Lunenburg Region broadband
- 1 Why Lunenburg Region economic development "goal 4" matters
- 1.1 What can a municipality do?
- 1.2 What's to gain ?
- 1.3 What is this document for ?
- 1.4 "Broadband 101" for the 2012 Council
- 1.4.1 What Canadian reports typically miss: Micro-grids and "smart homes" as the killer app
- 1.4.2 Canada cannot lead; Accordingly, it must follow, and fast
- 1.4.3 What about a Maritime-wide strategy ?
- 22.214.171.124 New Brunswick (the fly in the ointment)
- 126.96.36.199 Trying to push rope: Ignoring conservation to increase supply
- 188.8.131.52 No one is ever completely useless; They can always serve as a bad example, e.g. "fracking"
- 184.108.40.206 = "smart communities" =
- 220.127.116.11 Newfoundland and Labrador (far in future)
- 18.104.22.168 Maine and New England (best strategy)
- 1.4.4 What are NS service providers doing ?
- 1.4.5 What is NS government doing ?
- 1.4.6 Lunenburg, Riverport and Mahone Bay as testbeds
- 2 What does "encourage broadband adoption" actually mean ?
- 2.1 Why Eastlink Rural Broadband failed: "repeaters"
- 2.2 What is "broadband" anyway?
- 2.3 "Broadband" enables energy, health, social, transport, education and infrastructure goals
- 3 Competing 2011-2030: How Lunenburg Region is disadvantaged
- 4 To "encourage broadband adoption" in Lunenburg Region, we should...
- 5 Appendices
- 5.1 Terminology
- 5.2 What about "Rural Broadband Initiative"? (Canopy)
- 5.3 What's the role of community electric distributors?
- 5.4 Eliminating supply-sided bias and rhetoric which encourages malinvestment
- 5.5 What's the role of community mesh networking?
- 5.6 What's the triple bottom line here?
- 6 Resolutions and letters to decision-makers
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
Why Lunenburg Region economic development "goal 4" matters
[text of goal 4]
Lunenburg Region (MODL) economic development goal 4 "encourage broadband adoption" requires more interpretation, attention and support. The Region's elected and other officials play a key role in influencing town, corporate user, utility, peer municipal, and ultimately provincial/federal decisions. For instance Region RFIs and RFPs and policies can provide examples of requirements that towns, local institutions and companies, or other municipalities in the Maritimes, emulate.
The Region can also provide a single point of contact and advocacy for industries, especially those related to finance, automotive and ship-building, which have extremely strict and specific data communications and power reliability needs, which can only be provided by significant upgrades to fibre optic, powerline and secure wireless infrastructure - see references to smart grids below.
Public mention of these opportunities, technologies and plans that allowed them to be purposed, may bolster business confidence investing in this Region. More importantly, it demonstrates a commitment to goal 4 and the intent to continue to investigate and reflect the impact of broadband investments on industries, households and institutions. This in turn may prompt more anticipatory investments by the existing communications providers (notably Bell Aliant and Eastlink) as well as competitors (Telus, Rogers, and potentially electric power distributors including those owned by towns, and NSPI itself).
Municipal leaders that actively support the expansion of broadband access, especially the low-latency secure reliable access that knowledge workers need, and can discuss the problems in right-of-way and financing and reliability with constituents, service providers, right-of-way stewards and other levels of government, would be a positive asset to this Region. This report is intended for those leaders.
What can a municipality do?
The main role of municipal leaders is lobbying, advocacy and organizing citizens and businesses to demand provincial, federal and private corporate and citizens' support for strategic projects that they (the municipalities) cannot fund on their own out of their extremely restricted tax base(s).
Municipal governments in Canada have little fiscal or regulatory leverage; Compared to other G7 countries, Canada's Mayors and municipal officials have probably the least actual power. That said, funds spent at the municipal level are generally better spent; Precedents set by municipal infrastructure decisions tend to influence the private sector and all public institutions. Thus, municipal purchasing, RFP policies, economic development agencies and ratepayer-funded projects have disproportionate power to influence public opinion and education. It is a powerful argument in any private corporate boardroom that the municipal government has already done things in a certain way.
Mayors in particular can and should use the "bully pulpit" to force federal and provincial action to achieve their own mandate(s). [In the Canadian system, this is a Mayor's primary role and power, especially in those municipalities where the Mayor or Warden is no more than one vote on a Council].
Mayors can also leverage their access to major national (FCM) and international (UN ICLEI) forums to highlight deficiencies and competitive disadvantages they suffer, exchange best practices, generate interest and investment by national and global recognition of their leadership, and pressure "senior" levels of government (provincial/federal) to invest to keep pace with competing and peer jurisdictions.
Goal 4 necessitates policy, purchasing, lobbying and public communications on the many reasons for it. A critical mass of employers, citizens and officials becoming aware of the solid competitive reasoning of improving wired broadband reach puts the Region further ahead in line to fund pilot projects; It tells investors, employers and professionals that they can safely commit to the Region for the future; It even reduces the abuses, delays, overcharges and false promises that characterize the industry now, especially cell/wireless services. A great many losses, risks, frauds and confusions can be averted - especially if officials and the public become more familiar with the "terminology" section (see below).
Specifically with respect to Lunenburg Region in 2011-2012, the municipality can help exploit the major opportunities presented by three events:
- The awarding of a $24 billion shipbuilding contract to Irving Shipyards in Halifax, expected to result in shifting most of its existing work to Irving's maintenance yard in Shelburne, and in many subcontracting opportunities for companies engaged in the ship-building industry along the coastline
- The landing of a 59-millisecond 6,021km transatlantic communications cable at Herring Cove, Halifax, which approaches the theoretical maximum speed of light along the great circle route between London and New York City, and puts this region closer in ms to either centre than either is to each other, an advantage that can be worth hundreds of millions per year  and attracts not only financial but also online service, news and data centre operations - especially when combined with wind power  
- The standardization of "smart home" and "smart grid" communications, combining previously competing powerline (P1901), wireless (802.11abgn) and home wiring (telephone cable, coax cable) standards under a common protocol (IEEE P1905); Electric vehicle makers have similarly agreed on the P1901 standard, and Emera (parent company of NSPI) deployed this standard for smart meters in Bangor, Maine to the 192,000 subscribers of Bangor Hydro; This is significant because three community-owned electricity distributors (in Mahone Bay, Lunenburg and Riverport) are in a strategic position to exploit the above and simultaneously under pressure to upgrade their power grids to deal with renewable supply and vast and unpredictable loads represented by geothermal heating, in-floor heating, and electric vehicles.
Municipal leaders (and, in 2012 and 2016, candidates to replace them) should be familiar with at least the basic technologies, terminologies and competitive issues that affect advanced knowledge workers or which provide new/advanced home and community services (security, air quality and medical monitoring, early fire detection) and enhanced communications (flat-rate worldwide voice and videoconferencing, 1080p or better video, 5.1 to 7.2 quality audio, instant access to every TV station in the world and sufficient bandwidth to support unlimited wireless use by tourists, vehicles, and even marine users).
What's to gain ?
This can be a steep learning curve, so it's appropriate to ask why municipal leaders ought to care. Aside from losses, risks and confusion that can be averted, each of which costs money and time, more savings and benefits are available from attention to "broadband" than to any other aspect of Regional planning. Incremental improvements to highways, housing, sewage, or even public transit (a very good investment) are catch-ups, not strategic edges; Economic development that is less (or not) dependent on physical transport - where supply, knowledge and customer acquisition occurs via the Internet - has more potential to increase the cash and talent that flows into, and stays in, this Region; [By contrast, improvements to roads and highways may only increase commuting and flows of money to big Halifax malls.]
Taking the lead in broadband and enabled (especially energy-related) services would enrich this Region; Our ecological, agricultural, cultural and social features should, given similar Internet services to urban regions, attract more people, businesses and institutions to move or set up here than other regions in the Maritimes. We compete in this regard with similar enclaves in BC, New England and the Pacific Northwest almost as much as with Annapolis Valley, PEI or the Halifax outer suburbs. Nothing should be surprising about this: Entire countries (notably South Korea, Senegal, India) have seen their entire economies radically transformed by Internet and mobile devices and services. Tourists in this Region already search for lodgings on the Internet, use GPS based maps to get around, expect smart phones and web access to work even on beaches or boats and certainly expect cell phones to work on all tourist highways. [Sadly, they don't, especially not on Route 331 near Crescent Beach.] Citizens committed to local buying often find out about events only because of Internet communications.
The appendix 'triple bottom line' below summarizes some of these impacts in municipal accounting terms. [The UN ICLEI and other municipal cooperative agencies worldwide endorse it for management accounting].
Some opportunities that Lunenburg Region might exploit in the 2011-2019 time frame include:
- Projects that fill in cell phone dead zones by exploiting spare connectivity and the community electric companies' rights of way.
- Pilot projects in "smart grid" and shared electric vehicle charging that could prove public transit viability and introduce technologies to Nova Scotia that many high-tech visitors will soon expect as a necessity [It is widely expected that the first electric vehicle will charge in Nova Scotia in 2012].
- Universal connectivity along the coast. This can be mostly achieved with upgrades to Bell Aliant's service at least in Bridgewater and West LaHave to its FibreOp servic which reaches 15-20km and connects far more rural users than the current DSL technology (7km). If simultaneously DSL switches move to Cherry Hill, the entire Lighthouse Route along the 331 can access Bell's wired broadband. Eastlink, similarly, could extend its existing fibre optic cables from Dublin Shore at least to the Petite Riviere region to ensure competitive coverage from at least two providers for the coastline.
- Most strategically, a direct fibre optic connection between Irving Shipyards, Hibernia Atlantic's transatlantic cable and all coastal towns with potential to attract ship-building contracts or residents or business who require extremely low-latency access to transatlantic cable - ideally extending to Liverpool and Shelburne (Irving's maintenance yard); This would radically reduce dependence on Bell and Eastlink and effectively fill in all communications gaps along the coastlines of Mahone Bay down to Shelburne (including potentially cell phone coverage gaps).
Detailed business cases for any of these opportunities is beyond the scope of this document. No officials of Irving or Hibernia, nor any of Queen's county or in Liverpool or Shelburne, have been contacted regarding this proposal or its feasibility. It is provided only to demonstrate that some extremely strategic projects are possible on the South Shore, hindered only by lack of imagination.
What is this document for ?
The remainder of this document is a narrower attempt to restate and understand the scope of goal 4 and to recommend how to coordinate with the province, utilities and motivated citizens to achieve that goal and the implied subgoals. [Skip to "== To "encourage broadband adoption" in Lunenburg Region... ==" if you already understand these subgoals and how broadband and smart grid applications affect the Region].
This necessarily includes examination of other energy, health, social, transport, education and infrastructure trends: Any review of 'References' listed below should illustrate that without some examination of all these goals, efforts of competing jurisdictions especially in New England or other US areas similar to Lunenburg Region, and a competent review of the technologies now being deployed, there can be no competent analysis of the economic or social impact of "broadband" communications in the period 2012-2020 (the next two Councils) or beyond (to the typical planning threshold of 30 years, or five more Councils 2020-2040). [The tags 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028, 2032, 2036 indicate which of these Councils will have to make major decisions that will keep the Region on track, or fall off it].
"Broadband 101" for the 2012 Council
Given the long lead times in fundamental infrastructure investments, the 2012-2016 Council is strategic; Those intending to be Region decision makers from 2013-2016 should at least skim the US National Broadband Plan (US NBP) now, as it provides possibly the best single overview of the applications broaband enables:
- economic opportunity 
- education 
- healthcare 
- civic engagement 
- government performance 
- public safety/security 
- electricity and energy 
All Councillors re-offering should expect sharp questions about the Region's strategy for these problems in 2012 and even more so in 2016 as the lack of federal direction and stark contrast with the US becomes obvious.
What Canadian reports typically miss: Micro-grids and "smart homes" as the killer app
Of all these applications, by far the least discussed in Nova Scotia relative to importance is energy. As heat goes geothermal and transport goes electric, and devices acquire the ability to schedule heavy usage, and rates become dynamic, lack of broadband access amplifies other inequities in the power grid, and significantly disadvantages coastal or rural regions that already face frequent outages and rely on (inherently inferior and less reliable) wireless connectivity. Well before 2016, Nova Scotia will need to have policies regarding how electric car users pay road taxes (presently done by taxes on fossil fuel) and how to differentiate electric car charging and other heavy variable loads, scheduling it for off-peak.
It's fair to say that provincial legislators have absolutely no practical plan to deal with either issue and that they will be faced with that the moment tourists begin to drive electric vehicles into NS (2012). [The Region and other car-tourism-dependent regions should push the province on this, see recommendation 3a).
