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Archive for Tuesday, August 4, 2009

City may revisit Freenet subsidies

Nonprofit’s benefits may aid for-profit partner’s business interests

August 4, 2009, 12:00 a.m. Updated August 4, 2009, 5:48 p.m.

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Clarification

Information regarding Sunflower Broadband wireless hotspots in Tuesday’s Journal-World may have been unclear. Hotspots are free for every user to access. Some hotspots are hosted as a partnership between Sunflower and participating businesses and organizations. Hotspots in public areas, such as City Hall and the Lawrence Arts Center, are subsidized 100 percent by Sunflower. Some are sponsored by the host as part of a paid business package with Sunflower and any additional bandwidth the hotspot uses is at no charge. Partner businesses that sponsor hotspot locations receive promotion and marketing from Sunflower.

City sees other changes to TV service

Editor’s note: The Lawrence Journal-World is owned by The World Company, which also owns Sunflower Broadband. Sunflower Broadband and AT&T are competitors in the Lawrence Internet, cable and phone markets.

Efforts by Community Wireless Communications to establish a new cable television system in Lawrence are just the latest major change in the local cable market.

Earlier this year, AT&T began offering video service through its fiber optic network in the city. The service, called AT&T U-verse, operates on Internet protocol technology that allows users to integrate TV, computer and home phone services.

The service is not available throughout Lawrence. A spokeswoman for AT&T did not immediately have an estimate of how many homes in Lawrence could access the service. She also did not have an estimate on when the company plans to expand the service to other parts of the community.

Clarification

Information regarding Sunflower Broadband wireless hotspots in this article may have been unclear. Hotspots are free for every user to access. Some hotspots are hosted as a partnership between Sunflower and participating businesses and organizations. Hotspots in public areas, such as City Hall and the Lawrence Arts Center, are subsidized 100 percent by Sunflower. Some are sponsored by the host as part of a paid business package with Sunflower and any additional bandwidth the hotspot uses is at no charge. Partner businesses that sponsor hotspot locations receive promotion and marketing from Sunflower.

Editor’s note: The Lawrence Journal-World is owned by The World Company, which also owns Sunflower Broadband. Sunflower Broadband and Lawrence Freenet are competitors in the Lawrence Internet service provider market.

Plans are in the works for the for-profit partner of Lawrence Freenet to provide cable television service in Lawrence, sparking new questions about a city subsidy that Freenet receives.

City commissioners at their meeting tonight are scheduled to vote on a new agreement with Community Wireless Communications that would allow the company to begin offering video television services over a planned network of fiber optic cables buried in city rights-of-way.

The Kansas Corporation Commission recently approved Community Wireless’ application to provide video services in Lawrence. City commissioners are expected to also approve the agreement, but Mayor Rob Chestnut said he wants the city to launch a review of whether the city is improperly aiding Community Wireless’ related nonprofit entity, Lawrence Freenet.

“We need to make sure that we’re not indirectly subsidizing a for-profit entity that is in direct competition with other private, for-profit companies,” Chestnut said.

Cable expansion

Community Wireless officials have said in filings with the KCC that it intends to begin selling video television service throughout Lawrence within the next five years.

Community Wireless founder Josh Montgomery said exact timing will be determined by funding, but he expects to begin offering service in the next 24 to 36 months.

Montgomery said the company’s cable operations will allow users to access video television services through wireless technology. In a marketing video, Montgomery shows how the service can be used to watch programming from a television set up in remote locations, such as a city park and from a sidewalk on Massachusetts Street.

Montgomery also predicts the FCC will soon make it easier for cable companies to offer “a la carte” channels. Montgomery said he could not say specifically what channels the system would be able to offer because Community Wireless does not yet have any agreements in place with cable channels.

Sunflower Broadband filed a petition with the KCC asking that Community Wireless’ application be denied because the company has presented no evidence that it intends to operate a legitimate cable television service.

“In short, the application represents little more than a pie-in-the-sky, speculative venture seeking fast-track, unconstrained access to rights-of-way in the city of Lawrence,” Sunflower wrote in its petition to the KCC.

Instead, Community Wireless is seeking the video services license because it represents the cheapest way for the company to use the city’s right-of-way to boost its ability to provide Internet service in Lawrence, said Rod Kutemeier, Sunflower’s general manager.

Once the fiber optic cable is in the ground, Community Wireless will be able to use that cable to provide both video and Internet services. By applying for a video services agreement, Community Wireless will not have to share any of its Internet-related revenue with the city, Lawrence City Manager David Corliss said.

Corliss said if Community Wireless had sought to install the fiber for the sole purposes of providing Internet service, the city would have been entitled to negotiate a right-of-way usage fee with Community Wireless.

Under the video services agreement, Community Wireless is being asked to pay the city 5 percent of its gross revenues derived from video services. But the city does not have any control over how much Community Wireless uses the fiber to produce revenue for video versus Internet services.

“Community Wireless is looking to find a way to use Lawrence’s right-of-way and not have to pay extra fees to the city of Lawrence,” Kutemeier said. “I continue to think that the city needs to look deeper at what is going on.”

Montgomery denies those allegations and said that Community Wireless will be an active player in the video services market.

“This is an unfounded accusation with no basis in fact,” Montgomery said. “Our intent to provide a video service will be proved when we launch our video service.”

City subsidy

The KCC rejected Sunflower’s arguments. But City Hall leaders may start looking at changing its deals with Lawrence Freenet.

Since 2005, the city has been providing at least a $90,000 per-year subsidy to Lawrence Freenet in exchange for Freenet agreeing to provide some free Internet service in the community, according to city figures.

The subsidy comes in the form of reduced rates that the city charges Freenet to place wireless Internet equipment on city water towers and on City Hall. The city charges the company $10 per year to be on four water towers and City Hall. The city charges for-profit wireless telephone companies about $1,500 to $2,000 per month to place equipment on city infrastructure. The lower rates charged to Community Wireless amount to about $90,000 per year in revenue that the city forgoes.

Corliss said the amount of forgone revenue may be higher because the city also allows Freenet to place equipment on city traffic signals. But he said it is difficult to estimate the fair market value of that arrangement because the city has not allowed a for-profit company to place equipment on the traffic signals.

Chestnut said the latest plans by Community Wireless should lead to a review of the Freenet agreements. Community Wireless receives the majority of its money from Lawrence Freenet. In 2008, about 85 percent of all the money Freenet collected in user fees went to Community Wireless to pay for Community Wireless’ system operation.

Plus, Chestnut said he believes Lawrence Freenet has morphed into something much different from what it started out as in 2005. In 2005, Freenet leaders said they were starting the company with the idea of providing free Internet service to anyone who requested it, regardless of income. The business model called for users to send in a voluntary donation to the company. Now, Freenet requires users to pay a fee of $23.98 per month. The company provides free service to 104 accounts, which must qualify based on income, according to the company’s fourth quarter 2008 report.

“It is pretty obvious that Community Wireless is going to enter the market as a direct competitor to the for-profit companies,” Chestnut said. “I believe we have to ask ourselves whether our support has created the unintended consequence of creating an unlevel playing field.”

Sunflower officials are asking that the contracts be immediately voided, and they also are asking the city to investigate whether there is a conflict of interest between Montgomery, Community Wireless and Freenet. Sunflower officials are concerned that Montgomery, who was one of the founders of Freenet, also founded the for-profit Community Wireless company after negotiating the low-cost lease payments with the city on the basis that they would benefit a not-for-profit company.

Montgomery denies any wrongdoing.

The review of contracts also may lead to a cost-benefit analysis of whether the city is receiving enough benefit for the subsidy it provides to Freenet.

Based on the current rates charged by Freenet, the fair market value of the 104 accounts that Freenet provides for free is just under $30,000 per year. The city forgives at least $90,000 in fees for the community to receive those 104 free accounts.

In other cases where the city provides a subsidy to a business — such as a tax abatement where the city forgoes collecting future property taxes — the city requires a formal cost-benefit analysis that shows the company will be providing at least $1.25 in benefit for every $1 in subsidy it receives.

Corliss said the city did no formal cost-benefit analysis when considering the Freenet deal.

Freenet leaders said they are confident that the city receives a positive benefit from the arrangement. In addition to the free accounts, the city receives the ability to conduct video security at its various water tower sites. Freenet spokeswoman Kris Adair said that service has a fair market value of about $30,000 per year.

City Commissioner Mike Dever said he wants to study whether the city is receiving a good value from Freenet, but said he is encouraged by a new program that Freenet launched last week to expand its free offerings.

Freenet is now allowing anyone with a local mobile telephone number to access its Internet network for free. The service does have restrictions. Individuals cannot access the network for more than 30 minutes per day, and the service is not available in about 40 percent of the city where Freenet does not provide service because of technical limitations.

“I would like to have more people served,” Dever said. “But I feel like we’re moving in a direction where we can add an unlimited number of free subscribers. I still believe it (the city’s support) was an investment in the future.”

Sunflower officials contend the new service still will produce a low benefit for the city compared with the total subsidy the city is providing. Kutemeier said Sunflower has a free Internet program that provides free service to about 300 individuals who qualify based on income. The company also provides 63 hotspots throughout the area where people can access the Internet for free.

A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed who pays the costs associated with Sunflower Broadband's 63 hotspots.

Comments

Joshua Montgomery 5 years, 2 months ago

The Lawrence Freenet Project's official response can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/lrllyz

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Joshua Montgomery 5 years, 2 months ago

I am going to respond to one of Marion's posts, though I find it distasteful even engaging in conversation with someone like him.

Marion, generally members of the uniformed services (in my case the Air National Guard) use and like firearms.

We use them to defend the rights of people like you to speak freely.

I generally disagree with pretty much everything you say, however, I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Don't bother responding, I won't be reading this thread today.

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beerdrinkingfool 5 years, 2 months ago

I too was part of sunflower till i moved away and had my cable shut off but did they do that ? Guess not I try and get cable turned on when i moved back and find out I owe 400$ in back cable fees. Sunflowers response you did not turn in converter box or request to have cable shut off , then i show a them the paper of me turning it all in and notice of cable to be shut off. Alas to no avail with paper in hand that i requested a shut off and turned in the box they still claim I owe them .

sorry but i love freenet and will help them stay in lawrence

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Steve Jacob 5 years, 2 months ago

Hard to trust a person who post pictures of themselves with weapons on the internet, kind of like people posting pictures of themselves drinking on there facebook page.

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Dave Greenbaum 5 years, 2 months ago

"The company also provides 63 hotspots throughout the area where people can access the Internet for free."

That is simply an untrue statement and shameful yellow journalism.

A "Sunflower Hot Spot" is paid for by the business sponsoring it. I've confirmed that with 6 hotspots today. They pay, on average, at least $79.95 a month for Internet. I'll be glad to post links to my confirmations from these businesses.

The only thing that Sunflower provides free to these businesses is a sticker or their window that promotes the Sunflower brand. Sunflower also restricts the name of the network (known as an SSID), in order to promote Sunflower's brand.

