What we're still lacking, or maybe I've just overlooked, is the exact wording of this grant. Is my own desire for broadband alternatives actually out of the question? It just seems to me it makes little sense to run fios to rural homes that can't afford the $100+ monthly fees for it.Burdette said ICF is expected to issue a report about West Virginia's use of the $126.3 million grant in 30 to 90 days. The state must finish the broadband expansion project by February 2013 or risk losing unspent funds.
There are no FiOS markets in West Virginia because of the vast cost that would need to be put into building that out (and you couldn't just pick and choose "good" areas to do it in, it really would have to be a large, densely populated swath of an area to best leverage the costs).
Frontier FiOS does exist in a few markets, like in Fort Wayne, IN, Seattle and Portland for example.
I don't really care what Frontier calls it. What we want is Fiber Optic Service To The Home. What we don't want is fiber running tantalizingly close but with no connection. That's my whole point - take all this money and hire Frontier to do it right, instead of them just complaining how expensive it would be.
Running one fiber connection is economical and a much different thing than building out a huge fios network, which would require video distribution service, convincing people to let technicians rip the copper out of their homes and replace it with glass (which needs battery backups in the home to provide emergency dial tone), new central office equipment, digging big ass trenches in old lady's lawns....you get the idea).
Also, West Virginia probably wouldn't be too huge on paying what it costs for pure fiber to the home, especially since it would invariably be massively more expensive because of the topography of the state.
So, yes, clamor for it, but don't expect it. If you think we could have anything like that for only $137 million, then I've got a bunch of sweet routers in storage to sell you.
Sent from my 'effin Kindle Fire
The $137 million is not designed to bring fiber optic service to West Virginia.
It is just a way of leveraging Frontier's political influence in the WV State legislature to their bottom line while protecting and expanding their monopoly position.
Mitch Carmichael, the six term WV House member and current minority whip, is General Manager of Frontier West Virginia's western division. He is leaving the House this year to take a seat in the WV State Senate.
Here is a link to a discussion of "broad band" issues in central West Virginia:
and here are links to some additional information:
Last edited by John; 05-13-2012 at 10:35 AM.
By the way, you don't even understand what the grant is for. Thank God that the dumbass state isn't totally administering this one. And only 37% of the monies have actually been spent (checkout recovery.gov), and guess what? FRONTIER isn't the only company getting business from this. So, I'm not quite sure what your gripe is about in this situation.
But, yes, Frontier does have a (somewhat) good lobbying effort going, but no, we are not a state monopoly. We have many competitors (Comcast offers voice, video, data - so does Fibernet, etc. etc.). So your view, while informed by whatever it is that you read or just come up with is, I guess, understandable, it is just off the mark. It isn't an omnipotent telephone lord hovering over the state, pulling strings. It is often times a flat-footed, poorly organized operation which is in flux from the Verizon transaction still. It is a HIGHLY regulated industry (as it should be, might I add since it provides essential, basic services to citizens) which does necessarily reduce the company's "freedom of action."
Basically, you were implying that Frontier makes the state its bit*h, but the opposite is true. Maybe it is compensation for the fact they actually are run by the coal industry, I don't know.
Sorry if I'm prickly.
I believe you are allowed to write "bitch" on this forum. Otherwise I really enjoy reading this thread and wish everyone excellent internet service from wherever they get it.
Haha! Ok, awesome. I'll use bitch more often, then.
Hey, we've got a guy in Jefferson County who is the head honcho for Frontier in the area running for the state house - perhaps it is a conspiracy.... I love conspiracies.
I'm not seeing how fiber to a small-town rural public library or elementary school qualifies as "middle-mile". In fact it appears that we are seeing almost exactly what Citynet said was going to happen over 18 months ago when they protested the BTOP award. (The biggest difference is that they predicted only state agencies would be connected to the fiber network -- it appears the actual deployment has been broader and more diverse than that, but still badly mismanaged.)In fact, the work has been run of the mill stuff that would be otherwise done by us anyways and paid for by the state, since this is development of the middle mile infrastructure.