Convergence of heat, transport and communications in the power grid all require secure broadband access; Energy conservation and integration of all energy-intensive devices rely heavily on very reliable secure megabit communications between devices. AES-128, similar to SSL-128 used for secure web sites, used by law in the US smart grid, is sufficient for security, safety and public emergency response purposes as well as the metering and comfort-critical devices that it was designed for. From 2012-2020 this will be the single most important impact of broadband access on the average household, as it enables shifting to full dynamic pricing (radically reducing taxpayer and ratepayer supported power generation projects and solving the problems of electric car and thermal loads on the grid). It also expands (to nearly universal) access to a range of existing services (home security, vulnerable person medical monitoring, as well as typical TV, radio, voice/phone, Internet/conferencing and mobile communications) plus new ones (scheduled electric car charging, electrical fire risk detection, flood detection, for a total bill less than is presently being paid for an inadequate mix (land line phone, satellite TV, etc.) of 20th century services. Properly deployed these can save hundreds of dollars per month per household.
There is no equivalent Canadian policy, nor will be. Each province sets its own broadband and electricity policy. Australia has a Minister of broadband, communications and digital economy [quoted below in 'Broadband enables... energy'] and without a similar official, Nova Scotia will continue to lack a coherent strategy on these problems. In effect NSP and Emera make the strategy which is a severe conflict of interest and can damage competitiveness if they are not required to upgrade in sync with the US.
Corporate spokespeople make the point even more bluntly: Without broadband, none of the promise of the modern energy conservation and control systems can be realized. Cisco, IBM, Google, Verizon, Intel and other US corporations have positioned themselves to provide the services required, which all require low-latency wired broadband to work. 
Oopower leads the market in information-based energy management (IBEM); It expects to save US consumers 1 terawatt (1000GW) before the end of 2012. These are permanent savings that recur due to changes in energy usage patterns.  Theoretically a typical rural home electricity use can be reduced to under 100 watts average, not counting heating or electric car charging. Some "off-grid" homes in the Region use this little now. A "smart home" combines the features of smart grid integration with the conservation-oriented design of the off-grid home, and is much more complex to build, but very cheap to run.
“Smart metering is not only the essential first step toward the smart grid, but it is what connects the smart grid to the end consumer, the smart home and de-centralized and micro-generation... No attempt at increased energy efficiency will be successful without the involvement of a well-informed end consumer.” - Landis+Gyr, Creating Energy Efficiency through Informing End Users 
Canada cannot lead; Accordingly, it must follow, and fast
Canadian service providers and utilities are not, and likely never will be, significant players in this field or technology for complex structural and historical reasons. Inviting in US and EU corporations will remain the only viable strategy for Nova Scotia. [This was the dominant view also at the time NS Power was sold to Emera and arm's length regulation of it by government was instituted. Nothing has changed. Recommendations xx significant benefits in having a US corporation as the incumbent electricity service distributor.]
Canada has no national broadband plan. Having spent one-time federal stimulus dollars on other projects, it is extremely unlikely that it ever will. Furthermore, given the driving application is energy conservation, Canada cannot innovate in smart grid technology either.
Canada is hopelessly "supply-sided" and falls into a "resource trap" of preferring investment in commodity extraction and export. This includes energy: Despite the extreme economic benefit of focusing on conservation, almost all public debate and promotion by visible public officials is in promotion of energy generating projects (such as Churchill Falls, Fundy tidal power, solar and wind projects) that, dollar for dollar, are extremely poor investments by comparison. Waiting for Canadian leadership in energy conservation is like waiting for a mountainous nation like Switzerland to win soccer's World Cup - it won't happen. Copy the US and other energy-importing nations on their conservation strategy, because the motivation and technology and business skills exist there. It's New England, not New Brunswick nor Ontario, that will set the precedents and set the competitive pace for Lunenburg Region. We can follow fast and catch up, not lead or innovate; When federal or provincial officials try to set "made in Canada" policies it should be regarded with very extreme suspicion.
For purposes of power grid modernization and secure broadband standards, then, Canada simply does not exist. Provinces and Regions (and a few lucky towns that own their own utilities) are on their own to understand and copy US standards as best they can. As with smart phones, electric cars and the Internet itself, Canadian provinces effectively compete to ensure US innovations arrive here faster than otherwise.
What about a Maritime-wide strategy ?
Some commentators see potential for Maritime (NS, PEI, NB) cooperation, but this should not be overestimated: NB Power is one of the worst run public corporations in North America, regularly wasting billions of dollars on insane projects that no due diligence would ever recommend (Point Lepreau, Orimulsion) and regularly promoting individuals (Gaetan Thomas in particular) who are directly responsible for the waste/fraud/abuse. Nova Scotia is far better off with a utility owned by a US corporation, which can at least guarantee competence in meeting US standards at some level of the corporate (Emera) organization. PEI being smaller than the larger NS municipalities, a strategy to integrate them into the NS grid should consider them, effectively, roughly a peer to Cape Breton Regional Municipality, invited into any smart grid plan at the same time, preferably with federal support.
In practice, Maine Fiber Company  and F6 Networks  have been the primary means of connecting towns in Maine and NB. F6 intends to extend its network to Truro and Halifax, but beyond that, NS has only one small equivalent, the Valley Community Fibre Network  which connects Halifax to Middleton, NS. Thankfully, South Shore Nova Scotia has very little need of connectivity regionally, since it is close to Halifax where Hibernia Networks bases transatlantic cables . A truly globally competitive network need only get to Hospital Point / Herring Cove to share its traffic with the entire world.
Unfortunately, Bell and Eastlink have the only fibre strands from here to there, and they are not sharing them. This is a major deficiency and should be the highest priority to fix. A VCFN-type project should be considered for the whole South Shore. In July 2015, Shelburne CAO Kirk Cox and Deputy Warden Tim Hardinski raised the issue of a "municipal broadband utility"  as one answer to the Eastlink Rural Connect problem. Such a utility could also run a VCFN-like cable and local town fibre loops.
New Brunswick (the fly in the ointment)
Proposals for Maritime-wide cooperation on broadband inevitably hinge on New Brunswick as it physically connects Nova Scotia and PEI with Maine.
New Brunswick has a uniquely abusive conflict of interest in its broadband and power situation which inhibits NS in some ways (see below). Gaetan Thomas, the hapless CEO of NB Power, is not a competent partner for any Maritime-wide consultation on power grid strategy, nor rights of way negotiations. Strong commitment to Tar Sands oil (Energy East) remains under Gallant as it did under Alward. Accordingly Efficiency New Brunswick will likely remain a passive savings entity and is not likely to be active in promoting any smart grid initiatives in the near future.
There was some potential that NB could (as it did under Hatfield and McKenna) again deploy public fibre optics, and meet US standards to integrate into Maine's "smart grid" and the Maine Fiber Company's "Three Ring Binder" open dark fibre, but for now F6 Networks  remains the primary open provider and will reach no further towards this Region than Halifax, unless there is a significant effort to attract them onto the South Shore.
NB Power Chair Ed Barrett runs a satellite Internet and fixed wireless company, and is in obvious conflict with any strategy wherein NB Power rights of way would be used to bring US-style secure gigabit wired access to all grid-connected homes. This would reduce Explornet's business. As Explornet is also active in Nova Scotia, expect it not to challenge status quo in this province either.
Between them, Barrett and Thomas constitute several billion dollars worth of liability and lost opportunity to the Maritime power grid and any energy-coordinated broadband strategy. Anything they say must be regarded with extreme suspicion or disbelief. [Officials, don't cite either]. By contrast, fixed wireless operators in no such conflict, like Seaside Communications in Nova Scotia, have proven to be good corporate citizens. See Eastlink Rural Connect for a bad example of corporate citizenship however. There is no reason to avoid partnerships with fixed wireless operators if they are in fact committed to eventually connecting users by wire and universally.
Trying to push rope: Ignoring conservation to increase supply
One sobering (and sad) observation is that the funds wasted on Lepreau and Orimulsion alone are in excess of ten thousand dollars per household. Correctly spent on improving housing stock and deploying smart grid technologies, this amount of money could have reduced NB electricity use by 20-50%, permanently (recurring every year) with many other health, safety, environment, competitiveness and other benefits. Among them, state of the art broadband to almost every building.
Any NS electricity system or broadband policy review needs to be fully cognizant of the potential for waste if the two are not upgraded together. Expanding supply is no way to improve the efficiency or competitiveness of households nor of businesses.
NB therefore stands as a theme for cautionary tales to NS officials. Under both Liberal and Conservative regimes, conversation with NB officials are often distracted into absurdities, bizarre nuclear "too cheap to meter" fantasies from the 1950s, Tar Sands promotion founded in science denial, and much worse.
No one is ever completely useless; They can always serve as a bad example, e.g. "fracking"
Alward's energy, infrastructure and eeducation ministers were (in June 2011) quoted publicly praising hydro-fracturing to seek shale gas. As the subsequent election proved, this was political suicide at best, commercial fraud at worst, and quite possibly the worst supply-sided malinvestment Atlantic Canada will ever see. The carbon footprint of shale gas with existing hydro-fracturing ("fracking") methods is equivalent to those of Tar Sands or coal, quite apart from alleged effects on ground water. Yet, we continue to have policies that assume and expand the abuse of fossil products as fuels, in particular, promotion of private vehicles as the only option for transport in the region.
Broadband promotion is a way to encourage meetings that do not require either physical transport or proximity.
In general, steering "new sources of energy" conversations into conservation/controls/integration (C&I) conversations and "replacing watts or litres with bits" is a way to differentiate Lunenburg Region as a wiser place.
By 2020-2040, given the stark economics, politicians who become skilled at this will likely be seen as more qualified for leadership roles, and the Region would be more attractive if its external communications emphasized a conservation mindset, made a point of its accessibility via online meeting media like Skype or Google Hangouts, and did not promote fossil fuels.
= "smart communities" =
That said, NB does have some leading projects in broadband access notably in Fredericton and around the UNB community. These have received some international recognition. Searching on the keyword "smart community" and "resilient community" may yield some projects of direct interest to NS and Region strategies.
Newfoundland and Labrador (far in future)
The supply-sided investment in Churchill Falls, $350M+ investment in DC transmissions cable, amounts to an extension cord to Labrador to put off reform of the NS grid. There is no obvious potential to collaborate on demand-side or micro-grid standards with NL in this project, if anything the reliance on this "baseload" source and the massive investment required will probably slow progress towards a demand-driven "smart grid", to both provinces' ultimate detriment. However politically both provinces are committed to an Atlantic-Canada-wide grid strategy regarding supply, creating a "loop" connecting a new steady baseload supply of hydro-electricity, at a price guaranteed for 35 years, to Nova Scotia and to New England, which is already connected to Hydro Quebec including its own projects at Churchill Falls. Having cooperated on the supply and transmission fronts, demand cooperation isn't impossible.
Maine and New England (best strategy)
Power grid and broadband cooperation should be raised at every joint meeting of New England state governors and Atlantic Premiers.
[See recommendation 10a for specific guidance on who should work with who, and in what order, on pilot projects].
What are NS service providers doing ?
What's actually happening, here?
As of 2011, Bell Aliant has deployed IP-based TV services over existing coax cable using Corinex "AnyWire", which also supports delivery of exactly the same services over existing AC power lines to every AC outlet in a subscriber's home. The bandwidth and latency requirements of energy applications are actually less demanding than TV, so Bell Aliant is positioned to offer services similar to those Verizon is offering in cooperation with electricity distributors in the US. 
AnyWire and electricity distributor cooperation can augment wired DSL, but in the strategic service areas, Bell Aliant is committed to their FibreOp service, an 800- and 244-strand direct fibre-optic-to-the-home solution that terminates a dark fibre in each customer premises. This is quite expensive, but, given recent increases in the commodity price of copper and improvements in fibre optic reach (15-20km as opposed to 7-8km for DSL delivered over 19- and 24- gauge copper wire), the price is offset by requiring fewer switches. A circle 7km in diameter has area about 22 km^2, but a 15km circle has about 45km^2 so one can reasonably expect a FibreOp switch can replace two DSL ones.
Aliant suggests it will deploy FibreOp in the town of Bridgewater next year and is considering some outlying strategic areas, possibly including Lunenburg and West LaHave, where they have outstanding business cases or longstanding issues.
There is no announced plan to use FibreOp to offer energy-related services but it does appear to be a good long-term platform for any in-home services at all. It is not useful to monitor power grid internal operations, however, as fibres are terminated in homes not on poles, thus there is no opportunity to monitor transformers or other pole-mounted equipment using the FibreOp network itself, without terminating some strands on poles and perhaps employing pole-to-pole high-voltage powerline networking (IEEE P1901.2) to link the powerco's devices. This may not provide any compelling advantage over wireless or coax solutions. Another option is for the powerco to take over cat3 or coax for their own use as the communications-centred providers move to fibre, which both seem to be doing.
Eastlink's widespread cable coverage and commitment to serve "100% of civic addresses" in this Region with broadband under the Rural Broadband Initiative, plus its entry into cell service, also give it incentives to reach every power grid-wired home with fibre, coax, WiFi or powerline networking, and likewise to broad its offerings to include energy related services. This it could do in conjunction with electric distributors especially in the towns owning theirs.
