Frodex (Greg Thompson)


Comment history

City struggles to interpret Wicked Broadband's finances as it considers $300k loan guarantee

continued from above...
I'll remind or perhaps detail the first time for some of you that the incentives being voted on currently include provisions for what is called "common carrier" sharing of any infrastructure build by private 3rd parties who are leasing fiber from the city... This means although the construction and maintenance of the new fiber network infrastructure is independent from the company who provides the customer internet service. Think about the infrastructure like a road, and the service the car you decide to buy to get around on those roads... This is a new idea, unique to Lawrence... common carrier crushes monopoly and forces providers to compete for service. In all other cases I know of, the company who builds the roads has always provided the user with the car they have to use on those roads as well... this traditional model is very bad for the consumer and we have an opportunity here to break with this vote. Although "net neutrality" is an independent problem, it is also solved by the common carrier provision because people could simply switch to another provider to combat the problem.

The benefits to us, the citizens of Lawrence to have in place public policy and a service provider willing to roll out a common carrier network infrastructure in our community is something very special. At a time where many cities are now re-thinking and moving to provide internet as a public utility, Lawrence will jump past them with a future proof solution by adopting this plan.

If you doubt Wicked, the proposal or any other aspect of this proposal, I encourage you to contact Wicked, they have been exceptionally open to me about their ideas, business model and technology... I'm convinced they are the right team, have the expertise as well as the communities best interests in mind.

And if nothing else convinces you that Wicked is not fighting for the community, the fact that the city is suggesting removing the common carrier provisions from the plan and Wicked is insisting they be kept in the policy tells you something about the character of the company... there's not one other "for profit" company who wants to be legally required to allow their competition to have access to their infrastructure because it forces prices down and required providers to maintain top tier services or their customers will simply switch to a new provider... The costs for laying fiber and providing the hardware to a home is easily $1,000 per address, and once the service is initiated, the circuit becomes much more valuable so the collateral from the roll out will easily back-stop the loan.

November 12, 2014 at 8:28 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

City struggles to interpret Wicked Broadband's finances as it considers $300k loan guarantee

Small business, the type that can be run out of your home, after work, by a stay at home parent, young and old entrepreneurs with unique products or services, virtual assistants, designers, programmers, illustrators, licensed professionals, and many others will all find new ways to lever high speed internet and begin to generate new taxable dollars right here in Lawrence. This type of small business growth leads to more jobs as these businesses expand. These small businesses are also more likely to stay in Lawrence once they grow and they add to our unique character, unlike many of the economic development projects the city tends to like to chase. This high speed internet proposal is the catalyst to make these changes happen in the next year. Without encouragement from the city, this could take a decade and only after irreversible damage has been done to our community by doing nothing and losing talent to other areas like Kansas City.

If you were a company who was trying to send large CAD drawings or engineering documents, medical files or using cloud services... Kansas City would appear closer to China in distance than Lawrence is to Kansas City (comparing at the time it takes to transfer the files) today. Many foreign countries in both Asia and Europe that the US competes with for jobs now have much higher internet speeds and internet is treated like a public utility, just like water service or roads. If you were one of these businesses who relied on high speed internet where would you locate your business if you were looking for a location in Eastern Kansas? It would not be Lawrence.

Lawrence isn't quite ready or likely large enough to roll out internet as a utility, the city simply doesn't have the expertise on staff to manage a project of this scope, so as a community we are stuck with a public / private partnership to make this happen... (I know there are many people who think if the community wanted this, some great big company with more money than sense will come to our rescue, but I'll refer to the NPR Science Friday again to explain why that isn't ever going to happen in the near future). But the city is trying to find a way to tip their toe in with this deal and start experimenting with well vetted plans (The Wicked Fiber project has passed several reviews by the city to get to this point) to find public / private partnerships to fund and construct infrastructure to access high speed internet. .. to be continued...

