Tonight’s broadband community forum we posted about a couple of days ago has been cancelled. We’re told it will be rescheduled as soon as possible, and when we know the new date, we’ll post it here on the blog.
(Editor’s note, March 25: The meeting discussed in this post has been CANCELLED.)
A reminder about the UTUC broadband Community Forum coming up on Thursday where Broadstripe’s city-granted monopoly franchise agreement will be a major point of discussion.
Scheduled speakers include City of Seattle Chief Technology Officer Bill Schrier and Broadstripe’s recently appointed Northwest General Manager David Irons.
Your presence will help drive the City of Seattle and Broadstripe to improve the way the current franchise agreement is handled. Sponsored by Upgrade Technology for Underserved Neighbors, all are invited and especially neighbors living in the underserved areas: Central District, Beacon Hill, Leschi, parts of Capitol Hill. We will review the 2010 Work Plan to ensure internet and cable service delivery improves as promised.
Thursday, March 25th, 5:30-7pm at the Central Area Senior Center, 500 30th Ave South. Refreshments will be served courtesy of the Central Area Development Association.
UTUN brings together neighbors from multiple south Seattle neighborhoods to advocate for immediate improvement to substandard cable and internet services. For more information about the forum or to get email updates, contact Tracy Bier at 206-227-2369 or email@example.com.
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Speaking of City CTO Bill Schrier, his recent blog posting on the FCC’s broadband plan is good reading and answers these questions and more:
- Is this plan really radical or different?
- What does 100 megabit service really mean for consumers at home or small business?
- What are the implications for large cities like Seattle?
- Practically, why do we need a public safety wireless broadband network?
[T]he FCC’s plan is visionary. Certainly it was carefully crafted with many competing interests interests in mind. And it doesn’t really provide any good mechanism to encourage competition between private providers. Such competition would reduce costs to users. Nevertheless, if it is followed, will materially improve the economy, safety, and quality of life for the people of the United States.
CDNews introduces a proposed $450 million city-run broadband system that could be financed through municipal revenue bonds issued against future subscriptions with initial service starting in just 18 months, expanding city-wide in 3 to 4 years.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Seattle had decided that the city could step in and provide what private industry was failing at. In 1900, the privately owned Seattle Electric Company provided power to residences and businesses across the city. But at $.20 per kilowatt-hour, it was expensive – several times more expensive than today. In inflation-adjusted terms, those rates would make your typical $75 electric bill in 2010 skyrocket up to $4,000.
So in 1902 city voters decided to allow the city to issue bonds to start a municipal electric system, and today we have Seattle City Light, which provides some of the lowest electric rates across the nation.
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City requests your input on Google Ultra-High Speed Broadband details ways in which you can help Seattle be included in Google’s gigabit fiber-to-the-home pilot program — Capitol Hill Seattle
Glenn Fleishman continues to dig into internet access issues at Publicola with another excellent article on municipal fiber and lessons learned from Lafayette, Louisiana.
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Reclaim the Media, the Northwest Media Action Grassroots Network, and the Hidmo Community Empowerment Project are cohosting a community meeting on fiber broadband on Wednesday, March 3rd, from 5:30 to 7:30pm at Garfield Community Center, 2323 East Cherry Street.
Speakers will include: Malkia Cyril from Oakland’s Center for Media Justice, Tony Perez from the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology, local business owner Andre Helmstetter, Scott Durham from Central District News and David Irons of Broadstripe.
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$84 million grant to expand Internet in Washington “The expansion will add 57 libraries, 22 government facilities, 38 medical centers, two tribal service centers and four community colleges.” — Seattle P-I
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Upgrade Technology for Underserved Neighbors (UTUN), a Southeast and Central Seattle neighbor group, has formed to advance internet access in our part of the city. They’ve met often with the City of Seattle and Broadstripe to work out a plan to improving service to residents in Beacon Hill, Judkins Park, Leschi, and the Central District.
Expect an online survey coming soon and a Community Forum with Broadstripe and the City of Seattle representatives Thursday, March 25th at 5:30 at the Central Area Senior Center
(500 30th Ave S) where they will be presenting an update to neighbors about their latest improvements.
Continuing to dig into the issue of (the lack of decent) broadband in the Central District and Beacon Hill, Glenn Fleishman at Publicola sits down with former King County Executive candidate and new Broadstripe Pacific Northwest General Manager David Irons.
A few highlights:
Of the 23 nodes in Seattle, “We have made significant electronic improvement to resolve the issues in 18 of them,” with the rest proving more problematic and requiring new cable runs or other changes. Irons said the remaining five nodes will be improved between February and March 2010.
Irons explains, “Just on a routine basis, we had our technicians going out and arriving at someone’s home, okay, you have a problem there,” then checking it off and leaving. Now, a technician “is not allowed to leave the person’s home until the problem is resolved, or they have permission from their supervisor.”
Customer service hours have been extended from 7 pm Pacific on weekdays to 9 pm Pacific, and in January that will go to 10 pm Pacific. Weekend customer support has been replaced with full-on tech support, with staff that can handle both billing and technical questions. Engineers are now on call for major problems 24 hours a day, as well.
These sound like good changes, and I do have to say that our internet connection at home has been better than it was in September, but it’s still nothing to be bragging about.
Irons also states that Broadstripe has 8 open positions they’re looking to fill.
Broadstripe is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the first quarter of 2010.
There’s lots more interesting information in the full article at Publicola.
