Tag Archives: TV

Speakupaustin: a major MSA and local government transparency

The Austin reporting program is in addition to the posting a City Council agenda more than a week in advance (here’s the 28 Feb 2013 agenda already on 16 Feb 2013) and including the entire board packets with working papers and other backup documentation with the minutes. Austin televises and webcasts its meetings live, with close captioning and transcripts online. They don’t limit the number of citizens who can speak, or the subjects they can speak on, and they televise and webcast all of them as well. Plus citizens can speak on specific agenda issues, and Austin has an online forum for citizen suggestions on which citizens can vote on the ones they like.

Is there still back-door politics in Austin? For sure. But you can see a lot more of what is going on in Austin than they can about the local governments here, and citizens have a lot more input.

If Valdosta and Lowndes County (and Hahira and Lake Park and Dasher and Remerton) want to be treated like a major MSA, they might consider following Austin’s lead. Instead of decreasing citizen input by exiling all citizen speakers to the end of a meeting and limiting the number who can speak, while not even putting board packets online, consider continually increasing local government transparency and citizen input.


Energy efficiency rebates, Austin, Texas

The central city of a major MSA, Austin, Texas, publishes its own video reporting on local issues, like this one on local energy efficiency.

AustinEnergy has brought back its best offer ever deal, which allows customers to receive both rebates and a loan to make energy efficiency improvements. The rebates can total as much as $3200, and can cover as much as a third of the cost of the improvements, including the air conditioning unit. Remaining costs after the rebates can be financed through a low interest loan through the Austin Credit Union.

The best offer ever is financed in part by a $10 million better buildings grant from the U.S. Department of Energy….

Here’s the video:

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Japan’s Softbank buys Sprint because CEO Son says U.S. networks too slow

U.S. car manufacturers decades ago milked profits out of poor technology and got outcompeted by Japan on both quality and price. The same thing is happening right now with fast Internet service. We may not have to wait for Verizon and AT&T to get around to offering affordable fast 4G LTE Internet service: Sprint may do it first, now that Japan’s Softbank is stepping in.

Roger Chang wrote for CNET News 15 October 2012, Japan’s Softbank poised to supercharge Sprint network: Softbank CEO complains that U.S. networks are too slow, and with his $20 billion bid for Sprint, he aims to do something about that.

Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son isn’t impressed with the high-speed wireless networks in the United States.

“Everytime I come to the U.S., I say ‘Oh my God, the mobile phone network is so slow,'” Son said during a conference call with analysts today.

Now, Son is in a position to change things to his liking after Softbank and Sprint Nextel agreed on a deal in which Softbank would take a 70 percent stake in the U.S. carrier.

Sprint, which has struggled as a distant No. 3 carrier behind AT&T and Verizon Wireless, could get a boost from the deal, in which Softbank spends $12.1 billion to buy the controlling stake and another $8 billion in investment into the company.

What’s he aiming at improving?

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4G LTE Internet services costs too much, can come down

More people would buy 4G LTE if the price was lower, which we know is possible because it is 2 to 10 times lower in Europe. And then a lot more people around here would have fast Internet service.

Kevin J. O’Brien wrote for the NYTimes 15 October 2012, Americans Paying More for LTE Service

Vodafone LTE A comparison by Wireless Intelligence, a unit of the GSM Association, suggests that being in the biggest LTE market has not brought low prices to U.S. consumers.

According to the study, Verizon Wireless, which is a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone, charges $7.50 for each gigabyte of data downloaded over its LTE network. That is three times the European average of $2.50 and more than 10 times what consumers pay in Sweden, where a gigabyte costs as little as 63 cents.

Standard business practice: sell a new service for as much as the market will bear, and come down in price over time. Except in the U.S. there isn’t much of a market, with only 2 or 3 wireless carriers offering 4G LTE, as the article notes:

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VZ 4G vs. AT&T DSL, Lowndes County, Georgia, 2012-09-08

It turns out you can’t yet buy Verizon’s HomeFusion Broadband 4G wireless Internet service

in Georgia. (You can buy it in Tennessee.) However, in Georgia, you can buy one of several 4G LTE devices that have most of the same capabilities. For example, I have here a Verizon Jetpack™ 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi©, which is about the size of a pack of cards. A few minutes ago I compared its speeds directly with AT&T 3Mbps DSL. Here are the results.

The MiFi I’ve got is a slightly older model of the one pictured above, because for years

AT&T DSL: 2.66Mbps down 0.31Mbps up
VZ 4G: 10.88Mbps down 7.14Mbps up
Verizon 4G
I’ve been using it and its predecessors on road trips, for Skype, web browsing, blog posting, etc. It’s also come in very handy as a plan B home Internet access method on the many occassions when AT&T’s DSL has flaked out. Mostly I did not use it for uploading videos or watching them much, because until recently it was relatively slow, using EVDO technology at about 1Mbps down and 0.7Mbps up. Suddenly, the MiFi has gotten much much faster, ten times faster, because Verizon has turned on their 4G LTE service in Lowndes County, at least for mobile access.

