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"It's a consumer-owned system.
                                                      It helps support our parks, our
Page 4c. Sunday. March 10.2002: The Sun                                                                        BUSINESS

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Rural Broadband


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Shoo fly pie -- and broadband, too

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Rural Broadband

  1. 1. "It's a consumer-owned system. It helps support our parks, our pools, our police. The money stags in the community." Keith A. Hill.boroug'i manager, holding filaments like those in Kutztown's Internet link About 5,000 call ft homo: Main Street in Kutztown Is about to be served by the Pennsylvania town's very own bypass to the information superhighway. Shooflgpie, and broadband, too cover them. As politicians In Washington dicker over how to soon oder Its own high-speed bridge the so-called •digital di- s|Kt*i Interm* service, Internet service to every resl- vide." these towns built their wlil likely be less than people In superhighway. stall Us own system. Maryland pay If they can even 'Some of these towns were too where they live. Kutztown. on large Incumbent providers; the the edRe ot Pennsylvania Dutch rale of return Isn't there for By ANDREW RATXER country. Is [he latest of 100 cities them." sold Ron I.unt. director and towns across the country of telecommunications services that have Installed their own for the American Public Power KUTZTOWN. Pa. — This high-speed systems for Internet Association, a trade group of town midway between Reading usirra. municipal Utility companies In and Allentown has about 5.000 Some of the places simply Washington. "And I don't see the residents, an annual Amish fes- have the wealth or know-how to large Incumbent providers up- tival renowned for Its apple but- do so. such as Palo A;to In Call- loading the systems with the en- ter and shoofly pl«. a Mam fomla'i Silicon Valley or the trenchment and stock prices the Street adorned with hex signs Hoston suburb of Brain tree. But way they are." and gingerbread facades, a Kutziown. like many of the more One of the four regional Bell neighborhood park with a wiire store when? the vendinc for one of the lam if providers Jor. nationwide upgrade of lU machine sells candy for 15 cents. such as Verizon Corp. to dis- system {See Broadband, -i-
  2. 2. Page 4c. Sunday. March 10.2002: The Sun BUSINESS Town builds its own information bypass I Broadband, from Page lc last fall. Uncertainty about govern- Small towns, high-speed links ment regulations made It IOD nsky Some towns that created their own broadband to invest in distant areas that are difficult to serve, said Its chief ex- Internet systems: _ „ ecutive. V O Gta>f°w' Ky" Regarded as the Erst. While most midsize and large ";• municipal Internet service, with cities are served by the two majcr ,--y> r amonjr the cheapest subscription fees forms of broadband Internet con- " ; y1' In the country nections — digital .subscriber lines typically from phone companies - 0 LaGrang-e. G*.: Fr«s Internet service and cable modem service from ca- to cable subscribers. ble television providers - less man 0 percent of towns with fewer than ^ Klulmmee, Ha^ Offers free computer 10.000 residents have both serv- traJnlnc and users' croups In Er.Elish ices, according to a government and Spanish for bilingual clientele study. Kutztown resiileiilj, have hud ./jl Kutztown, Pa^ Completing; fiber-optic one option to date — cable-modem broadband service from the local speed Internet to residents, one-third cable TV company. Service Elec- of whom are scudents at a nearby tric Cable TV Inc. state university. Somewhere a buyer: BUI Schuster Counts on the Web to attract distant buyers to painted milk Trie roster o( towns and cities jugs. Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs and other products of the workshop that he and his wife run. building tneir own Internet net- O Eaiton, Udj Town's utility company works is spread across the country. provided first high-speed Internet The lone one In Maryland is connections available on the government competing with the other things The cost Is about optic cables in a trailer a fewblocks Eastun. although its network Is Eastern Shore private sector?' But I don't look at twice as expensive as In more away. Local concerns were mos:ly less ambitious than Kuutown'n. It that way. It's a consumer-owned densely populated AUcntown and how much it would cost — the About 500 -i Eastor.'s 5.000 ca- (ft North AlUeborough, Maw,: Connects system. It helps support our parks, Reading, each about 20 miles away town hasn't set a rate yet, but ble TV and electric customers be- r 1.500 school computers to Internet our pools, our police. The money In apposite directions, he said. pledges tnat it will be 10 percent to gan receiving always-on. broad- SOURCE: Aniericwi Public through municipal system stays In the community" This part of the county Isn't al- 20 percent less than prices else- ;• - i AiiucUlkm Kulztown said It wrote to Veri- ways ready to accept change." Cl- band service through the town sys- where — and whether they'd he tem last summer. The monthly fee. zon Corp. beginning a few years chelli said. A poster of Camden forced to subscribe. They won't, of- about $40. Is roughly what pnvate ago asking It to bnng digital sub- Yards above his desk is a reminder ficials said. providers offer, although private scriber line service to town, but re- of Ills boyhood in Sparrows Point But even before the coming service Isn't available In many cor- ceived no reply. It also unsuccess- before his father was transferred to broadband project, the Internet ners of the Delmarva Peninsula. fully solicited Service Electric, the Bethlehem Stcci Corp.'s main age has already brought change When £aston Utilities Intro- local cable television provider, to plant 30 miles east of nere. He re- here. duced an earlier cable-modem became a partner In the town's fi- mains a big fan of the Orioles — Bruce A. Haver. 52, runs one of connection in 1998. It was the first ber-optic system by leasing lines or and of the technology focus at Bor- the naif-dozen or so antique shops area on the Eastern Shore to offer providing local TV production ough Hall In town. There used to be more of broadband service, said BUI Rus- "We were like everyone else. We Said Clchelli. These guys are them, but they closed as dealing sell, cable and communications wanted DSL." said Frank P. Ca- really thinking way ahead. Oh. antiques and collectibles over the manager for Easton Utilities ruso. Kutziown's director of Infor- man ~ Glasgow. •:>-, which has been mation technology. "We're still on Kutztown officials say their Internet gained popularity in re- the waiting list." new Si.C million system will do cent years described as UIR most wired town in that state, launched the first more than pipe the Internet Into 'Kind of a scary thing* municipal Internee service In the $300 biniou tab possible homes and businesses faster. With late 1980s LaGrunge, Qa.. pro- UnK Koewlng. a^v.iir. 1 vice the network linked to electric and •People keep telling me about It, vides ll free to subscribers of Its ca- president for Internet and technol- water meters, the town will be able but I haven't gotten my feet wet ble TV system. A county in eastern ogy policy for Veruon in Washing- to collect in leu than two hours tne I've got to Jump In tnere. I've got to Washington state witn Its own ton. D.C.. said the cost of upgrad- data that a meter reader now see what happens with this Inter- high-speed network Is so Isolated ing the nation's telecommunica- spends 10 days collecting. Resi- net. It's kind of a scary thing —12 homes per square mile — that tions infrastructure forbroadband dents would receive one bill lor all though." said Baver. who hasn't its project has been referred :o as service could cost $300 billion. government services, from inter- begun trading his century-old •fiberto the trailer." That investment is very unlikely as net subscription to trash pickup. lamps and other Items online. These systems are often Web bargain on the way: These Kutztown homes await long aa federal policy requires the If the town signs up a competi- To this point, he's been content cheaper than commercial provid- high-speed Internet service at rates well beluw market prices. regional Bells to share Uieir lines, tive phone company to offer serv- to sell his goods from a tiny shop ers. According to Lunt of the ho said. Meanwhile, towns building ice on its volcc-ovcr-lntcrnct sys- with an Ivory-colored, pressed tin power association, public system the "last mile" of the Web do a dis- tem, town residents will need only celling — as delicate and intricate rates average J33 a month, at least times raster than digital sub- of glass. service, he argued. to mouse-click four digits on their as the handmade quilts at the 20 percent less than market prices. scriber lines and 225 times faster Kutztown anticipates strong "One problem with local gov- computer to reach a