Like Bell Aliant, Eastlink is extending its network reach with fibre but still deploys coax from fibre presence as its primary means of reaching subscribers. This may make it more likely to consider G.hn unified networking approaches that use any or all of powerline, cat3, coax and cat5 to reach into the home, perhaps to outlets (including AC outlets) that would never be connected to a FibreOp tap.
Copper networking is far from dead, but will converge over time with power, so a single power cable (USB, ethernet, or AC Romex) will also carry data for devices.
As a general rule, incumbent telcos like Bell tend to be less aware of innovation in copper networking and more focused on fibre. At times dismissal of copper options can tend to arrogance which results in delayed improvements: People left on decaying 24-gauge copper cat3 while nearby towns get dark fibre. This arrogance tends to aggravate the "digital divide" between the bandwidth rich and poor, which also tends to aggravate population loss into the towns.
What is NS government doing ?
Recent PC and current NDP provincial administrations consistently emphasized that energy conservation is the primary goal of all electricity policy, and that universal rural broadband access is a right of all Nova Scotians and is extended to "100% of civic addresses". In combination, these commitments necessarily imply early commitment to smart grid based services, relying by definition on AES-128 secure broadband, though ruling parties have been less than crystal-clear about this hard requirement.
Former provincial Opposition energy critic (Liberal) Andrew Younger [then the Energy Minister, and now out of caucus as of Nov 2015] regularly attends international meetings on grid policy and has taken public positions endorsing a more rapid and regulated upgrade of the NS power grid, pressuring Emera to keep NS Power in line with US utilities and "smart grid" standards, which necessarily entails AES-128 secure wired broadband to all power grid connected homes.
Many hoped that when the Liberals won provincial government in 2013 NS Power would be under severe pressure to emulate US-style investments and therefore to secure megabits of backhaul to every single power grid connected home. Unfortunately, Younger's exit makes that now unlikely.
As in the US, this would dissolve the existing industry structure of separate power and communications companies, and likely be the trigger for a more general regulatory redesign of these industries. Regardless of who wins provincial power, pressure to emulate the US grid capabilities can only grow over time: There will be no "made in Canada" alternatives to the US standard (although there could be extensions that meet the US standard, any delays to negotiate these are serious risks to our economy).
Lunenburg, Riverport and Mahone Bay as testbeds
To date no significant initiatives on the "demand side" of the "smart grid" have been announced by NS Power nor the NS provincial government. Despite the fact that Emera, through its subsidiary Bangor Hydro, has already deployed powerline-communication-based smart meters to its entire subscriber base (about 1/5 of the subscriber base of Nova Scotia), it has announced no plan nor proposal to deploy any smart grid here.
The province is similarly silent. This is in sharp contrast to the commitment to transmission of distributed renewable power on the "supply side". This lack of strategy should be taken up at first opportunity with the provincial government (see below, especially recommendation 6 regarding the locally-owned community micro-grids in Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Riverport). Fully half of the community-owned electricity distributors in Nova Scotia are in Lunenburg Region and are ideally suited for testbed applications, given the high concentration of cultural and technical and artisan skills in those areas.
However, these "micro-grid" utilities are too small to pursue any substantial initiative on their own without at least moral and lobbying support from their surrounding Region and provincial government. (See recommendation 6 on forms this could take).
Fully half of the locally-owned community micro-grids in Nova Scotia are in Lunenburg Region.
What does "encourage broadband adoption" actually mean ?
With the context in mind, consider goal 4's framing and its terms of reference, and how to improve them.
The term "broadband" means, to reasonable people, a lack of barriers to use of services that assume high bandwidth or low latency; Voice over IP, interactive gaming, virtual private networks (of the sort usually used by corporations), command "shell access" (required for all IT professional work) in particular are extremely latency-sensitive (requiring typically under 100 millisecond response).
Some services, such as wireless-to-wireless relay towers (Motorola Canopy), cellular "Edge networks" (GSM), or (worst) satellite-based services, have inherently high latency that cannot be improved. Thus, using the term "broadband" to describe these or other highly variable latency services, is misleading and often reflects deliberate misrepresentation by service providers or officials eager to pretend their services are suitable platforms for the applications that "broadband" users expect.
The province of Nova Scotia is presently reviewing the questionable use of public funds to deploy many "repeaters" (wireless- to-wireless relay towers) as part of its Motorola Canopy based "Rural Broadband Initiative". Most knowledgeable commentators, including those within Eastlink, feel that this is clearly not the most cost-effective way to reach most rural customers, especially not those who already have wired telephone and power service and could easily be reached by wired network extension. (See below regarding the failures of this program and why it cannot be relied on to meet "goal 4").
Public information on this review has been difficult to find. MLAs can and do, however, inquire about its progress and advocate for constituents and for certain contract terms to be included in any modified contract with Eastlink.
As of July 2015, Eastlink Rural Connect, as it was renamed, was supposed to be subject to a 15GB data cap. This abusive policy was a direct consequence of the poor repeater-based network design. No such cap was put in place by Seaside which used identical technology, among others, at the endpoint. See Eastlink Rural Connect for solutions to its problems.
What is "broadband" anyway?
Eastlink's abusive redefinition of "Broadband" to "Connect" invites a more exact definition of the term "broadband". For purposes of this document it should simply be understood that wired services are inherently much lower latency and higher capacity than wireless ones, and that the primary objective of any wireless service deployment is to "get the packets to a wire as fast as possible" to minimize latency and wireless spectrum usage.
As a general rule, therefore, "broadband" means "wired", rarely "wireless", never "satellite" networks; Any claim that a wireless or satellite network is "broadband" must be extremely sharply questioned and must be assumed fraudulent or untrustworthy without very detailed maps showing actual measured latency. As of 2011 not even those networks sharing towers (Telus and Bell, for instance) share this data. It's not available from third parties. (See 'Recommendations' below for how to move this situation forward).
Broadband applications include many, such as home safety and security, energy monitoring, etc., that a reasonable person also expects to be secure against eavesdropping or other intrusion. The US specifies AES-128 (Advanced Encryption Standard - 128 bit) as the standard for all "smart grid" applications. If a broadband service is deployed 2011-2020 that cannot be upgraded on demand to this level of encryption for any reason then it should be considered inferior or "not broadband", again because applications that are ordinarily associated with broadband cannot be deployed on that network. [AES-128 is approximately equivalent to the SSL-128 standard used for "https://..." web addresses used for payment transactions - it is normally implemented on the endpoint device but can encrypt insecure in-home device communications at the point where they connect to the broadband connection - usually a router, gateway or smart meter].
"To adopt" assumes everyone has the option to adopt. To encourage adoption before everyone has the option to adopt will necessarily offend those left out and be correctly seen as aggravating inequity. Thus accurate measurements of service performance (1. latency, 2. reliability, 3. bandwidth, 4. cost) must precede any serious effort to encourage adoption. (Again, see 'Recommendations' on this below, and the US NBP section on "adoption"  )
"To encourage" implies removing barriers to use, supporting those who undertake social or financial or political risk to advocate use, and providing incentives to early adopters or those who undertake such risk to advocate adoption and use. It may imply some level of direct service "to encourage" or replace unreliable services or advice, e.g. a municipality could sponsor a teach-in for users of smart phones to show them how to take maximum advantage of public Wi-Fi networks to reduce cellular network bills, or how to use wired broadband networks to replace long distance use with services like Skype. Most efforts to "encourage" will be borne by public-minded citizens. Probably the best- positioned to "encourage" broadband adoption are the persons trusted by ordinary citizens to set up and configure their communications. In any household typically that will be a teenager or technical professional (possibly another relative) rather than the person primarily responsible to pay bills - finding and expanding social networks of such professionals will "encourage" better than any other program, because best practice exchange and social trust then proceeds without any formal assistance.
One goal of this document is to reframe goal 4 with these more exact terms of reference in mind. (See below, under 'Resolutions and letters', see the subsection 'municipal ("restating goal 4")').
However, we need to examine more than the wording of the goal itself, we need to know why it is a goal in the first place: Energy, health, social, cultural, transport, education and infrastructure issues can't even be properly discussed in 2011 without "broadband". The intersections are so many and interwoven that it is perhaps better to refer to a "resilient community" as one in which broadband is fully utilized, and where ubiquitous low-latency communications (gigabit wired, megabit wireless) have changed many habits or patterns. Goal 4 thus becomes:
"Exploiting low-latency flat-rate gigabit wired and megabit wireless IP-based networks to improve energy and transport efficiency, address health, social, artistic and education needs, and provide a uniquely- supportive environment for family, small business and cultural endeavours."
Justification for each word of which is below. See also a more detailed interpretation of the goal under 'energy' below. [The author has researched this issue extensively and considers the language authoritative].
The author lacks the resources to attempt to convey every issue in Lunenburg Region's context but offers a few broad observations about some of the Region's current social, school, transportation and health concerns.
Chapter 12 of the US National Broadband Plan [DRAFT http://www.broadband.gov/plan/12-energy-and-the-environment/#r12] explains the central role of broadband communication in the reform of the US energy and transport systems. [It is extensively researched and robust; no serious attempt to summarize it will or can be made in this document].
Stephen Conroy, Australian Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (and the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate), [DRAFT http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/media/speeches/2009/013] spoke on April 28, 2009 on "broadband and climate change". His comments were even more specific:
"Digital technologies will underpin our future carbon constrained economy. Broadband infrastructure will be the platform upon which the economy operates in the 21st century. Australia has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions by 2020 and this will require an economy-wide response. The fact is, broadband is green technology... an enabler of efficiencies that could drive major reductions in carbon emissions.
In the energy sector, providers plan to use broadband to improve the way they monitor and manage power distribution. Using broadband to connect power consumers with power generators allows them to harness ways to make distribution more efficient and reliable."
Nova Scotia is aggressively deploying intermittent and periodic solar, tidal and especially wind sources, making this argument immediately relevant. Far more important however is the "demand-side" argument, i.e.
"Smart grids connected by broadband raise the potential to not only monitor energy use but to allow remote adjustment of lights or temperature. For households this means opportunities for reduced power consumption and costs."
"Remote control of connected appliances, thermostats and electric meters will help energy companies balance the peaks and troughs of daily usage. This in turn allows them to sell the recovered power on the market, reducing the need for new power generators... Estimates in the US have put the cost savings for consumers between 5 and 25 per cent [by allowing them] to understand household consumption trends and to adjust their habits accordingly."
A PricewaterhouseCoopers to research the potential sustainability benefits of broadband. [DRAFT]  cited by the Minister claimed that "...with 10 per cent of the population teleworking three days per week by 2015, [it] estimates greenhouse-gas emission savings per user of 330kg, equivalent to a car travelling 2,000 kilometres [and] that improving telecommunications use could result in significant savings... local energy and travel savings alone could be worth up to $6.6 billion annually. It noted a number of major opportunities for communications to improve energy efficiency, including:
- Remote appliance power management,
- De-centralised business districts,
- Real-time freight management,
- Increased renewable energy, and
- High Definition video conferencing.
The Minister concludes "these are exactly the kind of applications that will be enabled via the National Broadband Network." Canada has no equivalent plan, and Nova Scotia has only its limited "rural" project.
Debates on these issues are so retarded and confused in Canada that there is literally no equivalent worth quoting. (See 'Recommendation' 6 below, re supporting community electric distributors within this Region).
Canadian authorities have not even acknowledged obvious imminent problems like the fact that electric car users pay nothing towards road maintenance nor can they be prevented from charging on-peak without a smart grid. Furthermore, distributors can't dynamically price electricity to reflect its real price or turn off/down smart appliances without some secure megabits to bounce around activity and command data (see goal 6 of the US National Broadband Plan). Furthermore, Canadian regulators are far behind US regulators on related issues and have permitted distributors to rely on unreliable or insecure third party backhaul (Maryland regulators rejected a BG&E plan for this reason [DRAFT]) or costs to be offloaded to electricity consumers, including (outragenously) allowing utilities to charge the public to roll out a redundant network for only power distribution purposes. Colorado's regulator, in the Xcel SmartGridCity dispute [DRAFT], forced distributors to exploit the headroom of a necessarily over-provisioned secure reliable backhaul for advanced services (and ordinary TV, data and voice use) to subsidize that deployment, rather than monopolozing it for some vague "future use". Meanwhile officials from Toronto Hydro admitted that 10,000 electric cars plugged in at peak times, which they had no way to detect or prevent, would definitely cause its entire grid to crash. There is literally nothing to learn from looking at any Canadian jurisdiction.
Essentially, the smart grid, home grid, micro-grid, electric cars and safe autonomous community resilient in an emergency cannot exist without at least a few megabits of secure reliable wired data to each home and probably a few *gigabits* to each town's essential services, and a gigabit to each public building (school, hospital, etc.). Obama's administration correctly emphasizes the energy goals of the broadband plan and the regulators in each state have lately qualified that electric distributors must be competent network operators and honest brokers or common carriers of energy and all other data the consumer owns."
