of weeks ago about the County's efforts to attract some of that money to help areas of the county that do not yet have broadband access. He said the broadband effort is one of many tasks on the County's to-do list related to bringing as much stimulus money to the county as possible.

Stephen Zimmer, Genesee County Director of Information Technology, said the county is participating in a state program to map current broadband availability and identify areas of need.

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton applauds the effort to help rural residents access the Internet more easily.

"Farmers in rural, agricultural areas need broadband," Norton said. "Support for broadband has been in our policy book for years. Technology is necessary to keep agriculture viable. Your business (The Batavian) thrives off of technology and agriculture is needing technology more and more."

Much is unknown even at this point about how the broadband program will be administered, and it may not be until 2010 before we see any results. This PCWorld article explains some of the unresolved questions about the program.

The broadband stimulus program is also not without controversy.

Former FCC economist Michael Katz has been acerbic in his dismissal of rural American and the need for spending $7.2 billion on improving Internet access.

Katz listed ways that the $7.2 billion could be put to better use, including an effort to combat infant deaths. But he also spoke of rural places as environmentally hostile, energy inefficient and even weak in innovation, simply because rural people are spread out across the landscape.

"The notion that we should be helping people who live in rural areas avoid the costs that they impose on society … is misguided," Katz went on, "from an efficiency point of view and an equity one."

According to the same NPR piece, a New York Times article has referred to the rural broadband initiative as a "cyber bridge to nowhere."

But others say the package could help another 20 million Americans get broadband access, and high-speed access does help create and retain jobs.

A study of 3,000 people in Michigan, Texas and Kentucky found those in areas that received broadband Internet grants from the federal Rural Utilities Service quickly signed up for service, matching the penetration rates in cities. That happened where network investment was coupled with community programs aimed at convincing people about the benefits of Internet access.

Home broadband users were more likely to start businesses or take classes online, and less likely to move away, the researchers at Michigan State University found.

Norton said a lot of farmers in Genesee County are still stuck with dial-up, which hurts their productivity. It also keeps them from accessing more advanced online-software that help them run their businesses.

"(Broadband) will help the more progressive and larger enterprises the most," Norton said, "but with the smaller ones, there lies another opportunity to educate people and help them."

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