ARLINGTON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ADVISORY COMMISSION
7:30 PM, Wednesday, January 30, 2013
1st Floor Conference Room Azalea-103
Courthouse Plaza (2100 Clarendon Blvd.)
Chair: Joe Pelton
Vice Chair: Frank Jazzo
Jenny Shu Ho
Members Not Present:
County Staff: Rob Billingsley, Cable Administrator
Jack Belcher, CIO
Rich Dooley, CEP Coordinator
Cable Company Representatives: Linc Janus, Verizon
Marie Schuler, Comcast
1. Meeting called to order by Joe Pelton, ITAC Chair
7:30 pm; Quorum Present
2. Public Comment
3. Approval of Minutes from Previous Meeting and Agenda:
Minutes of December, 2012 were approved by consensus of the ITAC members.
4. Administrative Issues:
• The ITAC is at full membership.
• In reviewing the schedule of upcoming meetings, the Chair mentioned that he will be traveling in late May on the 26th and the Co-Chair said he will be in Australia on June 26, 2013 and therefore unavailable for the May and June meetings, respectively, of ITAC.
• Approved Minutes and Agendas of the ITAC continue to be added to the ITAC website, and the Cable Administration site will soon have the final report of the Broadband Focus Groups held in October, 2012.
• The final version of the 2012 Annual Report of ITAC was completed and circulated to the ITAC membership. Aside from minor edits needed for paragraph numbering, the report was approved for final distribution to the Board and publication on the ITAC Website.
• The Chair is still hopeful that a joint commission between the ITAC and one representing the interests of Arlington Public Schools could be re-established, and is not aware of any objections from County Board members. The CIO and Cable Administrator will determine the best way to approach Schools in getting their advisory commission to participate.
5. Presentation on Arlington County Energy Plan (R. Dooley) and Response by ITAC (and J. Belcher):
Mr. Richard Dooley, CEP Coordinator for Arlington presentation about the Community Energy Plan CEP), Ensuring a Competitive and Sustainable Community, was given. He described the 12-18 month initiative that will establish energy goals and strategies for the entire County. This project will ultimately result in an energy plan that addresses the places where we use energy in our community – in homes, shops, offices, public buildings and other institutions – and offer strategies to:
• Enhance Arlington’s economic competitiveness
• Ensure reliable and affordable energy supplies, and
• Demonstrate the County’s long-term commitment to environmental responsibility.
The initiative includes multi-departmental within the County among DES, DTS and others to obtain real time monitoring to measure the program’s effectiveness.
Jack Belcher, CIO, discussed the impacts of changing data formats, system compatibilities, and the huge volumes of data available over the Internet that present challenges for gathering, analyzing and managing the energy related information effectively. While ConnectArlington can support whole building monitoring for private and public buildings, but legal, political and other user behavior issues still remain. In addition, the CIO discussed impacts of the rapid expansion of mobile applications.
The Chair reflected on the current priorities of the CEP to address “low hanging fruit” by making the changes that will have the greatest payback first is good, but the next set of challenges is in making IT changes for realizing greater efficiencies during what is currently a 40 year plan. He suggested that such plans for IT need to be “fed into the plan over the next 5 years.” He also indicated that there needs to be an effort to inform building developers of the inevitable increases in costs for energy in the future, and making changes now will have long term effects on the cost of ownership.
In response to a question about what the County is doing with regard to providing energy audits, Mr. Dooley mentioned that Cynthia Adams of the County Staff is the contact, and her information will be provided through the CIO and Cable Administrator to the ITAC.
Finally, the Chair asked for and received the consensus of the ITAC that they support the CEP as presented, and that the Chair would support the CEP, with additional comments, if testimony before the Board is required.
6. Legislative Updates: Vice Chair, Frank Jazzo, provided the following information:
At the February FCC Open Meeting, the FCC will consider a Report and Order to adopt new technical and operational requirements for signal boosters. The FCC will also consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to substantially increase the amount of unlicensed spectrum available for WiFi in the 5 GHz band.
The FCC announced a new broadband acceleration initiative to speed wireless infrastructure deployment and to expedite placement of temporary cell towers during special events.
Verizon will begin applying a $2.42/month surcharge for regional sports networks. The charges will be applied to new and month-to-month customers. Customers under an existing contract will not be hit with the surcharge until their contract is up or they make a change to their existing package.
The FCC Chairman issued the Gigabit City Challenge, calling for at least one gigabit community in all 50 states by 2015.
The FCC circulated its Derecho Outage Report. The FCC expressed serious concerns about Verizon’s maintenance and actual repair practices. The FCC also announced plans to launch a rulemaking to strengthen the reliability and resiliency of the nation’s 9-1-1 networks during major disasters.