I don't see anywhere near the amounts of money Frontier is getting going to anybody else -- they look to be getting half or more of the total amount either directly or indirectly. The disparity is even greater in job creation -- 91 of the 107 jobs claimed as a result of this grant are Frontier fiber techs. There are four jobs at Premier Construction for building towers, and most or all of the rest look like state government officials overseeing everything.And only 37% of the monies have actually been spent (checkout recovery.gov), and guess what? FRONTIER isn't the only company getting business from this. So, I'm not quite sure what your gripe is about in this situation.
It has a monopoly on certain aspects of telecom in areas of the state though, just like any other utility franchisee. That's how the franchise system works.But, yes, Frontier does have a (somewhat) good lobbying effort going, but no, we are not a state monopoly.
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams
Let's just agree to disagree on this. I see this all day long - it's my job, so, perhaps I have a different perspective. I don't tow the company line because the company line sucks at the moment.
Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk 2
It turns out that the consultant hired to audit spending on the $136 million has long standing ties to state Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette:
From today's Charleston Gazette:
Broadband consultant invoice rejected
By Eric Eyre
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The State Auditor's Office has rejected a $62,500 bill from a Fairfax, Va.-based consulting firm hired to advise state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on the state's use of $126.3 million in federal stimulus funds to expand high-speed Internet.
The Auditor's Office found that ICF International billed the state at rates as high as $255 an hour, even though the firm signed a contract to charge no more than $148 an hour.
"Basically, the company submitted four separate hourly rates, but the contract has only one hourly rate," said Justin Southern, spokesman for State Auditor Glen Gainer's office. "We pull every contract and read it to make sure the billing amount coincides with the price on the contract."
Burdette, who has past financial ties to ICF's lead consultant on the West Virginia contract, said he directed ICF on Monday to submit a new invoice with a fixed hourly rate at $148.
"It was a format error. That's all it was," Burdette said. "They didn't have a blended rate. They will resubmit."
Last month, ICF billed the state Development Office for 332 hours, which totaled $62,542.
ICF charged the state different hourly rates depending which employee worked on the West Virginia broadband contract -- two technical specialists at $100 an hour, a manager at $140 an hour, a senior technical specialist at $200 an hour, and two senior directors at $255 an hour.
The combined, or blended, rate for the six employees was $175 an hour.
At the higher hourly rate, ICF wound up billing the state for $9,000 more than the contract allows.
Two Department of Commerce administrators -- Deputy Secretary Angel Moore and Small Business Development Deputy Director Jamie Gaucher -- signed off on ICF's invoice and submitted it for payment to the Auditor's Office.
Moore and Gaucher served on the five-member review committee that awarded the contract to ICF at the $148 hourly rate.
ICF's $62,500 bill included $3,800 in travel expenses, which included airfare, mileage, meals, parking fees and lodging at the Charleston Marriott.
The company's consultants have held meetings with state officials in recent weeks, but the firm hasn't delivered any written reports, Burdette said.
ICF International spokesman Steve Anderson referred questions Monday to Gaucher at the Development Office.
Gaucher said ICF's cost proposal included different hourly rates for eight or nine employees, whose rates averaged $148 an hour.
ICF's first invoice exceeded that average because higher-paid employees have been working on the West Virginia contract in recent months, he said. ICF was expected to submit future invoices with lower hourly rates, so the final average rate would be $148 over the life of the contract, Gaucher said.
The company has submitted three additional bills to the Development Office, but those invoices haven't been forwarded to the Auditor's Office for payment.
The Auditor's office rejected ICF's initial payment request on May 4. ICF's lead consultant on the West Virginia contract, Keith Montgomery, would not comment Monday on the Auditor's decision.
"I don't have any comment on that," said Montgomery, whose 77 hours of work on the West Virginia contract was billed at $255 an hour. "I don't have any information to comment on."