6:30pm Tonight at the Jefferson Community Center: Park enhancement and expansion with discussion of Beacon Mountain, the Park service road and promenade, improvements to Jefferson Playfield, and the Jefferson skatepark and basketball court.
Update: Missed one while assembling this post:
5:30pm Wednesday (tomorrow) at the Beacon Hill Library: SDOT community open house regarding the planned changes for Columbian Way between Beacon Avenue South and 15th Avenue South.
10:00am Saturday next to the Beacon Hill light rail station on Lander Street: Festival Street ribbon cutting ceremony — free doughnuts and politicians!
1:00pm Saturday at the Central Area Senior Center: Broadstripe is to report on their February promises to the 30th Ave Neighbors group on the status of their recent service upgrades. Beacon Hill Broadstripe customers might also be interested in attending. Via Central District News
7:00pm next Wednesday (the 9th) at the Jefferson Community Center: Follow-up meeting with Seattle City Light regarding the new power lines going up the west side of the hill and the new higher poles running along South Stevens Street. Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco is expected to present remediation options to the nearby affected neighbors.
Check the event calendar for more.
Glenn Fleishman’s latest article at Publicola deals with the broadband pariah that is Beacon Hill and the Central District and how Mayor-Elect Mike McGinn wants to address the issue by building a city-wide fiber-to-the-home network paid for by revenue bonds. A plan to “issue bonds, find contractors, and start building triple-play to the home over fiber” is deemed “likely”. This would entail “100 Mbps symmetrical broadband (like they have in Hong Kong, where it costs US$14 per month), video with high-definition channels, and unlimited voice calling.” An appealing proposition.
We have been taking steps to improve High Speed Data services to your area. We have been systematically troubleshooting and repairing our nodes to provide exceptional service to our subscribers. Please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can confirm if you’re (sic) concerns have been resolved with our recent upgrades or if we can do anything further to assist in resolving any on-going service concerns.
We’ve been pretty lucky here; we have not experienced the lengthy periods of complete internet outages many of you have reported and have repeatedly gone back and forth with Broadstripe over (many to the point of giving up on cable broadband entirely).
In my recent experience, I have seen some improvement: speeds during peak usage periods (evenings) are not nearly as horrible as I’d seen in September, but they’re usually only a tenth of the advertised speed of 15 megabits per second. At off-peak times, I have seen very brief peaks above 10 megabits near the beginning of a single download, but after a megabyte or two, the speeds appear to be throttled down to an average somewhere around 3 megabits, one fifth of the advertised rate.
As a rule-of-thumb, downloading one megabyte (1,048,576 bytes or 1024 kilobytes) should take:
- about 15 seconds at 500 kilobits per second (500Kbps).
- about 8 seconds at one megabit per second (1Mbps).
- less than one second at ten megabits per second (10Mbps).
I encourage you to run your own tests — real-world tests like downloading software updates or loading large web pages as well as speed tests performed through sites like speedtest.net and Broadband Reports — and report your findings in the comments.
Those of you who have experienced general outages: have they become shorter or less frequent? Has their support staff become more responsive and solved your issues?
Please also send your experiences back to Broadstripe.
The squeaks, screeches, squeals, and thumps Sound Transit’s light rail trains make as they round the bend and enter the Beacon Hill tunnel apparently exceed federal noise limit standards, so yesterday the agency’s Board of Directors approved emergency funding of up to $1 million to address the problem — Seattle P-I
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Beacon Hill’s bandwidth problem was mentioned by mayoral candidate Mike McGinn at a recent town hall meeting. Glenn Fleishman delves into McGinn’s Internet platform plank in an interview at Publicola.
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Craig Thompson is wrangling a number of SPU “CityQuest” community service volunteers (as well as willing neighbors!) this Saturday the 26th, living out SPU’s mission of “engaging the culture and changing world.” For details about the projects spanning the hill from Lewis and Jose Rizal Parks to El Centro to the Cheasty Greenspace and how you can help out, read Craig’s posting at Beacon Lights.
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Our neighbor Sheba wrote to the mailing list:
Giddens School, where I work and my daughter attends school, is offering child CPR and First Aid training and certification for parents and caregivers this Saturday (9/26), 9 am – 1 pm. The class fee is $35 per person and there are still a few spots open. Giddens is located at 20th South and S. Lane Street in Judkins Park. Contact me directly at my work phone or address if interested: 324-4847 ext. 37 or email@example.com.
by George Robertson
(Editor’s note: This commentary was originally sent as an email to several members of the Seattle City Council today, as well as to the Beacon Hill Mailing List. Coincidentally, this evening our Broadstripe internet service was out for more than one hour.)
After comparing notes with some of my neighbors about their internet service, I thought I should ask once again for some relief from the dismal internet service we have on Beacon Hill. I have written to council members before on this topic and I have uniformly gotten referred to some bureaucrat by whichever elected council member I wrote to. Each time the bureaucrat was very nice, asked a couple of questions, and described the service we have, and refreshed the picture of whatever stage the City was in at the moment in negotiations with the monopoly providers of cable. And then they would sum it up by telling me that we have great internet service. If this is going to be another replay of that merry-go-round, just delete this message. If you actually give a damn about the ability of this city to incubate new small business in the south end, then please read on and reply.
The first thing you have to take seriously is that there is a problem. The second is that it won’t be solved without adding new competitive service provider(s) to Beacon Hill. By competitive, I mean services with higher real delivered, as opposed to advertised, upload speeds than Comcast and Broadstripe offer to their business class customers now, and with much better net neutrality in bandwidth management practices.
Continue reading Commentary: Beacon Hill’s internet service needs improvement