September 29, 2009 9:46:00 AM
Working since June with a consortium of 41 Mississippi counties currently under-served with the technology, officials with the Noxubee Economic and Community Development Alliance have launched an initiative to provide high-speed Internet access to all residents of Noxubee County.
In August, the consortium submitted an application seeking a portion of federal stimulus funding dedicated to high-speed Internet access in rural or under-served areas, said Alliance officials.
"Access to high-speed Internet is as important today for economic development as access to electricity and paved roads once were," said Brian Wilson, Alliance executive director. "Greater access is essential for us to diversify our economy and attract new residents. Even the limited number of residents and businesses who currently have access should benefit. Competition tends to drive down prices and improve service."
The Noxubee Alliance is a public-private partnership for the promotion of economic development, tourism and community development in Noxubee County.
Thom Geiger commented at 9/29/2009 1:08:00 PM:
Now Noxubee County joins a growing list of communities that leaving Columbus behind in using the MEGAPOP network. What does it take to wake the mayor and city council up? Industry needs the bandwidth, Robert.
West Point= http://www.arc.gov/index.do?nodeId=3215
West Point= http://www.dailytimesleader.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5191&Itemid=1
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
Broadband Initiative/Broadband Application Training Workshops Registrants
Birmingham, AL - July 14, 2009= http://broadbandusa.sc.egov.usda.gov/files/7-29Edits%20Broadband_Registration_AL.pdf
ARC Grant to Boost Broadband
The MS Economic Growth Alliance & Point of Presence (MEGAPOP) has received a grant of $500,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, D-1st District, announced today. These funds will be used to increase access to broadband telecommunications services in North Mississippi by expanding the number of Point of Presence (POP) locations.
In 2005, MEGAPOP in partnership with Telepak Networks, Inc., began providing infrastructure to deliver advanced broadband telecommunications operations that serve two-thirds of the state of Mississippi. Since then, MEGAPOP and Telepak Networks have worked to continue expanding the network.
"Technology is changing and advancing every day, and it is essential that North Mississippians have the resources they need to successfully compete in today's high-tech world," said Childers. "These significant funds will help ensure that local communities in Mississippi's First Congressional District, including local schools and hospitals, have access to up-to-date broadband services and other important telecommunications technologies."
The installation of eight additional Points of Presence (POPs) on the MEGAPOP fiber backbone will have a substantial impact on those communities being served. High speed broadband access will play a significant role in business development and will help retain existing businesses and be used as a recruiting tool to attract new businesses into the area.
Increased broadband availability will assist job seekers by providing access to job training and bulletin boards. State-of-the-art broadband will also benefit educational institutions by providing distance learning applications and providing student access to the internet. The health sector will also be able to use the broadband access to provide specialized healthcare.
In addition to the ARC funding, local sources will provide $521,106, bringing the total project funding to $1,021,106.
ARC funding for this project is provided through a special ARC regional initiative which targets funds to encourage and support Telecommunications and Technology projects.
Matt Manley commented at 9/29/2009 6:24:00 PM:
I have sat back for months, before and after the election, and listened to you speak badly about the City of Columbus's IT infrastructure and MEGAPOP. I will take this time to clear the air on some of the misstatements that you have made concerning these issues. First of all, all equipment that is being used by the City of Columbus is up to today's technology standards. Secondly, the City of Columbus is one of the few cities in this area that have Single Mode Fiber running at full Gigabit speed connecting all city buildings and departments together. Finally, concerning MEGAPOP which I can speak of personally, the company of MEGAPOP is the agency responsible for building and intstallng the strands of fiber that are ran and the Points of Presence POP that are established. MEGAPOP has had fiber ran into this area for the past several years. The actually access to the fiber is done through the Telepac company. This company provides extremely high bandwidth pipelines for major businesses such as computer companies, banks, and Internet Service Providers which there are many of IN COLUMBUS that are using the service. They do not provide "free internet access" for home owners. The area of Amory does offer free internet access for citizens but that is only after a huge donation of funds from the Gilmore Foundation. If any organization wanted to fund nearly 3.5 million dollars or more to help provide the service here in Columbus, I would be the first to jump on board to help. In the future, if you have any concerns about the City of Columbus's Information Technology Department, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]
thankyoumatt commented at 9/30/2009 12:44:00 AM:
Thank you Matt for finally posting the truth about MEGAPOP in the Columbus area. You will finally quieten "mister know it all who is a computer operator at CAFB." We have heard him bitch and bitch and bitch about nothing because he thinks he is a computer pioneer in this area. I applaud you for posting the facts and like me, he will have to continue to pay for his home internet service in Columbus. It's amazing what you can find out if at times you would only ask the people in the know.
