The superior physical characteristics of BT’s network allow it to offer services which are both far superior and more diverse than any that can be offered by its competitors. These are not just services that will be in demand in some distant future. They are services that are in demand now – and are causing communities without them to lose out to communities that are more up to date . Furthermore, BT’s infrastructure is built to be able expand beyond the City itself. This means, not just increased revenues, but increased economic stimulation as well.
Some of these services were identified by the Hiawatha Broadband Report to the BRC back in 2010, which recommended that they be aggressively marketed. Below are some specifics about the many innovative services that are made possible by the superior physical characteristics of BT’s network.
Services For Businesses
Wholesale Data Services
Fiber – A variety of businesses, including banks. etc.. need private data services. Overall, there is around 30-40 million in revenue going to data services providers like AT & T and others. Today, those players are building fiber to businesses within BT’s service area. BT could partner with these companies to allow them to offer services over BTs fiber.
Wi-Fi – Cellphone companies are increasingly using Wi-Fi to deliver data services to their customers. BT could partner with cellphone companies to help them provide Wi-Fi data services to their customers, while expanding its free Wi-Fi coverage to BT customers throughout the city, instead of just at a few locations.
For information-intensive businesses of all sizes and kinds, symmetrical uploads are of high value. BT’s symmetry allows it to offer:
VOICE – BT has untapped VOIP capabilities which could add substantially to BT’s revenue and reach: VOIP services can be retailed to local businesses or sold wholesale to Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) throughout Vermont and into New York. VOIP added features, like Caller-ID on TV, Find Me Follow Me, and Converged e-mail and voice-mail can be added to services purchased by residential and business customers.
Off-site Backup – Businesses can back-up huge amounts of data to off-site locations at speeds that are usually only possible within the building (the Local Area Network, or LAN).
Extended LAN – seamless extension of in-building computer networks (LANs) to other buildings in the BT service area.
Cloud Access and services provision – “The Cloud” is a tech-speak term for out-sourced computing resources – You can rent the use of computing resources off-site. Therefore, you don’t have to maintain them. BT can provide vastly superior access to public cloud services (which allow companies to outsource data, software, and computation), as well as affording tech companies the ability to easily create and deliver locally-hosted, member-owned Cloud services both for their own use and to sell.
Business-Driven Services – Thanks to a BT business structure with built-in member input, Businesses will be able to drive additional services offered to them.
Artists, Photographers, Videographers, and other creative professionals need to send and receive ever-larger amounts of data over the Internet, for activities like remote collaboration and data backup. The massive capacity of BT’s superior fiber-optic design means that these folks needs will be met for many years to come.
Remote diagnosis, 3D remote radiology, telemetering, web-assisted disease management (diabetes, etc.), medical staff & patient education and training – all of these are greatly enhanced by Fiber-optics.
myriad uses, like distance learning, which includes on-line tutoring, interactive testing, virtual worlds, and simulations. All of these benefit from fast, symmetrical, rock-solid bandwidth.
Downloads on “Steroids” – Have you ever tried downloading multiple, large files at once? The massive capacity of fiber allows multiple concurrent downloads, without a noticeable slowdown in speed. This means you can stream video to multiple screens, while, for example downloading a large, video game, or uploading videos to YouTube. Try that on your cable or DSL internet!
Enhanced Installation – At the same time that cable TV content is becoming more expensive for everyone, including BT itself, more and more people nationwide are dropping cable in favor of getting their TV/movie content directly from the Internet. Although some of these consumers are happy to watch that content on their PC screen, many would prefer to view it on their television, yet, setting the connection up is still technically challenging. This is a service that a motivated BT could easily deliver.
Home Security Services – These services, which include video surveillance, motion and break-in sensing, police alerts, etc., all work much better and are more reliable when run on a fiber-optic network.