Utilities (including NS Power) take every opportunity to mislead and deny the role third parties will play in managing public energy use and therefore deny the necessity of combining communications and energy on a single bill under a single provider. It's commonly reported, even in otherwise credible sources like National Geographic, that "the power company" or distributor will be in charge of demand response information when very clearly the Obama plan specifies they cannot monopolize the data and must share it in real time. As the Australian Minister indicates, this implies and requires universal low-latency broadband. It seems to be poor technical education of journalists, politicians and executives at power utilities that keeps the US far behind South Korea or Germany, and Canada very far behind the US, in fact probably in the worst G7 position.
a really specific "goal 4"
Goal 4 could thus be extended with a second paragraph reflecting the importance of meeting the US standards:
This is so important it could well be appended to the goal 4 statement, e.g. "Specifically, extending a US- standard gigabit AES-128 secure wired IPv6-based connection to 100% of civic addresses accessible via the public rights of way exploited by NS Power, Bell, Eastlink and other service providers, so the Region is well-prepared for advanced metering and energy services and attracts more strategic investment/immigration. Further, ensuring open competition in energy conservation and safety monitoring by sharing real time data (as per the US National Broadband Plan "goal 6") so that conflicted or incumbent parties have no advantage. Towards this end, the Region advises that all RFPs and public comment on infrastructure include this goal."
schools and transport
Educational goals and work processes, including access to classroom material during "snow days", during evenings (homework), and upgrading adult and dropout skills either via formal programs or simple access to lessons and exercises, increasingly depend on broadband communications. Teachers, parents, students and invited speakers or resource persons will all assume its availability in daily work well before 2030.
More importantly, schools run transport and communication networks. In the US, schools (and indeed all government-run buildings) are guaranteed (via the US National Broadband Program ) gigabit open Internet access, in part to provide universal free Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11abgn) access to anyone within approximately 1km of a school, hospital, post office or other government building. As school buses go electric, they require spreading "smart grids" to ensure off-peak charging and on-peak discharge to cut all power bills. This (as explained below) requires megabit communications among all generator/charge/discharge points including the schools themselves. Teacher, support and student vehicles will have to participate also. Eventually school buildings located near other facilities relying on government funds (courthouses, police stations, hospitals) will participate in "micro-grids" sharing "district energy" and "district heating" as well as gigabit communications and battery management. NS facilities already rely on geothermal heating (water pumped through old coal mine shafts) or cooling (frigid winter Harbour water pumped below ground to be recirculated in summer). New NS schools now showcase "green building" competence (LEED, passive solar, passive geothermal, green roofs) and will deploy single-cable AC (IEEE P1901 "powerline networking") and DC (IEEE 802.3a "power over ethernet") gigabit communications networking for communications, security and etc.
Furthermore, better school building design, communications, heating, power and transport, make it far more feasible to retain small schools in smaller communities, and not just by decreasing the cost of these. The digital classroom can more easily support multiple grade levels (with just one teacher), or more customized "special education" programs for individual students, who need not rely on the teacher or classroom physical resources alone. A reasonable vision for 2030 is that communities rebuild and retain their own schools, and use these to avoid busing younger or special-needs children, to expand local access to gigabit broadband for business and social purposes (after-hours or in securely segmented work spaces in the "school" building) and provide free (US-standard) wireless broadband and emergency cell-phone access to all tourists, locals, and of course municipal employees. Communities might compete to reduce total carbon emissions due to commuting and busing, simultaneously reducing the dangers and maintenance issues inherent in bad-weather use of rural roads.
Simply put: Every time communications can prevent physical transport, it saves carbon, money, time, physical health risks and social stress. Resilient sustainable communities seek every opportunity to prevent busing or commuting and to serve every person's education, civic engagement and personal communication needs with minimal need to physically move around. Radical social change but also extreme business and educational advantages can be expected in communities pursuing this model. A simple way to explain it is to imagine the 19th century plus omniscience and telepathy: A multi-grade classroom in a locally supplied school simple enough for one teacher to manage on their own, but in which every teacher and child has instant access to all questions and answers on any topic ever asked, and to not only resource materials but expert support people.
The Nova Scotia health system already relies heavily on "tele-health" (mostly voice communications with nurses) and school and other government buildings incorporating "nurse's rooms" with secure gigabit communications and more specialized medical sensors, cameras and displays certainly play a role in early detection and prevention and reduction of use of emergency rooms as first-line primary care. Nurses could return to the schools if they were also capable of serving seniors and the general population from the same facility (with different doors). While security and insurance concerns might have prevented this in the past, universal surveillance and quicker community and professional emergency response radically reduce the risk of any such dual-use of school facility or personnel, of theft of medical supplies, etc.. The risk of driving into town with an injury or not seeking early diagnosis or treatment, measured financially or in direct health terms (disability-adjusted life years) is already provably higher than any real or perceived risk associated with community use of school health facilities, particularly if the decentralized availability of these inhibits busing and attendant school bus accident risks.
As one New Brunswick community discovered, casual acceptance of busing in all weather has tragic results. When a Nova Scotia community experiences the inevitable bus crash costing childrens' lives, the political climate will be sufficiently changed to favour more decentralized small schools serving communities' health, social and business needs from separate secure rooms sharing a core heating, power and communications infrastructure within a public transport, tele-health and communications network. Until the day children die, however, the public will be asleep, so decision-makers and community leaders should prepare for that day with long term infrastructure plans (see the 'Recommendations' especially 8, 8a and 8b below - and especially 6 in communities with electric distributors).
Emergency response is so obviously and powerfully enabled by universal broadband, especially reliable wireless short-range sensors (including medical monitoring sytsems for vulnerable persons) and robust wide area wireless mesh networks, that the advantages need not be spelled out. An aging population such as Lunenburg Region's has increasing concerns, especially with our unpredictable weather and emergencies (hurricanes, snowstorms, floods) that often create electricity and communications outages. Resilient networks that include medical monitoring, home security, and early detection of electrical problems that cause fires, have potential to radically reduce various catastrophic risks, including insurance risks.
Other Canadian municipalities, including for instance Toronto, recognize the interactions of communications and computing infrastructure with public services especially in emergencies that affect public services themselves. [DRAFT Toronto Plan/mandate]. They however fall far short of global/G7 standards in most respects. The March 2011 progress report from Jamie Barnett, Chief of the US Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, emphasizes:
"...promoting public safety wireless broadband communications, encouraging the development and deployment of Next Generation 911 networks, and protecting and preserving critical broadband infrastructure [which he restates as] an interoperable public safety broadband wireless network. We want police officers, fire fighters, and emergency medical personnel to be there when you need them the most and to have access to state-of-the art digital broadband communications. While first responders have traditionally been limited to using the traditional “walkie talkie” radios that you see them with now, we want them to have tablets and smartphones that will provide them with instant access to information and enable them to respond more effectively to emergencies — anywhere, anytime...
On "Developing and Deploying Next Generation 911 Networks" he wrote that as of March 2011 "approximately 70% of all 911 calls are made from mobile hand-held devices. However, most 911 call centers are not currently equipped to receive text messages, e-mail, video, or photos—dominant modes of communications for many mobile users..."
On "Protecting and Preserving Broadband Communications" he states bluntly that "You should be able to make and receive calls at home or on your wireless device in the event of an emergency [making it absolutely essential to] preserve broadband communications during emergencies, including wireless mobile infrastructure and fixed satellite service. We have begun an inquiry proceeding, on network resiliency and preparedness that would identify the problems and survivability of commercial broadband networks [and] are also addressing the critical sectors of our nation, the non-commercial broadband networks that are utilized by public safety, utilities, state and federal entities which all work to help you." 
With home insurance policies tightening on fire, flood, theft and other types of loss preventable with better home and community security systems, or faster community or police response, it seems likely also that lack of emergency services that meet these US-set standards will have significant negative cost implications for Canadian homeowners. One trend already well known to Lunenburg Region households is the cancelling of policies for those relying on wood stoves for primary heating; Over time these same companies must certainly favour non-combustion forms of heating that have near zero fire risk, and certainly would prefer smart homes that monitor their own electrical fire risks. The use of more grid power (and less fossil fuel) for transport and heat may also stress wiring in some homes, which will force electrical system upgrades.
72-hour resilience in emergencies, now a recommendation, may become a mandatory threshold for insurance coverage as soon as it is generally available. As of 2011 only off-grid homes would reliably meet that standard, but as their features become more integrated into "smart homes" in resilent communities, they will set a higher standard baseline for basic coverage.
Much more can be said about insurance, fire, home safety, vulnerable persons, micro-grid resilience, off-grid homes, and so on [Numerous references (listed below) focus on resilient cities, communities and micro-grids to support same].
Aside from core health and education and related transport, policing and recreation and other municipally- provided services benefit from cheap universal surveillance, unified access controls and public accounts; For instance, casual fees and permits are far more easily collected by broadband-enabled smart card slots than by coin slots or paper processing (including paper currency); Abuse can likewise be monitored at a negligible cost, making unattended facilities more practical especially where response to abuse is quick.
It's easier to list what is not happening in Lunenburg Region, but is elsewhere, due to poor communications. Services like BixiBike which rely on instant communication between bicycle parking stations, or similarly configured car-sharing, simply cannot be deployed without reliable networks. Businesses cannot invest in rich online media if they cannot be sure their customers can see it when within range of that business and in a position to become patrons: Lunenburg Board of Trade, for instance, recently considered deploying a community Wi-Fi network simply to ensure that tourists would be able to access local coupons and calendar and orientation material. This was put off until at least 2012, due in part to poor municipal awareness and lack of Region support.
The "de-centralised business districts" mentioned by PWC and cited by the Australian Minister obviously could play a role in revitalizing coastal or isolated communities, especially if government services are available within these, perhaps by a combination of "High Definition video conferencing", web and voice.
Aside from these habit-changing applications, there are also more incremental measurable efficiencies in a resilient municipal communications infrastructure. Looking specifically at the applications that PWC cites, "real-time freight management" has significant potential to reduce truck load on roads (extremely heavy now) and cut costs; It also has potential to cut risk by responding to real-time weather, road or other transitory conditions. "Remote appliance power management" is of great utility to industry especially in power-intensive industries, but also has a surprisingly high impact when applied to ordinary office users.
Core infrastructure will continue to affect real estate pricing: Communities that have resilient modern power grid and communications will attract residents and higher real estate prices, those without will lose. This is partly a zero-sum game: service "dead zones" may boost nearby real estate values as buyers flee to communities with gigabit networks and modern safety services, but over time the existence of any "dead zone" is an overall economic drag that must be addressed decisively (as NS recognized in its Rural Broadband plan).
Because of the many habit and pattern changes it implies, social and cultural changes that come along with a resilient broadband-everywhere infrastructure are impossible to anticipate, other than to say that trying to retain any competitive advantage in businesses that rely on social networks or cultural connections is a futile endeavour. Perhaps two examples can illustrate the potential better than any set of statistics:
In March 2011, Halifax singer/songwriter Meagan Smith performed to a small audience in a house on Green Bay Road. The performance was not sold out, mostly because it was advertised only locally by its host. It was not recorded nor was it available online. A week later, Smith won the Juno Award for Best New Artist in Canada. Such intimate performances "before they were famous" acquire a powerful glamour but far more so if some recording or larger awareness existed at the time. What economic and new cultural potentials are lost when small gems are incompletely commercialized, or worse when a venue fails because it cannot take any advantage of its national or global audience? Within a few miles of that venue on Green Bay Road are at least two others (Petite Riviere Fire Hall, West Dublin Community Hall) that have hosted similarly powerful intimate cultural events.
Lunenburg's Boxwood Festival each July, hosted in several small venues (mostly churches), is a critically acclaimed gathering of acoustic (especially wind) instruments. It, too, is an under-appreciated gem, and this is partly due to its better-known cousin the Folk Harbour Festival each August which reaches more of a local audience. A systematic effort to reach the classical and world music audience Boxwood attracts, exploiting more robust and universal broadband for advertising and simulcasting and post-production, would not only sustain the smaller festival but possibly radically increase cultural tourism for/to this event.
It's hard to overstate the role of such smaller intimate cultural events in attracting permanent residents especially those working in the arts. To be able to attract slightly larger audiences locally or to build a global audience (perhaps concentrated in surprising places like New Zealand or Turkey or Argentina, where unforseen fan bases for Canadian artists have arisen in the past) is a major strategic advantage for artists and cultural businesses.
To a lesser degree artisans, who often produce work to order and require intensive consultation with clients both before and after delivery, benefit similarly from reliable high quality audio and video conferencing. A good rule of thumb for dealings with remote or foreign clients in any business subject to competition at all would be that if power or communications is interrupted or inhibited at a critical time, the contract is lost; The second time this happens, the customer is lost; The third time, the entire business is probably at risk.
