Sunday, August 31, 2014

BBW to Blow $1B: Fastest Internet in US? It's Chattanooga, TN, Thanks to Local and Fed $$$

Fastest Internet in US? It's Chattanooga, TN, Thanks to Local and Fed $$$ (Ps. Big Cable Very Angry)
Now THIS is what Salem should be spending millions on instead of squandering it on planning a giant piece of Eisenhower-era Sprawl Propellant that will cost over $1 billion and produce negative return on investment to the people of Salem when all is said and done.

We already have a local electric co-op serving part of Salem. We just have to organize, expand that to serve all of Salem (sending PGE packing) and get cracking on a broadband over power line system like Chattanooga has.

Just another of the "Billion Better Ways to Blow $1,000,000,000" than on a Bridgasaurus Boondogglus.

Fastest Internet in US? It's Chattanooga, TN, Thanks to Local and Fed $$$ (Ps. Big Cable Very Angry)

Yes, you read that right.  Internet speeds as fast as 1 gigabit gigabyte per second are the norm in the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Not the spot you might have predicted, would you.  Certainly not the place I anticipated would have faster, better internet than anywhere else in the United States, and one of the faster internet speeds on the planet.  Not only that, but the fast internet is helping to lead Chattanooga out of the economic doldrums.

[A] group of thirty-something local entrepreneurs have set up Lamp Post, an incubator for a new generation of tech companies, in the building. A dozen startups are currently working out of the glitzy downtown office [that was formally the home of Loveman's department store].

"We're not Silicon Valley. No one will ever replicate that," says Allan Davis, one of Lamp Post's partners. "But we don't need to be and not everyone wants that. The expense, the hassle. You don't need to be there to create great technology. You can do it here."

He's not alone in thinking so. Lamp Post is one of several tech incubators in this mid-sized Tennessee city. Money is flowing in. Chattanooga has gone from close to zero venture capital in 2009 to more than five organized funds with investable capital over $50m in 2014 – not bad for a city of 171,000 people. [...]

In large part the success is being driven by The Gig. Thanks to an ambitious roll-out by the city's municipally owned electricity company, EPB, Chattanooga is one of the only places on Earth with internet at speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average.

Yes, these young groups of local tech entrepenuers are important, but they couldn't have created this turnaround alone. They are receiving help help from the city's Democratic Mayor, Andy Berke, but the real driver of the boom comes from the efforts of the city's municipally owned electrical provider, EFB, which decided to fast track a high speed fiber optics network, rather than settle for slower service from the big cable company internet providers.  On September 17, 2013, after construction was completed seven years earlier than originally planned.
[C]ity residents have an unlikely business to thank [for their faster, cheaper internet service]: the publicly owned electric utility. [...]

[T]he effort to bring cheap broadband to the masses began as a simple engineering problem: The city's electric company, EPB, needed a way for its systems to monitor and communicate with new digital equipment being installed on the grid. Meanwhile, city hall was learning that the country's biggest phone and cable companies wouldn't be starting service there for a decade or more.

Chattanooga spent $330 million on its new network, raising $220 million in bond money and winning $111.5 million in federal stimulus dollars. (The money from Washington was like icing on the cake; by the time EPB applied, it had already reached its initial targets and with the additional funds cut a 10-year construction plan down to three years.)

According to Harold DePriest, EFB's CEO, the high speed network referred to as "The Gig" is a big profit center for EFB.  However, one major benefit is the savings it generates for one of the network's biggest customers: EFB, itself.  He estimates savings of at least $1 Million per year.  However, while Chattanooga's high speed internet is proving to be quite the success story, it didn't come without opposition from you know who:
Along the way, EPB fought several court battles with Comcast and the state cable association. Even before all this, Chattanooga had to lobby the state government for permission to let EPB participate in the telecom market.
Across the country, twenty states prohibit or restrict municipalities from doing what Chattanooga has done - create their own high speed broadband networks to compete with the big telecom and cable companies, who have a stranglehold on providing slower, crappier, more expensive internet service to most of us.  So, it should come as no surprise that the big telecoms are concerned that other municipalities will see what Chattanooga has accomplished, and are taking legal steps to stop any further expansion of EFB's internet service.
The US cable industry called on the Federal Communications Commission on Friday [August 29, 2014] to block two cities' plans to expand high-speed internet services to their residents.

USTelecom, which represents cable giants Comcast, Time Warner and others, wants the FCC to block expansion of two popular municipally owned high speed internet networks, one in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the other in Wilson, North Carolina.

"The success of public broadband is a mixed record, with numerous examples of failures," USTelecom said in a blog post. "With state taxpayers on the financial hook when a municipal broadband network goes under, it is entirely reasonable for state legislatures to be cautious in limiting or even prohibiting that activity."