The FCC announced that it will hold its first field hearings on Feb. 5 in New York and New Jersey to examine challenges to the nation’s communications networks in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, as well as other natural disasters and other times of crisis.
The FCC announced filing deadlines in the Text-to 911 proceeding.
7. Cable Administrator’s Report (Mr. Billingsley)
Recent complaints have come into the Cable Administration Office about a new “Regional Sports Fee” for Verizon subscribers and a new tier of service called “Select HD” that does not have the sports programming fee, but it also does not carry certain other desirable channels such as C-Span.
Complaints have also come into the Cable Administrator about an apparent lack of diligence on the part of Verizon, when multi-dwelling units (MDUs) have been contacted about the availability of FiOS, to complete the steps to bring the service into the building. It has been several years since the County surveyed MDUs to determine the strength of buildout for MDUs. Cable TV installations at MDUs require separate agreements with between the cable company and the building’s ownership or management. This would be a good time to conduct a second mailing survey to determine if there are any problems with MDUs getting connected when the cable infrastructure is available. Most MDU’s in the built out areas do have FiOS cabling installed in nearby rights-of-way.
The County continues to work with Comcast on the renewal of the Comcast franchise agreement. There is some progress but it is mostly in an information gathering mode. The Chair inquired if there was a known completion date for the negotiations, and the Cable Administrator described that while the agreement expires on June 30, 2013, the agreement has a number of issues to be addressed, and is therefore a complicated process. When the Chair asked Ms. Schuler, Comcast Manager of Government Affairs, what would happen if the agreement was not completed by the expiration date, she indicated that Comcast would “continue to operate under the current franchise.” Also, that the County could issue an extension to the agreement until negotiations are completed to ensure that “we could continue our business as usual.”
The Cable Administrator provided copies of an updated brochure describing the purpose and services of the Cable Administration Office. The office often learns from complaining cable TV subscribers that it was difficult to find the appropriate contact to call at the County regarding their issues. The brochures will be provided at “public facing” offices, such as libraries, etc. and will be put up on the websites for Cable Administration and the ITAC.
The Cable Administrator met an FCC deadline for submitting comments on the need for standards for measuring digital TV signals. Currently, FCC regulations only provide analog standards, but all signals currently are delivered to homes in Arlington by Comcast and Verizon in a digital format. Also, the proposed standards were developed as a joint effort supported by cable administrators in Arlington and other jurisdictions in the region who are members of the National Association for Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA).
In addition to putting a link onto the County Website, the completed report for the Broadband Focus Groups of October 2012 will be distributed to the ITAC, as well as everyone who participated in the meetings.
The Cable Administrator also provided to ITAC the letter from Doug Brammer of Verizon that responded to the ITAC letter that had been transmitted on November 20, 2012 to Verizon’s President of the Potomac Area, Tony Lewis, concerning several issues listed in an ITAC Resolution, described at the last ITAC meeting.
• Linc Janus of the Contract Compliance section of Verizon, who administers and negotiates franchise agreements, expanded on the written response regarding regular attendance at ITAC meetings, in person, by a Verizon representative indicated he would like to continue attending meetings by teleconference. The Cable Administrator stated, that Doug Brammer, the local Government Affairs representative, had also said provided the name of Donna Selden who would be attending meetings in person. Ms. Selden has agreed to attend the meetings in person.
• The Chair reiterated one of the concerns in the letter. Specifically, the issue of battery backup at customer sites, and Janus’ response was that customers can obtain information about new batteries when the old ones expire at a website designated in their response letter, and that there is a “learning curve with new technologies” such as fiber cabling. The Chair indicated that he would like to discuss this and other issues via teleconference at some time in the future.
8. ConnectArlington Status and Telecommunications Master Plan (Belcher)
The CIO, Jack Belcher, described some of the progress in the County’s build-out and the importance of recently completed agreements with Verizon for the use of conduit and poles for cabling in the “last mile” segments to the County and School buildings.
To ensure the completion of ConnectArlington on time, the County has contracts with four different cable installation companies. Construction will start in the first week of February 2013, and the CIO described additional details about how routes will be surveyed, and how the County will communicate with impacted neighborhoods. Overall progress is reported to the County Manager and the Superintendent of Schools on a bi-weekly basis.
9. New Arlington IT Systems Initiative and Draft White Papers on Economic Development and IT and on Community Security and IT.
Ken Cohn described the status of the White Paper on Community Security and IT, and Phil Caughran stated that a draft outline for the Educational White Paper had been completed but felt that there was a need for input from representatives for the Schools.
10. Adjournment: 9:00 pm