Taking credit for these free hotspots is a slap in the face to local businesses that pay Sunflower in order to provide a service to public customers. Sunflower does not subsidize these hot spots! Please stop repeating that lie.

To note, I work for a competitor to a World Company subsidiary. If you work in any of the following industries, you should disclose the fact, since the World Company competes with you:

1) Television broadcast 2) Television production 3) Graphic design 4) Web design 5) Web hosting 6) Telephone service 7) Computer repair 8) Printing

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 2 months ago

marion gets in a lather when he reads about somebody who is operating a successful business in Lawrence.

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John Kyle 5 years, 2 months ago

Freenet is not Free and they do not provide service to low income families as they claim. The report says there are only 104 subscribers who get the free service. Why? Because freenet does not cover the poorer sections of town. Even though I may qualify in East Lawrence, I am not in range of their antennas. But drive past a vacant lot on Wakarusa and see all the antennas there!

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Adrienne Sanders 5 years, 2 months ago

First of all, I don't see what Community Wireless starting to provide cable service has to do with the subsidies for low income internet service- it says right in the first of the article that C.W. is the for-profit partner. I think it's perfectly legitimate for Freenet to use funds from the city for low income services while keeping for-profit services separate.

Second, I admit I don't understand all the technical stuff about rights-of-way... does Sunflower pay for the right-of-way for services it offers? If not, why should Freenet/ Community Wireless have to? Just because Sunflower doesn't like competition? That's not a real reason.

Sunflower is pretty much an evil monopoly IMO- overpriced, terrible customer service, and not many options for getting rid of them. I support any competition Freenet or others can give them!

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jayhawklawrence 5 years, 2 months ago

I have always resented this company's use of the word FREE in their marketing materials and name.

I don't want my city government participating in a con job even if they get additional revenue from it.

And anytime the government interferes in the free market, there is a price that is paid by the taxpayers and private companies.

Well managed and successful companies with talented people are hurt by this type of government interference.

I only think this should be considered if there is an emergency situation that demands it and I see no emergency here.

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timetospeakup 5 years, 2 months ago

I have never totally bought the "Freenet" thing - it's not really free for the most part, and it's an odd way to get city subsidies. And we never had any luck getting a quote from them for service, either.

At the same time, Sunflower sucks. I do IT (networking) consulting and lost a customer to Sunflower because "they're a big company and you aren't." Well, that was until their network totally crashed and Sunflower wanted big bucks to fix it. Turned out a Sunflower tech logged in remotely and killed their server, and I could prove it. Not cool!

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Mark Zwahl 5 years, 2 months ago

"The company also provides 63 hotspots throughout the area where people can access the Internet for free".

Wow! That's an out and out lie if they're including (and i think they are) the hotspots I pay for. Guess I'll be asking for a refund.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm on both sides of the arguement. I think TWC wants a monopoly, and I think CW is doing exactly what TWC is accusing them of: trying to secure right-of-way for purposes other than for video services.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

jayhawklawrence (Anonymous) says… "I have always resented this company's use of the word FREE in their marketing materials and name."

When only 40% of the city has the service, I have always resented this company's use of the word NET in their marketing materials and name. This is little more than Corporate Welfare to Community Wireless (for profit) which is FreeNet's (not for profit) Doppelgänger. What is worse is the stories I keep hearing from former FreeNet employees of Montgomery not making payroll and stiffing them on their wages.

Still for those of you who are not big fans of the World Company, Sunflower Cable and Broadband, you might want to notice the sidebar:

"Earlier this year, AT&T began offering video service through its fiber optic network in the city. The service, called AT&T U-verse, operates on Internet protocol technology that allows users to integrate TV, computer and home phone services."

Should we also subsidize ATT, Dish Network, and DirectTV because they are competing with the World Company? Just say "No" to more Corporate Welfare for Community Wireless.

joshua_montgomery (Joshua Montgomery) says… "I am going to respond to one of Marion's posts, though I find it distasteful even engaging in conversation with someone like him."

Also from what I hear this is typical Montgomery. He personally attacks anyone who questions him no matter how legitimate the issues they raise.

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

The World Company complaining about "unfair" subsidies for Freenet would be like Microsoft complaining about "unfair" competition in the computer Operating System market!

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KU_cynic 5 years, 2 months ago

Will this concern for competition among businesses and the evils of city-sponsored subsidies extend to repeal of the tax-increment-finance subsidies provided to the developers of the Oread Inn, which when completed will compete with other hotels in Lawrence that are not similarly advantaged by city-provided subsidies?

Crickets chirping . . .

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flux 5 years, 2 months ago

Marion, why would you post a silly picture like that. That is very childish.

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Amy Heeter 5 years, 2 months ago

Dare I cross over into the snake pit? Yes I dare.

The city of Lawrence only has ruffled feathers because they may be losing revenue by subsidies to a non profit.

Sunflower Broadband doesn't want any form of compitition because they want to corner the market.

AT&T has not yet entered the compition but they will soon enough. When they do Sunflower stands to lose alot of subscribers.

It is not uncommon for "for profit" companies to offer low income programs. These programs provide tax write offs for the company.

Both Suflower and AT&T offer low cost phone service.

Sunlower began offering free internet to subscribers who meet guidelines only after Freenet began offering low cost/ free service.

The city will take whatever piece of the pie they feel is due no matter who is stomping their feet.

It looks to me like Joshua has tipped over a few apple carts and that now the crying game begins for those currently holding the monopoly.

Let the games begin.

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Matthew Herbert 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm willing to let the city subsidize a for profit company, if it means we can get rid of Sunflower. Worst customer service I've ever experienced + most inflated price I've ever experienced = Sunflower/World Company need to go. Now, imagine what happens to that terrible service and inflated price if we stop subsidizing FreeNet. It doesn't take a degree in economics to know that when a monopoly is established without a change in demand, service goes down while the price will go up. If you have Sunflower tv or internet, it is in your best interests for FreeNet to exist. Keep that in mind, or pay the consequences....literally.

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

Flux, he probably posted that picture because he believes people would think "guns are bad, therefore if the guy in charge of Freenet is a firearms enthusiast, then obviously Freenet must be bad as well" -- it is perfect logical reasoning, ha ha!

Of course, never mind that the guy is a

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Dan Alexander 5 years, 2 months ago

I can say there is plenty of Free in Freenet as I worked a full year ensuring individuals, families, and local businesses had services that cost them absolutely nothing. Feel free to talk to Habitat for Humanity, The Housing Authority, O'Connell Youth Ranch, any business with a hotspot sticker, and 100s of individuals and families.

Sunflower, Simmons, Knorr and their lackey Lawhorn have tried to run to the city to cry foul play just about every 6 months since 2005. I for one am tired of it. The city has done nothing to promote digital equality except give right of way to water tower usage. I will be calling my public officials to let them know how I feel.

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Dave Greenbaum 5 years, 2 months ago

I just find the JW's spin on this absolutely fascinating.

In the early 1990s, "Datavision" (the previous name for the cable modem system) was spotty, unreliable and only available in select parts of Lawrence. It took years to make it available to everyone and a complete rewiring of Lawrence to develop the system we have today

In 2009, AT&T a rather large company, has been rolling out their video/data service and it's expected to take years to be complete.

Yet, somehow Freenet should be denied the right to carry TV stations because it isn't ready to go from day 1?

Additionally, this whole tax-exempt argument is a federal question, but nonetheless their business model makes sense. Give the product away, accept donations, and then have those donations pay for the service to needy households. Of course, people don't donate and then you have to set fees.

Freenet has been 100% transparent with their books. I'd be curious to take a gander at Sunflower Broadband's statements about how many low income families they serve. I worked with one of these low income people and they still had to rent their modem and pay for basic cable service. I hope that policy changed.

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Adrienne Sanders 5 years, 2 months ago

None2-

Those of us who live in apartments aren't free to slap up a satellite dish. "Old fashion rabbit ears" in fact do not work, and again, if you live in an apartment, not free to stick an antenna on the roof. AT&T Uverse is not available in most areas. So yes, if you want any TV at all, Sunflower is the ONLY option for some people.

Freenet is only an internet provider, not also in the publishing business, that's why they don't have forums like this.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says… "Sigmund: No wonder our country is becoming totally dependent on corporate America..."

So to summarize your run on rant, "corporations are EVIL, except those corporation we subsidize with taxpayer money." So does subsidizing Community Wireless make them good or is it just the fact that they can't survive without the taxpayer provided Corporate Welfare that makes them morally superior?

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 2 months ago

River*itytalks was also in the forum racket until it went down the memory hole.

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

"Interesting how what is supposed to be a discussion of Lawrence Freenet turns into a Sunflower-bashing session."

There's plenty of bashing of Freenet here too, just scroll up.

Anyway why would you be surprised that Sunflower is being discussed? If there was an article on computer operating systems that talked about Apple's new OS, would you be at all surprised if Microsoft was discussed as well? I mean, come on!

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Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 2 months ago

I love how this is the longest story I've read in this newspaper for quite some time, and certainly the longest story published on a Tuesday.

Amazing how much column space they were able to free up.

Somebody is upset about their monopoly being threatened.

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puddleglum 5 years, 2 months ago

I thought the world company was pro-freenet.? sup wif dat? surely they don't want a monopoly?

suppressed laughter!

hot

dog

down

a

hallway

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LA_Ex 5 years, 2 months ago

Freenet is wireless internet. Why does everyone automatically jump to the conclusion that the "free" in freenet means free of cost? I've always thought it meant free of wires. I don't think they've ever said it was free of cost, have they?

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Matthew Herbert 5 years, 2 months ago

Why has this forum turned into a Sunflower bash-fest? Simple. The community has spoken. We don't like Sunflower's product and we certainly don't want it to be the only choice. I just hope our city commission and mayor are willing to listen to their citizens and NOT just to the major company with big bucks persuading them.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says… "But now it is all voluntarily done by people who can't look past saving a few books for a few months."

Once you quit foaming at the mouth feel free to pay for "FreeNet", assuming they are in a part of the city they cover with their "Net." I don't have a problem with that. Don't shop a Walmart, I have no problem with that. When Josh Montgomery asks to spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize his for profit corporation Community Wireless under the guise of supporting a not for profit FreeNet, I have a problem with that.

Most people get a much better value for money with Sunflower, ATT, DirectTV, or Dish Network. That is why they are successful and Community Wireless and FreeNet are failures, constantly badgering us for spare change like the pan handlers on Mass.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says… "Subsidize? By not charging for something that is made up in the first place, a space on the towers etc?"

Yes. When other for profits corporations pay for something and Josh wants it for nearly free. that is a subsidy. If we forgo revenues that is a subsidy. Let FreeNet anf Community Wireless pay the same rates as everyone else and we have no disagreement.

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

Sigmund, are you opposed to ALL subsidies in principle or just this one? Were you out protesting the massive subsidy the city is giving the developers of the Oread Inn?

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flux 5 years, 2 months ago

Marion, what does being a gun enthusiast have to do with someones credibility. Its just a silly picture of him holding a gun.....you're reaching. As a matter of fact your credibility is slowly declining.