Chattanooga has the largest high-speed internet service in the US, offering customers access to speeds of 1 gigabit per second – about 50 times faster than the US average. The service, provided by municipally owned EPB, has sparked a tech boom in the city and attracted international attention. EPB is now petitioning the FCC to expand its territory. Comcast and others have previously sued unsuccessfully to stop EPB's fibre optic roll out.

Wilson, a town of a little more than 49,000 people, launched Greenlight, its own service offering high speed internet, after complaints about the cost and quality of Time Warner cable's service. Time Warner lobbied the North Carolina senate to outlaw the service and similar municipal efforts.

How nice of them to be concerned about taxpayers, especially as most of these companies are doing their darnedest to avoid paying taxes.  But, as you can guess, what they are really concerned about is competition from local municipalities, and the loss of their virtual monopoly on providing broadband services in America.  Imagine availability to internet services fifty times faster than what Comcast and Time Warner (in the process of seeking approval for a mega-merger, FYI) are willing to provide, and at an equal or even lower price?  No wonder they want to block Chattanooga and EFB from expanding service to more residents.  EFB has the proper response to the pompous, selfish and greedy actions of the telecom industry.
In a statement EPB said: "Communities should have the right – at the local level – to determine their broadband futures.

"The private sector didn't want to serve everyone, but public power companies like EPB were established to make sure that everyone had access to this critical infrastructure.

Meanwhile Chattanooga is thriving, and has even bigger plans for the future:
Mayor Berke has dealt with requests for visits from everyone from tiny rural communities to "humungous international cities". "You don't see many mid-sized cities that have the kind of activity that we have right now in Chattanooga," he said. "What the Gig did was change the idea of what our city could be. Mid-sized southern cities are not generally seen as being ahead of the technological curve, the Gig changed that. We now have people coming in looking to us as a leader." [...]

EPB's high-speed network came about after it decided to set up a smart electric grid in order to cut power outages. EPB estimated it would take 10 years to build the system and raised a $170m through a municipal bond to pay for it. In 2009 president Barack Obama launched the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a stimulus programme aimed at getting the US economy back on track amid the devastation of the recession. EPB was awarded $111m to get its smart grid up and running. Less than three years later the whole service territory was built.

... The University of California at Berkeley estimates that power outages cost the US economy $80bn a year through business disruption with manufacturers stopping their lines and restaurants closing. Chattanooga's share of that loss was about $100m, EPB estimates.  ...  Since the system was installed the duration of power outages has been cut in half.

In short, no shutdowns such as the one millions of customers of Time Warmer had to suffer through this last Wednesday.
Internet service went down for millions of Americans on Wednesday morning after cable company Time Warner Cable suffered a major outage. [...]

Affected users besieged the helplines and social media accounts of the firm, which declared an operating income of $1.1bn in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Time Warner Cable paid $1.1m to resolve an investigation from the Federal Communications Commission that found the provider did not properly report multiple network outages.

"TWC (Time Warner Cable) failed to file a substantial number of reports with respect to a series of reportable wireline and Voice Over Internet Protocol network outages," the FCC's report read. "TWC admits that its failure to timely file the required network outage reports violated the commission's rules."

Hey, what a shocker.  Lousy service from a monopoly, including the failure to report multiple "network outages" in violation of FCC regulations.  In short, you can understand the big telecom companies acting in their own interest, if not yours, to maintain the status quo.  At present, they are practically printing money while we get internet service that is worse than thirty other countries, including, among others, Uruguay.  

Yeah, let that sink in.  Uraguayans have better internet service than citizens of the "greatest nation on earth."  Pretty damn embarrassing, if not a big surprise. Ever since we began to glorify Big Business and denigrate government during the Reagan years, we've seen America go from being a leader in many fields to falling further and further behind even many third world countries, all so our multinational, tax dodging corporations can feed off ordinary Americans like so many parasites, slowly draining the lifeblood out of our nation even as they steal whatever is left in our pocketbooks.

So, to Chattanooga I say good luck and godspeed in your battle with these corporate psychopaths.  I only wish my city had done what yours did.  And thanks for showing all of us that government investment in infrastructure, whether at the local level or with assistance from the federal government, in this case the electrical grid and fiber optic networks, works better to grow our economy than the current, private, monopolistic practices of the telecom industry.  Indeed, their actions are hurting our nation's economic future, even as they rake it massive profits for bad service.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Goodbye and Good Luck!

