|The Ruby Ranch Internet Cooperative Association ("the Coop") was created as a member-owned and operated provider of high-speed Internet connectivity to homes in the Ruby Ranch neighborhood in Summit County, Colorado.|
The Coop was founded in 2001 because at the time, no one offered DSL or cable modem Internet access in our neighborhood, and because the voice telephone service to the neighborhood is of such poor quality that it was (and is) not possible to get modem connections faster than about 26K bits per second. The Coop is a Colorado nonprofit corporation and is federally tax-exempt under 501(c)(12).
The Coop's launch of service in 2002 was made possible only by loans from "angels," neighborhood residents who chose to lend money to the Coop with no assurance the loans would ever be repaid. The Coop reached a milestone in the first quarter of 2004 successfully repaying (ahead of schedule, and with interest) all of the "angel" loans. The Coop is now debt-free.
The Coop has served its subscribers with two kinds of circuits:
The line-shared circuits have used a Qwest unbundled network element called a "shared distribution subloop", meaning that we have shared the last few hundred feet of a voice line.
The SDSL circuits have used a Qwest unbundled network element called an "unbundled distribution subloop", meaning that we have rented the entirety of a few hundred feet of copper (not shared with voice). These subloops are presently priced by Qwest at $24.13 per month. The Colorado Public Utility Commission is presently in a ratemaking proceeding in which this monthly rate is to be redetermined. The Coop has submitted comments in this proceeding suggesting how the rate ought to be set.
In the view of the Coop, $24.13 is ridiculously high for the rental of a few hundred feet of a spare copper pair, especially when one considers that rental of several miles of copper, plus renting dial tone central office facilities, plus retail markups, costs only about $19.00. The Coop has been engaged for the past year and a half in futile and time-wasting "negotiations" with Qwest in which Qwest repeats, over and over again, that the $24.13 price is a "take it or leave it" price. Qwest's view is that supposedly its hands are tied. Because there is an SGAT (statement of generally available terms) in Colorado, Qwest says it is illegal for it to even discuss, let alone agree to, any rate other than the rate set forth in the SGAT.
In late 2005, the Coop asked the Colorado PUC to rule upon whether the existence of an SGAT relieves Qwest of its duty (under the Telecommunications Act of 1996) to negotiate wholesale unbundled network element prices in good faith. On March 13, 2006, the PUC ruled in favor of the Coop and against Qwest on this issue. Qwest asked the PUC to reconsider, and on April 26, 2006 the PUC again ruled in favor of the Coop and against Qwest. Qwest asked the PUC to reconsider yet again, and on June 13, 2006 the PUC yet again ruled in favor of the Coop and against Qwest.
It will be interesting to see if Qwest will now negotiate in good faith regarding pricing for the unbundled distribution subloops.
This page is http://www.rric.net .