Policy Documents

Texas Partnership Increases Internet Access Without Subsidies, Mandates

Phil Britt –

The Obama administration’s National Broadband Plan to deploy affordable Internet services throughout the United States has generated significant controversy over its use of taxpayer dollars and forced investment from the telecommunications industry. Those criticism may grow as private businesses are already finding ways to provide quality wireless broadband without government intervention through partnerships between industry and telecom carriers.

One such example is ERF Wireless, which recently entered into a Master Services Agreement with TISD Inc. in Victoria, Texas for the delivery of wholesale Internet and bandwidth services to Energy Broadband Inc., the oil and gas subsidiary of ERF Wireless. The deal enables ERF to expand its buildout for private residences and other businesses in the 24-county Eagle Ford Shale area of southern Texas without taxpayer support or government coercion of telecom companies.

Advocates of such private-enterprise solutions applaud these initiatives as preferable to the vast amounts of stimulus monies appropriated to national broadband buildout for underserved areas, Universal Service Fund taxes paid by wireless customers, municipal wi-fi projects, and requiring telecoms to invest heavily in commercially unviable areas before consenting to mergers, as the Federal Communications Commission did before approving the purchase of NBC Universal by Comcast this past January.

Deal Expands Internet Services
Energy Broadband has already been providing enhanced wireless broadband coverage to oil and gas companies in the western and southern portions of the Eagle Ford Shale area. The new agreement will expand services to much of the eastern and northern portions of this active oil and gas region.

“This marks the ninth in a series of agreements with quality wireless network providers throughout major oil and gas regions of North America,” said H. Dean Cubley, Ph.D., CEO of ERF Wireless, in a company press release.

Cubley added: “Our agreement and partnership with TISD greatly enhances our capabilities to service key areas in the eastern and northern portions of this important market while we simultaneously construct a broader network that covers the far western Eagle Ford Shale where there is a distinct lack of wireless coverage, including WiMax and cellular.”

‘Technology Develops Organically’
“Technology is now here to provide true, high-performance wireless connectivity and wi-fi, including streaming live, high-resolution video for security and real-time communications, which is critical in the challenging environments of oil fields or other industrial installations,” said Bo Larsson, CEO of Firetide, a multi-server mesh network provider based in Los Gatos, California.

Wireless broadband is better served by private development, according to Nathan Miloszewski, communications manager for VoIP Supply LLC in Amherst, New York. He says mandating broadband stunts the growth of the technology used in conjunction with it.

“Allowing broadband to find its own path of least resistance ensures that future technological developments dictate how and where broadband is used, not the other way around,” Miloszewski said. “If broadband service is mandated, the hardware and software that’s used with it is no longer free to be based on consumers’ needs and wants. These developments will become pigeonholed into a one-size-fits-all approach to the type of service available.”

Miloszewski added, “For example, practical use of mobile Voice over Internet Protocol is still in its infancy. Emphasizing that broadband services cater to it now, before demand has been quantified, removes free will for the technology to develop organically. Mandating technology, service, or hardware results in solutions that satisfy few or none.”

Phil Britt (spenterprises@wowway.com) writes from South Holland, Illinois.