The only part she's wrong about is that the welfare state is NOT a Ponzi scheme. The amount of wealth available to support the people has never been greater, and far outstrips even our vast degree of overpopulation. But overpopulation is a problem because of real, physical, environmental limits on natural resources (limits that no amount of wishful thinking by economists and techno-optimists can overcome), not because we lack the monetary wealth needed to maintain the welfare state.

The number of workers to the number of elders is only the right way to count up our ability to support the welfare state if assets are distributed equally.

 In developed countries, and especially in North America, we have more than enough wealth to provide good care and a decent level of comfort for all, including lifetime health care from womb to tomb and a free education that would allow each person to maximize their potential.

We have all that wealth and more, except that the top 1% and especially the top 1% of those and most especially the top 1% of those have gained control of so much of the wealth that they have the resources needed to run a ceaseless campaign of propaganda aimed solely at convincing the rest of us that there's no way we could ever afford any of that, and that the rest of us should be grateful for whatever scraps we are able to pry out of their vaults.

Gillian Bennett, maiden name Quentin-Baxter, was born in 1930 in Christchurch, New Zealand. At Canterbury University, Gillian became friends with Jonathan Bennett, a fellow Philosophy student. In 1954, Gillian received a scholarship to study in Bonn, Germany. Jonathan and Gillian were married in Cambridge, England, in 1957. New Zealand is a country of wild beauty and infinite depth. They often ached to be there but accepted early on that career decisions gave them no way back. “Like a toi toi arrow shot in the air. Never no more. Never no more.”

Over the next 40 years Gillian and Jonathan lived in Cambridge (England), Vancouver (Canada), and Syracuse (USA). During her time in Syracuse, Gillian trained to become a psychotherapist, and practised and taught group and individual therapy. Gillian's mentors were chiefly Richard Erskine and Rebecca Trautmann.In 1996, Gillian and Jonathan retired to Bowen Island, just off the coast of British Columbia. They have two children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, all of whom—thanks be—are flourishing.Gillian Bennett died around noon on August 18, 2014.

The Ruin—our home on Bowen Island.

I will take my life today around noon. It is time. Dementia is taking its toll and I have nearly lost myself. I have nearly lost 
me. Jonathan, the straightest and brightest of men, will be at my side as a loving witness.
I have known that I have dementia, a progressive loss of memory and judgment, for three years. It is a stealthy, stubborn and oh-so reliable disease. I might have preferred an exotic ailment whose name came trippingly off the tongue, but no, what I have is entirely typical. I find it a boring disease, and despite the sweetness and politeness of my family I am bright enough to be aware of how boring they find it, too. It is so rough on my husband, Jonathan. I don't think my lovely cat has noticed, but I'm not sure.

Dementia gives no quarter and admits no bargaining. Research tells us that it's a “silent disease,” one that can lurk for years or even decades before its symptoms become obvious. Ever so gradually at first, much faster now, I am turning into a vegetable. I find it hard to keep in my mind that my granddaughter is coming in three 
day's time and not today. “Where do we keep the X?” (coffee / milkshake-maker / backspace on my keyboard / the book I was just reading) happens all the time. I have constantly to monitor what I say in anattempt not to make some gross error of judgment.        Sunset at The Ruin.

There comes a time, in the progress of dementia, when one is no longer competent to guide one's own affairs. I want out before the day when I can no longer assess my situation, or take action to bring my life to an end. There could also come a time when I simply must make a decision based on my deteriorating physical health. I do not like hospitals—they are dirty places. Any doctor will tell you to stay out of them if you possibly can. I would not want a fall, a stroke, or some unforeseen complication to mess up my decision to cost Canada as little as possible in my declining years.
Understand that I am giving up nothing that I want by committing suicide. All I lose is an indefinite number of years of being a vegetable in a hospital setting, eating up the country's money but having not the faintest idea of who I am.

Each of us is born uniquely and dies uniquely. I think of dying as a final adventure with a predictably abrupt end. I know when it's time to leave and I do not find it scary.
There are so many things we obsess about. We seem to have a need to get things right. Should we bring a bottle of wine or some flowers to the party? Will jeans and my new boots work or is that too casual? How do I find a new mate?

We do NOT talk much about how we die. Yet facing death is thoroughly interesting and absorbing and challenging. I have choices which I have reviewed, and either adopted or discarded. I think I have hit upon the right choice for me.
I have talked it over with friends and relatives. It is not a forbidden topic.Anything but.Every day I lose bits of myself, and it's obvious that I am heading towards the state that all dementia patients eventually get to: not knowing who I am and requiring full-time care. I know as I write these words that within six months or nine months or twelve months, I, Gillian, will no longer be here. What is to be done with my carcass? It will be physically alive but there will be no one inside.