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terriresa 5 years, 2 months ago

you know, even if it a "for-profit" entity, god forbid we let anyone compete with sunflower broadband/

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says... "Subsidizes, wow, it is amazing how free use of certain locations is a handout after what we have gone through lately in this country!"

What kind of argument is that? Times are tough so give Josh a freebie? We are being asked to forgo tax revenues the City desperately needs.This is nothing but rhetorical nonsense, spoken loudly, pounding the fist on the podium, righteous indignation without even an attempt to address the issues with a single relevant fact.

kuhusker (Anonymous) says… "Sigmund, are you opposed to ALL subsidies in principle or just this one?"

I think my stance on Corporate Welfare has been pretty clear over the years. I'll discuss the Corporate Welfare for the empTy bus system, down town landlords, or Oread Inn on threads where they are the subject of the article. And I think I am safe in saying my criticism of the Dolph Jr., Patrick Knorr, Chad Lawhorn, and Sunflower Cablevision has made me no friends at the World Company! So don't bother with your smear and jeer tactics.

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Boston_Corbett 5 years, 2 months ago

After reading Marion's posts, I now understand perhaps why the LJW mods allow him to regularly continue to violate the terms of service for this forum.

He is a guerrilla mud-slinger, smearing the competition that the World Company would just as soon squash like a bug. And after his vanity article, he is as loyal as ever. As one of the biggest gun advocates on this board, he criticizes another person for using them? Watch Marion sling his Monkee poo at the side show.

If you read the full City Commission agenda materials, you will read a very expensive legal memo, which most certainly was paid for by the World Company, not the Mayor or the City of Lawrence.

As much as I respect the World company, this is a very wrong headed David v. Goliath situation.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says… "Again, a freebie? Ok, let's look at it this way, does the city spend money allowing this? Is it costing the city, the taxpayer money?"

Yes, when you forego revenues that is a freebie. See "Free" means at no cost. You and Josh are obviously confused because "FreeNet" is NOT free of costs, just free of wires!

"The subsidy comes in the form of reduced rates that the city charges Freenet to place wireless Internet equipment on city water towers and on City Hall. The city charges the company $10 per year to be on four water towers and City Hall. The city charges for-profit wireless telephone companies about $1,500 to $2,000 per month to place equipment on city infrastructure. The lower rates charged to Community Wireless amount to about $90,000 per year in revenue that the city forgoes."

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sunmanager 5 years, 2 months ago

Well I hope we are not as bad as some are saying here. Mostly because we are not a Monopoly and people have many choices for phone, Internet, video, and news. There are even other small wireless providers beside Freenet/CWC. So if we suck customers will make choices, we sometimes suck, we make mistakes, people fire us, we try to learn and get better. I hope we are great 90% of the time, I want us to be great 100% of the time. We are fighting Freenet/CWC for one reason, both as a business and as a newspaper, we are concerned they have not been honest with the community. I will address some specifics in a follow-up post.

-Patrick Knorr COO The World Company Sunflower Broadband GM 2000-2008

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zkwku 5 years, 2 months ago

I have Freenet and I am happy with it, but I do not wish to defend them...I have also had Sunflower Cable for many years and have NEVER been happy with the service I have received. I just want the monopoly they have to end and have some competition move in. Trust me, that will benefit all of us!! (except the greedy folks at Sunflower)

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Matthew Del Vecchio 5 years, 2 months ago

Montgomery repeatedly refers to the 2.5 million he has raised through community wireless and spent in Lawrence. Venture Capitalism is a risky business and those with the means to participate expect to be duely compensated for their risk. 10-12 times return is the standard.

If you believe this is a non-profit venture then....well that is just sad. At least Sunflower is upfront about trying to make a buck. They employee hundreds of Lawrencians who in turn spend those hard earned paychecks here in Lawrence. Community Wireless employees are lucky to get paid at all. It's very true that many of their former employees have not been paid what was promised. If Montgomery were not involved with the project I would be all for it.

Read:

Matthew 6:24

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StephenColt 5 years, 2 months ago

I think what needs to be evaluated is the relationship between the various key players involved with Freenet.

Community Wireless Communications - For Profit Data Service Provider Joshua Montgomery - President - Community Wireless Communications Lawrence Freenet - Not-For-Profit Internet Service Provider Kris Adair - Treasurer - Lawrence Freenet

All of the agreements with the city have been made between the city and Lawrence Freenet, most have been significantly reduced rates due to Lawrence Freenet's goal of providing Free service to low income families.

There are no agreements between the city and Community Wireless, however, community wireless sells service here in Lawrence, what network are they transmitting that data on?

If people started looking into the relationship further, they would find that CWC owns most of the equipment that is located in the areas that LFN has an agreement to be in.

Continue looking further and there are very few people associated with LFN that actually work for LFN, instead when you call in for support, or use the website, etc... it was all done by CWC and paid for by CWC. In fact, if you call support, you're talking to CWC employees.

Who does work for LFN? Kris Adair, the treasurer, it might also be important to note that the treasurer of Lawrence Freenet lives with the President of CWC, not only are they living together, they have two children together. This in my opinion should be a major red flag that needs to be looked into.

I'm not sure who mentioned their books being transparent, but I think those books need to be looked at very hard and I'm sure that you would find a world of trouble, lawsuits, bad debts, etc. The only transparency of their books would be that no one sees them except for the LFN Treasurer, CWC President, and whoever they happen to be cooking them.

As for using their service, I won't touch it, not because it's slow, not because of whose running it, but because of their use of data. The Freenet Project, Community Wireless Communications, and Free Planet, are nothing more than a conglomeration seeking to mine data from the Lawrence Community, sign up for anything with one of these organizations and guess what, your information is fair game between all of them.

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sunmanager 5 years, 2 months ago

To address some specifics:

Chad Lawhorn is a "lacky"- His order from the top was to be an objective Journalist. In the past there has been pressure from the top NOT to do articles on this because many will assume we are just using the newspaper as a voice for Sunflower. We cannot afford to compromise ourselves as a newpaper. It is sad that anyone would think that Chad would compromise himself as a journalist.

That we have unmarked cars spying on people- ah no. Stalker claiming to be an employee, rouge employee? We do sometimes have contractors that document "our" network. But they should not be taking pictures of anyone's home.

Our hotspots are not free- The hotspots are FREE!!! and have been sense 2002!!!! Some hotspots are part of business accounts (for pay) that allow businesses to have a direct and wireless realiable internet connection and also be part of our wireless network that we promote through advertising driving customers to their businesses (we also provide the hardware at no charge). However, they have been and continue to be free to all users all the time. Further more many of them are provided completely by Sunflower at public locations.

-Patrick

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

FWIW, Freenet's official talking points are here:

http://www.lawrencefreenet.org/points.html

I am sure there is bias, of course, but I wonder if their statement that Sunflower pays no money at all for broadband right of way is true -- if so, that is an enormous "freebie" by the city of Lawrence to Sunflower.

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sunmanager 5 years, 2 months ago

More specifics from the supposed "Monopoly":

Does Sunflower pay to the be in the right-of-way? We are required to charge our customers a franchise fee for video and phone service. This is basically a tax on the service and amounts to over a million dollars per year in city revenue. Per CWC/Freenet's video they will be offering Netflix as their video service, as Netflix is a 3rd party CWC/Freenet will not be billing customer's for "video", thus will not charge a tax, thus will not pay to be in the right-of-way. Thus leaving less money for the city to provide services to the community. One of the many reasons why I think they are not "helping" the community.

CWC does not have a print product- Josh Montgomery through his company Free Planet acquired both the Lawrencian and larryville.com in 2008. If you think those are now better products raise your hand.

"This article was done to stop them from getting franchise and keep our monopoly"- We are not a monopoly... more importantly I do not think there is anything that either we or the city can do to stop them from getting a video franchise. I do think it is important to hold them accountable to providing the services that regulated video providers like Dish, Direct TV, AT&T, and Sunflower have to provide like local channels. Playing by the rules cost money, we just want them to play by the rules.

-Patrick

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Dave Greenbaum 5 years, 2 months ago

Sunmanager/Patrick,

Would you mind elaborating on how Sunflower "provides" free Internet in town? As stated, I confirmed today with many business hot spots that they no subsidy from Sunflower Broadband and in fact are restricted in the type of SSID they use.

Additionally, I have confirmed that Sunflower does not provide wireless equipment to all hot spots locations. These costs are all paid for by these local businesses.

Obviously one of us as our facts wrong. Could this be a simple billing error on Sunflower Broadband's part to these businesses. These businesses that have paid full price for service and or equipment--will they get a refund on their bill?

Can you tell us(you don't have to specify names, just # of locations and amounts)

1) Which locations receive free or subsidized Internet service at the hot spots? 2) What free or subsidized wireless equipment you provide to which locations? 3) Which are fully paid for by the business owner and received no subsidy?

Sounds like in this tough economy, some businesses might be getting refunds!

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Matthew Herbert 5 years, 2 months ago

Patrick Knorr-

While I respect that you are going to defend your company, I insist that you check on the situation regarding your service technicians. I am but one of four individuals on this message board now who can verify that INDEED your company's technicians have been on my property without my permission and have caused damage to my property. In my specific case, I had Sunflower for internet but not tv. A Sunflower rep came to my house "to service the system" and asked if we'd be interested in adding tv as a service as well. When we said thanks but no thanks, he returned to work on "the system" (which was working fine...he showed up uninvited or unrequested) that night we discovered that our Dish Network no longer worked. When Dish Network sent out a technician, they discovered a device had been installed that blocked the signal. I was NOT a Sunflower cable customer, your workers had no business touching or altering the Dish Network equipment. After several angry calls to your company, including naming the technician and providing photographic evidence of the device used I was reimbursed by your company. As Chief Operating Officer of the company it is your JOB and your RESPONSIBILITY to know that these things are going on. If already 4 people can validate these stories on one internet forum, how many more stories are out there?? Manage your company in a way that supports the community positively, that's all we ask. As a result of my experience with your technician, I am now a proud FreeNet subscriber.

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Keith 5 years, 2 months ago

"Our hotspots are not free- The hotspots are FREE!!! and have been sense 2002!!!! Some hotspots are part of business accounts (for pay) that allow businesses to have a direct and wireless realiable internet connection and also be part of our wireless network that we promote through advertising driving customers to their businesses (we also provide the hardware at no charge). However, they have been and continue to be free to all users all the time. Further more many of them are provided completely by Sunflower at public locations.

-Patrick"

Why do you feel you have the right to change the name of those hotspots the businesses are paying for, from their business name to "Free Sunflower Hotspot"?

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sunmanager 5 years, 2 months ago

More Specifics:

Freenet is 100% transparent- Ahh no... that transparency shows that 80-90% of all revenue goes to CWC. CWC does not provide any transparency. Sunflower would provide specifics on the free services we provide to the city if asked but we are also not asking for special treatment or claiming to be a not-for-profit.