November 12, 2014 at 8:25 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

City struggles to interpret Wicked Broadband's finances as it considers $300k loan guarantee

The cities proposal includes introducing language that prevents providers (who receive concessions from the city) from having a monopoly. What's most unique about this is that Wicked was who suggested this language. I've spend a lot of time questioning and probing into Wicked's technical plans, business model and motivations behind their interest in this project and found this piece the most curious. Why would any private, for profit, company who was going to spend the money to build out infrastructure like this request this type of limitation? The answer from Wicked was both telling and in line with everything I have learned in the past few years about the people running Wicked.... They wanted to assure service providers complete on both price and quality of service and that their children have the option of picking who provides them data 20 years from now, regardless of who builds, owns or manages that infrastructure at that time... By taking a small amount of money from the city, it assures whoever ends up owning Wicked's network infrastructure in the future is REQUIRED by LAW to maintain common carriage access to the network. This basically means although one company may own the wires and hardware running the "network infrastructure", the consumer can still choose who they purchase their data service from. This could mean dramatically lower costs for broadband access as well as greatly improved service quality and speed.

There's a handful of other nuggets in the Wicked infrastructure proposal which I would classify as true genius when it comes to the benefit they provide to our community and strongly encourage the community to support this attempt by the city to counter what Kansas City now has and is slowly bleeding our community of top talent.

I'm told Wicked is going to have some demonstrations on hand of their technology for the public to review at the next city commission meeting, for those of us who are interested in the technology, I would encourage you to take that opportunity to go look at it and ask them questions.

November 10, 2014 at 11:13 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City struggles to interpret Wicked Broadband's finances as it considers $300k loan guarantee

People opposed this plan appear to frame it like Wicked is approaching the community with their hands out. But our community has asked the city leaders to do something to improve public access to modern high speed internet, something we don't have access to today, but surrounding communities now have. The city sent out an RFP to try and find partners who can help them build what many other cities have recognizing is critical public infrastructure required for business, education, health and leisure, which is access to modern high speed internet.

Wicked was the only company who responded and has been working with city management to come up with the current proposal as it stands in front of the commissioners for a vote tomorrow (Tue. Nov. 11, 2014).

Again, if you are questioning why Lawrence is seeking to dip their hands into what has traditionally been private infrastructure space, please take the 12 minutes required to listen to the NPR Science Friday article from Nov. 7th 2014 (last Friday) which talks about this shift and why it's important for cities who need this infrastructure to take things into their own hands.

The city has policy guidelines for economic development that allow partnerships between the city and private business to help build this type of infrastructure needed by the community. In this instance, the community has shown the commission strong support, and encouraged them to do something to advance the state of our data infrastructure, which is based on technology nearing 40 years old and the incumbent service providers have no incentive to trash their current infrastructure and rebuild their networks from scratch. The last time the city had this issue on their agenda, community members voiced their approval for Wicked's plan at a ratio of 7 to 1, and it's worth pointing out ALL the dissenting voices came from representatives of the incumbent data providers, WOW and AT&T.

This proposal is about building new infrastructure for the city. The city could try this on their own, but I strongly believe they would likely botch the process and spend millions of dollars and several years simply getting things organized before any progress could be made. Or, we can encourage our city to provide a small investment to a local company ready to start work tomorrow, resulting in the roll out of a extremely well engineered data infrastructure which crushes monopoly, putting the individual consumer in control of who they choose as their data provider and is largely future proof for many generations.

Which brings me to a final thought about choice and monopoly... (see my next message)

November 10, 2014 at 11:12 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

City struggles to interpret Wicked Broadband's finances as it considers $300k loan guarantee

NPR Science Friday spent 12 minutes discussing this topic last Friday.

The Wicked Fiber project is very forward thinking and has many features which benefit our community. Looking back at the history of this project, the city was encouraged to do their own fiber network build-out, but refused, which was why Wicked Fiber (as a privately organized) project was launched.

Even though the Wicked Fiber project is privately operated, it is designed with the long term goals of our community in mind and even has safeguards to protect us.

