South Mississippi cities deserve better than government broadband

Coastal map of the U.S. state of Mississippi, ...

Coastal map of the U.S. state of Mississippi, showing major towns and cities in the 3 coastal counties: Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson County. Also shown are Cat Island, West Ship Island, East Ship Island, Horn Island and Petit Bois Island.The locations of towns, roads and offshore islands are based on NOAA and NASA maps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BY DAVID WILLIAMS

Mississippi will receive $1.5 billion as part of its settlement from the British Petroleum oil spill. A new plan proposes to use a significant portion of that settlement to build a government-owned broadband “fiber ring” connecting several South Mississippi cities including Biloxi, Gulfport and D’Iberville. Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said the total cost of the network, which officials hope will eventually encompass 12 cities and three counties, could top $100 million.

While broadband service is an important tool for students, business owners, job seekers, public safety and health care professionals, spending the BP settlement money on a network owned and managed by the cities is a waste of public funds and puts taxpayers on the hook for future financial exposure. And it is hard to imagine that residents in Biloxi will tolerate the delays the Fiber Ring installation will cause in the current infrastructure projects on the Point.

Consumers in this region already have access to broadband service from private Internet Service Providers (ISPs). In fact, 97 percent of Harrison County has access to broadband service that provides download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second, an impressive speed.

Proponents of the government-owned broadband network argue that the network will provide better prices to consumers, or will drive down private ISP prices. These claims are tenuous at best, and outright deceptive at worst.

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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.
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