The tables show results using SpeakEasy Speedtest a few minutes ago.

downup downup
AT&T DSL 2.66Mbps 0.31Mbps 322KB/sec 38KB/sec
Verizon 4G 10.88Mbps 7.14Mbps 1360KB/sec 893KB/sec

Verizon’s 4G LTE is way faster, as in Continue reading

4G data caps and prices

It may be fast, but there are some drawbacks to 4G wireless Internet access, namely data limits and significant prices. Here’s Verizon’s table for their HomeFusion Broadband.

Monthly Data Allowance Monthly Access
10GB $60
20GB $90
30GB $120

I would bet the other companies’ caps and prices are pretty much the same. For web browsing, you’ll probably never run over that lowest 10GB/month limit. So if you want to tweet or facebook or tumblr or email with your friends, 4G probably will work fine for you.

If you do a lot of Skype or listening to music over the net, you might run over. If you watch a lot of videos, or you want to do video conferencing, you can definitely run over. Here’s Verizon’s table of estimates, and they have a calculator along with that:

Email (Text Only) = 10 KB
Typical Web Page Lookup* = 1MB
Audio Streaming = 51 MB/hr
Video Streaming (Standard Def) = 500MB/hr
Video Streaming (HIgh Def) = 1.6GB/hr
Digital Photo Download/Upload (Hi-Res) = 5 MB
4G VoIP = 67MB/hr
4G VoIP with Video = 254MB/hr

1 MB = 1,024KB
1 GB = 1,024MB

Videos of a single VLCIA meeting can run 2 gigabytes, and there are lots of other meetings going on around here. Not every local elected or appointed board has 5 minute meetings like the Lowndes County Commission. Many run for an hour or more.

Even though I’m a pretty intensive Internet user, I’m considering getting 4G home service. Someday AT&T may get around to running fiber for their uverse service out here in my sparsely populated area of the county, and then we might be able to get 3-24Mbps down (and unknown speeds up) for $38 to $63/month. Some year. Or never, if wireless speeds continue to leapfrog even fiber speeds. OK, real fiber speeds such as in Finland, Japan, France, Korea, or dozens of other countries are 100Mbps or up, but U.S. telcos and cablecos are not going to offer speeds like that until they’ve milked every penny they can get out of slower speeds first. Not to mention what the U.S. carriers are really selling with fiber is TV, which is a dying broadcast medium, fast being left in the dust by the participatory social Internet. Who do you know under 30 who gets their news from TV anymore?

Anyway, I don’t know whether 4G Internet service would work for you, but at least it’s another option.


Who gets to serve on the Brooks County School Board —VDT

The VDT caught up with the TV stations today on the Quitman 10 story, and provided updates and context they did not.

David Rodock wrote on the front page of the VDT today, Gov. suspends `Quitman Ten’ officials,

On Tuesday, Deal issued his order prior to the Brooks County Board of Education’s first meeting of 2012. Dr. Nancy Whitfield-Dennard, Elizabeth Diane Thomas and Linda Faye Troutman were notified of this suspension at approximately 4:30 p.m., according to sources.
That’s a bit more context than the TV stations provided.

The VDT also says who gets to serve instead:

Following the governor’s suspension this week, Brooks County school board member Brad Shealy, who is also an assistant Southern district attorney, was appointed to serve as president of the board with board member Larry Cunningham serving as vice president. Shealy served many years as the school board president prior to Whitfield-Dennard being named president last year.
That seems to be the same Brad Shealy who used to be chairman until the recent election.

The VDT adds this context: Continue reading

Gov. Deal suspended 3 Brooks Co. School Board members

The two local TV stations have an update on the Quitman 10: the governor has suspended the three who were elected to the Brooks County School Board. If the VDT has covered this, I must have missed it. (OK, I should look at today’s paper….) There’s also nothing about this on the Brooks County School Board website.

Jade Bulecza wrote for WALB yesterday, Governor orders Brooks Co. School Bd. suspensions

Superintendent Debra Folsom got the governor’s order Tuesday suspending the three board members.

“This is all new territory for us,” said Folsom. “We’re consulting our attorney to see what the next steps we will take to fill the positions.”

December 20 a review commission made up of the attorney general and two school board members from across Georgia were appointed by the governor to review the case.

“They heard evidence from the prosecution and from the accused and the conclusion of that they made a determination and forwarded that to the governor’s office whether to suspend or not to suspend the three school board members,” said South Georgia District Attorney Joe Mulholland.

December 30, the review panel unanimously made their decision.

That would be the same Joe Mulholland who’s been on TV saying things like Continue reading

T-SPLOST Lunch and Learn today at SGRC

There’s a Lunch and Learn about T-SPLOST at noon today at the SGRC offices:
327 W. Savannah Ave
Valdosta, GA 31601
Phone: (229)333-5277
FAX: (229)333-5312
Corey Hull says they’re almost full. However, the presentation is already on the SGRC web pages. The City of Valdosta will be videoing the event. Once Corey knows when it will be televised on the City’s TV channel, SGRC will advertise that. There’s also some unknown level of possibility that the videos may be made available on the web.


“I have seen cameras here at this building when it concerns football” — George Boston Rhynes @ VBOE 29 August 2011

If TV cameras show up for football, why don’t they show up “when the people come together on issues such as this, not just black folk, not just white folk, but all Americans are here tonight because of our concern”?

George Boston Rhynes made three points: Continue reading