Archive for Monday, January 9, 2012

Competitive edge

A proposal to use city facilities to support an Internet provider deserves close scrutiny.

January 9, 2012


The Lawrence City Commission should look with extreme scrutiny on the latest proposal from Community Wireless to provide Internet service to Lawrence residents.

Tuesday, city commissioners will be asked to approve agreements that would make it easier for Community Wireless to expand in the city. One agreement gives Community Wireless the ability to use the city’s right-of-way for communications equipment and lets the company put equipment on city-owned water towers, traffic signals and streetlight poles. In exchange, Community Wireless would pay the city 5 percent of its gross receipts over the 25-year term of the proposed agreement.

A second agreement would give Community Wireless access to 12 strands of city-owned fiber optic cable that will be installed along 23rd Street. The city is installing the fiber, in part, to connect traffic signals along 23rd Street to a central computer system. Community Wireless wants access to the fiber optic cables because it can use them to deliver Internet access to parts of Lawrence. In May, company leaders said the fiber likely would allow them to offer high-speed service to businesses and apartment complexes along the 23rd Street corridor, the Daisy Hill area near Kansas University and perhaps along parts of Sixth Street and Iowa Street. CWC proposes to make a one-time $30,000 payment to the city for use of the fiber, in addition to the previous provision calling for 5 percent of gross revenues to go to the city.

Community Wireless enjoys a convoluted and often-questioned relationship with Lawrence Freenet; it’s impossible to separate what’s a for-profit business from the not-for-profit, and the mere existence of the not-for-profit arm is used to request treatment that competitors, who have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure, don’t get. That relationship comes into play in the current proposal to the city, which is one in a long sequence of attempts by Community Wireless to gain access at a low cost to fiber strands — and gain a competitive foothold without buying or installing fiber.

If the city is interested in selling or leasing 12 strands of fiber, it should bid them out to any interested party. Likewise Community Wireless should pay the same franchise fees as Knology, AT&T;, Black Hills Energy and other utilities for the use of city property and right-of-way. There is no justification for any provider to receive special treatment.


Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 2 months ago

Wireless internet needs to be provided to everybody in the city for not more than $10 a month; $5 for seniors and low-income people. This, plus cheap computers, would give everyone an equal chance at the information which is now available on the internet.

This should be extended, eventually, throughout Kansas.

And without bundles. Many people could get phone service via Skype (an internet provided program, which costs almost nothing). Much television from many countries is also available. As well as information programs of all kinds.

People are getting fed up with paying all the corporate fees included with simple internet service - they frequently also have to have television or the phone, which raises prices tremendously. None of that is necessary.

An alternative would be to provide internet transmitters from telephone and light poles throughout Lawrence, such as is done already in many places.

The key is to make it inexpensive, very good, and very usable to everyone.

budman 6 years, 2 months ago

"The key is to make it inexpensive, very good, and very usable to everyone."

Sounds like heaven on earth too me.

I don't see why the city wastes its money and resources to subsidize internet for its citizens. I pay 20 bucks a month for internet, and if someone can't afford that they can go to the publicly funded libraries or patronize our many coffee shops and use their WiFi.

No company should be given any type of special privileges by the government regardless the cause. If they can't compete in the open market than they aren't providing in the most efficient manner and they're wasting money and resources.

nativeson 6 years, 2 months ago

This is the same old play that has been going on in this community for over 5 years. Lawrence Freenet continues to reinvent itself in order to obtain a subsidy from the City of Lawrence. They have unrealistic projections, poor service and investors that want a return on their investment.

The one rule the City should live by is not to pick winners and losers in access to the public right-of-way. Freenet already receives preferential treatment from the City, and they continue to exploit this difference with all of the different schemes they propose.

The digital divide is real, but this proposal is not primarily for the benefit of those who can not afford access.

cowboy 6 years, 2 months ago

I can guarantee that if CWC has this service it will be down half the time , work like crap the rest of the time , and no one will be around when you need service.

Joshua Montgomery 6 years, 2 months ago

Just to set the record straight (which the LJWorld staff could have done had they bothered to call CWC for a comment).

  1. "the mere existence of the not-for-profit arm is used to request treatment that competitors"

Lawrence Freenet, Inc. announced on November 30, 2011 it would be shut down on 12/31/2011. ( )

The project is in the process of transitioning everything to CWC. That is what these agreements enable. Without them, there is no way to clarify the "convoluted" corporate structure.

  1. " the mere existence of the not-for-profit arm is used to request treatment that competitors, who have invested millions of dollars in infrastructure, don’t get"

These agreements are being requested by CWC, a company that has invested $2,100,000 in Lawrence. That is quite a lot of money for a local company that was started with credit cards in a garage on 28th St.

  1. CWC is going to be paying MORE fees than AT&T and Knology.

AT&T and Knology and Apogee pay no franchise fees on their Internet service. None, zip, zilch, nada. They are also excused from sales tax, so when you buy broadband from one of them, the public gets nothing in return for access to the right-of-way.

CWC will be paying 5% of broadband revenue to the City.

Finally.....really? The LJWorld supports TIF funding, real-estate subsidies and practically every other economic development proposal that is brought to the City. The LJWorld is opposed to CWC expanding?

In the past 6 months alone, the city gave away $1.8M to a developer building apartments and just last week $280,000 to the new building on 9th and New Hampshire. Chad even wrote a defense of this spending in Town Talk.

I thought persecution from the paper would end when Dolph sold his cable company for $160,000,000. What possible benefit does the paper or the community get from this continued bias? We're here, we're staying. Get over it.

cowboy 6 years, 2 months ago

Freenet has earned its local reputation , get over it

ljwhirled 6 years, 2 months ago

Yeah! All I am getting right now is:

14Mbps Down / 12 Mbps Up

And they aren't the highest rated service provider in town with the fastest download:,2292/Lawrence/

and upload,2292/Lawrence/

Their service has improved dramatically in the past two years. Imagine what they'll be able to do when they have access to underground fiber.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.