-Patrick

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

"Does Sunflower pay to the be in the right-of-way? We are required to charge our customers a franchise fee for video and phone service. "

What about for internet service? Does Sunflower pay for the right-of-way, or a franchise fee for it? Is Internet treated as a separate thing from TV?

Thanks

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sunmanager 5 years, 2 months ago

In closing:

The "evil" World Company is one of the largest private employers in Lawrence with over 400 local employees. The "evil" Simons family puts serving the community, quality, their employees, and customers, above maximizing profit every day. We lead in giving for the United Way, your local schools, in many other community projects including LMH. We are not perfect, we are local, we are a for-profit company, but one that operates on higher principles than many companies today, and that is why I work here.

-Patrick Knorr COO The World Company

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

"We are not perfect, we are local, we are a for-profit company, but one that operates on higher principles than many companies today, and that is why I work here."

Live up to these principles by not picking on the little guy, i.e. Freenet. It is very petty. They certainly are no threat the the World Company, unless them merely existing is considered a threat. There is no issue of "fairness" here, any more then it would be fair to allow a heavyweight boxer to fight a bantamweight on identical terms.

The World Company would earn a huge amount of trust and goodwill if they stopped bullying tiny Freenet like an 800 pound gorilla upset that they can't have every banana in the forest.

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sunmanager 5 years, 2 months ago

Couple of clarifying points:

As I said in my post some of our hotspots are part of paid business service accounts, we pay for the wireless hardware (in all cases to my knowledge) and run the wireless network.. we have always managed the SSID's

As for technicians or employees being on property. There are many legitimate reasons for our employees to be on a non-customers property. We have hardware in the public-right-of-way which is often part of what customers consider their property. If you feel they are up to no good contact me directly.

PS- Now CWC will have that same right all over town to be in the public right-of-way.

-Patrick

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Boston_Corbett 5 years, 2 months ago

Knorr, you have some cojones to say this: "We are fighting Freenet/CWC for one reason.... we are concerned they have not been honest with the community."

When at the very same time you speak out of both sides of your mouth right here regarding the "Free" Hotspots, which are obviously not free to the businesses which pay you for having them.

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Matthew Del Vecchio 5 years, 2 months ago

Freenet's marketing strategy consist of two things:

  1. Saying they are non for profit

  2. Bashing Sunflower

That being said how is it picking on poor little Freenet? Don't dish it if you can't take it.

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Boston_Corbett 5 years, 2 months ago

"As I said in my post some of our hotspots. . ."


Some?

Shouldn't that read most or *vast majority" of our hotspots?

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sunmanager 5 years, 2 months ago

We are "picking" on freenet/CWC because we believe they are defrauding the community and claiming to be what they are not. It is not big and small it is right and wrong.

-Patrick

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Keith 5 years, 2 months ago

"As I said in my post some of our hotspots are part of paid business service accounts, we pay for the wireless hardware (in all cases to my knowledge) and run the wireless network.. we have always managed the SSID's"

If a business, which is paying for the ongoing service, would like that service to promote their business instead of yours, how would they go about changing the SSID, or is that not allowed?

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lawrencenerd 5 years, 2 months ago

They don't really need to bash Sunflower. Sunflower bashes itself by sucking so badly. Freenet standing up for itself because The World Company is coming after it isn't bashing Sunflower. What you're reading in the comments section of people bashing Sunflower isn't Freenet, it's former Sunflower customers.

Also, Sunflower does not pay for right of way for internet services. They don't want Freenet to have the same free right of way for internet as they do, which is why they are kicking up such a fuss. If Freenet got the right of way and put the fiber optic cables down, it's services would greatly improve throughout the city, even parts where the service isn't very good right now. You could understand why they see it as a threat, considering Freenet is cheaper monthly, you don't have to pay extra for every GB you use after the first one, and the customer service is actually strives to be friendly and helpful. God forbid Freenet get to expand its range and quality of service!

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

kuhusker (Anonymous) says… "The World Company would earn a huge amount of trust and goodwill if they stopped bullying tiny Freenet like an 800 pound gorilla upset that they can't have every banana in the forest."

FreeNet and Community Wireless would earn a huge amount of trust and goodwill if they stopped demonizing and attacking everyone else's corporation while badgering taxpayers for freebies for their corporation. It is unseemly.

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Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 2 months ago

IF you want Free TV just Go and buy a Free to air system for around 80 bucks you will get over 3000 different channels a lot of which are offered by the local cable company but when you get them over FTA there are no monthly fee's.

...... Also the Digital TV switch just made it so you can get over 30 HD channels for Free over the air.

(here is the site to see what you can receive in your area) http://www.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps/

those of you with out DTV converter boxes will kick your self because the Gov't coupon program ended 4 days ago.

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

"Also, Sunflower does not pay for right of way for internet services. "

I'd think this is a pretty big deal Sunflower not having to pay the city for this, talk about an unfair subsidy!

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Dave Greenbaum 5 years, 2 months ago

Patrick,

Will you please modify your statement on your website " Sunflower Broadband offers free access at 60 free wireless locations in Lawrence with no daily time limit"

You have admitted in this forum that you do not provide access at the hot spot, but the business owner does. In some cases you have provided a wrt54g ($40) router (which is often underpowered for the task at hand). When it fails, Sunflower does not always provide a new one.

Additionally, since I know many of the businesses that are hot spots, I know they have Apple Wireless routers which were NOT provided by Sunflower. I can provide evidence to back up my facts, or can we agree to the facts?

As a you stated earlier

" We cannot afford to compromise ourselves as a newpaper[sic]."

Therefore, it appears you did not have all the facts. Please modify your statement IMMEDIATELY to reflect the truth, and not take credit for free hotspots others than those Sunflower is paying for.

An example might be

"Lawrence business customers provide free access at 60 free wireless locations in Lawrence with no daily time limit. In some cases, Sunflower provides reduced or subsidized service and equipment for those Hot Spots"

I know businesses really work hard and spend signficant funds to provide and maintain this service to their customers and are disappointed that Sunflower Broadband is taking credit.

You stated your company "operates on higher principles than many companies today". Use those higher principles and compete on the facts, rather than take credit for a service Lawrence business pay for and provide to their customers.

The World Company would not be seen as you say "evil" or a "monopoly" if they stuck to the facts and encouraged competition in the marketplace rather than use unverified and false statements and present them to the public as truth. I think The World Company is a good company with GREAT people (some of my best friends are WorldCo employees), and some absolutely horrendous policies. That's why many are posting here in order to work for change from within.

I think the United States is a GREAT country, that doesn't mean we can't complain or disagree about certain policies. When you use anti-competitive tactics to expand and protect your business, you are seen as a monopoly. When you exclude others simply because they criticize about the services or policies of the World Company, you are acting like a monopoly. Ironic having to explain to a newspaper about free speech and access to information!

Do the right thing, change the misleading statements on your websites.

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lawrencenerd 5 years, 2 months ago

"I'd think this is a pretty big deal Sunflower not having to pay the city for this, talk about an unfair subsidy!"

That is why they are so concerned about Freenet starting a video service. It'd be on the same terms Sunflower has. Sunflower uses the same cables to provide video and internet services, and pays 5 percent of video revenues to the city. Freenet just wants to put in cables that can be used to provide both video and internet services, and pay 5 percent of video revenues to the city. Sunflower seems to be claiming that they won't actually use them for video services, so they should have to pay right of way fees for internet services. I dunno, I'm a freenet customer, and the only reason why I don't use a video service right now is because Sunflower's service is so awful, and I'd have to pay way too much for the handful of channels I'd wanna watch. Freenet wants to make it so you would have more flexibility to choose what channels you want without having to pay for the ones that you don't. So would Freenet use the fiber optic cable to provide video service? I'd certainly use their video service.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

kuhusker (Anonymous) says… “Also, Sunflower does not pay for right of way for internet services. ”

If it were true and if that was all there was too it, you'd be right. I strongly suspect that this isn't the case or it isn't the entire story. In any event I would like to see the City's agreement with the World Company and it's subsidiaries made public. How about it Chad, Patrick, and Dolph?

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lawrencenerd 5 years, 2 months ago

@none2

It takes time to expand a network's coverage. Especially when The World Company is fighting like hell to keep it from doing so. I'm sure plenty of people would like to see that move faster, but that is just another reason to want Freenet to have right of way to put down the fiber optic cables, because the coverage would expand.

As for assuming that people who experienced bad customer service wiht Sunflower were yelling or being violent, that is all it is, an assumption. Based not on fact, but your own bias.

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TheHut 5 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Tim Hibbard 5 years, 2 months ago

I tried freenet for a bit. The service was slow and wouldn't really allow me to connect to the office to work. It wouldn't work at all on secure connections like my bank. After giving them a fair try for a couple of weeks, I called to cancel. They said fine and that my credit card would be refunded. It never was. It took several months and several phone calls to actually get my money back.

For the most part the customer service reps were friendly, just not very knowledgeable. And to their credit, I did end up getting my money back.

I also used to be a sunflower hater, then I moved to Lenexa and am stuck with Time Warner, their service is awful, the reps don't care. They cancelled my installation date, and I had to spend over 3 hours on hold to get them to reschedule it. At this point, I'd happily take my bandwidth cap back for an actual working dvr and consistent internet.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

lawrencenerd (Anonymous) says… "It takes time to expand a network's coverage. Especially when The World Company is fighting like hell to keep it from doing so. I'm sure plenty of people would like to see that move faster, but that is just another reason to want Freenet to have right of way to put down the fiber optic cables, because the coverage would expand."

What this is for expanded coverage? I thought this was for selling new video services not expanded internet services. Is FreeNet "Free" because it is "free of wires" or is it "Free" because it offers "Free" services to low income or is it "Free" because Josh and Kris expects the taxpayers to freely subsidize their corporations?

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Nickie1033 5 years, 2 months ago

The media is very biased these days. So people need to do their research. I have my own eyes and ears and I'm hard to pursuade. I'm not going to speak on my view of the media I'll keep that to myself. One thing I would love to say is that sunflower sucks. WITH A BIG S! I've been screwed over 3 times. The bills always had hidden fees that couldn't be explained. The first bill ever was for the first two months, and whaddya know they failed to tell me that. Certain customer service individuals and front desk associates were rude and short for no reason. I sensed ALWAYS they were a money hungry company, which most companies are. I felt I was being drained having just had a baby at the time, and being a young single mom at first, they fed off me and others I knew like a vampire.

I don't care what anyone says, customer service can make or break the views of a company and it's sufficiency of service to a community. The town can speak for itself on this issue. I was dieing to get out of paying over $200/month for cable and internet, ect, It's robbing how much these companies expect for their services.

I recently in the past few months started using lawrencefreenet.... The only, and I mean only complaints I have is the not-so-fast speed it provides, and weak signal that goes out every 2hrs if not less each and everyday which I will call them about. Which I'm paying if I'm correct $23.98/months for. So they need some improvements, but SUNFLOWER SURPASSED ANY COMPLAINTS I COULD HAVE ABOUT LAWRENCEFREENET. THEY SUCK SUCK SUCK SUCK SUCK! Plain suck. I will never go back to them.