Several features of the projects infrastructure make it worthwhile for the city to participate in. One of the most important and little discussed, is the common carriage features of the design, this ensures clients/subscribers on the network will get to choose their network provider... can we all agree no more monopolies is a good idea... data providers will be required to complete on service quality and price. This feature alone will save the citizens of the community far more than $300,000 over the life of the network.

Lastly, we are long over due for better data networks across the entire US and with Kansas City to our East, for Lawrence to attract or even retain our best minds in Science, and Technology, we need this infrastructure available today.

It takes millions of dollars to roll out these types of networks, if we can get the ball rolling on a privately funded project by simply guaranteeing as a community we are willing to backstop the first $300,000 that's a deal we should strongly consider.

November 9, 2014 at 10:31 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Editorial: Broadband leap

Fiber actually exists here in Lawrence already... and guess what company is providing it... Wicked Broadband. They've been testing paths and technology for several years and have an installed base here in Lawrence. So I'm not sure I understand where the innuendo in this editorial about Wicked not being able to deliver because they already are, right here in Lawrence. Furthermore, the infrastructure being proposed in Wicked's plan if far more flexible and robust than anything being offered nationally. Wicked is a local company that has proposed a plan that clearly has the communities best interest in mind. Ideas like true common carrier provisions combined with multiple fibers to each home make this a long term data infrastructure improvement the city will benefit from for many decades. It will also open the door for other carriers, like WOW or Google to provide competitive services to all homes through the common carrier fiber infrastructure being proposed by Wicked. Which means the city should see many additional companies offering fiber service because there won't be any infrastructure costs associated for competing broadband companies to provide service here in Lawrence and thus the barrier to entry will be very low. That's a game changer in an industry where monopolies are common place. It's possible many new local ISPs designed to service specific niche markets might spring up or even non-profit public service ISPs the Library could even offer their own digital service to each home using the fiber network Wicked has proposed. Overall, Wicked's proposal is unique, encourages competition and would place Lawrence at the epicenter of what could be a revolution in how digital content transits from the cloud into peoples homes. I encourage the City Council to be bold and try this out, it's going to be a huge win for Lawrence in both the near and long terms and we have a chance to prove to the country, Lawrence is open for business and not just a place you come to visit your kids going to KU and see a ball game.

June 2, 2014 at 12:09 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Wicked Broadband hoping for $500k city grant to bring super-fast Internet to downtown, East Lawrence

To follow up on my second question:
Is Wicked Fiber the right partner?

Question 2, is Wicked Fiber the right answer? I think so. Their approach really is a good one, that allows our community to benefit greatly through the common carrier provisions in their plan. Common carrier means any service provider has access to the network to transport their data to the consumer (or producer in our case). Although Wicked Fiber would be managing and maintaining the network infrastructure for the city, anyone could provide data service on it. Think about this like water pipes to your home that would allow you to purchase City water, Evian or Ozarka, it's your choice. So common carrier means regardless of who manages the fibers who you pay for service is up to you. If you don't want Wicked Broadband service, just buy service from someone else using their fibers.

The Wicked Fiber proposal also means Lawrence doesn't have to wait for something that might never happen, like the expansion of Google fiber... because there's no telling if anyone else will ever come to the fiber party here and if they did, it's unlikely they would offer common carrier provisions, which means another service monopoly for us to deal with. But if we allow Wicked Fiber to build infrastructure now for their products and all they need to do is "connect" to it, it's going to be much more likely others like Google will come to the table to offer service here. This is why the Wicked Fiber project makes so much sense, it encourages providers to hop on and provide service here.

In conclusion, if we went back to the 1800's/1900's and knew that our leaders told the railroad or interstate to bypass our town because we wouldn't provide them an incentive equal to the cost of building a round-a-bout. Wouldn't we all think that was very stupid decision in retrospect? This is our chance to have the most vibrant highway business and commerce has ever seen piped right into our homes and we are debating it... which is healthy, but in the end, it comes down to the cost of building a round-a-bout for the city. I think it makes sense to just to try this and see what happens... how can we afford not to? The stakes we are talking about are much higher than the $500,000 we are worried about spending, we are talking about the loss of talent to nearby cities, just like what happened when the railroad decided to leave a city or the interstate didn't build an off ramp into a town nearly a century before now.