neighbor by summertime Pennsylvania Ger- Cheaper doesn't mean lesser. than the dial-up modems in most demand For such service because ernment doing it on a patchwork telephone rather than dial the man Festival though. KutKtown's fiber-optic homes with Internet access. half oi Its dwellings are rented out basis Is that It undermines our In- whole 10-digit number — oddly Down the street, BUI and Char- system will be able to download Several factors encouraged to Internet-sawy s'.udents who at- centive to invest and huild an inte- reminiscent of a long-ago era of lotte Schuster didn't know mucn niea In an eye blink — 10 times Kutztown's push Into cyberspace. tend the nearby state university. grated network." Hoewlng said, 'It town operators manning plug-In more about Kutztown's fledgling faster than cable modems. 20 The town has Its own electric Also, the town manager is a civil could be « problem If many Iccal switchboards, Dber-opllc Initiative, although generator - and resells energy to engineer by training, so he wasn't governments :rled to do this. They The system would also be able they're already hip-deep in e-com- local energy companies — so it felt Intimidated by the technical chal- don't have the economic chal- to ring every home In the borough merce. that it already had the equipment lenge. lenges we nave. It's unfair competi- within five minutes In case of an The couple create and sell Penn- and know-how to maintain an "It Is feasible for certain com- tion," evacuation or other emergency, sylvania Dutch hex signs on every- Ethernet system, which transmit* munities.' said Keith A. Hill. Kutz- In fact. 11 slates. Including Vir- Hill said thing from milk |ugs to wooden voice, data ano pictures In the town's borough manager since ginia, now bar or restrict munici- Kutztown Isn't foreign soil for saws 'If you ain't Dutch, you ain't form of light through tiny strands 1690. Tou nave people ask, 'Is the palities from offering the service. forward-thinking. Just outside much.' crowed one sign In their Private companies have also sued town Is the headquarters ofRodale workshop lull of vibrant geometric some public providers. Inc , publisher of magazines such designs. They don't want that market to go away and lose it all together." as i'i,-,-.-r,iti>n and known for Its founder's environmental run- A decade ago. the Schusters' art said Carol Helberger. an energy stousness. attracted some international buy- and telecommunications consult- Bui the town of 1,5 square miles ers, but mostly by happenstance. ant In Philadelphia. -Qut the cities nevertheless appears an unlikely Bill Schuster, BO. recalled Japa- and towns are saying. 'You're not place for such an experiment. nese tourists years ago walking doing anything for me now. Tills is Its quaint Mam Street could be past his handiwork displayed out- about economic development.'" the set of a Frank Capra movie — side Ms home and buying a couple Although typically ccol to gov- allowing for the occasional tattoo of hundred dollars' worth on the ernment Intervention In technol- parlor and a fancy mlcrobrewery spur ofthc moment. ogy. Michael K Powell chairman popular with the college crowd. But with technical support from of the Federal Communications The housing stock Isn't much their grand.son, the Internet now Commission. In a speech In Octo- changed From when It was built for helps the couple sell far beyond the ber encouraged -communlty-ln- slioe-fMctory workers a half-cen- hounds of Kutztown through 888-231-2998" On this site dusfy partnerships" to expand tury «>;o. And the occasional nnrse Internet delivery. and buggy clip-tops past carrying recently, they had received an e- This is an exceptional way of one of the Mennonlte families who mail from Saudi Arabia and were attracting business,' bald Dennis live In the countryside that William preparing shipments to Canada M. Cicnelll, owner of a computer Penn bought from the Lennl Lc- and Scotland. network company In Kutztown. napes tnbe in the mid- 1000s. •My husband is still from hot Before you spend more for less, Because of the town's relative Iso- Many shop owners and resi- dogs-for-5-cents." said Charlotte lation, he pays about $900 a month dents along the business corridor Schuster. 81. "But you don't draw for a high-speed T-1 connection for had only vaguely heard of the proj- people locally. Last year, we picked his company, which designs Web ect as of last week — even as a up so much business from the Reward yourself with an affordable sites for small businesses, among Georgia contractor spliced fiber- Internet."