Tale of Two Cities: Poplar Bluff and Danville, Virginia

Jan 24, 2012

Oh, Poplar Bluff…we could have had Ikea’s first U.S. Manufacturing plant. We could have been a meca for Technology-centric startup companies. Our city could be touted with sentences like “the city-owned open-access fiber network plays a key role in business attraction and retention.” Poplar Bluff, we could have been Danville…for a lack of vision, we starve.

Poplar Bluff Danville
Population 17,045 44,660
City-Owned Utilities? Yes Yes
City-owned Network? Yes Yes
Network Started In 2001 2006
Is Network Open Access? Was Yes
Proudly Claims to be first Municipally Owned
Open Access Network in US?
Was Yes
Provides Fiber-to-the-business? No Yes
2012 Plans for Fiber-to-the-home? No 500 Homes
Touted Nationally For Available Technology? No Yes
Attracting New Business like Ikea Plant From
Available Technology?
No Yes

Here’s a quote from an article released today on Danville’s Open Access network:

the city is attracting new industries and jobs, and nDanville, the city-owned open-access fiber network, plays a key role in business attraction and retention.

-nDanville is now operationally in the black; revenues exceed the cost of managing and maintaining the network. When nDanville first began operations, there was skepticism that an open-access network would be financially sustainable. Because of the financial success of the network, the city agreed to support the FTTH residential expansion, which sets the stage for realizing the longerterm vision of fiber to every home and business in the Danville Electric Utilities service area.

and from nDanville.net:

Won’t nDanville compete with the private sector?
No! nDanville does not sell services. Instead, the network will be made available to any and all qualified service providers, each of which will be free to sell their own services to any customer connected to the network. Customers will buy services directly from the private sector provider of their choice. The City of Danville will not sell services.

Read more about Danville’s Open Access network.

  1. thomas

    jerry, there is so much truth in that its unreal. until american people decide to pull together as in united we stand divided we fall. americans are to divided to make anything happen in this country

  2. jerry mcdowell

    there is a strong monopoly.. when it comes to reasonable business practices. a lot is politics years ago before windstream put in dsl. the cable company was going to put in internet cable . but that soon got pulled they seem to think the $$$ cost will out weigh the $$$ take in from service. this entire area is controlled by the top $$$$ dogs . the consumer has no voice in it at all. semo just happened to be the low $$$ AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POLE. what it amounts to is they control who what when and where. the days of common sense has been laid to rest . corp greed has took over thats how Walmart has succeed. they squeezed the priv business sector out

  3. Toni Becker

    As long as there is a profit-centric government in place as there is in PB, there will never be an opportunity to co-op anything. They will continue to pick the winners and losers. It is a ruling mentality, not a serving mentality. It’s cool with most everyone here, though, it seems. Most have figured out how to game the system or fall obediently in line or wouldn’t recognize a greater vision if God, Himself, presented it.

  4. Dwain Ogden

    We who reside in the county but spend our incomes in the city really have a larger say on the subject of the open access than you would think… at first glance. True we couldn’t petition, we can’t vote on the issue, but we can still be felt. This week I changed to Dish Network and saved money, we have better tv selections and programs, and it looks like the city will be short about $980 this year because of it. Then, when the internet goes back to SEMO, thats another $34 for a year, well its $408. It really adds up.

  5. Jim

    There was also an article in the Rural Electric Magazine in Missouri where the local electric COOP installed a fiber optic network. They were taking fiber to the house. Don’t know who is operating the network or if it has been successful for them. I believe this was in the St. Joseph, MO area. I was recently in the Kirksville, MO area and they had cable internet rated at 50Mbps and I have seen other providers saying they can do 100Mbps. The local telephone company in Ellington, MO obtained permission as part of the water system upgrade to run fiber optic cables along with the new water lines and they at one time hope to have fiber optic cables to the house sometime in the future. With all the possibilities (TV, Internet, and Phone) offered by fiber optic service to the house someone will figure out how to get it installed and make money off the deal.

    1. Brian Becker

      @Jim – The coop story was about Ralls County. The federal government gave Ralls County Electric Coop $19M ($9.x million grant and $9.x million loan) to run fiber to every home in the county. The county has 3600 households in the entire county and they are approximately 60% done with another two years for completion.

  6. Peter

    Could this be done through a COOP or something? If your numbers are right , which I believe they are, wouldn’t someone back it? Where’s Todd?

    1. Brian Becker

      I’ve been saying for 10 years…even louder for the past 2 years…that the best solution for any community is an open access network. The problem lies in motives. In Danville, the motive is to make the fiber network highly available throughout the community so that current businesses can migrate their operation into the digital age and also for the city to be able to attract more businesses. Here in Poplar Bluff, the motive is to make as much money as possible off the network.

      One case in point is a pie-chart prepared by Municipal Utilities/City Cable in December 2009 showing that the city could make $639k more if Open Access was eliminated.

      A coop would be difficult. A city can take on a $9m note quite easily – rally the people to a vote.