Archive for August 8th, 2012

Flat-Lined Copper: Woodstock Selectboard To Revise Fiber Letter to Governor

The Woodstock Selectboard has decided it will revise a proposed letter to Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin that questions his decisions concerning internet connectivity and Fairpoint Communications use and allocation of State-mandated penalties.

Woodstock Early Bird erroneously reported the Board had “trashed” a letter provided at its last meeting by Dave Brown, Woodstock’s representative to the East-Central Vermont Fiber Network. While the members of the Selectboard agreed at that meeting they did not want to use the language in the letter, citing the negative “tone”of the prose, the Board — in actuality — only tabled the issue until Tuesday night.

Loredo Sola

Based on a presentation and comments made by the East-Central Vermont Fiber Network Governing Board’s Loredo Sola last night, the NEW letter will indicate the decision by the Governor to allow Fairpoint Communications to improve its DSL copper-wired based internet service in areas of Southern Vermont may have taken away the ability for ECFiber to gain grant money from the State to put in fiber optic lines.

“It makes no sense,” indicated Sola. He noted that Fairpoint’s action might be good for their business but in his opinion it has resulted in an anti-competitive action leaving some parts of the State without DSL and now this part of the State getting installation of what will almost immediately be sub-optimum service.

In what Sola explained was a flip-flop of common sense, he said it is ECFiber’s position that Fairpoint should have been made to use its penalty monies to  provide better service to communities in Vermont where there is NO DSL service and certainly not to a 23-town group (which makes up East-Central Vermont Fiber) ready to “pull the trigger” on the highest and “best” technology fiber optic cable lines. He said, “The Fairpoint solution is not going to improve the future” and asked, “Why should public funds be used deploying obsolete technology?”  He added, “It’s kinda’ a no-brainer.”

Sola explained to the Board that ECFiber had applied for and – it thought – was set to get a grant from the State of Vermont to establish what he called a system that would provide the  “unlimited speed potential” of fiber optics at a rate infinitely more useful that what he called the “flat-line” of copper-wire.

However, he told the Board that once Fairpoint Communications got approval to use its penalties to improve its DSL connections to Southern Vermont communities — especially those in need, it essentially” bounced-out” ECFiber’s attempt to gain financial backing from the State.

Now, Sola says the idea of the letter —  and appeals from other Town Selectboards —   is to help “set right” a series of errors and lack of connectivity coordination by the Governor, ConnectVT and State entities such as the Public Service Board and the Vermont Telecommunications Agency. Sola said, “We can’t just sit on our hands. We’re screwed for 30 years.” He said copper wire DSL has already “flat-lined” for schools, libraries and businesses.

As an example of why fiber optic cable is needed today by at least one Woodstock business, EC Fiber’s David Brown, owner of MISys (Manufacturing Information Systems),  explained since his manufacturing software company needs to make daily use of instructional videos they currently need to do what they have to do over the internet early in the day. They pretty much have to shut down by 3:00pm. What happens at 3:00pm? The kids in town get on their video games. THAT effects their business, Brown said. His company loses the ability to continue with their work.

Brown equated the current copper-wire based DSL  internet connectivity to how it is in some homes where if too many people start using the water to flush the toilet, the person in the shower either gets cut off from a flow or water just trickles through, some may just get a cold shower. Fiber-optic cable connectivity means an end to such “ebb and flow” providing consistency for schools, libraries, municipalities and business wanting to run multiple operations at once. Brown told the tale of how most people were against electricity when it first became available but it was eventually embraced, in particular by farmers who needed light in the milking barns.

Selectboard Members Bob Holt and Preston Bristow plan to work with Municipal Manager Phil Swanson and ECFiber Representative Dave Brown on a new letter to the Governor concerning ECFiber’s attempts to bring better service to Woodstock and surrouding towns. The final draft will be approved next week. It’s the intention of the Woodstock Selectboard to provide copies of the letter to the local press. We will publish it for you when we get it.