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Cedar Falls, IA, United States

The Cedar Falls Utilities is a municipally-owned public utility company serving Cedar Falls, Iowa. CFU provides municipal water service, electricity generation and distribution, natural gas service, and combined cable television and Internet access to its customers.CFU participates in municipal efforts to promote economic development, which in turn results in a larger customer base for its utility services. The utility donated land to form the Cedar Falls Industrial and Technology Park in the late 1960s and in more recent years has aggressively expanded access to its communications services, including cable television and broadband Internet access, which the city promotes as a key factor in its economic-development strategy. The communications utility began service in 1996 after a 1994 community referendum.CFU was an early entrant into the market for renewable energy in the United States, investing in a wind-energy project in 1998 along with six other Iowa municipal utilities. CFU is projected to obtain 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. Wikipedia.

Kane R.,University of Washington | Bakker J.D.,University of Washington | McGaughey R.J.,University of Washington | Lutz J.A.,University of Washington | And 2 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Forest Research | Year: 2010

LiDAR measurements of canopy structure can be used to classify forest stands into structural stages to study spatial patterns of canopy structure, identify habitat, or plan management actions. A key assumption in this process is that differences in canopy structure based on forest age and elevation are consistent with predictions from models of stand development. Three LiDAR metrics (95th percentile height, rumple, and canopy density) were computed for 59 secondary and 35 primary forest plots in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Hierarchical clustering identified two precanopy closure classes, two low-complexity postcanopy closure classes, and four high-complexity postcanopy closure classes. Forest development models suggest that secondary plots should be characterized by low-complexity classes and primary plots characterized by high-complexity classes. While the most and least complex classes largely confirmed this relationship, intermediate-complexity classes were unexpectedly composed of both secondary and primary forest types. Complexity classes were not associated with elevation, except that primary Tsuga mertensiana (Bong.) Carrière (mountain hemlock) plots were complex. These results suggest that canopy structure does not develop in a linear fashion and emphasize the importance of measuring structural conditions rather than relying on development models to estimate structural complexity across forested landscapes.

van Kane R.,University of Washington | Gersonde R.F.,Cedar Falls Utilities | Lutz J.A.,University of Washington | McGaughey R.J.,University of Washington | And 2 more authors.
Canadian Journal of Forest Research | Year: 2011

Over time, chronic small-scale disturbances within forests should create distinct stand structures and spatial patterns. We tested this hypothesis by measuring the structure and spatial arrangement of gaps and canopy patches. We used airborne LiDAR data from 100 sites (cumulative 11.2 km 2) in the Pacific Northwest, USA, across a 643 year chronosequence to measure canopy structure, patch and gap diversity, and scales of variance. We used airborne LiDAR's ability to identify strata in canopy surface height to distinguish patch spatial structures as homogeneous canopy structure, matrix-patch structures, or patch mosaics. We identified six distinct stand structure classes that were associated with the canopy closure, competitive exclusion, maturation, and three patch mosaics stages of late seral forest development. Structural variance peaked in all classes at the tree-to-tree and tree-to-gap scales (10-15 m), but many sites maintained high variance at scales >30 m and up to 200 m, emphasizing the high patch-to-patch heterogeneity. The time required to develop complex patch and gap structures was highly variable and was likely linked to individual site circumstances. The high variance at larger scales appears to be an emergent property that is not a simple propagation of processes observed at smaller spatial scales.

