About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

The Municipal Menace?

Although I agree with Rep. Blackburn that government involvement in communications is a states’ rights issue, I find it rather ironic that she is going about it with a federal law. I have applauded Chairman Wheeler’s support of allowing municipalities to take control of their broadband destiny even though I do not believe that they should be in the communications services business. I do not believe that the FCC has the authority to trump state law in saying that states cannot pass laws prohibiting cities from building and operating broadband networks. This fact is why I am deeply suspicious of Rep. Blackburn’s bill.  

The LightReading article below is a good synopsis of the situation without the typical editorializing I have seen in many other publications. I agree that there should be no state laws prohibiting local governments from determining their broadband destiny, but I do not believe that they should become a service provider like so many of them attempt. The communications’ industry moves much quicker than electric or water utilities, and the market works better when there are more competitors not one that can operate with an unfair advantage. I do support local governments building and selling the infrastructure though.

JASON MEYERS

My favorite recent headline about the ongoing legislative brouhaha over municipal networks is this one, from a publication called The Escapist: “Tenn. Congresswoman Valiantly Protects ISPs from Evil Municipal Broadband.”

That sarcasm is a reference to an amendment attached by US House of Representatives Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to the fiscal 2015 Financial Services appropriations bill that would keep regulators from modifying state laws prohibiting municipalities from building and operating broadband networks. The amendment was approved 223-200 in the House last week, but a final version of the bill must still be passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Obama to become law.

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ESB, Vodafone Team for Irish FTTB Network

The big news in the story was that this network will be open access, but Lightwave glossed over that point.  Even though Vodafone will be one of the premiere service providers, other service providers can also lease capacity on the network infrastructure from ESB.  This model should be emulated in many other areas of the world to promote broadband competition.  It would reduce the chatter over net neutrality in the U.S. if we saw more open access broadband networks.

Lightwave Staff

ESB FTTH deploymentIrish power utility ESB has selected Vodafone as its partner on a €450 million project to deploy an open-accessfiber to the building (FTTB) network across Ireland. The fiber-optic network initially will reach 500,000 premises in 50 towns, leveraging ESB’s existing overhead and underground infrastructure.

The FTTB network will deliver download rates of 200 Mbps to 1 Gbps, the partners say. This will represent a significant upgrade for most subscribers, based on data from Irish telecommunications regulator ComReg that indicates 43% of fixed-line broadband users in Ireland receive speeds of less than 10 Mbps.
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Santa Fe Launches Municipal Broadband Project

Santa Fe, New Mexico is the latest city to support its own municipal broadband infrastructure. The city is launching a million dollar effort to build out its own fiber optic infrastructure with the goal of increasing both broadband access and competition among broadband providers.

Santa Fe has slower broadband than large surrounding cities like Albuquerque, which undermines local economic development, and frustrates residents according to city officials who have recently faced backlash from broadband providers. Incumbent providers in Santa Fe say they may consider litigation and that the project won’t drive up speeds. We’ve seen this movie before in municipalities where officials take action when providers fail to provide adequate services. Continue reading

Phoenix Center Roundtable Features Critics of Net Neutrality Urging Fellow Critics to Make Voices Heard FCC

Alas some common sense on net neutrality.  The preponderance of misinformation that surrounds this topic is amazing.  There are political forces at work here that are usurping the underlying technical and business discussion for their own political agenda.  Most of the public are not aware of what is happening behind the scenes and who are pulling the strings.

, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast News
Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website prior to 2002 or 2003, and still used on some publications and areas of their website. The central part of the logo is also used on products which conform to FCC requirements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014 – At an informal Phoenix Center roundtable on Tuesday, June 24, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly criticized net neutrality and urged fellow critics to take advantage of the FCC’s open comment period on the topic.

Comedians like John Oliver of the Daily Show might have a flare for butchering the facts, O’Rielly said, but a jolt to the system is what public discourse desperately needs to get people talking about net neutrality.

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Two Critics of Broadband Regulation Lament How Broadband Utility Advocates are ‘Taking their Case’ to American Public Net Neutrality

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and FCC Secretary Ma...

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and FCC Secretary Marlene Dortch (Photo credit: ALA Washington Office)

, Reporter, Broadband Breakfast News

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014 – The best way to prevent the internet from “fundamentally changing” is to not “fundamentally change internet regulation,” according to Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai.

In a speech that attempted to rally the faithful to his “light touch regulation” approach, the commissioner was also joined by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., at the Free State Foundation last week. Both slammed approaches to net neutrality through public utility regulation under Title II of the Communications Act, or under the less draconian Section 706. While “the former is outdated and politically corrosive,” Thune said, “the latter is legally untested and potentially far too broad.”

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Colorado’s Gigabit March Continues

English: I took photo with Canon camera in Lon...

English: I took photo with Canon camera in Longmont, CO. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The city of Longmont should be required to provide equal access to any qualified communications company with non-discriminatory pricing so it does not compete with commercial service providers.

by 

The city of Longmont, Colorado which voted in 2011 to build out its own gigabit municipal network is moving forward on this plan with Calix. Longmont Power and Communications will be the new municipal entity tasked with providing electricity and telecommunications services to residents. Calix will be providing voice and data fiber and network technology for the project.

CivSource has been following efforts in Colorado to work around a 2005 law made at the state level which made building municipal broadband networks challenging. In recent years, cities in Colorado have voted on provisions to go ahead with these networks and gigabit access as telecom companies have been slow to act. Boulder,Colorado most recently decided to move forward with two ballot initiatives that would let residents decide how to move forward on gigabit broadband there.

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Is municipal broadband more important than net neutrality?

I had high hopes for this article because the author successfully saw the link between the two concepts.  Maybe he read my tweets.  There is a definite correlation between municipal broadband and net neutrality, but I have only read one or two articles that actually get it right.  

Municipal broadband evolved from the concept that the cost of building these networks is prohibitive so it is a function that the government could provide.  That concept is fine when no service provider is serving an area but most of the municipal broadband deployments have one or two franchised providers.  This situation results in the government competing with private enterprise.  Granted that a duopoly does not create a competitive market, but the government has several advantages over private enterprise that makes it an unfair competitor.  Also, any subsidization of broadband networks by taxpayers creates an unfair advantage.

The reason that there are not more competitors for broadband network is that they are extremely expensive to build.  Investors do not like waiting almost 10 years to see if their investment is going to yield a profit which is what would happen with 3 or more competitors.  People seem to overlook that fact when accusing the incumbents of snuffing out the competition.  Economics have snuffed out the competition.

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