Maybe he will go back and start taking pictures of the CHS parking lot and post them on a website that no one looks at anymore. He might just man up one day and actually approach the building, enter the front door and actually have a conversation with someone in charge. I doubt he ever will but since you put him in his place with ALL THE FACTS, he might just see the light.
Thom Geiger commented at 9/30/2009 7:44:00 AM:
Matt, where in what I have every posted to the internet or on a campaign web site about the MEGAPOP, what the city of Columbus has or hasn't done with the resource, is in error? Your message lacked any specificity. I challenge any public official to publicly answer my questions about the MEGAPOP project and what Columbus is or isn't doing along the lines of the same efforts Amory, Starkville, Tupelo, Oxford and now Noxubee are doing, any public official.
You, or all people, should know that I have been a consistent advocate of getting the most modern and current technology available for this city. You have never spoken to me about my concerns about the use or non-use of available internet and data resources in our area, not once. The only person who has spoken to me about the subject has been one city councilman, who told me he spoke to an "IT expert" about my concerns about the MEGAPOP project and the response was "it's complicated".
I have my suspicions about what was has been the dragging force at the root of the problem with the technology development efforts in Lowndes County and I can provide that information to the public, if need be. It is publicly available information and concerns the anti-competitive mindset of certain large commercial data service providers in this state.
If, as you say, use of the network (such as West Point recently announced) is hobbled only by the availability of funds, then I have to ask; what is our problem here in Columbus? How can West Point find available financial resources and we can't? Your message didn't address that question either.
I think you and I both know there are other factors at work in this topic area of technology development in northeast MS. I won't publicly insult your intelligence, so I'd appreciate it if you don't try to insult mine. We both have access to the same trade and industry news, the same developments, only yours is local government and mine is military. I do know there are serious failings by our local officials, and your inference about the purpose of the MEGAPOP is not accurate. To quote from the MEGAPOP web site itself;
- Increase availability of ultra high-speed Internet access at affordable rates
-Encourage competitions among internet service providers
-Facilitate building out "last mile" rural access
MEGAPOP plans to accomplish this through the installation and expansion of existing fiber networks connecting communities throughout North Mississippi. These networks will form the basis for a wholesale "open access" fiber transport infrastructure, across which competing retail service providers will provide services to consumers. By constructing, owning and managing the infrastructure MEGAPOP can ensure a ubiquitous distribution of the advanced telecommunications network throughout North Mississippi and can assure access for competing providers thus allowing providers the ability to offer wider, more robust, cost effective services for the citizens of this region.
Note the consistent theme of spurring competition between service providers, the reference to a wholesale "open access" fiber transport infrastructure and the phrase "will provide services to consumers"
In this city, in this county, only a select few business have benefitted from this public resource and I have received many questions from business owners about why they have been 'shut out' of that "wholesale "open access" fiber transport infrastructure" the MEGAPOP was supposed to enable and create. Perhaps you can post some answers and specifics about the way the city is marketing the network, using its potential to recruit business to the city and how current and long time businesses can take advantage of the opportunities you say other businesses in our area are now seeing through the network.
As for you, GeezLouise, I thought by now someone at the CMSD office would have had a talk with you about making threats about people's employment. I am not hiding my identity or who I am, so why don't you step up, unless you make a habit of accusing others of not doing what you yourself won't do?
Matt Manley commented at 9/30/2009 1:22:00 PM:
At no time did I "publicly insult your intelligence" during my last statement and if I did then I am sorry. What I am trying to get across to you is that it seems that your idea of what MEGAPOP really is is incorrect. What I am going to try to do respectfully is to break down each portion of your arguments with another view of the situation.
First of all, in your original post you posted several links to other sites concerning MEGAPOP and the surrounding areas. The following is just a breakdown of each that I have found:
Starkville "City shall enter into a Right of Way Use Agreement with Telepak Networks, Inc"
West Point Gave access to the Right of Way and in-kind service from the electrical department
"MEGAPOP Cooperative is examing three ways to bridge the Internet gap: leasing existing fiber lines in the region; buying existing fiber lines from Memphis to Columbus; or, as a last resort, installing fiber-optic transmission lines itself."
