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BPL Crews Back In Nelson, But Where’s Verizon? Readers Comment.

[ 22 ] October 6, 2008 |
Many Nelson County residents have had their BPL modems since August but still no service

Many Nelson County residents have had their BPL modems since August but still no service

Over the past several months we have been following the progress of BPL (Broadband Over Powerline) internet service coming to portions of Nelson County, Virginia in all of these earlier posts:

*09.23.08
*09.11.08
*08.14.08
*08.04.08
*08.01.08
*07.22.08

On Monday we had a really nice visit from the crew foreman with Elliot Contractors out of Roanoke. They were verifying the address for installation of the pole equipment. He told me they had been back in Nelson on a limited basis for the past week, and now crews will be working at a more rapid pace over the coming days. Great news! However, as of this post Monday evening, the IBEC website had no official updates on the installation of BPL in Nelson County since 9.11.08 as shown in the image below.

CVEC issues BPL Deployment update

CVEC issues BPL Deployment update

Elliot / IBEC Crew are now installing roughly 15 new boxes per day while the wait on Verizon continues.

Elliot / IBEC Crew are now installing roughly 15 new boxes per day while the wait on Verizon continues.

Now the bad news. Verizon Telephone still has not completed their work of connecting specialty circuits to the BPL equipment, which is what actually puts the internet out to the BPL equipment. So, even though many customers have bought and paid for their BPL modems, in advance weeks ago, they still won’t work until Verizon completes their work. The normal time frame for a T-1 or specialty data circuits installation is generally a few weeks. According to IBEC (International Broadband Electric Communications) based in Huntsville, Alabama, that request and order went into Verizon well in advance of their installation of BPL equipment at the Martins Store Substation back in the summer prior to July 18th.

A crewman with Elliot readies an IBEC "black box" for installation to the pole.

The BPL crews seem to be doing the best they can in spite of having been pulled off the job several times because of natural disasters in other parts of the country where their expertise in rebuilding electrical grids was badly needed.

Meanwhile, it should get real interesting if the guys at IBEC finish all of their installations only to be waiting on Verizon, which means we all wait.

More as we know.

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Comments (22)

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  1. Jace Goodling says:

    Community benefit meets investor-owned profit mongering.
    Here we have a technology that will help bring Nelson County into the 21st century, and an investor-owned company (Verizon) holds us hostage once again.
    Customers have been fighting Verizon in the Greenwood (456-) telephone exchange for months now over the lack of DSL service in that area. However, there’s not enough profit in it to motivate Verizon to make a change. Note the pattern.
    It looks like Nelson citizens are going to have to get active and involved in pestering Verizon to get off their buckets and give us our T-1 line. If the right person gets a call from a concerned Nelson citizen and makes the call to connect the line, it’ll happen the next day. Come on, folks! Keep those Verizon lines ringing!

  2. We couldn’t agree more Jace!

    For years we personally have tried to get DSL service at our home/office location here in Greenfield, only to be told by Verizon that we were outside of the 18,000 foot boundary of the Nellysford Central Telephone Office. The local Verizon line crews and technicians have been very helpful and work hard, trying everything they could to get the engineers and corporate people above them to expand DSL, only to be told they would not invest anymore dollars in expanding DSL. And, we already know the capability exists in nearby telephone equipment cabinets with some basic technology upgrades. Regardless, Verizon has shown a complete and total lack of commitment to putting dollars back into an aging copper infrastructure in Nelson County. Yes, we know all about the population centers and that’s “Where Verizon can best serve the greater numbers of people,” standard company jargon. However, BPL / IBEC / CVEC is a prime example of someone taking the initiative and the financial commitment to provide a greatly needed service to under served areas of Nelson when it comes to broadband. It’s simply not an option any longer to say it’s unavailable. Technology is driving almost every business here in Nelson these days, and that demand will only increase in the coming years.

    As much as the wait on IBEC has frustrated many, they must be commended for doing their part, and getting it done in between hurricanes that no one has control over.

    As for Verizon, “Sorry, this number has been disconnected. Please hang up and try your call again……”

  3. Mary Coy says:

    Can’t IBEC exert some pressure? Isn’t there some kind of time frame stipulated in their agreement with Verizon? I’m so fed up with Verizon right now (for other reasons) that I’d love to engage in a community effort to exert some more pressure.

  4. Erik says:

    As a side question; What ever became of the 1.5Mbps and 3.0Mbps options with the BPL plan.

    256K is slow as it is…. but at least it’s not as slow as this deployment.