I support lawrencefreenet's project in everyway. The service is always correctable. We need to give places like Lawrencefreenet a chance to bloom, and become a better existing provider of services to this community. They are in competition with Sunflower, just like any other service providers in the area. Why should they be stomped out of the race? It seems to me and this is my opinion, that Sunflower Broadband wants one thing and one thing only $$$. It's obvious to me they have a serious lack of faith in their own abilities and service.

Gee maybe if Sunflower wasn't so flippin outrageous, overpriced, horrible at representing good CS, and money hungry, then they'd see more than half the page on their side. I don't care about the word "FREE" simply because freenet offers more "FREE" than sunflower does. They have larryville, and some other sites free to look at. Does sunflower have any free internet sites period? If so please let me know what they are?

Just another way for big companies to stomp out the pride, success, and leadership of a smaller more likeable business. FREENET FREENET FREENET FREENET FREENET!!!

Live on!.

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lawrencenerd 5 years, 2 months ago

@Sigmund

I guess Sunflower should stop using the same cables to provide video as internet then, or is it ok for them to use the same cables to provide both, but it isn't ok for Freenet to do because it would expand the internet coverage and threaten Sunflower too much? I'd like to have access to another video service other than Sunflower, and I'd be willing to pay for it from a provider that has been consistently helpful to me.

Oh yeah, by the way, my Freenet is free. I don't pay a dime. Lots of other people get it for free too. That's just semantics anyway. Who gets free service from Sunflower? Is Sunflower made up of plants? Or is it powered by the Sun? Doesn't it sound asinine when I attack the name of a company instead of talking about the actual topic?

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StephenColt 5 years, 2 months ago

Nickie1033 said "Does sunflower have any free internet sites period? If so please let me know what they are? "

http://www.lawrence.com http://www.ljworld.com http://www.boomergirl.com http://www.6newslawrence.com

and I'm sure there are other's that I've missed.

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gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 2 months ago

"sunmanager (Patrick Knorr) says…Chad Lawhorn is a “lacky”- His order from the top was to be an objective Journalist. In the past there has been pressure from the top NOT to do articles on this because many will assume we are just using the newspaper as a voice for Sunflower. We cannot afford to compromise ourselves as a newpaper. It is sad that anyone would think that Chad would compromise himself as a journalist."

Not that I like Freenet, but... The World Company does use its outlets to promote other outlets. I have never, ever read a negative story in the LJW about Sunflower. Not one. Coincidence? The LJW compromises itself as a newspaper constantly - it's the very nature of media convergence across platforms and corporate divisions. Further, while Chad might not be a lackey, he is a mediocre journalist with clear biases.

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Lee Saylor 5 years, 2 months ago

Nickie1033 (Anonymous) says…

freenet offers more “FREE” than sunflower does. They have larryville, and some other sites free to look at. Does sunflower have any free internet sites period? If so please let me know what they are?

Nickie: How about the site you posted this on: ljworld.com?

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

JackRipper (Anonymous) says… "Sigmund I agree, everybody should come clean and we work it out locally. As Tim says, when the mega corporations eventually run all the local options out of business look what kind of service you get to deal with then."

I am perfectly happy with my ATT DSL connection and mostly happy with my Sunflower Bronze package cable using my ClearQAM tuner. I'll probably try U-verse when I get a chance, but Sunflower's customer service is much much better than FreeNet or ATT, no question about it.

FreeNet has a terrible customer service (at least when I have tried to help a technophobic friend who couldn't get authenticated to their network half the time), and can't offer near what Sunflower and ATT offer. Ever since Josh looted the not for profit FreeNet and started his for profit Community Wireless, he and Kris have become everything they claim to despise.

That said and in the spirit of openness and transparency, The City of Lawrence and The World Company (and their subsidiaries) should fully disclose their arrangements.

lawrencenerd (Anonymous) says… "Oh yeah, by the way, my Freenet is free. I don't pay a dime. Lots of other people get it for free too."

If by "lots" you mean 103 other people, OK..... Everyone else pays $23.98 a month. Both ATT and Sunflower have offerings at least as good as this. Like I said, pick your poison, just quit asking the taxpayers for Corporate Welfare for Community Wireless and FreeNet claiming some holier than thou moral superiority to ATT or the World Company, it is simply laughable!

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

gl0ck0wn3r (Anonymous) says… "I have never, ever read a negative story in the LJW about Sunflower. Not one. Coincidence?"

Other than Sue Hack's "technical violation of the law," I have never read an article critical of City Hall, or a City employee, and not one story on waste or abuse in the 20 years I have lived here. Just a never ending series of articles how we need higher sales taxes, higher real estate taxes because the City of Lawrence can never balance their budget.

gl0ck0wn3r (Anonymous) says… "Further, while Chad might not be a lackey, he is a mediocre journalist with clear biases."

No! Say it is not true! Chad "Touting Higher Taxes For The empTy" Lawhorn has clear biases? I don't have a problem with him, I have a problem that no one else at the LJW seems capable of providing any balance to Chad Lawhorn unquestioning and unabashed shill for City Hall.

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Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 2 months ago

sunmanager (Patrick Knorr) says…

More specifics from the supposed “Monopoly”:

Does Sunflower pay to the be in the right-of-way? We are required to charge our customers a franchise fee for video and phone service.


Everyone should read this sentence very carefully.

The customers of The World Company are not required by the city to pay a franchise fee.

The World Company is required to pay a franchise fee. They are allowed to recoup that cost, if they choose.

This fee is not a tax required on customers by the government. This is a fee charged to the business by the property owners - US, the residents of Lawrence. The World Company chooses to recoup those charges, but by law they must clearly delineate those charges on your bill. This is to make it clear to the consumer that the business is "passing on" the franchise fee.

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lawrencenerd 5 years, 2 months ago

Ok, these supposed free websites from Sunflower, if you aren't paying for the broadband connection, how do you connect to them? The way Freenet's free sites work is that you can connect to them if without logging in, so long as you can connect to the wireless network. You just can't visit other sites.

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Eride 5 years, 2 months ago

I want to make two points right now on this (obviously) biased and factually incorrect article and I will come back and make further comments later.

  1. Sunflower does NOT provide free internet to low income families, you can look this up yourself, they provide reduced cost internet to the terms of (at its lowest amount $15 per month) and the internet you get for this is shoddy at best.

  2. Those so called wireless hot spots that Sunflower provides for free? Those are paid for by the local businesses hosting them.

  3. Sunflower also gets free right of way in many circumstances which makes their complaint on this issue to be asinine to say the least.

  4. Sunflower has a monopoly in this market, a monopoly that until very recently was firmly entrenched by the government. Now that the door has finally been swung open for some competition the World Company is having to resort to slander and shady political maneuvering to maintain what used to be its legally protected monopoly.

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Lee Saylor 5 years, 2 months ago

lawrencenerd: I have connected to the Sunflower websites from all over the country, that's how the internet works.

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gsxr600 5 years, 2 months ago

Sunflower is a ripoff. Over the years they have gotten even greedier. It is an absolute JOKE to set a bandwidth limit for internet. Never heard anything like that anywhere else. They still charge $80 to buy a modem released in 2003 or even $5 a month lease to have the thing. Their cheapest TV package is $55.90. Anyone remember when there used to be a limited basic option for ~$20 p/month? I'm sure they have an accuse for every single price increase. Sunflower is guilty of financial rape in my mind, and apparently in the minds of many others.

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Bob_Keeshan (Anonymous) says… sunmanager (Patrick Knorr) says…

More specifics from the supposed “Monopoly”:

Does Sunflower pay to the be in the right-of-way? We are required to charge our customers a franchise fee for video and phone service. ––––––– Everyone should read this sentence very carefully.

The customers of The World Company are not required by the city to pay a franchise fee.

The World Company is required to pay a franchise fee. They are allowed to recoup that cost, if they choose. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Exactly!!!!

Isn't amazing that the COO of a company has no idea how their billing works?

As for subsidies, Sunflower provides reduced fee/or free internet to qualified customers via Lifeline. Lifeline is a federal government program administered by the states. Sunflower is reimbursed by the government for the difference between what the rates are and what they charge for the reduced fee. http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2007/dec...

REIMBURSEMENT

Carriers providing Lifeline and Link-Up services will receive universal service support based on the number of low-income consumers they serve.

To receive support for the discounts they provide consumers, carriers must file a Form 497 each quarter with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). http://www.lifeline.gov/lifeline_Industry.html

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Ralph Reed 5 years, 2 months ago

I also support Freenet's project. It's time for some healthy competition here in Lawrence.

For a long time, TWC owned almost all of the media outlets in Lawrence (the newspaper, cable TV and the major internet provider); the only reason it didn't own KLWN is that Federal law prohibitted that ownership. (I think, as it's been a while since I've checked that law. Does someone know where I can check that?) I don't count KANU in that group as it's owned by KU and is a PBS station.

Recently, ATT started cutting into TWC's internet market share. Even more recently, Dish Network, DirectTV and ATT began cutting into TWC's TV market share. Now, Freenet has the audacity to propose an alternate means of connecting to the internet.

What I can't understand is why TWC is bringing out the big guns against a little guy rather than bringing them to bear on the other big players in the game.

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nekansan 5 years, 2 months ago

"Does Sunflower pay to the be in the right-of-way? We are required to charge our customers a franchise fee for video and phone service."

Also note the emphasis is for video and phone service, not the use of the right of way. Bottom line is Sunflower does not pay for the use of the right of way. They pay a fee to the city as the holder of the monopoly to provide cable service to the municipality.

From http://www.dps.state.ny.us/frfee.htm .....

"The FCC has issued a declaratory ruling that cable modem service is an interstate information service that is not subject to a franchise fee derived from the operation of a cable system for the provision of cable services. As a result of this ruling, companies which have heretofore paid a fee based on cable modem service revenues have notified franchising authorities that they will no longer be doing so. At present, several municipal franchising authorities are considering mounting a legal challenge to the FCC ruling. 9. Telephone Service. Since telephone service is regulated under federal and state laws and regulations wholly different and apart from cable television, cable franchises may not be used to regulate telephone service. Telephone service, therefore, is not subject to cable franchise fees."

I translate it as the only service which Sunflower provides that is subject to the Franchise fees is cable television service.

I'll simply add that I used to be a Sunflower customer but was unhappy with their service & rates, particularly their bandwidth caps designed to prevent just the type of competition from IP based video that Freenet is proposing to provide. I switched to AT&T DSL and am a very satisfied customer that is no longer limited by Sunflower's artificially low bandwidth caps and exorbitant overage fees.