News Article | February 11, 2015
Site: arstechnica.com

It's no secret that the big Internet providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon oppose a move toward heavier Internet regulation. On net neutrality, Internet providers are betrayed by one of their own But many smaller providers don't want stricter rules, either. Today, 43 municipal broadband providers asked the Federal Communications Commission to avoid reclassifying them as common carriers, a move that would expose them to net neutrality rules and potentially other requirements under Title II of the Communications Act. Municipal broadband providers have mixed feelings about the policies of President Obama and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Obama and Wheeler are planning to eliminate state laws that restrict growth of municipal broadband networks, a move that is opposed by the big private ISPs but supported by the municipal broadband providers. But at least a few dozen municipal broadband providers oppose Title II regulation, including Cedar Falls Utilities in Iowa, which recently hosted Obama when he was arguing against anti-municipal broadband laws. The 43 signers of the letter included Cedar Falls, though it did not include two municipal broadband providers in Tennessee and North Carolina that have asked the FCC to preempt state laws. "The undersigned, municipal providers of broadband Internet access service, are strong supporters of net neutrality and an open Internet but are staunchly opposed, like other, small and medium-sized Internet service providers (ISPs) who are privately held, to the reclassification and regulation of this service as common carriage under Title II of the Communications Act," the 43 providers wrote to the FCC. If the commission does reclassify broadband under Title II, it should exempt small and medium-sized providers "from any new and enhanced transparency obligations; and ensure smaller ISPs that utilize poles that are subject to the cable rate formula are not forced into paying higher fees based on the telecommunications rate," they wrote. "As smaller ISPs, we do not have an incentive to harm the openness of the Internet," they continued. "All of the undersigned face competition from one or more wireline ISPs, and we compete hard to attract and serve customers who would depart to our competitors if we engage in any business practices that interfere with their Internet experience." Although Wheeler says he does not intend to impose rate regulation, tariff requirements, or last-mile unbundling, the providers said this is "cold comfort." "The Commission has in the past imposed structural separations, service unbundling and resale obligations under Sections 201 and 202, and this Commission cannot bind the actions of a future Commission should it wish to institute rate regulation, tariffing, unbundling or any other form of before-the-fact regulation, creating deep and lasting regulatory uncertainty," they wrote. "Moreover, even this Commission will be obligated to respond to complaints about rates or seeking open access to facilities by third-party providers." In making the case for Title II, Wheeler claimed that small Internet providers "have all come in and said, 'we like Title II, we hope you’ll do Title II.’” The American Cable Association (ACA), which represents more than 900 small and medium-sized providers, including 100 municipal providers, begs to differ. "ACA applauds the 43 municipal broadband Internet providers that are also ACA members for speaking out about the harms of Title II reclassification for smaller ISPs," CEO Matthew Polka said in an announcement today. "ACA agrees with their clear message that the FCC Chairman should make changes to the order to accommodate these concerns before the scheduled vote on Feb. 26.”

News Article | January 14, 2015
Site: arstechnica.com

President Obama today continued his push for municipal broadband networks while cable companies and Republican members of the Federal Communications Commission claimed government-run networks are often taxpayer ripoffs. Obama spoke at Cedar Falls Utilities in Iowa, one day after calling for an end to laws in 19 states that make it difficult for cities and towns to create their own broadband networks. Cedar Falls, which is not in one of those states, offers 1Gbps fiber Internet service for $135 a month. Comcast’s fastest residential service tops out at 505Mbps and costs $400 a month. Most of the US has no broadband competition at 25Mbps, FCC chair says But will the FCC block Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger? Wheeler doesn't say. Only 25Mbps and up will qualify as broadband under new FCC definition Broadband not being deployed “in a reasonable and timely fashion," Wheeler says. “Your network is as fast as some of the best networks in the world,” Obama told the Cedar Falls crowd. “Here’s the catch, in too many places across America some big companies are doing everything they can to keep out competitors… In some states it is virtually impossible to create networks like the one you have in Cedar Falls. Today I’m saying enough is enough, we’re going to change that.” The FCC is considering whether it can preempt those state laws using its authority to promote broadband competition by removing barriers to investment. The FCC is reportedly scheduled to vote on petitions to invalidate state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina on Feb. 26. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has told the cable industry he intends to "preempt state laws that ban competition from community broadband," but the plan is not popular in the broadband industry or among Republicans. “While government run networks may be appropriate in rare cases, many such enterprises have ended up in failure, saddling taxpayers with significant long-term financial liabilities and diverting scarce resources from other pressing local needs,” said Michael Powell, former FCC chairman and current head of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA). Powell also touted cable company investment, saying, “[t]he cable industry has invested over $230 billion to build robust broadband networks that reach 93 percent of U.S. homes.” Wheeler, a Democrat, probably has the votes to preempt the state laws because Democratic commissioners have a 3-2 majority. The two Republicans spoke out against preempting state laws today. “As an independent agency, the FCC must make its decisions based on the law, not political convenience,” a statement from Commissioner Ajit Pai said. “And US Supreme Court precedent makes clear that the Commission has no authority to preempt state restrictions on municipal broadband projects. The FCC instead should focus on removing regulatory barriers to broadband deployment by the private sector.” “This debate is about preempting a state’s right to prevent taxpayer rip-offs,” Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said. “Municipal broadband has never proven to be the panacea that supporters claim and the Administration now boasts. Instead, we have seen a long track record of projects costing more than expected and delivering less than promised.” Cable companies were unhappy with Obama even before his municipal broadband push because he wants the FCC to reclassify broadband as a utility or common carrier service in order to enforce net neutrality rules. While the NCTA represents the largest cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable, smaller cable companies are represented by the American Cable Association (ACA). The ACA issued a statement today saying that it “applauds President Obama for recognizing the key role Cedar Falls Utilities and other municipal providers play in bringing high-speed broadband to consumers.” Cedar Falls Utilities and about 100 other municipal providers are ACA members, the group noted. But these small providers should not have to face new rules, the ACA said. “The application of utility rules on smaller broadband service providers—entities that pose no risk to an open Internet—will serve only to create disincentives to upgrade plant and expand service areas,” the ACA said. The ACA has also asked the FCC to exempt small providers from common carrier rules. “The President is right: we need to invest in high-speed broadband networks to help ensure that all Americans have affordable, quality Internet options that meet their needs,” policy analyst Danielle Kehl of New America’s Open Technology Institute said in a press release. “Truly addressing the digital divide in America will involve looking to creative and alternative solutions, especially in communities where the incumbent carriers are not delivering. As we’ve found in our research, many of the leading networks—the ones that offer consumers fast speeds at affordable prices—are not in big US cities like New York or Washington DC, but actually in places where the local communities have decided to remove barriers or invest in their own infrastructure.” Obama said faster broadband speeds are needed to help small local businesses grow, and for students to access online courses and job opportunities. “Right now, about 45 million Americans cannot purchase next generation broadband,” he said. “That next generation broadband creates connections that are six or seven times faster than today’s basic speeds, and only about half of rural Americans can log on at that super fast rate.” According to the FCC, 55 million Americans cannot buy service of at least 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream, while 53 percent of rural Americans (22 million in all) lack access to those speeds. Where high speed Internet exists, consumers usually have just one choice, Obama said. “They’re pretty much at the whim of whatever Internet provider is around… and meanwhile you’re wondering why your rates keep getting jacked up when your service doesn’t seem to be improving.”