In 2005 and 2006, Burdette worked as a paid lobbyist for iTown Communications. Montgomery was the former president and CEO of iTown.
For years, Burdette publicly lobbied city and county officials in West Virginia to sign contracts with iTown, which offered to provide government-subsidized broadband Internet services to rural towns and counties. At the time, Burdette also served as director of the Wood County Development Authority.
"He used to be the person we used for advisory services for Wood County," Montgomery said.
ITown went out of business several years ago. "We shut it down," Montgomery said Monday.
ICF was the second-lowest bidder for the broadband advising contract, but was awarded the job after the five-member review committee -- appointed by Burdette -- gave ICF's proposal the highest score.
Montgomery is a native of Vienna, in Wood County. Burdette lives in Vienna. His lobbying firm, the Burdette Group, was based in Vienna.
"I like Keith [Montgomery], but I wouldn't say he's a close, personal friend," said Burdette about his relationship to Montgomery on Monday.
Last week, Burdette said ICF would review how state officials were spending more than $126.3 million in federal economic stimulus funds to expand high-speed Internet in West Virginia. The review is expected to include a financial audit.
Burdette's announcement followed Gazette reports that state officials are using $24 million from the stimulus grant to put 1,000 high-powered Internet routers in small libraries, elementary schools and health clinics, even though the equipment is designed to serve major research universities, medical centers and large corporations.
The state purchased the Cisco series 3945 routers, even though a state Office of Technology administrator warned that the pricey devices "may be grossly oversized," according to an email obtained by the Gazette. The routers cost $22,600 each.
The newspaper also reported that the state has 366 routers in storage -- nearly two years after
purchasing them. The devices direct data, such as email and web pages, from one computer network to another. As part of its West Virginia contract, ICF also is working on several additional projects, including an analysis of the state's broadband infrastructure.
W.Va. officials defend stimulus broadband spendingBy Lawrence Messina on July 12, 2012
Read All About It HERECHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia bought more than 1,000 expensive Internet routers with federal stimulus funds as part of an ambitious plan to create a long-lasting, high-capacity broadband network throughout the state, the official overseeing that spending has told a congressional inquiry.
Jimmy Gianato responded to questions about the spending from two U.S. House Energy and Commerce subcommittee chairmen, John Shimkus of Illinois and Greg Walden of Oregon. The Republicans posed eight questions to state officials regarding the pursuit of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant. Most focus on the decision to buy 1,064 high-capacity Cisco routers for locations including small schools and libraries, following articles in The Charleston Gazette regarding those purchases.
But it's not clear whether Gianato's answers have satisfied the chairmen. Walden and Shimkus are currently reviewing Gianato's response, said Debbee Keller, a spokeswoman for the Energy and Commerce committee....
It's not clear that the answers have satisfied anyone. I like this:But is the guy really planning to string fiber optic to everyone on his own? Sounds like BS to me.The state's plan envisions a network of fiber optic cable anchored by schools, libraries, hospitals public safety agencies and other locations deemed community institutions.
The plan is certainly ambitious
and it is reminiscent of the 1928 campaign slogan used by supporters of Herbert Hoover's bid for the Presidency:"The application was not based on the usage levels or number of workstations at the (community institutions) today, but instead on the concept that we should be equipping our citizens to fully embrace enabling future technology," the response said.
It smells like BS to me, Tony."chicken in every pot. And a car in every backyard, to boot."
From the July 18 Charleston Gazette:
Read the rest at: http://wvgazette.com/News/201207180288July 18, 2012
Feds begin probe into stimulus spending
By Eric Eyre
The Charleston Gazette
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The U.S. Department of Commerce inspector general has started an investigation into West Virginia's use of $126.3 million in federal stimulus funds to expand high-speed Internet.
The Office of Inspector General plans to determine whether the state spent the broadband stimulus funds "properly and efficiently." The office also will examine whether West Virginia's application for the stimulus funds included "material misrepresentations," according to a letter released by the inspector general's audit division.