Long Island proposal still mired: The plan to put Wi-Fi up across two Long Island counties has seemed doomed to me from the start. The company that won the bid was untested, and its other in-deployment or in-proposal networks are off the table. Expertise aside, it needs tens of millions to build such a network, and financing for company-funded metro-scale projects is not available. The counties involved have pledged no purchases of services. And, perhaps the final stroke, the local utility says that E-Path doesn't meet the test of being a telecom and paying less than $10 per year for pole placement, but instead must pay the all-comer rate of $50 per year.
This is a critical distinction. Telecoms are covered under the Telecom Act of 1996 that requires non-discriminatory access to utility poles to avoid incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) and utilities from being gatekeepers that prevent competitive service from emerging. There are a series of tests in the law and local qualifications, too, that allow a firm to be a registered telecom. An FCC decision last year ruled that companies that mix telecom and unregulated information services on the same wires aren't disqualified from getting the Telecom Act deal, however.
But E-Path seems to meet none of the criteria except their desire to pay $10 instead of $50 per year per pole. Utility poles have held up many other municipal networks. We're not hearing more about them these days because such networks are now being built on a smaller scale for different purposes, where the number of nodes and their placement is rather different than networks built with the intent of providing indoor coverage.
Cablevision, by the way, qualifies as a telecom, this article states, which helps them in placing nodes for their planned $300m network across their coverage territory. They can also mount nodes in-line with their cable lines, using power from their cable plant on the lines already.
E-Path appears to have a variety of communication problems as well. The article notes, "Tortoretti said his Washington, D.C., attorneys disagree with LIPA's interpretation. But the attorney Tortoretti said represents E-Path, Charles Rohe, said he couldn't speak about the company or the dispute."
Later, E-Path's "chief executive said he hopes the county will help with his LIPA dispute." But an aide to the Suffolk County executive said, "That's not really our issue. That's out of our control."
Correspondent Craig Plunkett, quoted near the end, points out that if the counties were to change their minds and want to buy services on the network, the proposal would have to be rebid (appears as the sound-alike "rebuild" by accident in the online article at this moment).