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L2Networks/WG&L brawl intensifies

Source: Staff Reports, The Albany Journal

L2Networks doesn’t seem interested in taking the “theft of services” charges lying down.  First, they took their complaint to the Georgia Public Service Commission.  Those complaint stem from Water, Gas & Light limiting access to vital equipment.  Now, they’re taking the rest of their complaints to the Federal Communications Commission, claiming the local utility is violating “net neutrality”.

While the concept of net neutrality is controversial in many circles, the FCC has asserted its authority over such matters.  In September, 2011, the FCC ruled that, “fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications services, or non-harmful Devices” as well as that “fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.”

L2Networks’ complaint is the first such complaint filed under the new rules.  However, the FCC ruled against Comcast, the largest ISP in the country, for their efforts to slow down peer to peer file sharing websites in 2008.

Sources familiar with the situation have alleged problems between L2 and WG&L for some time.  While WG&L claimed in June of last year that L2 had failed to live up to its obligations, sources claim that the problem really stemmed from WG&L officials. “They were the ones dragging their feet,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

In a quote published in another newspaper, WG&L General Manager Lemuel Edwards said, “L2 is viewed just like any other company, but we’ve limited the access to one of our huts that the company is using to store equipment to business hours with supervision,” with regarded to the Public Service Commission complaint’s basis, citing “trust issues” with L2.  However, these “trust issues” appear to stem from the initial allegations of “theft of services”.

“It’s ridiculous,” said the Journal’s source. “They’ve made it sound like we’ve spliced lines to steal the services and sell them as our own, and that’s completely false.  Then they use it as justification to pull this.”

News of friction between L2 and WG&L was first reported to the Journal over seven months ago, well before any allegations of “theft of service” first surfaced.  At that time, there were reports of attempted cronyism by unnamed officials at WG&L who sought to replace L2 with another company for unspecified reasons.  These reports were not printed due to a lack of any supporting evidence.

However, when taken within the context of the allegations from earlier this year, there appears to now be credence to those earlier reports.

 

 
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Various Links of Interest

Published on May 21, 2012 by in Links

L2Networks – GA PSC Document Filing

L2Networks – Georgia Public Service Commission Complaint

 

 

 
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City commission looks into cable providers

ALBANY — 6/30/2011 — The Water, Gas and Light Commission is searching for a cable provider to help them enter the local cable business.

The commission has had a relationship with Tallahassee, Fla.-based L2Networks which it still uses to provide commercial telecom service. The commission would not provide the service itself; it would instead provide the transportation channels for the cable.

“”We have been in the process of looking to get into residential cable service with L2Network over the past several years, but we’ve just run into some problems with that,”" said John Vansant III, the commission’s finance director. “”We just were looking into getting into an additional business. We’ve had a telecom department for a number of years.”"

Vansant said the cost of the infrastructure setup with L2Networks was too costly for the commission.

“”The benefit will be possibly lower rates, different packages, and different providers to meet the criteria of what one would want out of a service,”" said Robin Bailey, a Mediacom subscriber.

“”We would have a lot of choices, not just one entity making decisions,”" said Kathlean Branch, a satellite subscriber.

L2Networks would not comment. They only said certain aspects of the operation “”remain under non-disclosure.”"

Mediacom and satellite providers remain the only options for those in the Metro Albany Area.

Commission officials said even if a new provider is found, it is not likely to happen anytime soon.

http://www.mysouthwestga.com/news/story.aspx?id=636008#.T7lRRUVI98E

 
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Utility gives up on competitive cable TV service provider

Albany, Ga. — 6/30/2011 — utility gives up on competitive cable TV service provider

“The Albany (Ga.) Water, Gas and Light Commission has tabled its plans to be a local cable TV provider in partnership with L2Networks and will now go “”in a different direction,”" the utility’s general manager said.
The utility dumped L2 and its plans to implement residential broadband TV and Internet because its CEO Kraig Beahn is “”just not fulfilling the promises he made with us and the commission,”" WG&L’s general manager Lemuel Edwards said. “”So on the residential side we’ve decided to look at other vendors and go in a different direction.

Beahn, in an e-mail to the Albany Herald abstained from discussing too much about the breakup because “”certain aspects of the operations … remain under non-disclosure.”" He did promise, however, “”We are getting into the residential TV and Internet business.”"
Just not in partnership with WG&L.

Read more: Albany, Ga. utility gives up on competitive cable TV service provider – FierceCable http://www.fiercecable.com/story/albany-ga-utility-gives-competitive-cable-tv-service-provider/2011-06-30#ixzz1vRjG8UF8

 

 
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L2Networks and Albany still share a connection

ALBANY, GA — 2/9/2012 — In our Facebook story of the day, you wanted to know if there has there been any change in the business relationship between L2Networks and the City of Albany.