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puddleglum 5 years, 2 months ago

I have to agree with gsxr600 ripoff: If my combined internet/cable bill were $75 I would be happier, but its not...it is $110/mo. that is too much. customer service: This is a true story. I woke up one day and didn't have cable/internet. Couldn't figure out why, bill was paid on time...so I called customer service. put on hold for 20 minutes-had to go to work...so I hung up, and tried calling from work. kept getting put on hold throughout the morning....they must have been having a bad morning i thought....went home for lunch-called and got through to a guy. Once I told him who i was, he said: "I know you!" I said "really? who am I speaking to?" "JESUS CHRIST...HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" and then he hung up. My room mate had a friend that worked in at sunflower and he told me to my face that my connections were sabotaged (turned off) for no reason at all. he knew the jerk on the phone too, but didn't want to get in the middle of it.
So yeah, your service is pricey, and customer service has the reputation of being rude & unprofessional

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puddleglum 5 years, 2 months ago

oh greg, pglum is all over. still wishing you the best

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Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 2 months ago

none2, nobody is disputing whether you can pass on costs that way.

Would you tell your renters you are "required" to charge them for your property taxes? For your insurance?

No, of course you wouldn't. The same applies to the franchise fee. Mr. Knorr is trying to give the impression that Sunflower is required to collect this fee on behalf of the city.

Mr. Knorr is delusional.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

puddleglum (Anonymous) says… "I have to agree with gsxr600 ripoff:"

RalphReed (Ralph Reed) says… "I also support Freenet's project. It's time for some healthy competition here in Lawrence."

gsxr600 (Anonymous) says… "Sunflower is a ripoff."

Nobody cares, least of all Sunflower or the World Company, or ATT if you use FreeNet, ATT, dial up, or whatever. Certainly I don't care and that is not my point. I am not interested in giving any more corporate welfare to anyone for any reason, especially not to so some privately owned corporation Community Wireless scamming some bogus "FreeNet" to provide a for profit video service. Just say no to corporate welfare.

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Keith 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm still waiting to hear if the business owners can change the SSID of their wireless service to reflect the name of the entity paying for that service. Did P. Knorr have enough and go away?

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Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 2 months ago

NO PUBLIC FUNDING !!!

Google is coming soon free wifi for everyone dont spend City money on this..... whats next the city will provide Cell phone Coverage for all people who live here ???

Yes it would be a nice bonus for living in Lawrence.... but is it worth it ?

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Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 2 months ago

Sigmund (Anonymous) says…

Other than Sue Hack's “technical violation of the law,” I have never read an article critical of City Hall, or a City employee, and not one story on waste or abuse in the 20 years I have lived here. Just a never ending series of articles how we need higher sales taxes, higher real estate taxes because the City of Lawrence can never balance their budget.


here is one for ya Sue Hack Telling The entire city of lawrence that we do not nee a citizens police review board because people of lawrence Are to Stupid to under stand what it is the police department does...... I always thought they fought crime..... but apparently they do "other stuff"

like claim they have busted the largest fencing operation in Kansas (still no trial or evidence 5 years later) ......

  • yes this is still going on *
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pfunk81 5 years, 2 months ago

I will be happy to give my money to the first provider that can deliver the same quality of internet as Sunflower without the bandwith limit.

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Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 2 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says…

Hey, Josh, why do people have to have a mobile phone to get their “free” thrity minutes a day?

Before you folks buy into the “Free” part of Lawrence Freenet, go here:

http://www.lawrencefreenet.org/index.php

Take a look at this:

http://www.lawrencefreenet.org/rates.php

Joshua Montgomery: http://img150.imageshack.us/i/oojoshuaxq6.jpg/


I love your post man !! you dont only make your point you find the best snap shots to add

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hunziker1 5 years, 2 months ago

people you need to take a better look at freenet they have been ripping people off for awhile now you go there and they tell you its 23 dollers a month but you also have to pay 10 dollers a month for a box that is saposed to increase signel strangth but found that its worthless they have no way of getting aholde of them on weekends only from 10am to 6pm mon threw fri so if you have problems it better happen withen those 8 hours if you pay for a months serves and you get it home and get no signal they will not return your money if you only got a signal half the month to bad even when u live in a so called hot spot this company is a scam

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alm77 5 years, 2 months ago

Apparently you guys haven't shopped around. We've got AT&T $30/mo unlimited and awesome (we've never had any problems) DLS w/o download limits for over a year now.

We have no home phone either.

Because my husband is a total geek, he's modified an Xbox to stream Justin.tv and we can get Hulu or Joost on the TV anytime we want. I don't miss cable or the dish we once had.

Of all the things said here, I would agree that Sunflower has no monopoly. We had a not so great experience with them so we left and started doing business with the competition.

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kuhusker 5 years, 2 months ago

FWIW, the city commission just voted to defer everything about this whole issue til next week. So, come back then, same bat-time,same bat-channel.

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Sigmund 5 years, 2 months ago

alm77 (Anonymous) says… "Apparently you guys haven't shopped around. We've got AT&T $30/mo unlimited and awesome (we've never had any problems) DLS w/o download limits for over a year now. We have no home phone either."

Unbundled DSL and it works great for me as well. No up/down daily/weekly/monthly "overage charges" (whatever those are) and much, much better than FreeNet. FYI, FreeNet has no "overage charges" but they throttle your bandwidth after you use more than they think you should based upon "time and flow" (whatever that means). http://www.lawrencefreenet.org/faq.php#16-bottom

If ATT U-verse makes into your area you might want to give it a try. My most geekiest friends (and that is saying something, trust me) in the KC area who have it, swear by it.

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alm77 5 years, 2 months ago

Sig - thanks for the heads up. It's not available here yet, but I'm on the list to get the notice when it does.

Also, I want to give major kudos to the Journal-World and the World Company for providing the space for this discussion without having to overly moderate it. To me, the article was honest and the information was definitely food for thought. The discussion was very insightful as well.

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headdoctor 5 years, 2 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says… Lawrence “Free” net pays out about 80% of its earnings to a for-profit corp. Why only 80%? Because 80% is the marker beyond which, the IRS becomes interested due to the likliehood of fraud..


Marion, we get that you do not like Josh. We also get that you will always have a burr stuck in a bad place about Larryville.com.

You love to bring up the non profit issue and you are barking up a tree over it. Your postings are intentionally geared at miss leading people. Freenet is comprised of two separate entities. The profit side and the non profit side. A fact that I do not believe Freenet has ever tried to conceal from the public. They are not set up as a typical 501(c)3 non profit corporation. I believe they are a 501(c)4 which allows them to do what they do with the blessing of the IRS but don't let the facts get in your way of trying to spin Freenet as crooks.

The World Company has non profit corporations hiding under their corporate umbrella as well. So, what is your point Marion? Other than the fact you don't like Josh and the fact you were not smart enough to think of something like this first.

I also read somewhere on these Freenet threads that some are bent out of shape over the corporate officer structure of the Freenet corporation. Perhaps those people should study up on corporations and pay particular attention to officer structure and examples. Especially in close corporations. Again Freenet has done nothing wrong in that area.

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headdoctor 5 years, 2 months ago

RalphReed (Ralph Reed) says… What I can't understand is why TWC is bringing out the big guns against a little guy rather than bringing them to bear on the other big players in the game.


Huh???? Who else could the World Company pick a fight with? They own the cable transmission system so they don't have to be concerned at the moment with Cox or Time Warner. Those two companies are not going to spend the money to fight to build their own cable system in this small of a market. If Lawrence keeps growing they might try to work in a system on the outskirts but again that would be a sizable investment for an unknown return. The World Company can not control the satellite systems nor tell home owners that they can't attach a dish receiver to their house. They also can't really do much to AT&T because they own the phone lines and that might backfire a bit anyway because the World Company needs some of AT&T's line services to make their land line phones work for the phone service they offer. Size wise, it would be about as silly for the World Company to pick a fight to block AT&T, the satellite companies, or Time Warner as it would be if Freenet decided to pick a fight with the World Company to try to block them.

A lot of this off the wall stuff that goes on with cable companies and satellite companies would disappear very quickly if they were regulated as heavy as the phone companies are. One issue that would probably drop very fast is the stupid band width cap giving them an excuse to over charge and maybe even their stupid $10.00 per month transmission fee that is attached to about everything.

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gl0ck0wn3r 5 years, 2 months ago

"I am not interested in giving any more corporate welfare to anyone for any reason, especially not to so some privately owned corporation Community Wireless scamming some bogus “FreeNet” to provide a for profit video service."

Sigmund FTW.

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Joshua Montgomery 5 years, 2 months ago

Mr. Dennis Anderson Managing Editor The Lawrence Journal-World 609 New Hampshire P.O. Box 888 Lawrence, Kansas 66044

Dear Mr. Anderson,

This past week your paper wrote a story about the Lawrence Freenet project titled "City may revisit Freenet subsidies". As I indicated on the phone prior to its publication, there is an inherent conflict of interest when your organization covers our project. Your most recent tact on this issue, i.e. remaining silent, is by far the best thing the LJWorld can do to maintain its journalistic integrity.

With cable and broadband sales now making up a majority of the World Company's revenue, it is impossible for your organization to provide coverage of our project that is perceived by the public as unbiased. Compare the coverage given to any other business in Lawrence to that provided to the Lawrence Freenet project. You'll see that despite efforts by the LJWorld to disclose its relationship, most reasonable people would interpret the tone and focus of your coverage as biased.

Given Mr. Corliss's e-mail to Mr. Lawhorn on August 3rd indicating that the City has very little interest in pursuing the Freenet Project's standing, or developing an "official investigation", it is less than honest for Mr. Lawhorn to have characterized the upcoming conversation as a review of Freenet subsidies. The meeting was about a video service agreement, it was not a review of the Freenet project, Lawrence Freenet, Inc., Community Wireless Communications, Co. or Free Planet, Inc.

There is also a significant factual problem with following statement in the story:

"Since 2005, the city has been providing at least a $90,000 per-year subsidy to Lawrence Freenet in exchange for Freenet agreeing to provide some free Internet service in the community, according to city figures."

I am 100% certain that the city has never provided such figures and am confident that neither Mr. Corliss nor the mayor provided this number to the Journal-World. These figures were generated by Mr. Lawhorn using back of the envelope calculations. Attributing them to the City gives them undue credibility and is factually wrong.

I would encourage the Journal-World to retract that statement in order to preserve its distinguished reputation as an ethical and unbiased news source.

We have been in contact with the Columbia Journalism Review, Freepress.net and Media Matters regarding this issue and have encouraged them to provide an unbiased look at the coverage of the LJWorld. I think that upon close examination they will find that the LJWorld has not provided even handed coverage of our project.

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Joshua Montgomery 5 years, 2 months ago

It would be unfortunate to have the LJWorld's reputation tarnished at the national level due to what I am sure is a simple mistake or omission on Mr. Lawhorn's part.

I am aware of the difficult position that the relationship between the Freenet Project and the World Company puts the news staff in. Despite our desire for positive news coverage of our free city wide initiative, our low income services and the many technical innovations we have developed, I would encourage the LJWorld to simply forgo additional coverage of our project. KLWN ( http://tinyurl.com/n8wuq6 ), PBS ( http://tinyurl.com/nop44d ), KPR ( http://tinyurl.com/yo9e65 ) and the UDK ( http://tinyurl.com/kk8fxu ) can provide this information without the specter of bias, preserving the LJWorld's reputation as a leader in the news industry.

