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County commissioners question wireless proposal

March 12, 2009

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Douglas County commissioners expressed concern Wednesday for signing a loan guarantee for a proposal to expand wireless Internet service in southwestern Douglas County.

Nonprofit Lawrence Freenet had asked commissioners to sign on to give the organization a better chance to obtain a $150,000 loan for a pilot project.

Commissioners said they worried both about taxpayer money being lost and showing support for Freenet when other private companies provide broadband service in the area.

“I just don’t believe it’s appropriate for county government to use tax dollars — by use I mean put at risk by way of a guarantee — to benefit a private enterprise,” Commissioner Jim Flory said.

Representatives of three private service providers in the county — AT&T, Topeka-based Mercury Wireless and Sunflower Broadband, which is owned by The World Company, parent company of the Journal-World — also asked commissioners to trust the broadband market while new technology develops.

Freenet leaders had said the service would cost each household $44.98 per month plus an installation fee. The organization does provide charitable service to some of its subscribers in the Lawrence area. Despite concerns, Commissioners Charles Jones and Nancy Thellman, who is a Freenet subscriber, said they would be willing to listen to more information later from Freenet leaders, including an independent review of the company’s business plan and ability to repay the loan.

Comments

lotsofgunsforaliberal 5 years, 1 month ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says…

cthulhu_4_president (Anonymous) says…

“Office equipment and furniture belonging to Lawrence Freenet was recently sold via a local swapmeet website.” –––- Maybe I'm missing something, but what does this imply, other than they were selling old furniture and equipment (perhaps to buy new furniture and equipment)?”

Marion writes:

Sorry, it was the new stuff.

I'm certain the ads are cached on the server of the swapmeet site if the right people want to take a look or if oojoshua wants to come clean on the deals.

Freenet furniture for sale: http://news.larryville.com/index.php?option=com_jfusion&wrap=viewtopic.php%3Ft%3D54178

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 1 month ago

DVECC (Anonymous) says…

Maybe an ambitious LJworld reporter should look into whether or not IMPAC contributed to Nancy Thelman's campaign. Perhaps Freenet customers were repeatedly spammed with Thelman propaganda? Maybe even given a discount on their Freenet bill if they volunteered for her campaign? hmmmm…."

Marion writes:

No that IS funny!

Hang onto those emails!

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 1 month ago

cthulhu_4_president (Anonymous) says…

“Office equipment and furniture belonging to Lawrence Freenet was recently sold via a local swapmeet website.” –––- Maybe I'm missing something, but what does this imply, other than they were selling old furniture and equipment (perhaps to buy new furniture and equipment)?"

Marion writes:

Sorry, it was the new stuff.

I'm certain the ads are cached on the server of the swapmeet site if the right people want to take a look or if oojoshua wants to come clean on the deals.

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cthulhu_4_president 5 years, 1 month ago

"Office equipment and furniture belonging to Lawrence Freenet was recently sold via a local swapmeet website."

Maybe I'm missing something, but what does this imply, other than they were selling old furniture and equipment (perhaps to buy new furniture and equipment)?

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Matthew Del Vecchio 5 years, 1 month ago

Maybe an ambitious LJworld reporter should look into whether or not IMPAC contributed to Nancy Thelman's campaign. Perhaps Freenet customers were repeatedly spammed with Thelman propaganda? Maybe even given a discount on their Freenet bill if they volunteered for her campaign? hmmmm....

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To Sides 5 years, 1 month ago

I live in the county and have freenet because I am in direct line of sight with the water towers in town. It is great compared to dial-up!!. Few outside the city limits will ever have dsl because the carbon based phone lines can't handle it and the phone company has no plans to update lines to copper or fiber optic. At one time I had Hughes-net which was a joke for $60. Every stiff wind, rain or snowstorm I would lose connection. Although some may say it is a danger, my children greatly benefited from highspeed both educationally and socially. I wish more families in the county had affordable high speed internet access. I could care less about J M political affiliation as long as Freenet provides the service to county residents also.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 1 month ago

Office equipment and furniture belonging to Lawrence Freenet was recently sold via a local swapmeet website.

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 1 month ago

IMPAC:

Joshua Montgomery:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/krisadair/2370483386/

From the IMPAC site:

"We support an approach to local politics that is progressive."

"Progressive"?

Wasn't that lot voted out?

You people do realise that IMPAC is merely the old PLC under a new name, don't you?

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Chris Golledge 5 years, 1 month ago

I have no idea if Freenet is on the up-and-up or not, but I know people who live in that area who can not get high speed internet from any of the three AT&T, Sunflower, or Mercury Wireless. They would gladly pay for it if they could. So, it sounds to me that these companies are in part trying to preemptively keep competition out of their future market space.

Maybe a solution is to make the loan available to the first of the four to commit time and money to providing service out there. Put in stiff penalties in the terms if the service is not provided by a certain date, at comparative prices, and then see who really wants the loan. Heck, make it a competition for who gets the loan. My guess is that they aren't going to a bank for the loan because they can't make money with it; so, if you consider internet access part of infrastructure, then some public funding does make some sense.

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Keith 5 years, 1 month ago

Freenet isn't free, no there's a hefty ** fee, And if you don't throw in your $44.98, who will.

With apologies to the South Park creators.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 1 month ago

Isn't Freenet the organization affiliated with Douglas County IMpact? IMpact is the resurrected (think Jason from Friday the 13th) version of the Progressive Lawrence Campaign.

Do we need any other reason to reject Freenet's requests for taxpayer handouts?

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To Sides 5 years, 1 month ago

Evidently Captain Ahab's buddy may not live in east Lawrence or maybe doesn't realize there is coverage in east Lawrence . Lawrencefree net has an antenna on the Harper St water tower, they also have one at LHA

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scootterxlch 5 years, 1 month ago

NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONON FREENET IS A JOKE AT BEST AND maybe a STUPID BAIT and SWITCH OMG JUST SAY NO

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hipper_than_hip 5 years, 1 month ago

AT&T doesn't offer DSL or U-Verse in the rural areas. It sounds to me like AT&T is trying to keep out potential rivals so they don't have to spend money to compete.

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parrotuya 5 years, 1 month ago

They should change their name from Freenet to NotReallyFreeNet.

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beobachter 5 years, 1 month ago

that would cut into their profit.

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Bowhunter99 5 years, 1 month ago

The county is already covered.... Sunflower has a canopy service (wireless) already up and running.

Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, etc, all provide wireless service.

why are we on the hook for the loan guarantee?

Freenet needs to master something first... they can't provide good service in town, therefore the number of customers on the county won't make their latest expansion work and the county will be paying the loan of a failed and ill-conceived business plan.

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John Kyle 5 years, 1 month ago

Freenet promises to help low income families get internet service yet they have no coverage in East Lawrence. They have antennas next to the vacant field on Clinton Parkway by Inverness yet none in East Lawrence. If they really meant to provide service to low income families they should provide coverage to low income areas.

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