By these standards, Lunenburg Region has a very long way to go to ensure it retains social and cultural work opportunities and expands the audience for the world-class artistic and cultural work that now happens here.
Competing 2011-2030: How Lunenburg Region is disadvantaged
To understand how and why Lunenburg Region is disadvantaged relative to its US competitors, and what it must do to restore parity and appeal to any businesses, customers, residents, investors to whom broadband access is an issue, requires substantial background knowledge in technology and policy. Several documents that any decision-maker should already be familiar with (listed below as 'References') emphasize that broadband communications and electricity require a common policy framework and that it is not generally affordable to upgrade one without the other. The trend to wireless service provision in particular should be viewed as a short-term stopgap that cannot substitute for reliable wired broadband services provided as part of a regulated utility.
The remainder of this document introduces the general reasons for pursuing rural broadband, the basic terms of reference. I then list several 'Recommendations' that Lunenburg Region can pursue and/or advocate to the Province of Nova Scotia or towns within its jurisdiction (notably Mahone Bay, Lunenburg, and Riverport, which have control of their community electricity distributors), then explain the role of these, of community mesh networks, of Motorola Canopy "rural broadband", and other terms of reference that must be understood in order to competently discuss "broadband".
Finally the section 'Resolutions and letters' provides a draft provincial political party policy resolution that any of the four major parties (PC, Liberal, NDP, Green) could adopt, a municipal version suitable for adoption by Lunenburg Region or towns within, and a letter to NS Power / Emera to emphasize the importance of keeping par with US service guarantees within its service regions.
Rural broadband in North America
Most research indicates that economic development in rural regions is strongly correlated to use of "broadband" technologies. These enable traditional rural businesses such as agriculture and tourism to market more effectively, find better sources of products both abroad and locally, and remain in better touch with customers so as to provide better service to keep their loyalty.
Aside from benefits to existing businesses, broadband technology also lets professionals and artisans previously tied to urban areas move out to remote regions, repopulating them. Regions with summer residents are, for instance, likely to attract them to retire where they vacation.
Business aside, social cohesion benefits when those who wish to stay aren't forced to go. For families being broken apart by young people forced to leave a region due to high communication or (especially) transport costs, broadband connections keep them in touch with their peers who move away. It offers them access to the same online social venues and games their peers use - maintaining social ties that can be essential to convincing people who move away, to move back.
Over 2011-2030 most competent projections expect gigabit wired communications with flat-rate wireless worldwide voice and video connections (requiring tens to hundreds of megabits) to be the standard connectivity for town-utility-served areas, often deployed as part of a "micro- grid" or unified utility strategy that includes energy demand management and safety services.
Truly rural areas that control their own electricity distribution/retailers can expect similar services simply because they can build them for themselves if larger ISPs do not. Some rural areas that rely on a larger power distribution company, e.g. NS Power, will be left behind and become further depopulated if government does not (as in the US) require secure gigabit-level provisioning as part of "smart grid" projects nor require sharing energy use data with customer- selected third parties. The competence to understand these regulations does not exist in Canada so the best that can reasonably be hoped for is to copy US regulations blindly and exactly. In Nova Scotia this is particularly desirable because NS Power, the dominant electricity retailer, is owned by Emera, a US company which already must meet the US regulations in other localities, and thus has absolutely no excuse not to meet the exact same standard for Nova Scotia customers.
Who are Lunenburg Region's "competitors"?
However, until then, rural regions of Nova Scotia will thus significantly lag competitors in New England or anywhere in the US as a rule, since there is no incentive nor regulation requiring Canadian utilities to keep up. Rural businesses competing with US businesses can expect to fall substantially behind in marketing reach and customer service and responsiveness, and fail more often. Investment, furthermore, is already difficult to attract to a rural-based business in Canada - but if it competes directly with a US rural-based business, especially in professional services (which might be located anywhere), any such investment must now be deemed a high risk.
Appropriate comparisons for Lunenburg Region might be other coastal areas near major sea trading routes that are also major tourist destinations: Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Vancouver Island, despite obvious climate differences, could all be said to compete directly for these professionals, or for retirees or semi-retirees, especially if they sail or desire a naturally stunning ecological setting. Indeed, some summer residents of Lunenburg Region spend winters in just those places.
Canada vs. US
Rural broadband initiatives across North America seek to connect under-developed regions for financial, social and population-maintenance goals. The US is particularly aggressive in this regard, vowing to connect every US government facility (schools, hospitals, possibly also post offices) with one gigabit Internet secure enough for critical infrastructure (power grid, alarm monitoring, energy demand management) with a public high power "Wi-Fi" access hotspot on each.
By contrast, Canadian communities in competition with US communities have no such guarantees. Communications costs in Canada are among the highest in the developed world, and broadband pricing the very worst. Often, communication pricing or a dearth of options in a region directly discourage investment in businesses or relocation of urban businesses to an area. Combined with above-par currency and poor power reliability, lack of broadband makes it quite difficult to attract types of business that in theory could be moved to almost anywhere on Earth.
Electricity and "micro-grids"
The US is also moving rapidly to "smart grid" and "smart home" and "smart appliance" standards that require broadband communications to be extended, in effect, to every AC outlet in every building. Goal 6 of the US National Broadband Plan guarantees Americans the right to monitor and control their own energy usage by forwarding usage data in real time to third parties with no discretion or control by the host utility. This necessarily requires secure gigabit network deployment to every AC appliance in the home in the long run, but also immediate megabit network access to remote third parties. IEEE P1901, ITU G.hn, G.hnem and related standards specify how to use existing AC copper wiring in the home to move that gigabit from transformers to outlets. This radically reduces the amount of fibre optic cabling required to serve residential users; Verizon has actually suspended its deployment of fibre optic to redesign for these standards. As of 2011 all major vendors have committed to support "powerline networking" in their devices.
Small local electricity distributors (e.g. Chattanooga, TN and many in California) and major broadband providers (Verizon) have been particularly aggressive in integrating energy control and gigabit communications, as technology to support these converge. Since the secure wired broadband connection required for energy needs can be overprovisioned (for gigabit not megabits) relatively cheaply and the excess bandwidth used for TV, voice and general Internet, it makes no sense whatseover to deploy separate networks: The secure network should be used for both, so that the upgrades required for energy usage can be paid for by general communication purposes. Verizon has leapt into the energy demand management business precisely because they can forestall being displaced by the distributors themselves, by offering to handle these complex new networks, even offering to manage their data.
The economics are simple and obvious: Owners of poles and wires that reach into every home in a contiguous service area have insurmountable advantages in the communications (TV, voice and Internet) business. As they are legally required to facilitate the movement of energy usage and control data securely to third parties, they will be allowed to recover this cost from ratepayers even though they benefit immensely from more efficient usage (fewer supply and billing problems). "Over-provisioning" the network to move up to a gigabit rather than megabits into each building costs very little or (sometimes) nothing - precisely why the US has set a gigabit as its own goal for public buildings. By selling off the communications capacity, the micro-grid greatly profits at almost no risk. It has several inherent advantages:
1. Because it serves a completely contiguous customer base, network management and maintenance expenses are minimized.
2. Furthermore it has a marketing relationship with every customer on the grid. Where neighbours tend to adopt services they see working well, such as home safety/security, this marketing relationship can quickly upsell services.
3. Because it can subsidize the deployment of these communications with both energy and energy-related services, which telcos and cablecos generally cannot, it has an inherent cost edge.
4. Furthermore, more secure resilience services can be built on the smart grid standards, and the micro-grid-based communications made more robust for life-critical purposes such as medical monitoring, early fire detection than any service based on existing telco or cableco infrastructure. Deploying these, some of which command charges of $10-$30/month each, displaces far less reliable purpose-specific networks (for wireless medical alarms, home security, etc.) and simplifies their deployment so their markets can expand. It's reasonable to assume $5-$15/month from each of these as micro-grid revenue.
5. Because micro-grid personnel are qualified for high voltage equipment and connections, and owns the poles and wires, but telco and cableco personnel typically are not and do not, the micro-grid personnel can do every job required to maintain the infrastructure without calling in any 3rd party or waiting for an intervention from the underlying power grid manager.
6. Where IEEE P1901 powerline networking is deployed, smart appliances can be networked and early electrical fire risk detection implemented at almost no additional cost. There is no way for telcos or cablecos to compete with this.
NS Rural Broadband Initiative
By the end of 2009 "100% of civic addresses" in Nova Scotia were to be connected by deployment of a Motorola Canopy based 900MHz fixed wireless radio network. Simply put, this has not happened, and as of April 2011 at least 600 reported cases of lack of connectivity were reported to MLAs or the provincial government agency responsible. Rather than adopt the US goal 6 and pressure Nova Scotia Power (owned by Emera, a US company) to deploy powerline networking to meet the US-style smart grid and demand management standards and simply over-provision it, and rather than pay for any extension to existing wired networks, even where this is more cost-effective than multiple wireless radio towers, the Nova Scotia government has adopted a technology-centric approach that precludes general competition and further retards the deployment of the long term final solution.
That said, the "100%" goal is admirable and probably can be met within Lunenburg Region with some deft and locally-based initiatives to fill in broadband "dead zones" using various technologies, including in some cases powerline-based technologies deployed by community electric distributors.
To "encourage broadband adoption" in Lunenburg Region, we should...
Lunenburg Region loses population and opportunity to Halifax Region in part for its lack of universal broadband coverage, trending to become a mere suburb with a very weak economy of its own. Combining land line telephone, satellite TV and satellite Internet yields extremely poor service combinations that cost double or triple what a similar cable package would cost, and is entirely unsuitable for most business and many common social uses (see "latency" below). Paying $200/month for a combination of poor services is quite common in the "dialup zones".
This is a particular problem for Lunenburg Region coastal areas, which are very attractive to tourists and summer residents. Some popular tourist areas (like Green Bay or Cherry Hill) are not only wired broadband but cell "dead zones". Even where fully wired service exists, such as along the 331 from LaHave Ferry to Petite Riviere, wireless and cell "dead zones" persist - even where fibre optics hang on poles beside the road! This makes these areas less safe for travellers, especially as there are many homes unoccupied for most of the year. Bicycle tourism in particular has declined due to this, and lack of paving on the shoulders.
As Halifax represents more than half the Region's tourism, keeping services that are at least half as fast for twice the price should be a bare minimum for anywhere with tourist venues or even tourist potential. Restating goal 4 (see below 'Restating goal 4') should include this. Very many areas within Lunenburg Region have extremely poor service nowhere near such a goal.
Who's got it worst? And what to do?
As of 2009, the very worst service in Lunenburg Region, possibly in North America, was in the LaHave Islands. Bell Aliant dialup service at maximum 24-28kbps (under 1% of the speed of basic Eastlink cable or Bell DSL services) was the only low-latency connection available. Wireless cell connections, of extremely unreliable latency between 250-2000ms, bandwidth-capped at well under 10 GB/month, perform at well under 100kbps.
Eastlink's Motorola Canopy wireless service, promising 0.5mbps but at no particular guaranteed latency, was hoped to resolve this situation, but it remains doubtful as a long term solution.
Eastlink continues to deploy wireless relays that add latency, rather than a single wired tower, and admits that this solution is not optimal and is presently under review by the government of NS. As of June 2011 Eastlink also admitted that deploying these new towers usually takes several months. Its (wired fibre optic) cable, Canopy "rural broadband" and new (unannounced) cellular services are poorly coordinated and no Eastlink official can even answer simple questions about which of these, if any, is likely to be available when in either the Islands or the communities in "cell shadow" across Green Bay and Dublin Bay (Petite Riviere, Crescent Beach, West Dublin, Dublin Shore) which consistently report a total lack of cell service - irritating, inconvenient and sometimes dangerous.
The best solution for this and other such communities is to wire at least the main road and put all wireless services, from all carriers, on a higher tower at road's end, e.g. on Bell Island. Any cellular carrier on this tower would have a clear line of sight to these "cell shadow" areas.
A less desirable solution would be a year-round Wi-Fi hotspot run by the provincial C@P program at Risser's Beach provincial park - this could potentially be accessed by Island residents as a fair-weather broadband solution and by "smart phone" VoIP users on the beaches and tourist areas. If augmented by an OpenBTS cell solution it could also support emergency calls from "dumb" phones.
As of June 2011, however, the province's Rural Broadband Initiative does not allow for subsidizing nor coordinating/proposing either type of solution, despite the better service these could provide.
This is one of several problems with that Initiative that the Municipality could intervene to solve, potentially citing the LaHave Islands as a uniquely poorly served area where current services failed.
Recommendations to Region, 2012-2016 Council (and candidates for same)
Pending examination of other options and more problems areas within the LR, as of 2011 I recommend:
1. Mapping cell (GSM, CDMA, HSPA, etc.) and wired broadband (cable, DSL) "dead zones" so that a clear picture emerges of which businesses, tourist/rental locations and residents are without reliable low-latency service. Demanding that carriers accurately map their coverage areas so customers are not falsely induced to sign up, nor charged for services they can barely access. Demanding further that regular latency testing be included and advertised widely on the web.
