In 2010, Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Inc. (AEC), an electric utility providing service to a rural area in Minnesota, was awarded $16 million in stimulus funds to build a Fiber-to-the-Home broadband network to underserved citizens throughout Cook County.
Realizing that the company lacked critical knowledge and experience in deploying a broadband network, AEC contacted Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC), a small telco about four hours away, and negotiated a partnership whereby CTC would assist AEC with the project, including providing input and expertise with engineering, installation, sales and marketing. CTC has more than 60 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and deployed its own fiber network in 2006.
The joint project will eventually bring fiber broadband service to more than 4,000 homes and businesses in AEC’s service area. In October, AEC established the first 100 Mbps connection to its home office in Lutsen, Minn. (population 190).
Once the fiber has been deployed, AEC will handle billing operations and CTC will handle back-end support. Despite the distance between the two, AEC’s voice and Internet services will be provided with assistance from CTC. AEC also has the option to leverage CTC’s expertise for future projects should it so desire.
AEC held a Broadband Launch Open House in October, where it invited customers to bring their own wireless devices to test the speed of the new service, planned to be widely available beginning in early 2014.
Data released last month by The Diffusion Group (TDG), an online consumer research firm, shows that more than half of consumers able to view online content on their television have increased their use of over-the-top programming sources over the last year. The increase in OTT viewing was reported to be significant by 24% of OTT consumers, while 28.5% said the increase was slight. The consumption of OTT content remained about the same for 33.7% of consumers, according to TDG.
Meanwhile, separate figures from the Leichtman Research Group (LRG) show that large video providers (including cable, satellite and telcos) lost a combined total of more than 26,000 subscribers in the third quarter of 2013 alone. While not as heavy a loss as the 50,000 subscribers lost in the same quarter of 2012, it has been a rough year for large cable companies. LRG states that these providers have lost more than 600,000 subscribers in the third quarter of this year alone. In contrast, satellite and large telco providers gained subscribers. Still, the overall figures show a decline of 80,000 subscribers for the sector this year, compared to a gain of 310,000 subscribers over the prior year, according to LRG.
“That consumers are watching more over-the-top video is not itself surprising,” TDG co-founder Michael Greeson said in a statement. “But to see such a widespread increase in OTT TV viewing is dramatic, especially as pay-TV subscriptions in the U.S. are experiencing their greatest 12-month losses to date.” The move away from traditional cable is still helping satellite and telco providers for the moment, but the trend towards OTT viewing is not showing signs of slowing anytime soon.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, my aunt delivered a stack of family paperwork that included correspondence concerning my grandfather’s application to serve as a chaplain in a New York State hospital in the 1950s. Over a course of weeks and months, as revealed by the letters’ dates, my grandfather was informed of the position, submitted an application and navigated the routes of obtaining recommendations and references. As I flipped through the letters, many on onion-skin paper, I could not help but think about how much of this correspondence would now be administered via email, voice-mail, and texts. Perhaps the most anachronistic element was a letter my grandfather sent to hospital while his application was pending, informing the administrator that correspondence over the next several weeks should be sent to his daughter’s house, where he would be vacationing for the summer. More than a half-century later, we carry our (electronic) mailboxes with us on our waists.
Quite often, we talk about how full participation in the current job market demands connectivity – online job searches, online job applications and the ability to connect to potential employers and others who may be able to cultivate those connections. And, even if one would argue that an inability to connect does not actually preclude someone from being a competitive job seeker, one would be hard pressed to maintain that such inability does not effectively preclude meaningful participation. At the very least, one person’s application and references will arrive nearly instantly by a series of pings while the other’s will first be deposited, then collected, then sorted, then bundled, then placed on a funny-looking truck with right-hand drive, then sent out for delivery… Read more
Last week I wrote about what I want for Christmas and most of the items on my list are devices that I can use to improve my health and lose weight. (I like donuts too much.) However, this week I realized while making the trek to my in-laws for Thanksgiving that driverless cars also may be good for my mental health. A woman in the lane next to us (my wife was diving) was putting on makeup and looking into her visor mirror while passing us (on the right) at 70 miles per hour. With my two infants in the car, I was not amused.
Why driverless cars? This New Yorker article on driverless or automated automobiles says it best:
Human beings make terrible drivers. They talk on the phone and run red lights, signal to the left and turn to the right. They drink too much beer and plow into trees or veer into traffic as they swat at their kids. They have blind spots, leg cramps, seizures, and heart attacks. They rubberneck, hotdog, and take pity on turtles, cause fender benders, pileups, and head-on collisions. They nod off at the wheel, wrestle with maps, fiddle with knobs, have marital spats, take the curve too late, take the curve too hard, spill coffee in their laps, and flip over their cars. Of the ten million accidents that Americans are in every year, nine and a half million are their own [darn] fault. (Emphasis added by me).
Heck yeah! People in cars are largely dopes! So, can technology save us from ourselves? Read more