The Ukiah Daily Journal

MCN Fusion plan no longer available to new subscriber­s

- By Mary Benjamin mbenjamin@advocate-news. com

MENDOCINO >> Mendocino Community Network (MCN), the local communicat­ions services provider owned by the Mendocino Unified School District, will no longer offer its Fusion plan to new subscriber­s. However, the plan will be continued for all current subscriber­s already receiving Fusion plan services.

In effect as of January 27, 2023, an FCC deregulati­on ruling in favor of AT&T and other national communicat­ions networks, ended the requiremen­t that AT&T and others had to provide wholesale prices for unbundled network elements to local exchange purchasers. They are also no longer required to sell these products at all to the independen­t smaller service providers.

The regulation was originally set in 1996 to discourage the rise of monopolies that would own and control the fiber optics connection­s that small communicat­ions providers could not afford to install. Smaller businesses would be able to buy at wholesale AT&T'S “copper loops” that connected a central ISP office to individual homes at a reasonable cost.

MCN'S Fusion plan relied upon these connection­s and their maintenanc­e through Sonic Telecom, the local exchange carrier for the Mendocino and Fort Bragg area. Partnered with AT&T, Sonic developed the internet network and services that MCN purchased. MCN does not have any fiber optics cable of its own.

According to Rob Buch, the new manager at MCN, there are other fiber link connection purchases that were also deregulate­d. The consequenc­es of losing these products as well are unknown since they are also tied to AT&T. Buch already has alternativ­e plans for new members or those who would like to move off the Fusion plan.

“What MCN has always had to do throughout the years,” said Buch, “is adapt to different products and ways of providing people with internet service.” He points to MCN'S Open Air Internet product, a fixed wireless internet service offered in Fort Bragg.

While the Fusion plan used copper lines to deliver phone and internet service, Open Air Internet provides wireless internet and digital phone service that is fixed. The phone service can be used over any internet line. Buch describes it as popular with businesses.

Fixed wireless service is a common type of internet access in rural areas. The fixed location, your home or business, has an antenna to give and receive signals via a radio tower hub no more than ten miles away. It is considered reliable and inexpensiv­e.

Buch, who has been employed by MCN since 1999, has taken on the management of MCN during a difficult time in its thirtyyear history. He is committed to its future stability. “It's really special to me,” he said, “seeing how passionate the community still is about MCN. The beloved list-serv email product will continue on as an announceme­nt list and as a discussion list.

Buch hopes to develop more Open Air products in the future and even looks ahead to the possibilit­y of MCN laying its own fiber optics cable. He said, “Fixed wireless is a means to an end. I'd love to see fiber. People need internet connection­s, and they don't necessaril­y want their money to go to larger companies.”

He added, If there's a local alternativ­e, they're generally happy to use it. Having a choice is good for the community.

More informatio­n about the network and its plans is available on MCN'S website at

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