"Acknowledge and ratify the Facilities Lease"
Dated April 24, 2006
"The Mississippi Economic Growth Alliance and Point of Presence (MEGAPOP) now has the backbone build complete in Oktibbeha and Lowndes counties."
"According to Baldwin, another new user, Logista, a Columbus company working with the banking industry, is getting three times the Internet capacity at half the cost. "We love hearing comments like that," he said."
In each one of these cities, they allowed MEGAPOP to use the city's right of way, which Columbus has done, in order to bring the service into the area. The City of Columbus as a government does not need access to MEGAPOP at this time because we were ahead of the curve by installing our own fiber runs years ago. Secondly, the statement "use of the network (such as West Point recently announced) is hobbled only by availability of funds" I never said the use of the fiber was hobbled in any way. What I was referring to was the "free" internet access that the Gilmore foundation set up in the City of Amory. This had nothing to do with MEGAPOP other than it is tied into the POP in the area. Also, "only a select few businesses have benefitted from this public resource and I have received many questions from business owners about why they have been 'shut out'. Any business in Columbus or Lowndes County can contact Telepak Networks concerning gaining access to the fiber and I will give you the Director of Commercial Sales name and phone number. He is Phil Rice and # is 1800-342-3716. The nature of this system is to develop "competing retail service providers" and one in particular that I know here is Columbus is Teletec who offer wireless internet service to customers who may or may not be able to get access from any other ISP. This is a perfect example of what MEGAPOP was designed for. If MEGAPOP did not enter areas like Amory, West Point, Noxubee County, Starkville, and yes even Columbus; what major ISP would have spent the millions of dollars to bring high speed access to this area.
And finally on a more personal note, you are correct that I have never spoken to you about your concerns because each and every person has their own opinion and that is what makes us different and special. My problem was and is when people take ideas that may not be true and speak to the public as to the truth. A quote from your campaign page is the reason I had an issue:
"Everything from our personal computers to our home appliances is less expensive and more available to the general public than in days of old. Our cellular phones, microwave ovens, televisions, computer software, it all benefits us with more capabilities and less work than old technologies. I believe we can modernize our city's use of current technology to help us save more money, and lessen the work needed to get things done, than what we are using and doing now.
We should have the means to enable every city official to see, use and share the same real time, instant, up to date information. The more eyes we have on the figures, the less surprise there will be at any one time. Our city government should be using current data and information technology, hardware and software in its daily operations, but unfortunately, the reality is many of our city departments are still stuck using old, outdated methods and processes that cost the city taxpayer's time, money and effort.
It's not just sharing and processing information that can benefit from modernization, it's daily operations of almost every city department, in the equipment they use and the processes it takes to get the work done. Everything that costs our city money and funds needs to be examined and replaced, if newer, up to date means are available that will conserve our financial resources and save our employees effort and our taxpayers money."
As far as you and I are concerned we might understand what you mean concerning this statement, but I have had people come up to me and ask if we are still typewriters and if our equipment is that old.
If you have any issues with IT and the City of Columbus, again you now have my email address and you have seen me at council meetings, please feel free to ask me.
j.r commented at 9/30/2009 5:01:00 PM:
This is so funny to me you guys are actually computer nerds to the fullest. What about the state game or something what the women doing right now have a beer and relax its others things out there then to argue with people who are not wise like you
thankyoumatt commented at 9/30/2009 9:51:00 PM:
I think that Birney should give Matt a ROSE in Sunday's edition for setting the record straight with Thom Geiger, the computer operator from CAFB. THE facts can sometime set you free Thom and now you have THE facts as they concern the city of Columbus and I hope that you will stop spreading rumors and untruths about something you know nothing about. Someone finally put you in your place when it comes to confronting people face to face about issues .. you are just a pure coward chicken to do so because you already know you are wrong. I'm laughing alway to the school house door about Matt's last post. It really made my day.
Thom Geiger commented at 10/1/2009 7:36:00 AM:
Matt, if you check the ARC web page that contains very specific details of the intended purpose of the MEGAPOP project, you will see it was for two primary reasons, with other benefits that would follow;
to enable the building out of the last mile internet in rural areas and to spur competition among data service providers. Since the lighting ceremony with Gov. Barbour, neither of these has been accomplished. There are still large areas, even ones within the immediate area of where the fiber line is buried between Tupelo and Hattiesburg, who have no access unless they can afford satellite internet. Likewise, where is the competition in local service providers that was the main Holy Grail of the project to begin with? There is none.