November 6, 2013 at 10:27 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Wicked Broadband hoping for $500k city grant to bring super-fast Internet to downtown, East Lawrence

I think there's two issues here;

First, should the city invest in building infrastructure of this type?
Second, is Wicked Broadband the right partner?

I'll start by giving strong support to the city investing in infrastructure projects, and specifically high speed common carrier fiber, which is exactly the proposal placed in front of them now.

Cities who didn't think it was a good idea to have a highways and railroads, running through or along their boarders lost population to cities who got railroads and highways. Fiber is the conduit of commerce of today. High speed common carrier fiber is a different animal than what most of us know or consider the internet to be today. Unlike other offerings like cable, where the "consumer" is primarily digesting content, fiber allows the "consumer" a content creator. Customers could build small server farms in their dens, studios in their garages and businesses in their bedrooms using fiber. And the landscape is ripe for Lawrentians to take advantage of our talents if we had the conduit to do so. Large cities that will be attracting companies like Google to install fiber (and provide Google incentives to do so) will need content, Google is counting on this. Ads running on content is how Google makes their money. Lawrence has a vibrant artistic, creative and technical community that could serve the needs of areas who are starting to get fiber installed and need content. Kansas City is not that far from us, if we allow our local artists, creators and techies to bleed away into the KC metropolis because we can not provide them the infrastructure they require to build new businesses right here what happens to the character of our city? Having fiber to our homes here in Lawrence will actually allow us to benefit by generating revenue from our content being pushed back into the Google Fiber network using ad revenue. Instead of having our talent drained off to KC we can actually benefit from Google Fiber by feeding content to it right here from our homes. But we need a fiber network immediately to do so.

High speed fiber is exactly the right type of infrastructure project we need to grow our economy without diluting our character. Fiber will allow home brew businesses to establish Lawrence as a hub in the MidWest for creativity and entrepreneurship. If we focus on building Walmarts, factories, apartments and hotels, without balancing the growth of businesses who add and enhance our character, the Lawrence we all know and love is doomed. Fiber is one answer to solving this problem.

Time is of the essence, the Internet is known for brands who "came first", if Lawrence allows time top pass and lets other neighboring cities to have a jump on installing Common Carrier High Speed Fiber networks, we loose. Being first is important when it comes to building brands on the internet, Wicked Fiber offers us a chance to get home grown brands established before we loose our talent to other cities.

November 6, 2013 at 10:25 a.m. ( | suggest removal )

Lawrence real estate market called one of hottest in the state

The federal government tracks same home sales, it's a better way to understand how home prices are changing over time. I have a tool that allows you to graph the change in prices over time and compare them from city to city. According to the FHFA (Federal Housing and Finance Administration) HPI (Housing Price Index) data home prices in Lawrence have been slightly down to flat over the last couple of years. What's significant is that mortgage interest rates have declined significantly over that same period of time. What this means is that homes purchased with some sort of financing are significantly cheaper to own, in many cases this could be as much as a 50% savings over the term of a 30 year loan. You can view the Home Price Graph application online here:

I'v also produced a nice mortgage table calculator, that allows visitors to compare over 200 different loans in one small table. It's great for home buyers who are considering how much to put down on a home, how interest rates might change their monthly payments and how much they can spend on a home and keep their monthly payments inline with their budget. This tool can be found here:

I hope the community finds these tools educational and useful in understanding the housing market here in Lawrence.

October 20, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

No major declines in Douglas County home values in 2010

You can research home appreciation or depreciation yourself at Select Lawrence, KS and the years you want to measure appreciation between. You can also define the starting value for the property and compare appreciation to another area of the country. also creates a graph to easily visualize the data.

It shows home values rising in Lawrence about 0.84% in 2010, opposed to Las Vegas, one of the worst markets in the US, where values fell 4.9%.

March 10, 2011 at 12:24 p.m. ( | suggest removal )