News Article | January 13, 2015
Site: arstechnica.com

Newly proposed legislation in Missouri could prevent municipalities from competing against private Internet service providers. Proposed by Republican State Representative Rocky Miller, the bill takes aim at "municipal competitive services" without specifically singling out broadband. But it appears to be targeted at Internet service. CenturyLink reportedly objected to a city broadband plan in Columbia, Missouri, recently, and a group advocating for municipal broadband said the bill "would limit communities' abilities to support broadband deployment in their areas." ISP lobby has already won limits on public broadband in 20 states "The state of Missouri is the latest legislature to attempt to erect barriers to the deployment of broadband networks that are critical to the future of its local economies and the nation," the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) said. "High-bandwidth communications networks are the electricity of the 21st century and no community should be stymied or hampered in its efforts to deploy new future-proof communications infrastructure for its citizens—either by itself or with willing private partners. It is ironic that while the International CES show in Las Vegas spotlighted hundreds of new devices and applications that require big bandwidth, legislation would be introduced in Missouri that would impair the development of networks that enable that bandwidth." Springfield and Marshall operate their own networks while North Kansas City leases fiber to Google and another private provider, CLIC told Ars. Missouri already imposes restrictions on municipal telecom but has an exception for "Internet-type" services. About 20 states nationwide have passed restrictions on municipal broadband. Miller's bill would require a majority vote to offer a "competitive service," but even if residents voted to build a broadband network, the municipality would not be allowed to use revenue from other town services to pay for it. This would make it difficult to build a network, as new broadband competitors incur heavy up-front construction costs before collecting enough revenue to support operations. The bill does allow towns to offer broadband without a ballot question if there are no private providers in the city or town, or if the service has an annual fiscal impact of less than $100,000. There's also an exception for cities and towns that already offer broadband. "This bill is about fairness," Miller told Ars via e-mail. "This bill is meant to even the playing field and eliminate socialized/non-commercial services provided by municipalities. I simply want to vote to allow for my city to provide a service if that service is already being provided by another company. Also this bill eliminates subsidizing city provided services and does not allow unfair competition. However, at the end of the day, municipalities can provide these services as long as their constituents want them to." Miller pointed out that he has "passed legislation in the past two years that have greatly broadened Missourians' access to broadband." A bill Miller sponsored in 2013 was designed to make it easier for wireless companies to put up cell towers, but a group representing municipalities complained that it limited their control over the placement of the towers. The bill was blocked by a judge after municipalities filed a lawsuit. Miller received $4,700 from donors in the telecom services and equipment industries, including donations from AT&T, CenturyLink, and Comcast, according to the National Institute of Money in State Politics. Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler is looking into whether the FCC can invalidate state laws that limit municipal broadband, using FCC authority to promote competition in local telecommunications markets by removing barriers that impede infrastructure investment. Community broadband providers in Tennessee and North Carolina have petitioned the FCC to preempt state laws that prevent them from expanding. President Obama could make a statement on municipal broadband tomorrow, as he is scheduled to speak at Cedar Falls Utilities, which offers broadband in addition to water and electricity to local residents.

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