Guest Commentary: Keep foot on fiber pedalI have followed the Lake County fiber-to-the-home project from its inception. I think it is one of the truly great results and an example of a federal program that is being used wisely to perform a service that is not likely to be provided in any other way.
By: Donny Smith, Blooming Prairie, Lake County News Chronicle
I have followed the Lake County fiber-to-the-home project from its inception. I think it is one of the truly great results and an example of a federal program that is being used wisely to perform a service that is not likely to be provided in any other way.
I thought it was such a good project that our company bid on the consulting work with Lake County on the application and the implementation through the bid pro-cess. When the responses were evaluated by the county board, we were not the winner.
I want to make it clear: I do not have a horse in this race. To me, personally, there will be no impact if the project is done or left to die. I am not affiliated with National Public Broadband or Mediacom or any other player in this saga in any way.
I have been saddened to see that there have been attacks both upon the project and upon the integrity of one of your main consultants, a powerful proponent of rural broadband for many years, Timothy Nulty.
I have known Mr. Nulty for many years, both professionally and privately. There is nothing that I have seen over that period of time that would indicate that Mr. Nulty had anything but the best interests of his employers and the public in his heart. He is both honest and capable.
He is the type of person who will do everything within his power to make a project succeed. He has the background and intelligence to put this type of project together and the vision to see not only the benefits of the project but how to shape it in a meaningful way that will allow it to succeed.
As for the thought that the private sector will step forward and provide these services, I would simply ask the question: “Why have they not already done so?”
The answer is simple. It is economics. The economics of a completely private sector build on this scale would be difficult to justify to a board of directors and shareholders. There would be a small return compared to working in a more densely populated area.
This might engender the next logical question as to how Lake County will be able to make this work. The answer, again, is quite simple: The federal grant portion of this project reduces the capital requirements to the point that Lake County will be able to offer, either on their own or with private providers, services to the residents of the area at prevailing rates that will retain the margin needed for upkeep, repair, and, in the case of a private provider, profit.
I have seen it written and stated that the service provided by this network is redundant and duplicative of incumbent efforts, but this is not the case. There is no other delivery mechanism that can deliver even a tenth of the service that can be provided to each home or business.
While some of the services are the same, the scale, volume, and reduction in costs are not available on any other technological platform, be it copper, coaxial, or wireless.
The other major benefit to a fiber optic platform is that each and every customer, whether they live in downtown Silver Bay or Isabella, has access to the very same services and the very same levels of service, something that, as far as I know, has never been done on the scale of this project.
Keeping all of the preceding in mind, I would ask and recommend that you keep your project alive and complete it. Provide the best possible services to your county and communities. Make a positive governmental statement and impact. Improve the quality of life in Lake County that all of you cherish.
I believe the best way to do that is to move forward with your fiber project and to continue to work with NPB.