2. Identifying businesses and professionals and residents dependent on better Internet access to work more effectively or stay longer in the year, or even relocate fulltime to the Region as a resident. In parallel, identify those dependent on reliable electrical power experiencing outages, brown-outs, etc., and those dependent on non-private-car transport (cabs, bicycles).
3. Representing the coastal and cut-off areas' concerns to the provincial government. That is, requesting redirection of Rural Broadband Initiative funds to better network architectures that eliminate wireless-to-wireless relays to bring packets back to wired connections faster, connect more wired customers to reduce load on wireless towers and thus bill more services. Where such services are deployed, the obligation to reach 100% of civic addresses may be relaxed at least temporarily, though this should remain the goal of the Initiative by 2020.
3a.Making clear that the electric vehicle strategy for these regions must be clarified immediately. In particular partnerships between utilities and charging station companies, incentives for PEV owners to charge at off peak times, vehicle-to-grid technologies, rate designs and dynamic pricing programs, battery storage, support for community owned utilities (recommendation 6) and all "smart grid" implications (recommendation 6a). Making clear to tourists that the Region welcomes PEVs and providing some guidance to lodging and tourist spots on how to support electric car charging.
4. Given the delays in the Rural Broadband Initiative, requesting that the province of NS engage Eastlink (the monopoly service provider of Motorola Canopy 900MHz fixed wireless services in this Region) and, in lieu of performance penalties, add latency guarantees to the contractual obligations, to discourage wireless-to-wireless relays and encourage better architectures (2).
4a. Also, publicize petitions to improve service so that the Region does this with public support. Some cut-off regions can for instance co-ordinate requests for cable Internet "site surveys" to encourage extensions of wired service. This will also help alleviate ongoing Canopy problems.
5. Facilitating training of business, tourist and younger cell users in configuring their phones to exploit Wi-Fi hotspots wherever possible, improving cell coverage and reducing phone bills. Steering persons willing to support hotspots in popular areas to projects that support these, including:
5a. Facilitating equipment and expertise exchange so that volunteers can assist their neighbours, and that Region-owned equipment being replaced can be redeployed to community-based projects.
6. Providing some assistance (financial guarantees, legal, insurance, bulk purchase agreements) to community electric distributors (in Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Riverport) and community groups (in Crescent Beach / West Dublin, in Green Bay) in "dead zone" areas to solve their problems using petitions, and where they have to solve their own problem, advice on proven wired and mesh networking approaches. Publicizing these measures to help other local groups.
Furthermore, Lunenburg Region and its government MLAs should insist that the government of the province of Nova Scotia renegotiate the "Rural Broadband Initiative" contract to include "smart grid" applications and business cases when considering funding to reach stranded rural users on the electric power grid, but without low-latency broadband (this favours extending wired fibre and P1901 networks, see the Appendix 'What about "Rural Broadband Initiative" (Canopy)' below).
7. Making clear to the province that Lunenburg Region considers itself a direct competitor to at least the New England area of the US, and accordingly must benchmark communications services for how they compare to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts in price & performance.
In particular, outlining the implications of the US National Broadband Plan (one gigabit per second to every government building, with free Wi-Fi hotspots available outside such buildings) and US energy plans (guaranteed access to electricity usage data in real time to third parties, which entails secure low-latency megabit wired networking as a basic part of the electric grid).
In the absence of any Canadian federal plan, the province must plan these upgrades for itself, or become a communications and energy backwater utterly unable to compete with New England, USA, or indeed any American jurisdiction.
8. Putting communications contracts for all Region (including school board) facilities and services into a common schedule of renegotiation for maximum leverage to achieve all the Region's goals; Review all requests for proposal (RFP)s, early information (RFI) and final quotes (RFQ) with the above goals 1-6 in mind, calling for input from all parties affected by the Region's actions or inactions or precedents on communications. In particular, ensure that school boards and all Region-controlled buildings have the right to run hotspots for both Wi-Fi and cell (GSM, CDMA etc) services where "dead zones" exist for either of these, as part of the Region's own core contracts.
8a. Retain and rebuild former school buildings using community resources, with the promise of at least lower primary grades and special needs programs being potentially re-deployed using gigabit network facilities. Consider modern "nurses' rooms" participating in "tele-health" networks as a frontline alternative to emergency rooms, potentially a base for GPs to see less mobile patients. Consider secure segmented library, business and adult education facilities available 24x7 (with appropriate individual ID cards and surveillance) within the same physical "school" buildings.
8b. Plan explicitly for the day that school buses, teacher and student vehicles charge via 240VAC 30A ("dryer") circuits at off-peak rates and discharge to reduce school (or other public buildings) power bills.
9. Form a citizens' committee to meet regularly (at least quarterly) to review progress on the above, and regularly report to the Council on progress, and further requests for the Region's assistance.
10.Twin or peer the Region to an area in New England that has already taken a similar approach to its communications (and possibly transport and electricity) services, to exchange best practices and to highlight for the federal and provincial government the deficiencies of current policies for modern infrastructure. Advocate the following strategy:
10a. Work with US states pioneering the Obama combined broadband/grid strategy, and with Emera subsidiaries serving US regions similarly subject to these standards, seems like the best way to start. If pilot projects can involve the three local utilities (Lunenburg, Riverport, Mahone Bay) in this Region, they should, as they are contiguous and represent the best small testbed. After that other NS towns controlling their own utilities can prove the combined broadband/electricity strategy for more isolated micro-grids, then after that major urban municipalities like Halifax and ultimately NS-Power-served distribution areas like Annapolis Valley, the rest of Cape Breton, and PEI, can expand the service area as convenient. Until Gaetan Thomas and Ed Barrett are removed, no initiative should start that is contingent on NB Power's cooperation.
Use of non-technical terms like "broadband" or "high-speed" obscures the differences between various types of service. Furthermore a "dead zone" is defined in various ways. For purposes of understanding and encouraging adoption of these technologies, use the following terminology:
- "flat-rate" - any communications (or other) pricing scheme in which a single predictable rate is paid (usually per month, sometimes per day) for a high potential threshold of use that few users take full advantage of; By contrast, "usage-based billing" (UBB) schemes charge customers per unit of usage, in Canada these prices are often outrageous and always uncompetitive with its G7 competitors. All "cellular" (or "GSM" or "HSPA" or indeed any non-"Wi-Fi" wireless wide area IP-based service) networks have a fairly low (3-10 GB/gigabyte) threshold of flat rate use and thereafter apply charges ranging from a low of $0.15 up to $0.50/megabyte = $10-$50.00/gigabyte. Wired networks set no threshold, or a much higher (50-250 GB) threshold of flat rate use, and charge much less to exceed this (typically no more than $5/gigabyte) than do cellular networks. Literally all "broadband" applications are unaffordable to use on demand over cellular networks or UBB, one reason the Canadian government in 2011 over-ruled the CRTC and refused to allow major "backhaul" providers (Bell, Rogers) to offer flat rate schemes to their own direct customers while charging wholesalers on a usage basis (thus wiping them out).
- "IP-based" - any network employing the Internet protocol (IP) in either its original IPv4 ("v4" or "version 4") or IPv6 ("v6" or "version 6") forms; Literally all networks today are IP-based as they appear to the customer, except for voice circuits made by direct dialing. IP-based digital networks simulate the old dialtone and responses of the old analog system while moving packets with Internet protocol. An increasing amount of "long distance" phone calls move over IP and are thus "voice over IP" whether this is advertised to the customer or not (it usually is not, and is often fraudulently denied); Customers often pay cellular prices for Skype-like services.
- "low latency" - any connection to the Internet, wired or not, with under 100 milliseconds (ms) time to receive, transmit and acknowledge a digital packet of information. Core business applications like virtual private networks (VPN), voice over IP (VoIP), shell and remote login, do not function reliably unless the total end to end latency is under 100ms.
- Core residential applications like interactive videoconferencing and gaming do not, either. Satellite connections are inherently high/poor latency because they must transmit & receive to orbit. There is accordingly no satellite connection that can handle these applications. Wired services are usually well under 20ms end-to-end latency. To compete at all, then, wireless services must bring back packets as fast as possible to a low-latency wired connection point, avoiding multiple relays ("hops") that load wireless towers unnecessarily and prevent mobile devices, vehicles and others that genuinely require wireless connections from connecting.
- Wireless-to-wireless relays also cause connection and throughput problems because they double or triple the number of packets that must be handled: Save wireless for real mobile devices!
- "gigabit" or "gbps" - gigabits per second - billions of bits, millions of kilobits, per second. A "gigabit" service is one that can achieve speeds of 1000mbps or above. The US National Broadband Plan specifies that all US publicly funded buildings (schools, hospitals in particular) have wired gigabit connections to the open Internet and support public Wi-Fi hotspots (of sub-gigabit speeds).
- "gigabytes" = GB = billions of bytes (8 bits) - a 100 mbps connection moves one gigabyte in 80 seconds. Most Canadian wired and all wireless carriers place strict limits on gigabytes per month that a given account can upload/download: Usually <10GB, generally unsuitable for serious business use, for "phone" protocols (Aliant, Rogers, Fido, Telus), and <100GB, unsuitable for any public or semi-public access, for cable (Eastlink) or DSL (Aliant).
- "hotspot" - any wireless connection to the Internet open to public, semi-public, subscribed or voucher users - often free with patronage of a business, e.g. cafes or restaurants. Any Internet subscriber can actually create a hotspot simply by opening their network to anonymous users.
- The province's C@P program runs hotspots and computer access in most libraries and some other buildings. Starbucks and some other commercial chains run them elsewhere in the province. A few vendors (Aliant, Rogers, Telus, Eastlink) operate them for subscribers. Lunenburg Region has several formal and informal hotspots, some run by ordinary citizens who simply open and share their connection.
- "mesh network" - any use of multiple wireless hotspots which co-operate to provide seamless service.
- "megabit" or "mbps" - megabits per second - millions of bits, thousands of kilobits, tenths of gigabits, per second. Wired Internet connections are measured in megabits (much slower than local area network (LAN) wired connections between devices on home networks which are often hundreds of times faster - and measured in "gigabits". Wired services (cable, ADSL) usually come in 5, 15, 25, and 100 mbps. Wireless services come in 0.1 ("edge network"), 0.5 ("Canopy"), 21 & 42 mbps (HSPA and HSPA+) and are always extremely expensive and usually unreliable - it's impossible in practice to tell what performance one will receive without actually setting up the equipment to test it in all weather and load conditions. Most vendors' wireless speed claims are fraudulent, as are most coverage maps (Bell's maps are exceptionally honest and show most big dead zones).
What about "Rural Broadband Initiative"? (Canopy)
The province of Nova Scotia's "Rural Broadband Initiative", based on Motorola 900MHz Canopy technology, has failed this region. It is now under review. As of spring 2011, over 600 persons were unable to get service under it, despite the promise of "100% of civic addresses" to be covered before end of 2009.
Why did this happen? Bluntly put, the initial contract the PCs negotiated was botched, having at least six serious deficiencies that prevent adoption by many rural based subscribers:
1. No guarantee of low latency (under 100 milliseconds) was part of the service specification.
As noted above, core business applications like virtual private networks (VPN), voice over IP (VoIP), shell and remote login, require this low latency. Gaming also requires low latency, as does videoconferencing. Lacking latency guarantees, most users "wait and see" rather than committing to adopt the Canopy technology. Eastlink is deploying some wireless-to-wireless relays in the Region, which further casts doubt that it could meet any latency guarantees if this continues. Once the funds are spent on such relays wired extensions become unlikely.
2. The ultimate contract was specific to one technology for all purposes, managed by one vendor per area. However, extensions to existing wired (cable and DSL) networks and co-operation with existing community electric distributors ("micro-grid" operators such as the towns of Lunenburg, Mahone Bay and Riverport) and in some cases community ISPs would solve problems far more reliably than reliance on one vendor, and with more community support/engagement.
The contract should have allowed redirecting funds from wireless-to-wireless relay towers towards more robust wired connections, and support for community Wi-Fi projects in remote but densely populated areas, or those popular with tourists. Canopy vendors were also sadly not required to take the universal service guarantee into account in *all* network planning. Provisioning for cellular networks (as Eastlink is deploying 2010-2011) is entirely separate and there is absolutely no path by which any proposal to jointly provision for all three (the wired cable, Motorola Canopy, and cellular) networks can be evaluated by a top decision-maker.
This has resulted in several ridiculous situations where the vendor (Eastlink) is putting up wireless-to-wireless relay towers at public expense in areas where a population is along a road and easier to serve with wired service and one single more robust tower at road's end.
There seems to be no way to actually reach anyone at Eastlink capable of evaluating the real economic case: As of spring 2011 Eastlink was hiring over 40 network personnel, leaving no real competent network design/provisioning authority to speak to on behalf of the corporation. When challenged on this, they admit it's a problem, but that the Canopy system is strictly a government mandate and that they cannot do anything that they aren't ordered to by government.