Did you not read the press releases by Scott Ross about the build-up in West Point? Did you not read the minutes of the Starkville BOA meeting where the leaders approved the access? There are very detailed specifics in those minutes;
MEGAPOP shall provide the following services to the City during the term of MEGAPOP's Lease Agreement with Telepak Networks, Inc.
a. Utilize the MEGAPOP's resources to sponsor seminars, equipment and technology demonstrations, trade-shows,
lectures and other educational events to assist in training and educating the population residing in City's boundaries
and within the MEGAPOP Region in the uses and benefits of broadband technology.
b. Assist City and other municipalities, counties and governing agencies within the MEGAPOP Region in the
identification of and application for grants, loans and other incentive programs designed to advance broadband
technology, including but not limited to the construction of facilities for the affordable delivery of "Last Mile"
broadband services, broadband facilities and equipment for the use and education of the general public, and the
upgrading and improvement of existing telecommunications facilities.
c. Coordinate with physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers in connection with the identification,
purchase, implementation and use of state of the art communications facilities designed to bring improved, affordable and
faster delivery of health care services to residents of City and the MEGAPOP Region.
d. Work with businesses and industries located within City's boundaries and in the MEGAPOP Region to deploy broadband
technologies in order to enable those businesses and industries to more economically and effectively compete in a global
e. Work with economic development agencies within the MEGAPOP Region to recruit new business and industry to the area, and
to create new jobs within existing business and industry in the area of technology and communications.
f. Provide assistance to City and other local governments in the MEGAPOP Region in identifying ways and means of providing
better services and greater access to existing services through the effective use of broadband technologies.
g. Identify, promote and advocate reasonable and necessary policies on a local, regional, state and federal level for improved
access by residents of City and of the MEGAPOP Region to Broadband Internet services.
h. Conduct regular sessions with educational institutions located within City's boundaries and in the MEGAPOP Region,
including primary and secondary public schools, community colleges and universities, in order to identify and plan for
necessary programs, curricula, and classes designed to take full advantage of broadband services.
I once again challenge any city leader in Columbus to point the readers to a genuine source to see where they have done anything similar in Columbus. Since you are the city's go-to person on technology, you should have intimate knowledge of any such efforts on the part of the city on topics such as these.
I raised the issue of the original purpose of the project, the fact that it is operational and was intended to benefit the consumers (taxpayers) who funded it, but the answer was about what the city government has as far as infrastructure. That was neither the question nor the issue I brought up.
The question I asked about how the city is marketing the resource to new industry wasn't answered either. In fact, I have already been in the room when a business owner made several calls to Telepak , asking about the MEGAPOP network, and not only did the company deny it was taxpayer funded, but the fees and access charges were astronomical; $70,000 just to connect and a $6,000 per month line charge, and that was IF his company was within one mile of the terminal point POP in downtown Columbus, more if the distance was farther. How is that competitive and how does that spur competition, allow start-ups to pass savings on to their customers and how is that kind of expense being marketed, if at all, to small companies that might want to locate here?
Matt Manley commented at 10/1/2009 10:25:00 AM:
I think that there is only one thing that we can agree on and that is the problems that you have are concerning MEGAPOP and less about the City of Columbus. To the extent of the research I have done, no taxpayer's money was used by the City of Columbus to pay for the MEGAPOP project. As far as marketing the service, that would have to be the responsibility of Telepak and the LINK. The City of Columbus is not a controlling body concerning MEGAPOP. That is a company that conducts business and the city does not have any control into what they do. I still do not see why you have issues with officials in the City of Columbus because all the businesses such as MSU, Logista, and others in the surrounding area have had to pay for access to the service just as you and I have to pay for TV cable or phone service. As far as competition goes, the service has done exactly what is was set up to do. If you wanted to start your own ISP in the areas that the fiber are ran such as what you mentioned between Tupelo and Hattiesburg, you could purchase access to the fiber and start another ISP. That would not happen if not for MEGAPOP's fiber run and that is what makes the whole project stem more competition for better prices on internet service, just look at Teletec as a perfect example. In closing, let me ask one simple question, what specifically would you like to see officials in the City of Columbus do concerning MEGAPOP?
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