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BPL : Coal In Your Stocking : IBEC : No Joy Before 2009 : Update!

According to a December 15th post on the IBEC website, hundreds of customers who have already paid for their BPL modems will not see service before 2009. Click image for larger view. [1]

According to a December 15th post on the IBEC website, hundreds of customers who have already paid for their BPL modems will not see service before 2009. Click image for larger view.

Scroll down for update 12.16.08 12:01 PM EST

As this web article is prepared tonight, I understand that if and when BPL ever becomes a reality here in Nelson County, Virginia our account will probably be the very last one activated. We’ll consider it a badge of honor. Enough is enough. In recent days some of you e-mailed or commented and said you had spoken with IBEC and had been told that some people might be activated around December 15th. [2]

As Greg Heuer noted today in his comments:

“IBEC and December 15th? Here we are on the 16th. Rev. Thompson told us above the ETA was the 15th for some of our area. Has ANYONE seen/heard anything? Does anyone in the Martin’s Store roll out have service? Inquiring minds needs to know.”

The 15th has come and gone. Nothing. Ironically…..the IBEC website was updated on the 15th to essentially say it’s not happening before the end of 2008 [3].

“We have continued to hang units ( well over 1/2 of the total units are installed.). The crews are hanging an average of 30 units per day. We also have continued to work with Verizon to have the T-1s installed. The remote T-1s (those not located at the substation will be installed and turned up by the first of the year. After that we will begin testing our network and turn on customers in each section as the network is tested.

The T-1s at the substation are awaiting an engineering report on the soil resistivity and other measurements around the substation. We have contracted with an engineer to do this report and will forward it to Verizon as soon as it is received. Once Verizon receives the report we expect the substation T-1s to be in within 30 days. We will then proceed on these circuits the same as on the remote sites, i.e. we will test our network and turn on customers in sections as the network is tested.”

The bold highlighted line above referencing “Once Verizon receives the report we expect the substation T-1s to be in within 30 days.” grabs my attention. At least on the surface it appears the data circuits haven’t even been installed and that process won’t happen until after the “soil resistivity and other measurements around the substation” are done. If history shows us proof of anything that means it will be later rather than sooner.

Remember this? It's a notice sent out in your CVEC electric bill way back in the summer touting BPL is Coming to you NOW! [4]

Remember this? It's a notice sent out in your CVEC electric bill way back in the summer touting BPL is Coming to you NOW!

As stated so many times in our encyclopedia of past BPL articles since the beginning, [5] we understand technical problems and the like. It’s part of the process. Six months of delays, however, is unacceptable especially since money was taken with the promise of BPL “coming soon”. The wording in the initial announcement made it sound as though it would be days or weeks, not months before BPL would arrive. Was it loosely worded and specific, yet vague , on purpose? Only the author knows.

Regardless, the lack of information flowing to the 1000 plus customers that have already signed up for and prepaid for modem equipment is no way to operate. While IBEC should be commended for making the commitment to go into areas that probably will never see high speed otherwise, they should also know that other companies are daily working to establish such networks here in Nelson while the wait for BPL is on. If others make it first, I bet I can guess where customers will go, especially if their deadlines are met and the communication is better.

Meanwhile, we all await….again.

Let the comments and discussion begin.

Updated post 12:01 PM EST

After our post up above last night, how coincidental, IBEC sent out this mass e-mail to their customer base this morning, nothing new, but here’s ours copied verbatim:

From: “IBEC Customer Service”
Date: December 17, 2008 11:28:22 AM EST
To: “info”
Subject: Martins Store Broadband over Powerline Update

Martins Store Broadband over Powerline Update

As you are aware, IBEC planned to have BPL subscribers connected to the broadband system much sooner and we apologize for the delays that you have experienced. Your patience and understanding is appreciated and we will be sending you an update on a regular basis to keep you better informed.

Installation of the BPL equipment: IBEC crews are installing about 30 units of BPL equipment per day. In lay terms, a “unit” is either a Customer Access Unit (CAU), which routes the BPL system into your home, or a BRU, which is part of the BPL backbone system. BRU’s, also known as regenerators, are hung about every 2/3 of a mile and pass the BPL signal from the beginning of the network to the end of the electric circuit. IBEC has installed 60% of the units necessary to serve the nearly 900 BPL subscribers enrolled in the Martins Substation service area. You may recall that IBEC lost time when the installation crews were called away to help restore service on theGulf Coast following Hurricanes Ivan and Gustaf. Since then they have been making good progress and should finish before the end of January.

Connecting the BPL System to the Internet: While the BPL system will carry Internet traffic to your home or business by way of the electric circuits, the “head end” or the starting point of the BPL system must be connected to the Internet. This connection is accomplished through “T-1” lines. IBEC has a contract with AT&T for the T-1 line service. Verizon is the owner of the “local loop” and is responsible for the installation and connection of the physical lines. IBEC has been extremely disappointed and frustrated with this part of the project and know that you are as well.

More on the T-1 Installation Process: The installation of T-1 lines at offices and other business locations is performed every day and normally takes about 90 days after the order has been placed. IBEC placed the order for the T-1 lines in June. Instead of 90 days, it took Verizon four months to install the physical lines to the Martins Store substation. To compound matters, after the physical installation, Verizon declined to activate the lines. Following some focused discussion, Verizon has agreed to complete the installation at Martins store and two other “injection” locations requested by IBEC.

Martins Store Substation, Afton & Faber: Due to strong enrollment IBEC added injections sites at locations in Afton and Faber to serve BPL subscribers closer to the end of the electric circuits. The Internet signal will be injected onto the powerlines near the midpoint of two circuits that run north along Route 151 and East of Route 29. Internet traffic will begin at these injection points and flow toward the end of the electric circuit. Verizon was scheduled to activate their T-1 lines at the Afton and Faber injection points on December 15 (12/15/08). IBEC was just informed that Verizon will take another two weeks before they activate those lines.

The Martins Store Substation activation will take longer but is on track. Verizon has requested an engineering report on the soil resistivity and other electrical measurements at the substation site. That testing will be done on Thursday, December 18. With this information, they will install isolation equipment. While much of this work could have been accomplished in the six months since the order for the T-1 lines were placed, there is a specific path that Verizon has indicated and IBEC will complete the steps along the path expeditiously. Once the engineering report is completed, Verizon has indicated they will activate the T-1 lines within 30 days.

So there is a summary of where we are today. While IBEC intended to have the Internet connected to the system at the outset and then bring customer online as the equipment deployment reached each home, it now appears that the BPL system deployment will be near completion when Verizon activates the Martins Store substation in mid to late January.

The project schedule has taken much longer than anticipated and we regret each delay, because we know that you are anxiously awaiting broadband service. While factors beyond our control have slowed the project, we will deliver BPL service to you and keep you informed with a weekly update until the project is complete.

We hope that this information has been helpful and ask that you contact us at service@ibec.net or through our customer support line 888-423-2275.

Meanwhile the wait continues…

Be looking for our upcoming BPL modem photo contest later today! Details soon!