The business relationship has not changed.

“The city has a contract with for telephone service from L2. I believe it’s a four year contract and we’re right in the midpoint at two years at this point and time and the services that been provided to this point has been fine“ said Assistant Albany City Manager Wes Smith.

Albany Water, Gas, and Light is still looking at different avenues to see if it can be a cable and internet provider for the area.

http://www.mysouthwestga.com/news/story.aspx?id=717989#.T7lQa0VI98E

 
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WG&L’s revenues trending above budget

ALBANY, Ga — 12/2/2010 — Revenues continue to trend above expenditures despite a rough month for the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission’s Water department, the utility’s finance director said Thursday.

#John Vansant III told board members that the utility as a whole was still $1.6 million better than budget predictions for the year thanks to a strong showing in WG&L’s light department.

#WG&L ended the month of October better than budgeted but the figures were buoyed by the initial $400,000 payment made on the sale of roughly $1 million worth of propane tanks. For October, the utilty ended the month $150,000 above budget.

#But the Water Department saw an unexpected dip in their revenues, something Vansant credits to several different factors.

#Following Thursday’s meeting, Vansant said that despite the drought conditions, people are using less water for discretionary items like yard watering and irrigating and that the economic crunch also plays a part as people are working harder to reduce their utility bills by cutting back on water consumption.

#The standardization of low-flow commodes and the popularity of more energy efficient appliances and fixtures could also have an impact on the drop in consumption.

#Additionally, Vansant reminded the board that the fees the utility pays to be part of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia will be going up by $8 million come January 1, which is down $1 million from an announcement made last month.

#
#L2Networks to have first paying customer by April

#The newest cable provider in Albany gave a presentation to the board Thursday, saying they anticipate signing up the first paying customer by April 1, with test customers likely to be hooked up before that.

#L2Networks CEO Kraig Beahn told the board that initial indications are that the company will be able to provide high speed cable television, voice and Internet access at speeds over and above current levels seen even in tier 1 markets like Atlanta and New York.

#Beahn said that the company intends to provide around 100 new jobs to the area with the majority of those being full-time positions.

#Beahn said that the company is expecting a 48-month window to complete their buildout, but that customers will be accepted as early as April 1.

# $140,000 in Utility Assistance has been used, WG&L officials say.

#More than $140,000 in federal, state and local utility assistance has been given to local families struggling to cope with their utility bills, WG&L’s Laurie Farkas said.

#The funding came chiefly from two different sources, a program funded through federal stimulus dollars and a state program called HOPE.

#While many families benefited, Farkas said that many others didn’t qualify for the programs.

#The funding, she said, had dried up to the point that there were only a handful of agencies out there providing utility assistance while the demand has grown.

http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2010/dec/02/wgls-revenues-trending-above-budget/

 
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Albany will have new cable TV by April

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –- 12/2/2010 — The L2 network plans to provide TV, internet, and phone service using Albany Water, Gas and Light’s fiber optics.

The construction and installation of the system will create at least 100 full time jobs. Twenty-five more positions could open if the company decides to relocate its existing call center to Albany.

They expect to begin hiring at the start of 2011. Customers will be able to access the internet straight from their televisions and explore websites like Twitter and Facebook at High speeds.

“”Imagine a wireless keyboard sitting in front of your TV being able to do whatever your heart desires, whether it be Google, you tube, etc. It’s amazing technology and for all intensive purposes our set top boxes are glorified computers,”" said L2 Networks CEO Kraig Beahn.

L2 says downloading capability will be so fast you’ll be able to download a full length HD DVD is just 39 seconds.

L2 Networks will lease existing fiber networks from Water Gas and Light.

http://www.walb.com/story/13604734/albany-will-have-a-new-cable-tv-by-april

 
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Cable competition is coming to Albany

ALBANY, GA (WALB) — 10/27/2010 — Cable Competition is coming to Albany.

The city commission approved a new cable franchise agreement late Tuesday night. Now, L-2 Networks is poised to roll out the first phase of the new service in three to six months.

The cable and high-speed Internet service will be provided through fiber optic lines that company officials say will offer faster speeds than what’s available now.

Technology a thousand times faster than current Internet or cable service available in Albany homes. That’s what L-2 Networks has promised city leaders.

“”The capacity that we’re going to be delivering to each customer would rival beyond what New York City is deploying to its subscribers,”" said Kraig Beahn, L-2 Networks.

It’s available now to many business, but in three to six months, new fiber optic lines could be delivering cable television to homes. City leaders say there’s benefits to competition.

“”It will make the companies themselves better because ultimately you hope they would increase their customer service and the value their providing the customer,”" said Christopher Pike, Albany Mayor Pro-Tem.

