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Archive for ownership
Yesterday, Verizon proposed to build a fiber optic network covering all of New York City. The proposal comes just one day after the City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) published notification of the RFP for cable television providers, which is how you know DoITT’s RFP (request for proposals) and Verizon’s proposal were worked out in tandem over months of closed-door negotiations.
Verizon is offering to finish the installation by midyear 2014, provide a public safety INET (institutional network), pay franchise fees equivalent to five percent of gross revenues on cable TV service, channels for public access. As the precise details emerge and once I’ve had a chance to read the RFP, I’ll give you my assessment on the fine points, but that doesn’t sound like enough off the bat given the scope of the deal.
A hearing from the Franchise and Concession Review Committee is forthcoming. I will keep you posted on that. You should plan to attend.
For background and a discussion of the issues at stake, see the article I just published with Gotham Gazette: Fiber Optics: Bringing the Next Big Thing to New York
This is another example of a phenomenon you may have heard or read me describe before: The general policy and market rules of media simply do not apply to New York City. Other cities are having trouble attracting or holding onto a $20 million investment for a wireless network while New York has a company proposing to invest $5 billion over 6 years to build a fiber optic network and become the second (third or fourth if you count satellite) entrant to the video service. Keep in mind that the incumbents are not citywide: Time Warner and Cablevision currently divide the city between them:
(Click the image to see the map of current franchise areas.)
The scale is hard to fathom. It’s like $100 per person per year or $300 per household, of which there are about $3.1 million – though that’s not counting businesses. It’s around $3 million per year for each of the city’s 322 square miles – as if all those square miles cost the same or were worth the same.
But the rate the money goes into the city is not the most important number. The important number is how fast it goes out. How much will Verizon make off each person, business, or square mile, and over what time frame? Once they put this infrastructure in place, they are going to hold on tight and make as much money as they can off of it. And anyone who wants to compete at the speed levels Verizon will be offering will have to match their massive investment.
We might only get one shot at building a fully fiber optic network for our city. We should try to get it right.
If you thought things were bad for small publications, Time Warner is working with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to raise postal rates for small publications.
The PRC is supposed to be an independent agency, but earlier this year they rejected a postal rate increase plan offered by the U.S. Postal Service. Instead they opted to implement a complicated plan submitted by media giant Time Warner, according to Free Press.
As Robert McChesney explains, “Under the plan, smaller periodicals will be hit with a much larger increase than the big magazines, as much as 30 percent. Some of the largest circulation magazines will face hikes of less than 10 percent.”
The IPA used to be the engine of response to these challenges. Fortunately, Free Press has picked up that slack:
For individuals: Send a Letter to Congress and the Postal Service
For publications: Sign the Letter to the Postal Board of Governors
The New York City Broadband Advisory Committee that we discussed in the New York’s Wireless Future panel is holding its first public hearing in the Bronx on Friday, March 30.
There has been a change in venue: The March 30th public hearing will now be held in the Gould Memorial Library Auditorium on the campus of Bronx Community College, University Ave. at W. 181st Street, from 10 am to Noon. (Get directions.)
The room holds something like 500 people. They’re expecting at least 200. Council Member Gale Brewer’s office (she’s the prime mover behind the BAC) is distributing a flyer, available as a pdf download. They’ve also set up a blog.
In order to promote awareness of the Committee and the hearing and to spark imagination of what that future could look like, Wakeup Call is producing a series on municipal broadband. Listen to me preview the series on this past Monday’s show.
That radio appearance finally motivated me to start up a podcast, which will include the entire series as well as the hearing. You can subscribe to the podcast here. And you can find the audio files in the sidebar of the blog.
Here is the list of BAC members, the first of which were appointed by the City Council while the second batch was appointed by the Mayor.
- David Birdsell, Dean, Baruch College Graduate School of Public Affairs, City University of New York
- Neil Pariser, Senior Vice President, South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO)
- Andrew Rasiej, Founder of Personal Democracy Forum and MOUSE
- Jose Rodriguez, President and Founder, Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN)
- Elisabeth Stock, President and Co-Founder, Computers for Youth (CFY)
- Nicholas Thompson, Senior Editor, WIRED Magazine
- David Wicks, Founding Partner, Alwyn Group, Former Cablevision executive
- Mitchel Ahlbaum, General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner for Telecommunications Services, New York City Department of Information Technologies and Telecommunications (DoITT)
- Shaun M. Belle, President and CEO, Mount Hope Housing Company
- Thomas Dunne, Vice President of Public Affairs, Policy and Communications, Verizon New York
- Avi Duvdevani, Chief Information Officer / Deputy General Manager, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
- John J. Gilbert III, Executive Vice President / Chief Operating Officer, Rudin Management Company
- Wendy Lader, Vice President Telecommunications Policy, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC)
- Howard Szarfarc, President, Time Warner Cable of New York and New Jersey
- Anthony Townsend, Research Director, Institute for the Future
I’ll have more commentary on the makeup of the BAC in the near future, but it’s obviously a mixed bag with a lot of people heavily invested in the status quo. That doesn’t mean we should boycott it, but it does mean that we have to be clear that it cannot be the final arbiter of our communications future.
These local broadband projects are so critical because we have no national broadband strategy. France, Holland, South Korea, and Japan have all blown past the US in connection speeds and prices because they have made broadband construction a national priority and have developed strategies to get the job done.
As a result, decisions about local investment in broadband infrastructure – all of these local muniwireless battles – will determine the way we communicate for the next 100 years. Because we have no national broadband strategy, these decisions are being made at the local level, by mayors and city councils, and that is where we need to act.
So I encourage everyone in New York to attend the first public hearing of the NYC Broadband Advisory Committee on March 30, from 9 AM – 11 AM, in the rotunda of Bronx Borough Hall, 851 Grand Concourse.
Here’s the full announcement…