  5. My understanding is Erik, they will roll out the 256K plan first, make sure all is well, then offer the higher speeds once they know it all works okay. Now when that will be is anyone’s guess. The crewmen I have spoken to over the past few days, out in the field, say this does work well in other areas of the country where deployed, but they also didn’t have the problems encountered here.

    Mary, I am not sure what can be done to get Verizon moving. They simply don’t care about areas that don’t generate the larger revenues like, Richmond, Fairfax, etc. If it weren’t for regulations by the state that require access to local telephone service here, I am not sure they would even supply that any longer.
    -T-

  6. Erik says:

    Jace Goodling said: “Come on, folks! Keep those Verizon lines ringing!”

    What a good number to call?

  7. Jace Goodling says:

    A quick web search will produce documents/applications with phone numbers of upper level Verizonites and their Department or personal office phone numbers.

  8. Erik says:

    Fair enough.

  9. Charlotte Rea says:

    I just called Verizon Headquarters, 1-800-621-9900. The switchboard operator gave me the number for Verizon Public (External) Affairs Office (804-772-1129). I got a recording to leave a message and call-back number which I did.

    I also just sent an e-mail to Virgil Goode’s office asking for intercession, on behalf of the citizens of Nelson County, with Verizon. To send an e-mail to Rep Goode, go to his website (just google his name) and there is a link to leave him an e-mail. You need to know the four-number suffix to your area code (mine is 3510 which should work–it’s just needed to figure out who your rep is–must be more than one assigned to the 22920 area code).

    The closest District Office for Rep Goode is in C-ville, The phone number is 295-6372. I haven’t called them yet but plan to.

    Probably wouldn’t hurt to contact Gov Kaine’s office or Senator Webb’s office which can easily be done by e-mail. Just go to their websites which is my next step.

  10. Jane Strauss says:

    If BPL needs Verizon, how come Verizon did not supply broadband to us a long time ago?

  11. Chuck Strauss says:

    Following Ms Jane’s comments, why does CVEC not communicate with us? Get with it, Gary!

  12. Jace Goodling says:

    As your local representative at CVEC, I’ll take that question.
    CVEC is, first and foremost, in the business of distributing electricity to its members. Broadband over the powerline is being provided as a bonus to CVEC members’ households as CVEC and its Directors made the decision that broadband service is a vital part of life and business in today’s world ….and more importantly, it is a service that NOBODY else provides in our home area. BPL is provided by IBEC through an agreement with Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, and is delivered over the CoOp’s lines to CoOp members.
    To answer Jane: Very good question. If they had done so, the CoOp would not have had to go through all of the headaches that have accompanied BPL and the challenges that have accompanied the fact that this is the first such system in the nation. Ask Verizon and they will say that it is not profitable enough. They are all about the dollar. CVEC is all about service and community…..”Improving your life in a quietly impressive way.”
    To answer Chuck: BPL is IBEC’s baby. CVEC, “your electric cooperative”, is providing the lines to transmit broadband to our members who are otherwise unable to obtain this critical service from any other source. It is up to IBEC to make it work. In today’s business/energy environment, Gary has much bigger and many more fish to fry than to worry about broadband. Think about it, Chuck!

  13. Doug Ramirez says:

    Telcos like Verizon and nTelos are bound by some federal oversight that provides financial incentives to do their job. Or rather, financial penalties for not doing their job. If services aren’t provided or interruptions not corrected after specified periods of time, customers (usually buyers of the services) can contact the FCC and file a complaint. In my experience, the telcos start to pay attention when this kind of action is taken.

    I suspect that CVEC could contact the FCC if they felt that Verizon wasn’t acting within the rules set forth by the FCC. Regardless of where CVEC puts BPL in its list of priorities, they have the same rights to be serviced, by what is essentially a monopoly, as anyone else.

    FWIW, the FCC has aggregated information regarding telecomm in rural areas here: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/rural/

    An option that people who live in Nelson and are close to there neighbors is a DIY solution. T-1’s can be provisioned for ~$500.00/mo. If you can find 10 people who have line-of-sight access to one another and are willing to spend a few hundred on equipment, you could create a no profit solution that lets 10 households share a 1.5Mbps pipe to the Internet.

  14. Doug Ramirez says:

    Oops! I meant to say that IBEC can contact the FCC, rather than CVEC, as I suspect that IBEC has ordered the access from Verizon, and in turn IBEC has ordered to lines from CVEC.

  15. Bill says:

    I think we should all just be thankful that we are getting fast internet, rather than point fingers at how long it is taking. Good things come to those who wait.