Sincerely,

--

Joshua Montgomery Community Wireless Communications Co. 4105 W. 6th St. P.O. Box 3532 Lawrence, KS 66046

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Dave Greenbaum 5 years, 2 months ago

joshua_montgomery,

Interesting about the 90,000. That's a serious accusation that the number is made up. If the source can't be confirmed, then the newspaper really runs some legal liability--just ask Jason Blair.

The JW, while I disagree with some of their bias, is a newspaper with high integrity. You say you are 100% certain that number is wrong. Do you have any information to back up that claim?

I assume that Chad could easily tell you the date, time and person that gave him those facts. One of you is right, and one of you is wrong.

Can anyone from the city shed light on which person is correct?

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DennisAnderson 5 years, 2 months ago

The source of the $90,000 Lawrence Freenet subsidy figure is Lawrence City Manager David Corliss. According to Corliss, the market rate for for-profit companies for placing wireless Internet equipment on city water towers and city hall is between $1,500 to $2,000 per month. Freenet is using four water towers and city hall at a rate of $10 per location. At $1,500 per month per site over 12 months, the Freenet subsidy is at least $90,000, according to rates provided by Corliss.

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World

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Amy Heeter 5 years, 2 months ago

What I would like to know is why The World Company is so darned threatened by Freenet.

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o_no_you_didnt 5 years, 2 months ago

Dennis (Dennis Anderson) says… The source of the $90,000 Lawrence Freenet subsidy figure is Lawrence City Manager David Corliss. According to Corliss, the market rate for for-profit companies for placing wireless Internet equipment on city water towers and city hall is between $1,500 to $2,000 per month. Freenet is using four water towers and city hall at a rate of $10 per location. At $1,500 per month per site over 12 months, the Freenet subsidy is at least $90,000, according to rates provided by Corliss.

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Good going Dennis, smackum down with cold hard facts!!

Hey Joshua, what say you?? LoL

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Matthew Del Vecchio 5 years, 2 months ago

" I am 100% certain that the city has never provided such figures...."

Montgomery caught in another lie. What a surprise.

The commission meeting last week clearly illustrated the depth of Montgomery's dishonesty.

Letter from Montgomery to Corliss 7/14/09:

"We are not asking for special treatment, only equal treatment."

Email from Montgomery to Corliss 7/14/09:

"All CWC is asking for is equal treatment to provide a video service on the right‐of‐way."

The city then presented Community Wireless with an agreement identical to the one executed between the city and The World Co.

Community Wireless then rejected the proposed agreement stating that it was unfair when applied to Community Wireless.

I would wager the most recent lies by Montgomery are only the tip of the iceberg.

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Dave Greenbaum 5 years, 2 months ago

Dennis,

Since you weren't the reporter, I don't want to correct your facts, but I contacted Mr. Corliss and he gave me different numbers and indicated the word "subsidy" may not have been used and certainly wasn't the focus. Can you check with Chad and his notes and get back to us please.

Dave

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Dennis (Dennis Anderson) says… The source of the $90,000 Lawrence Freenet subsidy figure is Lawrence City Manager David Corliss. According to Corliss, the market rate for for-profit companies for placing wireless Internet equipment on city water towers and city hall is between $1,500 to $2,000 per month. Freenet is using four water towers and city hall at a rate of $10 per location. At $1,500 per month per site over 12 months, the Freenet subsidy is at least $90,000, according to rates provided by Corliss.

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Since you are interested in providing accurate info, can you have Patrick Knorr come back here and correct his statement that "We are required to charge our customers a franchise fee for video and phone service."

This is absolutely untrue. There is no such requirement from any governmental or regulatory entity for Sunflower to charge a franchise fee to its customers.

It is a cost of doing business and Sunflower is allowed by the regulatory bodies (KCC, FCC, etc.) to pass that cost along to its customers if it so chooses but there is in no way shape or form that Sunflower is required to charge a franchise fee to its customers and by claiming that they are required to do so, Sunflower is misleading its customers about the nature of it charges.

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Amy Heeter 5 years, 2 months ago

I just don't understand why some feel the need to bash Freenet. Is it because those complaining don't meet eligiblity requirements? It isn't like Freenet is going to run the world company out of the market.

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Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 2 months ago

Well, as for me I will be sticking with Sunflower. I have always got excellent service from them. I just don't like the sound of the way Freenet operates. It doesn't sound kosher to me.


Since 2005, the city has been providing at least a $90,000 per-year subsidy to Lawrence Freenet in exchange for Freenet agreeing to provide some free Internet service in the community, according to city figures.

I think the city should cut loose from Freenet and use that money for other things.

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Amy Heeter 5 years, 2 months ago

I don't have Freenet service, but I do know of a few that do. Those I know of are getting free service. One person was even given a computer so they could have the free service. The only glitch I have heard of was that those using Freenet must pay a one time fee for the router wether low income or not. I can't say I know of anyone else outside of the few low income people I have talked to about this. My understanding though is that those who can afford to pay do so in order for those who cannot to have access to the free service. So no I do not consder Freenet a true non profit, but Sunflower also has a program for low income persons that allows access to free internet. Although from what I have heard in order to receive free internet the person must subscribe to other services. Could someone from the World company clear this up?

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Amy Heeter 5 years, 2 months ago

I'm not buying into anything. I don't have service with either company. Like I said I know of some who do get free internet from Freenet and I know one person who gets free internet from Sunflower. The latter must keep two other services with Sunflower paid up though or the internet is suspended. At least that is what I was told. At&T also has a program but I think it only covers a landline at a discounted rate. For all other services discounts apply for a limited time and for bulk services.

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Dave Greenbaum 5 years, 2 months ago

Irish,

I confirmed with the city that the city does not provide any subsidy. Rather Freenet gives away free service to needy families and in, exchange for that service, is given use of water towers and city hall mounts.

I'm hoping Chad comes back with his notes to determine why I as a citizen was given different information that he printed as a reporter.

FWIW, many businesses have a profit and non-profit aspect to them. Ever see the newspapers in education ads in the JW. JW has a non-profit program they advertise

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Amy Heeter 5 years, 2 months ago

What's your point Marion? Please explain what holiday photos have to do with anything.

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DennisAnderson 5 years, 2 months ago

Reporter Chad Lawhorn spoke with Lawrence City Manager David Corliss today about the $90,000 Lawrence Freenet subsidy figure related to the market rate for for-profit companies for placing wireless Internet equipment on four city water towers and city hall. Corliss said the number is accurate. He also said that the word subsidy applies in this case.

Meanwhile, to address another matter raised on this comment thread, Sunflower Broadband Lifeline High Speed Internet Service is offered at no cost to individuals and families that qualify under the state and federal guidelines for Lifeline Telephone service. Qualified applicants must be a participant in one of these several social service programs, including food stamps, Medicaid, General Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, Head Start, Free School Lunch Program or Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, among others. To apply for Sunflower Broadband's Lifeline High Speed Internet Service you may call 785-841-2100 or 800-869-1214. You can download the application form here: http://www.sunflowerbroadband.com/internet/lifeline/ Sunflower Broadband will contact qualified applicants within two weeks to schedule an installation.

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World

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o_no_you_didnt 5 years, 2 months ago

Reporter Chad Lawhorn spoke with Lawrence City Manager David Corliss today about the $90,000 Lawrence Freenet subsidy figure related to the market rate for for-profit companies for placing wireless Internet equipment on four city water towers and city hall. Corliss said the number is accurate. He also said that the word subsidy applies in this case.

Meanwhile, to address another matter raised on this comment thread, Sunflower Broadband Lifeline High Speed Internet Service is offered at no cost to individuals and families that qualify under the state and federal guidelines for Lifeline Telephone service. Qualified applicants must be a participant in one of these several social service programs, including food stamps, Medicaid, General Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, Head Start, Free School Lunch Program or Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, among others. To apply for Sunflower Broadband's Lifeline High Speed Internet Service you may call 785-841-2100 or 800-869-1214. You can download the application form here: http://www.sunflowerbroadband.com/int… Sunflower Broadband will contact qualified applicants within two weeks to schedule an installation.

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-Word /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// OOOOO NOOOOOOOO YOUUUUUUUUU DIDNTTTTTTT just put the SMACK DOWN on some simple facts!! You da man, man.

Joshuaaaaaaaa What say you ??????? hee hee hee

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Dennis (Dennis Anderson) says… Meanwhile, to address another matter raised on this comment thread, Sunflower Broadband Lifeline High Speed Internet Service is offered at no cost to individuals and families that qualify under the state and federal guidelines for Lifeline Telephone service. Qualified applicants must be a participant in one of these several social service programs, including food stamps, Medicaid, General Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, Head Start, Free School Lunch Program or Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, among others. To apply for Sunflower Broadband's Lifeline High Speed Internet Service you may call 785-841-2100 or 800-869-1214. You can download the application form here: http://www.sunflowerbroadband.com/int… Sunflower Broadband will contact qualified applicants within two weeks to schedule an installation.

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I am curious as to how Sunflower can provide internet service for low income applicants under the guidelines for telephone service. Are the applicants required to have your phone service to do this or subscribe to cable service or is this a stand alone deal? The telephone companies are not allowed to do this. How is that you are able to?

BTW, you are accepting a government subsidy when you sign folks up for Lifeline. Isn't it a bit hypocritical for you to make an issue about subsidies?

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Amy Heeter 5 years, 2 months ago

Marion you didn't answer my question.

As far as the rest goes it seems Freenet is not doing anything other providers are not. The difference is freenet is a small company vs At&T and Sunflower being larger.

It looks to me like a couple people posting here have personal issues with Joshua that have nothing to do with Freenet.I can't figure out why the World company even has an issue.

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

beobachter (Anonymous) says…

Katara, did you read the requirements, apparently not. Nowhere did I see a requirement for that. Additionally I personally know some who took advantage of this and no, they do not have phone service thru Sunflower. Think you may be spending too much time listening to Joshua's BS. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thank you for speaking on behalf of Sunflower, beaobachter. May I assume you are one of their customer service reps?

And since you are incredibly familiar with the Federal Lifeline program and how it works, perhaps you can explain to us how Sunflower (a cable/broadband) company is able to provide internet service (without any phone service) with the Lifeline program under the guidelines for telephone service while the telephone companies are not permitted to do so. What is even stranger is that they are also stating that they can provide the Lifeline discount on both the phone portion and the internet portion for the same customer.

I'll be nice and assist you in your search for an explanation. http://www.lifeline.gov/welcome.html http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/lllu.html

According to the last document, unless Sunflower is providing phone service to their customer (VOIP), they would not qualify for Lifeline and when the customer qualifies for Lifeline, he/she would only qualify on the telephone portion of the service, not the internet portion and certainly not both.

So something shady is going on with Sunflower's Lifeline program and they are still accepting a government subsidy for providing service to low-income customers - something that they are making a fuss about Freenet doing.

I don't believe Joshua said anything about Lifeline service. Would you care to point out where he did?