3. There were no significant penalties for failing to meet deadlines as the project repeatedly has. This has made it impossible to plan expansions that would rely on more network access and impossible to fund interim wireless services for at least 1000 people presently unservable.
4. There was no parallel plan to expand Wi-Fi hotspots, a far more standard and reliable known approach to wireless networking used in literally all community mesh networking projects - nor any clarifications of the rights of residents to build such networks on residential wired connections.
5. There is no uniform advertised method of escalating problems or disputes to competent persons with authority to make decisions or disburse funds to compensate for failures of the "100% of civic addresses" guarantee. This results in many thousands of hours of wasted time on both ends of the customer support line, and contributes to the extremely poor network provisioning.
6. There is no explicit acknowledgement or recognition of the necessity of integrating "smart grid" communications as part of the rural broadband plan, by contrast to plans in Australia and the US, in which power distributors are explicitly required to support and help fund network deployments, and in which energy demand management and other secure applications help to pay for provisioning.
Any plans for time frames beyond 2015 must include explicit provisioning for IEEE P1901 (to every AC outlet in the building) as a fully supported delivery method for services from pole into home, and the primary means of integration of "smart appliance", "smart home" and "smart grid" services.
Given the defaults and deficiencies, Lunenburg Region and its government MLAs should insist that the government of the province of Nova Scotia renegotiate the contract to address at least these issues.
What's the role of community electric distributors?
Lunenburg Region has three irreplaceable critical assets: Community-owned electric distributors in the Town of Lunenburg (?? subscribers), Town of Mahone Bay (?? subscribers), and Riverport District (about 1200 subscribers). While these serve a relatively small number of people, almost all of which already have access to some kind of wired broadband service (ADSL or Eastlink cable), they represent the best opportunity to showcase Lunenburg Region as home for innovative business.
In California and elsewhere in the US, the right of communities to form such "micro-grids" under local residents' control was upheld in a 2010 referendum, despite heavy pressure from monopolist Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to raise the threshold to approve these to 2/3 from 50% plus one. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, the electric distributor is deploying state of the art energy monitors and demand management services to all customers, along with one gigabit per second (gbps) Internet, matching the speed that the US National Broadband Plan has specified for all government buildings.
Because the residents themselves own the power poles and hire the personnel who maintain the power and communications lines hung on those poles, they can decide at any time to deploy fibre optic or powerline networking to all subscribers. With appropriate financial guarantees, legal, insurance, or co-operative bulk purchase agreements for Internet access and power, they could push far ahead of NS Power served areas and demonstrate the economic benefits of extremely high speed networking.
As of early 2011, major router vendors have incorporated IEEE P1901 powerline networking protocols that let ordinary AC power lines (between the transformer and every single indoor AC outlet) carry one-gigabit-per-second (gbps) communication. These devices can accordingly bridge communications over 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz "Wi-Fi" (IEEE 802.11abgn), wired Ethernet and wired AC power connections and are ideal for energy demand management applications. Major US vendors, notably Verizon, ditched all plans to continue deploying fibre optics into the home in favour of a powerline networking approach which permits them to offer home security, medical monitoring, as well as energy related services - even managing all this data on behalf of power utilities who typically lack the networking expertise.
Other vendors are working with small utilities to build "micro-grids" combining power, communication and transport and safety related services: Efficient electric car charging, reliable medical and fire monitoring, home security and outage prevention. These can greatly improve our residents' safety when deployed to replace the patchwork of incompatible and unreliable services that they use for these now.
Retail electric distributors have several unassailable advantages regarding communication service:
- they start with nearly universal area coverage and relationships with every electricity customer
- they subsidize network provisioning for their own preventative maintenance and energy purposes
- simply over-provisioning those networks and reselling to carriers/ISPs can pay for their upgrades
- their personnel are skilled and certified with high-voltage and can accordingly go up on the poles
- communications services can be priced relatively low as they can be subsidized with energy/safety
- because energy services require high security networks, their networks will be more secure than the incumbent ISPs/carriers on day one, making them far more suitable than those for sensitive purposes
In the long run communities without their own electric distributors will almost certainly be left far behind those that can control their communications destiny. At the very least, the threat to become a high-security low-latency gigabit ISP and wipe out revenues to incumbents can force better services.
This threat should be used. Communities unwilling to use it should consider selling their utilities to a private party that will aggressively improve services and leverage their positional advantages.
The downside of these changes, for electric distributors, is sometimes called "smart meter backlash" (a phenomena so complex it is best left to the reader, and a search engine, to discover what it means).
Distributors that have avoided that "backlash" seem to have done so by ordering their steps carefully, first making energy use transparent and assisting the customer in shifting loads "off-peak" by scheduling discretionary loads (such as dish-washing or clothes-drying or significant pumping or vehicle charging) and making full use of smart thermostats and other automation systems. Fully dynamic pricing should be implemented on a relatively long time schedule, probably not fully exposing the public to it before 2020, but it must be clear from the beginning that there is no alternative to energy demand management long-term and that "low rates" are no longer an option. Instead the customer must pursue lower overall utility bills (despite higher per-kilowatt rates) which is far easier if communications costs are reduced by smart grids.
To ease public understanding, these community distributors had best start by vetting their communications and goal statements, and educating local politicians to avoid making promises they must necessarily break.
Eliminating supply-sided bias and rhetoric which encourages malinvestment
Everyone who cares about their community must work to eliminate supply-biased official rhetoric as this causes bad investments.
- talk about "low utility bills" NOT "low power rates" - rates will go up, should go up, must go up, especially as fossil fuel emission harms (carbon) are paid for, but smart grids can bring gigabits and universal wireless coverage (if the US model is followed) and drive the cost of communications down in compensation; Better water and septic monitoring also may result in removing unsustainable subsidies and discouraging waste, which will anger the wasters but reduce bills of responsible/prudent consumers.
- the objective is to "balance the grid" not "meet demand" - reducing demand is by far the cheapest way to cut overall power delivery expenses and avoid the extremely expensive and ecologically damaging power plant construction (even solar and wind have their ecological cost, as does any hydro-electric damming project); the sooner the public realizes that forcing distributors to find supply at any cost and drive that cost down results in serious health and environment harm, the sooner they will realize they are asking the distributor to push rope, and the sooner they will accept their own role in the most effective measure: conservation.
- refer to "waste problems" not "supply problems" - almost all situations where supply doesn't meet demand can be resolved by rescheduling a discretionary demand to a time when the supply of electricity is over- abundant; The sooner the public blames the waster, not the supplier, for the cost of peaks and brown-outs, the better. Target leaky "beer fridges" for perhaps ten years before putting up more than a single windmill, it pays off far better (a point made relatively well in commercials featuring David Suzuki run here in NS).
Emphasizing that conservation will always be cheaper, that conserved watts are economically far more useful to the ratepayers (who are also shareholders, remember!). A watt that is never used need not be developed, extracted or generated, transmitted, measured or vended at wholesale, regulated, stepped up or down for delivery, distributed, billed and vended at retail, repaired by utilities in an outage, nor can it shock anyone or damage equipment or start a fire. The economic value of a conserved watt is much greater than a generated watt. Further, consumers upgrade more carefully than large institutions that risk ratepayers or taxpayers fund. Statistics show that to reduce demand by capital investment by consumers costs reliably one-twentieth to one-third as much as adding new generating capacity (lightbulbs provide a simple example).
What's the role of community mesh networking?
Where carriers do not see fit to deploy competitive services, government will not induce them to do so and residents do not own their electricity distributor, there is a final stopgap measure that can fill a service gap temporarily and develop a sufficient customer base to interest carriers and authorities.
Community mesh networking in rural areas, especially in rural Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, and some smaller scale projects in poorly served areas of North America, is a well proven paradigm as of 2010 - with its own robust deployment guides, open source software and instructions available free to everyone.
Informal projects often simply extend the signal of willing residential or commercial subscribers, by improving antennae, adding bridges and repeaters, and upgrading devices using open source firmware/OS.
More formal projects often run into problems of scale, as volunteering wired residential or business connections into such projects means carrying unknown amounts and types of traffic to the Internet. At the very least, some clear concept of legal responsibility for network hosts needs to be outlined for a network larger than one or two nodes. These should agree to indemnify each other against any usage or other charges or complications that arise as a result of making their connection available for open use.
In case of serious abuses that violate the Criminal Code and result in complaints, extensive logs should be kept so that the actual origin of unwelcome traffic (spam, serious threats of violence or bullying of children) can be determined. It must be understood by all hosts that the Internet is hard to monitor or control and the benefits of universal availability either justify these risks to that host, or they don't. No guarantee to prevent all potentially objectionable or even illegal uses can in practice ever be made by a loosely organized community effort. In practice policies similar to Nova Scotia's own C@P program, with adjustments to reflect the community nature of the effort, should probably be adopted as a stopgap against legal liability. It would however be extremely effective if the Region were to offer its own sponsorship of such projects to ensure that they proceeded on a sound contractual and legal basis and that hosts of a community mesh network had at least some recourse in case of arbitrary treatment by police, litigants or a carrier. This might be as simple as a statement that the network was formed with the Region's blessing and that the Region had the opportunity to take it over at any time or audit its records in case of any problem.
Since such efforts invariably proceed anyway without Regional help or oversight, and would proceed only if a total lack of service attention from officials and carriers made it necessary, the embarassment of doing nothing to assist such networks to form and run responsibly may be worse than any embarassment due to use.
Modern municipal accounting as recommended by the UN's ICLEI (http://iclei.org), Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and other responsible bodies, measures financial, environmental and social impact as a "triple bottom line".  Looking briefly at some advantages of universal low-latency broadband:
- People know of, and participate in, more events, and further from home than they otherwise would have due simply to knowing about them. More means of contact with neighbours means wider participation in social networks not only remotely but locally.
- Lure long-time summer residents into moving permanently to the Region whether to retire or otherwise (possibly starting new businesses or continuing their professional practices on a semi-retired basis).
- Retain young people since they can exploit any Internet-based opportunity or practice any profession or craft where telecommuting is practical (often the case even in medicine, law, finance or engineering at least a few days a week) and have full access to entertainment and culture and social networks online.
- Reduced social isolation due to families living closer together and fewer empty "summer homes", for at least May-October (note this is true even if the homes are rented rather than occupied by the owners, though the social benefit of transients is necessarily much less than seasonal or fulltime residents).
- Less driving and busing, with attendant benefits (more local business patronage thus more social cohesion, more local arts and cultural connections, fewer accidents thus less family disruption, less time spent on the roads and more with families)
- Social media adopted faster and more universally, reconnecting former and current residents, identifying work, training or romantic opportunities that former or summer residents may return to pursue.
- Unforseen benefits of instant social connection and reconnection bridging mobile, workplace, residential and institutional media. For instance, conferencing services that work seamlessly across all of these may simplify invitations of extra people to online meetings who would otherwise have been left out or unable to connect. [Analogous to increases in three-way calls, text messages and voice mails today vs. say 1990.]
- Reduced emissions from energy generation caused by better energy conservation and waste detection, thus reducing climate and ocean damage from carbon, and other effects from coal or nuclear generation methods. [An extraordinary amount of energy, some analysts say over 90% of all household electricity use, is waste. The US National Resources Defence Council recently estimated that HD PVR + HDTV combinations alone wasted as much energy (446 kwH/year) as a typical energy-efficient refrigerator used, most when the devices were "off".] Increased awareness of such waste also justifies higher per-kwH rates, stricter device standards, and government programs and tax breaks that encourage conservation or punish prolifigate electricity waste.
- Less driving and busing, with attendant benefits (lower emissions, higher patronage of local businesses with more local environmental awareness, redirection of energy and maintenance and insurance and vehicle replacement expenses to local economy, lower road wear thus less use of poisonous paving petrochemicals)
- Faster simpler research and contact with artisans (e.g. in boat-building) or ecological professionals (e.g. in forestry) elsewhere spreads environmentally-sensitive and waste reduction best practices faster.
- Local officials can similarly consult with peers elsewhere on cheaper and more reliable enforcement and compliance methods, e.g. tracing oil or septic leaks to source, finding poorly-adjusted wood stoves or dirty/dangerous chimneys, reducing truck and other vehicle idling, detecting illegal dumping activities; Citizens can aid these efforts by reliable sharing of surveillance, intelligence, reports and complaints.
- More and more prosperous home-based businesses means more eyes on sensitive ecosystems (beaches, marshes, forests) and less acceptance of damage due to dumping, "mudbogging", litter and otherwise. Neighbourhoods which include workplaces as well as residences should be less tolerant of noxious smells, dumps, toxic or fire hazards, which customers or business contacts may see and reasonably conclude imply carelessness or neglect.
- Less reliance on fossil fuel transport based business may also reduce tolerance for common but extremely destructive practices such as motor oil dumping, deteriorating vehicles containing contaminants, and other inevitable byproducts of a transport-intensive economy.