It won’t happen overnight. L-2 Networks says it will take them between three and six months to lay the fiber lines to the first portion of northwest Albany seen in this red block extending from Hanover Street. The service will be rolled out in three phases.

“”It’s almost like a plate of spaghetti, we have to take the individual strands of fiber and pull them to each individual home or subscriber,”" said Beahn.

They’ll use a backbone of fiber lines Water, Gas, and Light currently maintains and it’s a win-win for the customers and city.

“”The city gets a fee out of the contract a five percent and then Water Gas and Light has some revenue stream opportunities by L-2 using their fiber optics,”" said Wes Smith, Albany Assistant City Manager.

L-2 Networks hopes to get at least 12-thousand customers. They say customers will have to upgrade their home computers to take advantage of the true speed their franchise will provide.

In the next 72 hours, L-2 Networks hopes to have a web site up and running that explains their service and what interested customers need to do about inquiring.

Mediacom Cable previously said it is improving service as it prepared for possible competition. They recently rolled out more high definition channels. It could take four years for L-2 Networks to have the entire city linked to their system.

http://www.walb.com/story/13399114/cable-competition-is-coming-to-albany

 
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Audit: Mediacom owes city

ALBANY, Ga. — 10/22/2010 — City officials and authorities with Mediacom are working to resolve what the city says is a $139,000 bill stemming from what a city auditor says are underpayments of the corporation’s franchise fees, interest and penalties.

#The Herald obtained documents Friday from the city of Albany in response to a request using Georgia’s Open Records Act related to an audit initially undertaken by the city in the fall of 2009.

#In a letter dated Dec. 24, 2009, Scott Lewis, a CPA for Lewis & Associates in Cooper, Fla., wrote that after a review of Mediacom’s records for the four-year period beginning Jan. 1, 2004 and ending Dec. 31, 2008, his company had determined that Mediacom had underpaid the city $105,287 in franchise fees.

#Lewis said his company had further calculated that, according to the franchise agreement, Mediacom was also liable for $46,630 in interest, bringing the total due the city at that time to $151,916.

#After sharing the city’s findings with Mediacom General Manager Gary Crosby, the two began reviewing the disputed figures, whittling down the amount to $139,922, according to a letter from Lewis to city Finance Director Krista Newton dated Oct. 13.

#Under a franchise agreement approved by the Albany City Commission on Nov. 9, 2001, Mediacom is obligated to pay an agreed-upon amount quarterly to the city of Albany. The audit states that Mediacom has made its quarterly payments but has underpaid based on the requirements of the franchise agreement.

#The largest single part of the underpayment is actually the interest Lewis claims is owed on the amount of money that was underpaid. Per the franchise agreement, the city can charge 1 percent interest, compounded monthly, on unpaid franchise fees. This amount through Oct. 31, 2010, is $51,220, according to the auditor.

#The rest of the underpayments appear to come from Mediacom not including what Lewis contends to be applicable revenue from advertising, miscoding of subscriber services and revenue from a shopping channel.

#According to the documents, Mediacom reported $77.4 million in subscriber revenues between 2004 and 2008.

#According to the franchise agreement adopted by the commission in 2001, the city is entitled to 5 percent of the annual gross revenues generated by Mediacom.

#Newton said Friday that the city is working with Mediacom to settle the debt.

#”"Like everyone else, they’re having some staffing issues and need a little more time to go over the documents and respond,”" Newton said. “”We’re confident that we’ll get our money. They’re good for it.”"

#Attempts to reach Mediacom officials for comment Friday were unsuccessful.

#The results of the audit come as the city is weighing granting a second franchise to L2Networks Inc., a Florida-based telecommunications company that is trying to get permission to connect to fiber lines laid by the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission to provide high-speed Internet access, television and phone service.

#City Attorney Nathan Davis said Friday the audit was started long before L2Networks approached the city seeking the agreement.

http://www.albanyherald.com/news/2010/oct/22/audit-mediacom-owes-city/

 
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Commission hears from L-2 Cable Co.

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –- 10/19/2010 — Albany city commissioners continued discussions with L-2 networks about bringing new cable service to town. A representative from L-2 networks answered questions and concerns from commissioners.

Commissioners asked about the financial status of the company because they don’t want to bring the company to town if they’re not able to carry out their mission. The representative declined to comment on the financial status.

“”We have been given assurances without revealing any proprietary data that they are financially sound so we have to be satisfied with that issue and with that issue satisfied it appears most of our constitutes and commissioners want to move ahead with this issue,”" said Mayor Willie Adams.

The L-2 representative told commissioners he would comment privately on the company’s finances.

http://www.walb.com/story/13352487/commission-hears-from-l-2-cable-co

 
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