S.F. Plans to Speed Up Installation of Fiber Optic Network

Trenching for a fiber optic installation in Wo...

Trenching for a fiber optic installation in Worcester, Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A plan that goes before San Francisco supervisors next week would speed up the installation of a fiber optic network in the city.

Under the proposal, the city’s Department of Technology would be required in many instances to make sure conduits for a fiber network are installed when trenches are dug for electrical or sewer work, according to a story in the San Francisco Examiner.

The goal, city officials say, is to expand the existing fiber network to provide a strong, quick wireless Internet service throughout the city.

Currently, San Francisco has 140 miles of fiber conduit that connects police stations, office buildings and public safety radio sites. The system provides free public WiFi along Market Street, in public buildings such as City Hall and in 32 public places where service was launched last week.

The “dig once” proposal was approved Monday by the supervisors’ Land Use and Economic Development Committee.

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Governor Brown signs community broadband bond financing bills into law

I am not convinced that the wording of this new law explicitly allows for the issue of bonds for broadband infrastructure. I do like the fact that California cities are changing road building practices and zoning to build broadband infrastructure. Also, I agree that fiber, ducts, right-of-ways, and other physical media components of a broadband network should be considered infrastructure. Governments know how to build long-term infrastructure projects for the most part which are too expensive for each service provider to do on their own. I wish more state and local governments would support policies allowing for the financing and building of broadband last-mile infrastructure.

Cities and other local agencies in California will be able to issue bonds to pay for building broadband infrastructure, thanks to two new laws approved by Governor Brown yesterday. Assembly bill 2292 and senate bill 628 expand the use of infrastructure financing districts (IFDs), on the one hand specifically allowing broadband to be included in old-style IFDs and creating a new kind, called enhanced infrastructure financing districts, on the other. In both cases, the bonds can be repaid by earmarking the incremental tax revenue that the project is expected to produce. Continue reading

How Come My ISP Won’t Increase Internet Speed and Lower My Bill, Like They Do in Sweden?

We Americans are getting addicted to our high-speed broadband connections. Unfortunately, they are often slower and more expensive than the Internet hook-ups you can grab in many other developed nations.

For example, my brother pays $40 a month for his 100-megabit broadband connection in Karlstad, Sweden. He can take his pick from 19 different service providers, all using a common last-mile infrastructure and competing on price and features. For $70 a month, he could upgrade to a full gigabit. Continue reading

Municipal Broadband: A Bad Deal For Taxpayers

Please read my accompanying blog article.

There has long been a heated debate over the merit of government-run broadband networks, of which there are currently over 100 operating in municipalities around the country. Proponents of government-owned broadband networks, such as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler, claim they introduce competition into the market, while critics point  them as an inappropriate use of tax dollars and an example of government improperly competing with the private sector.

The inherent problem with municipal broadband is that government entities are incapable of fairly competing in the free market, as they are taxpayer-backed and therefore able to charge less for a service than it actually costs. Private businesses cannot do this, as doing so would result in bankruptcy. Continue reading

Municipal Broadband From a Different Perspective

I’m going to step into it big time here and make a bold comment. We have too many politicians and lawyers trying involved in driving broadband services and not enough business people and engineers. Politicians and lawyers should be trying to facilitate the penetration of broadband services, not drive the business. We have technical solutions to these issues, but they have yet to really gain traction in the U.S. for the reasons I mentioned above.

Like too many issues in our society, this one seems to boils down to whether you believe in big or limited government. The big government types are perfectly willing to compete or eliminate commercial enterprises in the name of fairness or some other lofty goal. The truth is that they always have an ulterior motive. Municipal broadband enterprises are at best a 50/50 proposition, but those odds are not sufficient in my view when it comes to sticking taxpayers with the bill. Our Constitution says nothing about guaranteeing citizens the right to the Internet nor is it a public safety issue. Universal Service was a deal concocted by AT&T with the Federal Government to allow their monopoly to continue. When divestiture occurred, it was a holdover for the RBOC. 
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Report Says LUS Fiber Model Flawed; LUS Director Says Report Biased

English: Fibre optic strands

English: Fibre optic strands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A November 2013 report by the Reason Foundation, a self-proclaimed libertarian, free-market think tank, claims municipal broadband projects like Lafayette Utilities System’s fiber network are fundamentally flawed and practically destined to fail.

“For all the enthusiasm about municipal broadband, one fact remains: A great majority of systems fail,” author Steven Titch wrote in “Lessons in Municipal Broadband from Lafayette, Louisiana.” “Those that survive end up falling short of their promised goals of lower prices, better service and ubiquity.”

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Telecoms want to stop high-speed internet spread, but not Google Fiber this time [sic]

This is another poorly written article that may just be news instead of an editorial. What caught my eye was the quote below.

But for some internet service companies, the deployment of faster internet “must be” regulated, and more specifically in some areas where internet businesses are protected by laws.

Although the sentence does not make sense, I believe that they are supporting regulating Internet Service Providers (ISP). Why is it a foregone conclusion that the Internet must be regulated? The Internet has grown organically with little to no regulation. Unlike the statements made in this article, there are ways to provide competition in the broadband services market. The only reason that the so-called press wants regulation is their proclivity towards government control and to preserve their industry. Traditional media is dying and having the government regulate the Internet helps to preserve their business.

I agree that municipalities and localities need to be in control of their broadband future, but not at the expense of taxpayers. I do not agree with the state laws preventing cities from entering into business relationships that can increase their broadband penetration, but I also do not think that they should compete with commercial enterprises. Once again open-access broadband infrastructure is the answer.

Internet Connection

Who doesn’t want to stream faster Netflix videos? Access Facebook seamlessly, or watch YouTube videos in 4K resolution? The bottom line, there’s a demand for cheap, but very fast internet connection.

See Google Fiber as one of the best examples out there.

Google Fiber is the search giant’s popular but very expensive to build internet service with a 1-gigabyte-per-second internet connection. The Mountain View, California-based search and advertising company is already serving three markets in America, Kansas, Provo and Austin, and could expand to nine others in the near future.

And while the mobile phone market is growing and computers are getting cheaper, consumers are now demanding for faster and affordable internet speed. Luckily, faster internet is not limited to mega cities only, or cities selected by Google, AT&T or CenturyLink.

But for some internet service companies, the deployment of faster internet “must be” regulated, and more specifically in some areas where internet businesses are protected by laws. These business giants are now asking the FCC to stop the expansion of — well, not Google Fiber this time, but the city-operated internet services.

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