Gillian and Jonathan 1957

I have done my homework. I have reviewed my options:

Have a minder care for my mindless body. This would involve financial hardship for those I leave behind, or involve them in a seemingly endless round of chores that could erode even their fondest memories of me.

2.Request whatever care the government is willing to provide. (The facility will expect my husband, children, grandchildren, to visit often to thank the caretakers for how well they are looking after the carcass. Fair enough, but not what I wish for my family.)

End my own life by taking adequate barbiturates to do the job before my mind has totally gone. Ethically, this seems to me the right thing to do.

I can live or vegetate for perhaps ten years in hospital at Canada's expense, costing anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 per year. That is only the beginning of the damage. Nurses, who thought they were embarked on a career that had great meaning, find themselves perpetually changing my diapers and reporting on the physical changes of an empty husk. It is ludicrous, wasteful and unfair.

My family, all of whom are rational and funny to boot, would not visit me in hospital, because they know I would not want them to.    
The world strains under the weight of an aging population. We are living longer, and our life expectancies continue to grow. By 2045, the ratio of working-age citizens to their elderly dependents will become increasingly burdensome in almost every part of the world. In Canada and the US, the ratio is expected to be sixteen workers for every ten elderly dependents. It is a social and economic disaster in the making.Yet most people say they would like to live to 90 or 100, or even beyond.There are many ethical issues here: life extension radically alters people's ideas of what it is to be human—and not for the better. As we, the elderly, undergo manifold operations and become gaga while taking up a hospital bed, our grandchildren's schooling, their educational, athletic, and cultural opportunities, will be squeezed dry.

The heart of the problem is arithmetic: The post-World War 
llSocial Welfare State, created at a moment when the baby boom was still gestating, is built on a generational Ponzi scheme. As life expectancy increases and birth rates decline, the population pyramid is being inverted—and in some countries that is causing the entire economy to topple.

onathan & Gillian—2014.

Everybody by the age of 50 who is mentally competent should make a Living Will that states how she wants to die, the circumstances under which she does not want to be resuscitated, etc. Add a statement such as: "If I am ill and frail and have an infection such as pneumonia, do not attempt to restore me to life with antibiotics. Pray let me pass. I do not give any relatives or doctors or psychiatrists the right to squelch this decision." One's general practitioner would have a copy.
Legally, everyone should have an obligation to make a Will, which would be stored electronically, could not be destroyed, and would be available automatically to any hospital in the world.What about a person who refuses to make a Will? There should be a fallback Will that applies to everyone who has not done his civic duty. I do not have all the answers, but I do think I'm raising questions that need to be raised.

Three outsize institutions: the medical profession, the Law, and the Church will challenge and fight any transformative change. Yet we all hear of changes in each of these professions that suggest a broader approach, guided and informed by empathy. My hope is that all of these institutions will continue to transform themselves, and that the medical profession will mandate, through sensitive and appropriate protocols, the administration of a lethal dose to end the suffering of a terminally ill patient, in accordance with her Living Will.

Killarney Lake on Bowen Island.

Life seems somewhat like a party that I was dropped into. At first I was shy and awkward and didn`t know what the rules were. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. It turned out that I was there to enjoy myself and I didn't know how to do that. Someone kind talked to me and made me laugh. I began to understand that actually I had to make up my own rules and then live by them.
I did pick up that I needed to know when to leave, and that is now.
All members of my immediate family are in Vancouver: daughter, son, two granddaughters and four grandsons. All know that it matters to me not to become a burden to them, or to Canada. I have discussed my situation with them all. In our family it is recognized that any adult has the right to make her own decision.

Just in case anyone is tempted to think I must be brave to off myself, you should know that I am a big
sookie. I am sorely fearful of being alone in the dark. I am scared something will get me. I do not want to die alone. If my cat were failing in the way that I am, I would mix some sleeping medication in with top-quality ground beef, and when she fell asleep, carry her lovingly to the garden and do the rest. Who wants to die surrounded by strangers, no matter how excellent their care and competence?
I have had a husband beyond compare, and children and grandchildren who have outstripped me in most meaningful ways. Since I was seven I have had wonderful friends, whom I did and still do adore.This is all much tougher than it need be on Jonathan, and I wish he did not have to be alone with his wife's corpse. Canadian law makes it a crime for anyone to assist a person committing suicide, and Jonathan, therefore, will in no way assist me. Our children, Sara and Guy, would so willingly be with their father, but the laws being what they are, we will not put them in jeopardy.

Today, now, I go cheerfully and so thankfully into that good night. Jonathan, the courageous, the faithful, the true and the gentle, surrounds me with company. I need no more.
It is almost noon.