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Ohio officials let company profit from subleasing state-owned radio towers

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OH/WV DB Admin
Database Admin
Dec 5, 2006
Carroll Co OH / EN90LN
I agree that the state should get some of that money. The whole idea of expanding broadband access to rural area is laudible, but from what I can see the whole Agile-on-DAS-towers deal really is doing nothing to facilitate that for agencies outside of those that use MARCS.

Agile obviously serves some private customers via those towers, such as the Wilds. Aside from jobs like that and maybe working with some governmental agencies and Oil & Gas companies in areas it serves, I really really doubt there is really any big rural brandband expansion going on. Is it available via Agile? Probably, according to their site. Is it affordable? Last I checked I didn't think it was.

I'm in Carroll Co, and back a couple years ago Agile was supposed to provide the internet connectivity to a company (CueBand) that was to locally provide wireless internet access (from the MARCS towers) for business/residential. It never panned out. You'd have to use Google to read about that whole fiasco and CueBand.

I don't think Agile themselves does / wants to actually be the last mile provider for residential customers. I think they'd like for somebody to come into those underserved areas and say "hey, I want to get bandwidth from you and I want to use your towers to provide rural internet access, and I want to be the one responsible for every aspect of serving the rural customer." The problem is, I doubt there have been any such takers except for maybe in areas that aren't rural and that already have broadband. If I'm wrong, I'd surely love to see some proof that either (a) Agile is directly selling affordable residential/small business broadband in rural areas using its infrastructure on MARCS towers or (b) that there have actually been startup companies that partnered with Agile to do these things [and that these companies are currently in existence and taking on customers].

For any company wanting to build out their wireless company, it absolutely makes sense for them to try and get grants for rural broadband initiatives and to toss around suggestions that they are providing rural broadband. But one really has to wonder if any of the revenue that Agile counts on is coming from direct rural residential broadband customers or even from startup businesses that have partnered with them to supposedly provide such rural broadband access.

In 2013, when i asked Agile about rural broadband in Carroll Co, they quoted $150 activation fee and 2 mbit / 2 mbit for $60/mo or 5 mbit / 5 mbit for $108/mo. Since then I may have asked them again, and if I did then they never responded. This what what they quoted me before the whole CueBand thing.

Of course, Frontier just did a pretty decent expansion of DSL in the county -- running fiber down some popular rural roads and installing RTs and providing 24 mbit bonded DSL into the sticks. No, it doesn't cover all the county by any stretch, but they now cover many more miles of rural Carroll. So, aside from maybe a few Oil and Gas customers I'm betting there are few to zero rural broadband customers being served in this county by Agile.

It seems to me [and this is only my personal opinion of course] that Agile made some lucrative deals that are taking advantage of the State of Ohio and that they probably wouldn't exist in any large capacity had they not been able to make them deals -- I say that because [again my personal opinion] it doesn't seem like there has been any significant direct-to-customer sales of residential broadband thanks to Agile.

Of course, all of the MW that Agile has hooked up to connect the IP system appears to be pretty robust and reliable. I haven't heard any outcry from state agencies regarding outages or anything, so I'm guessing it's pretty damned solid. And I'm sure that if the state doesn't have to pay telecom companies for fiber / T1s to each site then they have saved a tremendous amount of money.

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