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Matthew Del Vecchio 5 years, 2 months ago

Two differant programs that go by the same name.

Lifeline (phone) FCC governed

Lifeline (internet) not governed. It's a curtosey to the community.

Sunflower is not the enemy here. Lying and cheating are the enemies. Montgomery's actions look like lying and cheating to a majority of the participants in this discussion.

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headdoctor 5 years, 2 months ago

beobachter (Anonymous) says… He immediately created a for profit company to run the non-profit he sold the city on to get waivers on right of way installations. The very name freenet is a scam, there is nothing free about them. Try to use one of the SSID's that pops up on your wireless searches. In general ethical behavior and Joshua are mutually exclusive terms never to be used in same sentence.


Where in the world are you coming up with this? As far back into FreeNet history that I can recall there has always been a for profit division and a free division of FreeNet. Both those divisions existed when the City was started working with them. The video company is much newer in age and I might add if the World Company wasn't trying to sabotage every move FreeNet has made they might not have had to do what they are doing.

As for their network you can't just sign on if you pick up one of their transmitter signals. You must have an ID or FreeNet card. Since the Free Part of FreeNet is for lower income people where did you get the idea that it was free to everyone? The only place you can get on their system for free is at a hot spot.

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

DVECC (Anonymous) says… Two differant programs that go by the same name.

Lifeline (phone) FCC governed

Lifeline (internet) not governed. It's a curtosey to the community. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Can you provide a link explaining that these are 2 different programs?

And why call your "courtesy to the community" the same name as a Federal government program? That is very misleading. It makes it sound like their discount is sanctioned by the FCC.

I would also be curious to know when the "date of this courtesy to the community" program started. Was it there prior to Freenet or after? I am reading that it was a response to Freenet's offerings to low-income customers.

If after, it is simply a marketing ploy and not an actual "courtesy to the community" or any real desire to provide a service to increase access to the internet for low-income individuals. Otherwise, Sunflower would have been providing that courtesy all along.

It would be pretty sad if it turned out that providing free access to the internet was simply a response to perceived competition and not any real desire to help the community.

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Matthew Del Vecchio 5 years, 2 months ago

The debate as I see it is whether or not in Lawrence KS you can create a shell non profit company to side step paying for the right of way. That is the precedent Montgomery is setting.

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Matthew Del Vecchio 5 years, 2 months ago

Katara,

You work for Community Wireless. That is straight Montgomery Rhetoric. I know this I've heard it "straight from horses mouth" myself. Good luck to you.

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

DVECC (Anonymous) says…

Katara,

You work for Community Wireless. That is straight Montgomery Rhetoric. I know this I've heard it “straight from horses mouth” myself. Good luck to you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ No, I don't. I don't even have Freenet internet service.

I have, however, worked with people who receive the actual Federal Lifeline program.

And can you answer my questions since you are a Sunflower employer (since we're going to sling unfounded assumptions about employers)?

Also, can you tell me, does Sunflower pay any of the other fees that the actual telephone companies pay into? For example, do they pay into both the Kansas Universal Service Fund and the Federal Universal Service Fund? Do they receive reimbursements from those funds for providing services to places such as schools, libraries, etc.?

Can you also tell me why Sunflower COO is misrepresenting surcharges that they bill their customers as mandatory charges?

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Oooooo, I also forgot, DVEEC, does Sunflower billed these "mandatory" charges to Lifeline customers?

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Amy Heeter 5 years, 2 months ago

The way I understand it is that basic lifeline service is at a discounted rate ( AT&T).

I spoke to the person I know that gets free internet from sunflower and was told that the internet is free but that they had to purchase cable in order to get the free service. I was also told that this family initially had a phone line with Sunflower too. They later changed the phone to Vonage for a cheaper rate and as a result there were many connectivity problems. I was also told that if the cable bill was paid late the internet was shut off until the account was brought up to date. but that the cable was not shut off for being paid late. Another thing I was told was that there seemed to be many billing issues with multiple services via Sunflower. I'm not real clear on this but somehow each paid service has a separate billing so when the family pays the phone bill it is often applied to the cable instead or vise versa.

It seems to me that if a person has multiple services with the same company than a combined bill would simplify the process. At&T does this. So why does Sunflower bill each service separately? Is there some sketchy stuff going on there?

I spent a small amount of time reading archives from the LJW on Freenet. I cannot find anything that states Freenet is all non profit. What I did find is that Freenet is a subsidiary of a larger for profit company. At least thats how it looks to me. From what I have read and heard Freenet is providing free service and discounted service to those who would not otherwise be able to afford the service. In order to do that Freenet charges those who can afford ( check the site for guidelines) service to offset the cost of the free service to those in need. In addition to that it looks like Freenet does get some funding from the city to continue the service for the community.

So in a nutshell It looks to be like Freenet is a cooperative. Those who can pay do so in order that those who cannot have a benefit. Some might call that community.

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

beobachter (Anonymous) says… katara, how come anyone who disagrees with you and freenet propaganda must be an employee of Sunflower? Never have and never will work for them. Might search a little harder before posting. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That's odd. DVEEC accused me of being employed by Freenet because I questioned Sunflower's billing practices and I mentioned since we are slinging unfounded accusations about who's employed by whom, he must be employed by Sunflower. You also appeared to speak on Sunflower's behalf and seemed oddly familiar with the requirements of the Federal Lifeline program.

You should read a little more carefully and perhaps understand the concept of sarcasm.

Further, what is the point of re-posting that article? Does it address any of the questions I asked? Does it mention anything about the Federal Lifeline program? Does it mention Joshua Montgomery saying anything about the Lifeline program?

Did you even bother to read the links I so kindly provided you about the Federal Lifeline program? And do you understand that the agreement that Freenet has with the city is not related to the Federal Lifeline program (per the info in the article you posted)? It is not a city program and cities do not get to determine who qualifies for it. The states administer the Federal Lifeline program and they determine the guidelines.

So, thanks for nothing on answering my questions. What you provided addresses none of them.

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

beobachter (Anonymous) says… Katara, not sure what your problem is with Sunflower, but the following quotes from their web site seems to explain their program.

Sunflower Broadband's Lifeline Internet service is a voluntary program. Sunflower Broadband receives no subsidy to offset the costs of this service. Sunflower Broadband's Lifeline telephone service discount is eligible for reimbursement funds from the Lifeline Telephone subsidy program. Since launching our circuit-based ( not VoIP ) telephone service in 2001 we have not requested reimbursement for revenue lost in discounting our telephone service for those who are in need and qualify ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And can you provide the link to that? When I clicked on the link Sunflower provided in one of their employee's posts yesterday, there was nothing that said that. It was neither on the page about the Federal Lifeline program nor was it on the application.

Seems awfully fishy it shows up now and addresses the exact questions I posed.

And since they are not VOIP, per the FCC website, they would not qualify to receive any Federal Lifeline subsidies for the phone service they provide. It seems very odd that if they offer low-income discounts out of the goodness of their hearts, that they would use the exact same name and reference the exact same program.

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Dennis (Dennis Anderson) says… Meanwhile, to address another matter raised on this comment thread, Sunflower Broadband Lifeline High Speed Internet Service is offered at no cost to individuals and families that qualify under the state and federal guidelines for Lifeline Telephone service. Qualified applicants must be a participant in one of these several social service programs, including food stamps, Medicaid, General Assistance, Supplemental Security Income, Head Start, Free School Lunch Program or Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, among others. To apply for Sunflower Broadband's Lifeline High Speed Internet Service you may call 785-841-2100 or 800-869-1214. You can download the application form here: http://www.sunflowerbroadband.com/int… Sunflower Broadband will contact qualified applicants within two weeks to schedule an installation.

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Odd. Odd. Odd.

Clicking on the link gets you a page not found error.

Looks like Sunflower is engaging in some CYA.

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Boston_Corbett 5 years, 2 months ago

"A previous version of this story incorrectly attributed who pays the costs associated with Sunflower Broadband's 63 hotspots."


No, Sunflower General Manager Patrick Knorr simply used double-talk on these boards multiple times in an attempt to deceive LJW forum readers about this issue , while at the same time contending the World Company's motivation was borne out of concern that Freenet "was not being honest" with the community.

Honest is as honest does, and the spokesman for the World Company was simply the one not being honest on this matter.

A story correction by itself, worded in this manner, is a pretty meek admission of that dishonesty, but I do give them credit for making it.

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DennisAnderson 5 years, 2 months ago

Here is the full link for Lifeline: http://www.sunflowerbroadband.com/internet/lifeline/

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World

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o_no_you_didnt 5 years, 2 months ago

Dennis (Dennis Anderson) says…

Here is the full link for Lifeline: http://www.sunflowerbroadband.com/int

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

oooooooo noooooooooooo youuuuuuuuuuuuu didnttttttt just post a perfectly good working link to some simple facts!!!

What say you Joshua?????????? lol

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

Dennis (Dennis Anderson) says… Here is the full link for Lifeline: http://www.sunflowerbroadband.com/int

Dennis Anderson Managing Editor Lawrence Journal-World ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thank you for providing an entirely different link that what you originally provided. That info was not there on the link you provided earlier, nor was it located on the application.

Would you be so kind as to address all my other questions? Please see my previous posts.

Let's start off with why Sunflower uses the name of a Federal telephone assistance program for a low-income program if Sunflower does not accept any form of subsidies for its phone and internet services from the Federal Lifeline program? That seems pretty deceptive.

It implies that you are sanctioned by the FCC and other regulatory bodies in offering a service (Lifeline) that you are not able to provide under their government program.

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Katara 5 years, 2 months ago

beobachter (Anonymous) says… Katara, not sure what your problem is with Sunflower, but the following quotes from their web site seems to explain their program. again. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ beobachter, not sure what your problem is with about legitimate questions, but that information was not on their web site yesterday. It was just recently (less than 24 hours of me raising the issues about the Federal Lifeline program) that the verbiage was added. Not only that, but a different link was supplied the 2nd time by Dennis Anderson. The link he provided originally worked yesterday and is a dead link now. Strange that one would do that for a link that is also supposed to include information and a link to the application to their low-income discounts.

In other words, they changed their website description of Sunflower's "Lifeline" program not too long after I raised questions here again.

The reason they cannot request reimbursement for revenue lost in discounting their telephone service is because they do not meet the definitions of telephone carrier per the FCC website. Circuit-based (not VOIP) does not qualify as being able to utilize the Federal Lifeline Program. Please be so kind as to view the 2nd link I posted.

They are engaging in deceptive and misleading tactics here and you wish to allow them to do so. Why do you think it is a good thing for them to mislead consumers that they participate in a federal assistance program (by using the exact same name as the federal assistance program) when they can not even utilize that program?

BTW, their "discounts" on the phone service are much less than the actual Federal Lifeline program and I'm sure they do not waive the surcharges and taxes that Federal Lifeline program participants are entitled to having waived.

But if you want to support a company that takes advantage of the elderly, the disabled and other low-income consumers by engaging in this type of deception, I guess that is your prerogative.

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