Off-site backup – This is a good example of the increasing importance of upload speed. Both residential and business users are now aware that the value of their data (photos, videos, emails, tax documents, etc.) far exceeds the value of their computing equipment. It just makes sense to keep an up-to-date copy of that data somewhere off the premises. Multiple Internet-based services now exist to fill that need. These services sell space at a reasonable price. The problem is that non-fiber based networks transmit that data at a snail’s pace. It can take a week or more to back up a data-filled computer. With BT, at current speeds, that process will happen at least 14 times faster.
Tech Support Services – BT can offer its customers technical support, not just for connection purposes, but for other, more general issues, as well, using remote support: At the request of the customer, the BT support tech can view and control the customer’s computer to fix problems, demonstrate procedures, etc. . Remote support is possible, but can be hit-or-miss on copper. The connection will lag, or drop completely, leading to a poor experience for both the customer and the support technician. On fiber, it becomes a smooth, seamless experience. Offering enhanced tech support to customers would be a win-win, since it would provide a useful service to customers while allowing better utilization of BT personnel.
Wi-Fi – As noted above, BT could partner with cellphone companies to help them provide Wi-Fi data services to their customers, The resulting revenues would defray the cost of providing loyalty-building, city-wide Wi-Fi connectivity to BT’s own customers, as they travel throughout the service area.
Virtual Assisted Living – Our nation, including Vermont, is about to be hit by a Gray Tsunami. There will be 85 million Americans over 65 years of age by the year 2030. The number of nursing homes required to house these elders will be too expensive to build. Assisted living is too expensive for most people and even when they can afford it, it can destroy their self-esteem. Furthermore, with good reason, most elders anticipate with dread the prospect of living out their last years in a nursing home. They would rather stay in their own home as long as possible. What to do?
BT is uniquely positioned to give Burlington a leg up in solving this impending problem. A model  developed in Maine, uses technology to deliver a superior, in-home model of elder care called Virtual Assisted Living (VAL). VAL costs about 1/10 of today’s standard elder care and people like it better, too. BT’s fiber-optic network is a perfect match for this new model. BT’s Speed, symmetry, usage, and reliability are tailor-made for use with VAL technology, since many VAL features are much better implemented on fiber than on a copper-based network.
Some VAL services examples:
Medical – Many of the same features useful to the medical community can be used in VAL: Remote diagnosis, telemetering, Web-assisted disease management (diabetes, etc.).
Safety – VAL offers elders video spot-checking and motion sensing technology in the residence to assure that any mishap is found, evaluated, and, where appropriate, reported to emergency personnel instantly.
Volunteer energy – VAL uses technology both to coordinate and to enable elders to volunteer to help other elders in the program, making their lives more meaningful while reducing costs for everyone.
Cultural enrichment – VAL technology enables and facilitates elders’ access to cultural events in the community (art, music, etc..), video calling, recording and sharing of elder-produced videos to promote inter- and intra-generational sharing, and conferencing both to enable elders to contribute more to their community, and to combat loneliness and isolation.
The bottom line: VAL enables elders who, under the current model, would simply be warehoused – in a nursing home or assisted living facility – to live a meaningful life, engaged in, and contributing to their community. At the same time it dramatically cuts costs.
To sum it up, BT’s physical characteristics differentiate it from its competitors and allow it to offer a wide array of innovative services that would benefit existing residential and business customers, while greatly increasing our ability to attract new businesses to Burlington, as opposed to other cities with inferior Internet services. But this can happen if, and only if, BT has an ownership that puts the best interests of its customers and the economic interests of Burlington first.
1. To cite just one example, Chattanooga, Tennessee, with its FTTH network, is stealing businesses from Knoxville, 100 miles away. (bloomberg.com, “The Case for Publicly Owned Internet Service”, )
2. The “Maine Approach”, developed by Dr. Alan Teel in Damariscotta Maine, currently expanding to other locations in Maine and soon to other states, including Vermont. A similar initiative using advanced technology is A-Vu Media, in Winona, MN.