  16. Joe Stevens says:

    Yes sir Bill you are correct. Good things do come to those who wait. Heres some examples that we can ponder on: The bail-out package for wall street bankers that was a good thing that came to those tax payers who waited to get a house that they could afford. Or how about those fuel prices? As we wait the supply dwindles. Cutting your grass, that green stuff always seems to get chopped down via a miracle when we wait inside watching television. Hurricane Katrina victims? Those were some patient people in New Orleans. How about Ethiopia? Starvin’ Marvin ring a bell? Oh and lets not forget what everyone is so patiently waiting for, to die. But really Verizon didn’t hook it up because it wasn’t worth the money. Intelos and Embarq are the same way. I say IBEC is a great company for attempting this! But sometimes you just wonder if its worth it, you know?

  17. Let me add to what Jace Goodling has already pointed out. The broadband-over-powerline project is an IBEC project. CVEC is allowing IBEC to use the Cooperative’s lines to deliver the IBEC product. CVEC has no role in the engineering, design, procurement, contracting, or operation of the system. IBEC was responsible for all of the last several years of research and development. IBEC is handling the installation, and IBEC is the only source for information on the status of the overall project or any individual account.

    This is a technology that has been pursued for many years by many companies, and it has proven to have significant technical hurdles to overcome. No one has gotten closer to making it work in rural America than IBEC. That being said, the Martins Store area will still be the first deployment of this technology at this scale in the United States.

    This is the first time that IBEC has ordered this quantity of their devices, or boxes, and the first time that the factory has produced this many at once on their production line. It is the first time that IBEC has worked with Verizon at this level, and the first time that Verizon has been asked to deliver T-1 service to a wooden electric distribution pole as a service location (at least in our service area). It is the first time that the contractor crews have installed these devices. It is the first time that the newest firmware will be resident in all of the IBEC hardware when the devices are installed. It is the first time that IBEC will work to “turn up,” or activate, a significant number of their boxes in a new network (which they do overnight from Alabama through the Internet) day after day as the system is brought online. The good news, and the bad news, is that you are the first area to get a chance to see the system at this level of operation. Patience will serve everyone well, as the learning curve is still being climbed.

    At CVEC, we are hopeful, just like many of you, that IBEC and their contracting crews will soon be able to connect homes and provide high speed Internet service where there are no other cost effective solutions.

  18. While it may be improper netiquette to respond to oneself, especially after a verbose post, there is one more point I should make. My home is the northernmost account served from the Colleen site. We are twelve or so line miles from the headend. While the first three years of the testing at Colleen brought service that at times dreadfully underperformed, the last six months (after the final equipment tweaks and the the newest firmware was installed) have been consistently good. My speeds have been from 200 kbps to 600 kbps, and even better at times. The performance at my house is based on a mix of three generations of equipment in the original layout, or line spacing. It also represents four years of field work and improvements by IBEC.

    There are still a few glitches that IBEC expects to improve on when they are able to use their newest equipment and layout in an original installation at Martins Store. The technology certainly carries a lot of promise at this point, and it will be interesting to see how it performs at Martins Store.

    Finally – Chuck, I hope these posts clear up a few questions, including whether I am “with it” enough…: ) Tell Mrs. Strauss I said “Hello.” Now I am going for a run.

  19. I saw the IBEC trucks early this morning working on a line on Afton Mountain Road! I hope to get a magic call soon 🙂

  20. Jane and Chuck Strauss says:

    Wonderful clarification from Gary Wood — you certainly appear to be “with it.” I saw an IBEC truck at Martin’s Store — very optimistic!

    Cannot resist (but maybe I should) the comment to Gary: How come someone has not kept us up to date? Your response answered lots of questions. Thanks, Gary Wood, our new CVEC CEO — and we are proud to have you at the helm!

    Ms. Jane says, Enjoy your run!

    Chuck

  21. Joe Stevens says:

    I would like to take the time to apologize to Mr. Bill for my comments yesterday. They were outlandish and unneeded. I hope you will except my apology, I am just a little ticked when I read an earlier post that said for us to contact our representative (e.g. Goode) to see if he could do something for us. And , my opinion, I feel that our representatives have not been representing us to well. And I just wanted to say that I’m tired of waiting for some bureaucrat to tell me one thing and do something different, I know we can all relate.I just hope on Nov.4th we can make a difference toward something better that represents us better. But again Mr Bill I’m sorry.

  22. Greg Heuer says:

    Our little Virginia corporation is funded 50% by a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development program through the U.S. Forest Service. I will contact my USFS representative about this, of course. I’ve looked at the FCC web site. There appear to be grants and funding opportunities. I wonder if, in response to Doug’s post above, we could/should band together to provision T-1’s for Nelson? Has this been explored and abandoned? I wonder if any of our alert readers know of others in high places who should know about Verizon’s unwillingness to serve rural Nelson?

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