Every year the Telecomm Board is required to give a report to the City, detailing what activities we have been involved with in the past twelve months. This report will be presented to the Fayetteville City Council on Tuesday. Who knew you could get so much done, and have so much fun while you were doing it?
Fayetteville Telecommunications Board 2008 Report to City Council
2007 was a busy and productive year for the Telecomm Board.
New board members in 2007
Fred Cusannelli, Shelli Bell, Eric Sales.
In January, representatives from AT&T came before the board to explain the U-Verse, which is the Internet-based television service which AT&T plans to offer the citizens of Fayetteville in the future. In the discussion with the board Ed Drilling (president of AT&T in Arkansas)) says that while AT&T pays the city of Fayetteville 4.25% in franchise fees for telephone and data use rights of way, it will pay 5% of video revenues.
In addition, PEG (Public, Education and Government) channels will also be available on the AT&T line-up. Drilling also sais that AT&T will help the city install Fayetteville equipment in order to put PEG channels on the Internet platform, so that content can be archived on the city's server, if the city desires.
Drilling also indicated that an additional channel might be provided for the public schools.
Several members of the Fayetteville public had serious questions and concerns about the proposed contract with AT&T, and so the Telecomm Board decided to have an issue forum on the subject of the proposed AT&T contract, so that local citizens would have a chance to have some input into the subject.
In February, the Telecomm Board held a public forum on the proposed AT&T agreement with the city of Fayetteville.
In attendance were:
Kathy Foraker - Director, External Affairs, AT&T Arkansas, Fayetteville
Alan Ivester - AT&T Arkansas, Area manager U-Verse Execution
Richard S. Drake - Telecomm Chair, moderator
Fred Cusanelli - Telecomm board member, former AT&T technician
Bobby Ferell - Fayetteville Alderman
Colleen Pancake - Community Access Television Board president
John Lewis - Bank of Fayetteville, Aladdin network founder
Larry Long - Information Technology Consultant, author
Carl Barnwell - MOMNI Center for Justice and Peace member
Susan Thomas - City of Fayetteville Public Information and Policy Advisor
The purpose of the forum was to discuss the franchise agreement for voice, data and video services. Suggested changes emanating from the forum were to be sent onwards to the Fayetteville City Council for their consideration, along with the minutes of the forum.
Questions for the forum were drawn from a wide variety of sources, including participants, local citizens, and members of the Alliance for Community Media, which is a group consisting of members who belong to PEG stations across the United states.
As a result of public concern, several changes were made in the proposed contract. The Telecomm Board voted to accept the contract with AT&T.
In March, the Telecomm Board held its yearly retreat at Uncle Gaylord's restaurant. This is a meeting so that members can discuss goals and new members especially can get a sense of the board. The meeting was taped shown on television.
In 2007, meetings of the Telecomm Board could be seen not only on FGC, but on Google Video, as well. In addition, local citizens made requests for the meetings to be seen on Community Access television.
The Telecomm Board has also delved into the subject of city-wide Wi-Fi. To that end, the board heard a prostration in May from Dave Reynolds of Smith Radio, and in June from S&W Communications.
Among subjects the board expressed interest in were:
How might Wi-Fi be funded?
What models do other cities use?
Would Wi-Fi be of use to our local emergency services?
In September, a Telecomm Board sponsored a roundtable, "Wi-Fi: What's it's purpose and potential for Fayetteville." As with the previous issue forum, questions were solicited from a wide-range of sources. Participants included:
SHELLI BELL, Telecommunications Board
RICHARD S. DRAKE, Telecommunications Board Chair
KYLE KELLAMS, Round Table Moderator and KUAF news director
BILL RAMSEY, Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce President
DALE RIGGINS, Captain, Fayetteville Fire Department
BILL PHELAN, Sergeant, Fayetteville Police Department
JAMES GRIGSBY, Wireless Network Consultant.
In 2007 the board also discussed the possibility of webstreaming the contents of FGC and C.A.T. over the Internet. C.A. Hilton spent part of the year researching the subject for the board.
The board also reviewed extensively the proposed changes in the city's cable administration.
There are several roundtables/issue forums on tap for 2008.
Telecomm Board Subcommittee on Policy and Procedures
Throughout the year, the subcommittee dealt with the matters of:
whether the FGC should be taping school board meetings - duplicating the efforts of the Educational Channel. The Board decided that as long as the school meetings were being taped and shown, there was no need for them to be taped the FGC.
The Committee also discussed how many working days it should take the Cable Administrator to respond to a written complaint, and discussed exactly what
might constitute a "partisan" issue, especially when it may occur in "informational programs."
Other items discussed included how many citizens it would take to request programming on FGC.
All of the Telecomm Board minutes and Subcommittee notes are available to anyone who wishes to review them.
Telecomm Wish List
This list is derived from what people in the community would like to see the Telecomm Board and the city of Fayetteville focus on in the years ahead.
Among the items on the "wish list":
It was suggested that the Telecomm Board undertake a 2008 Telecom Needs and Interest Study. It has, after all, been ten years since the last such a study was undertaken.
A desire was also expressed for free Broadband Access for the Community and a T-1 line for the PEG Center.
A local citizen emailed me with this list of suggestions:
Report on HAPs in operation around the world -- if any.
Significant reduction in dropped calls.
Add another CAT channel.
Rain and canopy blockage of Satellite services.
An independent comparison of cable and telephone and satellite services including data rates and costs.
City-wide Internet loading profiles to answer the question:
What are the best times to access the Internet? This is also driven by international loading.
Where are our boundaries for switched services, number of telephone numbers, ...
Forecasted demand for phone numbers and Internet services including data rate demands.
Demand for an BBC-like channel for NWA.
Though this did not come up recently, during one of our Telecomm meetings, one of the representatives from UATV expressed the wish that there were a separate channel for the UA and the public schools.
And finally, this suggestion came from Henry Lisenbee of the Princeton Server Group/TVTN.
Happy Holidays to you.
I like the concept, but if the citizens are not aware of what new technology s available, they may not know what to include in their wish-list.
For example, Princeton Server Group and TVTN provide a 4 in 1 messaging and notification system to the channel, the web site, and text to cell and text to email. This is the only 4 in 1 messaging system that can send bulletins and alerts to 4 mediums at the SAME time.
Citizens can self subscribe from a public web site to whatever categories they choose- school closings, road closures, city events, alerts, etc....,
Suddenly, the PEG channel serves a larger role in the community and can be used for community outreach that extends beyond just the TV channel personnel. The Fire, Police, Public Works, EM, etc... can all access their own bulletins and update using web or our WEBUS (Web Updating System).
Additionally, PSG now offers streaming and on demand.. services which will continue to evolve in 2008.
Richard S. Drake
Chair - Telecomm Board
Telecomm Board members