- Universal flat-rate broadband makes cameras, chemical sensors, fire detectors and other devices useful in environmental monitoring and harm prevention extremely cheap to deploy; Cheap backhaul lets companies rely on eyes subcontracted overseas (e.g. in India) to monitor areas too expensive to guard using local labour.
- Lower overall utility bills due to coordinated energy, communications, water and other utility monitoring and metering systems [despite generally higher rates per unit of use, overall bills tend to go down after users adapt their habits to the new rate structure - most "smart meter" users report satisfaction with them after an initial "backlash" mostly caused by lack of monitoring or no access to third party services to aid in monitoring/conservation]. Higher awareness of transport and energy costs leading to reluctance to leave one's neighbourhood for small shopping trips, resulting in more business for local stores, artisans, etc., - and less money leaving the community for fuel, car maintenance and insurance, and spent in big chain stores (which remit their profits out of the Region and do not generally source what they sell here either).
- OpenADR standard "smart appliance" control automates most energy "demand response", saving money without forcing ratepayers to explicitly change habits; Combining automated and habit change may yield extreme savings for those willing to adapt completely to the actual wholesale cost of electricity as it becomes reflected in fully dynamic prices (inevitable in the long run); For most users savings should be 25%+.
- Global competition in energy demand management, secure surveillance, fire safety especially electrical system monitoring, early flood and pipe leak risk detection, medical monitoring especially for seniors or vulnerable persons, and all secure communications or other power or data related services, reduces overall costs per household for all utility bills to US levels, or potentially even lower, before 2030, in those communities that control their own electric distributors; (In others, it depends on NS Power).
- New/relocated businesses and professional practices created by persons moving to the Region permanently;
- Less driving and busing, with attendant benefits (lower fuel cost, higher patronage of local businesses, redirection of energy and maintenance and insurance and vehicle replacement expenses to local economy, lower road wear meaning less repaving, more available paid work time due to less time spent on the road)
- More local arts and cultural connections lead to collaborations, some of which become exports/attractions (e.g. LaHave Folk Festival, Pennybrook Folk)
- Potential for entirely new strategic businesses (energy demand management, vulnerable person protection, surveillance and home safety) which cannot exist anywhere without state of the art "smart grid" services.
Resolutions and letters to decision-makers
Finally the section 'Resolution' provides a draft provincial political party policy resolution that any of the four major parties (PC, Liberal, NDP, Green) could adopt, a municipal version suitable for adoption by Lunenburg Region or towns within, and a letter to NS Power / Emera to emphasize the importance of keeping par with US service guarantees within its service regions.
provincial (party) resolution
WHEREAS [lots of ideological preamble]
BE IT RESOLVED THAT
1. The government of Nova Scotia requires all electric power distributors in the province to meet all generally-deployed US National Institute of Standards and Technology (US NIST) "smart grid" standards, and (as per US National Broadband Plan "goal 6") to reliably and securely share in real-time any and all energy usage information from advanced metering infrastructure, with customers and any global third party service customers trust with it.
2. Recognizing that this demand-side information sharing requires reliable wired megabit low- latency networking, and that provisioning this is not much less expensive than for gigabit communications, the government will revise its "Rural Broadband Initiative" to require IEEE P1901 powerline networking based services as an option for all Nova Scotia users after 2014, so that "smart grid", "smart home", "smart appliance" deployment can reach every AC outlet.
3. Recognizing that the integration of power grid and communications networks is a major risk to investors and a major once-in-a-generation expenses, the government will strongly support community-owned electric distributors (especially the six that currently exist within NS) to upgrade (as "pilot projects") and encourages them to seek competent corporate partners (other than Emera/NS Power) such as Google, Verizon and others directly engaged in these businesses to work out business models whereby the communications revenues pay for power grid upgrades. Where necessary the government will support by funding consulting, guaranteeing loans, acting as insurer of last resort, and providing introductions to academic and corporate contributors.
4. Like California, Nova Scotia recognizes the right of any Nova Scotia community to withdraw from NS Power's distribution service area, on a 50%+1 vote in any geographically contiguous area all within Nova Scotia provincial borders, and form its own community electric power distributor(s). These will administer the Crown rights of way and own the poles and wires past consumers paid for. If necessary the government will expropriate these without compensation from NS Power and require continued and uninterrupted service to the new distributor with penalties for compliance. After three incidents of delaying or disruption tactics the government will assert that it has a right, at any time then or thereafter, to expropriate all power infrastructure in Nova Scotia or to apply a Crown royalty for rights of way and assert Crown ownership of some or all poles/wires.
5. The government of Nova Scotia explicitly disavows and rescinds any law, declaration, official or binding statement, regulatory guidance or other basis of legal claim that it has abandoned or has failed to assert ownership of the public rights of way, ratepayer-paid infrastructure including all poles and wires, or other essential infrastructure on which the NS power grid today relies. Where the laws or precedents of Canada seem to apply, this provincial law will take precedence.
6. Should any other entity administering (or claiming) this public right of way or ownership of any ratepayer-paid infrastructure, including any of the six existing community electric distributors, seek to "sell it" or otherwise cede everyday working control of its configuration or access or in any way inhibit the deployment of gigabit communications in competition with incumbent providers, the province asserts a right of first refusal to acquire, reconfigure or resell these entities or the underlying infrastructure or rights. It will not use this if utilities proceed as per 4, but reserves the right to prevent any community from falling significantly behind in grid technology, and will exercise its rights under 5 directly or facilitiate referenda under 4 or funds under 3 to resolve any situation in which a community electric distributor fails to properly upgrades its grid.
municipal ("restating goal 4")
Whether or not to specify technologies in a policy document is a difficult question. Given that the US standards are so well developed and inevitably must be adopted in Canada, which has no time nor capacity to develop improvements to them, it seems prudent to consider an extended statement of goal 4 and to work with employers and institutions to ensure that this language is reflected in goal statements, RFPs, etc..
An optimized and specific restatement more useful for this purpose would be:
"Exploiting low-latency flat-rate gigabit wired and megabit wireless IP-based networks to improve energy and transport efficiency, address health, social, artistic and education needs, and provide a uniquely- supportive environment for family, small business and cultural endeavours. Specifically, extending a US- standard gigabit AES-128 secure wired IPv6-based connection to 100% of civic addresses accessible via the public rights of way exploited by NS Power, Bell, Eastlink and other service providers, so the Region is well-prepared for advanced metering and energy services and attracts more strategic investment/immigration. Further, ensuring open competition in energy conservation and safety monitoring by sharing real time data (as per the US National Broadband Plan "goal 6") so that conflicted or incumbent parties have no advantage. Towards this end, the Region advises that all RFPs and public comment on infrastructure include this goal."
should be the new "goal 4" for economic development of Lunenburg Region. Expanding on this to one full page may be helpful, or one page each for different audiences (technical/RFP, provincial/federal, local corporate, residential/home, local school supporter, vulnerable persons, etc.).
[DRAFT review the existing wording and retain and expand on it as possible, replace it where it's just wrong]
letter to NS Power / Emera
[DRAFT not written, maybe shouldn't be, as without political action first they can consolidate their position and defend it with nonsense politicians will believe. Outcome of Bowater/Newpage rate negotiations affecting Liverpool and Port Hawkesbury also important - what can the public gain from agreeing to higher power rates for themselves as big companies get breaks? Public controversy should be exploited to point out better investments than in a failing industry/company].
letter to Nova Scotia government
[DRAFT not written, maybe better handled by direct contact with whoever's reviewing "Rural Broadband Initiative" for now, revisited before 2012 municipal elections so municipal candidates can be quizzed on broadband and power].
letter to Nova Scotia media (Chronicle-Herald)
[DRAFT not written for reasons above, completely unclear/muddy provincial "smart grid" strategy, "Rural Broadband" under review. As pointed criticisms of Eastlink and Bell Aliant must be included, best to let some of this sort out.]
local newspaper (Bulletin/Progress-Enterprise) coverage
On December 28, 2011, the newspaper that serves Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Bridgewater, Riverport and surrounding areas such as West LaHave printed a report of Craig Hubley's talk in Riverport District under the title: municipal utilities urged to develop fibre-optic networks 
No responses were printed as of February 1, 2012.
"RIVERPORT - Communities which operate their own electric utilities should be given access to loan programs from federal and provincial governments which would help enable them to install and operate their own fibre-optic systems. That's the opinion of Craig Hubley, an infrastructure consultant and coastline activist who presented his campaign to members of the Riverport Board of Trade at their recent fall dinner.
"Huge opportunities loom as commercial shipbuilding moves down the coast from Halifax to Shelburne, other marine shops in Lunenburg and potentially Riverport district, and as aerospace, artisans, artists and others who rely on low-latency, high-bandwidth wired communications let the area's natural attractions draw them to stay," Mr. Hubley said. "Declining towns like Riverport, which lost its own grocery, bank and school in recent years, have a chance to attract youth back, increase real estate values and get a disproportionate share of new investment if they act decisively on this."
Mr. Hubley said small communities which have their own utilities should not rely on large service providers such as Bell Aliant to look after their fibre-optic requirements as they put rising communities ahead of declining ones.
That became apparent when Lunenburg Mayor Laurence Mawhinney wrote a letter to Bell CEO Karen Sheriff asking when the company will be making fibre-optic technology available in Lunenburg and was told that right now it is not clear when the town would be on the list for expansion.
According to its website, EastLink currently offers standard broadband service to many areas of rural Nova Scotia, offering download speeds of 1.5 mbps and upload speeds of 500 kbps.
The company also recently introduced Extreme 100, an optional, higher-priced service that offers download speeds of 100 mps and upload speeds of 5 mps. That service is available in some areas in Lunenburg County.
Mr. Hubley used Chattanooga, Tennessee, as an example of a community that used its own electric utility to install what its website bills as America's first true Smart Grid, offering one-gigabyte [sic - should be gigabit]-per-second high-speed internet, video and telephone services to its customers.
He said that service was rolled out to every single subscriber in its 600-square-mile coverage area while ECfiber.net in Vermont funds its own small fibre network one town at a time."
"These communities would never be served to this degree by an incumbent provider," he said.
Mr. Hubley believes such technology is vital to the continued survival of independently run municipal utilities, particularly in Nova Scotia where all six that remain have voiced an opinion to be able to access other generators of electricity apart from their current source, Nova Scotia Power Inc., and preferably those that operate on a renewable basis.
"The more local power you want to use, the smarter your grid has to be," he says. "You're going to have to have your fridges and freezers, your thermomasses and your pumps and your sumps triggered to come on when there is free power and go off when there's not." [water heaters also].
Therefore, he says the two-way communication provided by an advanced fibre-optic system is significant.
"The numbers on this from American studies say that it actually gets exponential," he says. "If you got up to the point that every device is on a 10-megabit connection, it could profitably do 10 megabits worth of negotiation ... about its internal state and fine tuning, and that would pay for itself in a real hurry." [So-called M2M communications constitute an increasing percentage of internet traffic and generate substantial electric-side savings.]
The community electric distributors probably require some indication of provincial and Regional and corporate support.
 Reliably measured almost daily 2003-2011 at the nearest point to the mainland, on George Island. Aliant consistently claims this is due to a 60Hz ground "buzz" due to NS Power - which does not consider this a problem and has never responded to complaints about it. As there is literally no alternative to either monopoly, there is no point complaining again.
 Measured repeatedly in September-December 2010, using an iPhone 3 with Fido/Rogers service. Bandwidth was also variant between usually 40kbps and 95kbps, never once exceeding 110kbps. These services are astonishingly expensive ($500/gigabyte!!) once basic limits are exceeded. Seeing such a bill even once permanently discouraged at least one person from moving here.
 Eastlink promises 500kbps upload, 1.5mbps=1500kbps download, for the basic Canopy service. Anecdotal reports from subscribers on Wolfe Island suggest the actual performance is less, and there are no latency reports. Use of multiple wireless relays may improve bandwidth at the expense of higher latency - a very poor trade. Accordingly assuming the lowest promised bandwidth and a low-enough latency is already giving Eastlink far too much benefit of doubt. The real measured performance as of spring 2011 will likely be closer to that of Fido/Rogers.
Other capital assets, such as individuals moving in and out of a region, instructional resources which are easily copied in (as best practices, software, teaching, etc.) aren't easily controlled or even monitored. Infrastructure is generally in private hands or improves slowly and incrementally with support from "senior" levels of government, so should generally be seen only as a facilitator of financial, environmental and social improvement rather than as a goal in and of itself.
A. US National Broadband Plan http://broadband.gov especially goal 6 re energy demand management
B. US DoE plan
C. Greenpeace "battle of the grids"
D. power grid terms 
F. "Workforce training for the electric power sector" 
G. "US Smart Grid: finding new ways to cut carbon and create jobs" 
I. IEEE 1901 standard for AC powerline communication (500-1000mbps to every AC outlet)