Plotting Next Steps Towards High Speed Municipal Broadband for Seattle’s Internet-Hungry Masses

Remember when local comedian Brett Hamil fucking nailed it in a video-blog bemoaning his sluggish internet service? He’s back with a follow-up—still waiting, six months later, for Mayor Ed Murray to make up his mind about whether to pursue building a high-speed municipal broadband network in Seattle:

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AT&T joins case; Chanute needs state nod to offer fiber broadband, says 1947 law

Chanute, Kansas

Chanute, Kansas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After beating back a legislative effort to stop them, city leaders in Chanute now face another state government hurdle in their effort to extend ultra-high-speed fiber broadband to residents’ homes and businesses.

Because of a 1947 state law on utilities, the city has to get permission from the Kansas Corporation Commission to sell bonds to fund its fiber-to-home project, which would extend some of the fastest Internet service in the nation to the rural community of about 9,200 people in southeast Kansas. Continue reading

Cities Tackle Broadband Imperative

2014-10-30-getimageI want to be an optimist about this effort, but I am afraid that it will turn out to be another of many conferences bureaucrats attend using taxpayer money. The contribution that broadband services makes to economies is well documented and understood so listening to highly paid consultants restate what they can read in a magazine or report is not a valuable use of time. Instead they should use this forum to openly share results and experiences in deploying broadband infrastructure. They should learn what business models work and what don’t work. This forum should present ways to stimulate new applications of services and promote competition of service providers. I hope that “Next Century Cities” is used as a constructive tool to share the knowledge of broadband infrastructure deployment and service provider competition and not as a way to grow government over the private sector.

There is a new organization in town and it’s quietly getting the attention it deserves.

Called “Next Century Cities,” it met last month with mayors and executives from 32 cities in Santa Monica, California to talk about the new economy, the critical importance of broadband infrastructure to economic wealth and well being and the vital role cities must play to succeed and survive in what is fast becoming a turbulent, knowledge driven world. Continue reading

Colorado Residents Wake Up, Vote To Bypass Protectionist State Broadband Laws

by Karl Bode

As we’ve noticed in the past, if there’s a place to start fixing U.S. broadband competition, it’s the nearly two-dozen state protectionist broadband laws written and passed by the nation’s incumbent ISPs. Said laws either hinder or outright ban towns and cities from building and/or improving their own broadband networks, even in cases where local private companies refuse to. In several instances, the laws even prohibit government collaboration with private companies in any way.

The laws are usually passed under the pretense of protecting communities from their own financial missteps, with assorted industry mouthpieces like Marsha Blackburn playing up the failures of a few select municipal broadband projects. Of course, like any business plan, these ventures can be built on solid or rotten frames, and several have beenquite successful. In contrast, these protectionist laws take local choice away entirely, replacing it with mechanisms that do little more than insulate the nation’s lumbering broadband mono/duopoly from competition of any kind. Continue reading

NYC Launches Free Gigabit Speed Wi-Fi Network

That’s right, New York City’s public spaces are going wireless thanks to a public-private consortium that’s bringing gigabit wi-fi connectivity through something called the LinkNYC network. The city estimates that the new Wi-fi capability, funded by advertising, will generate at least $500 million in revenue over the next 12 years.

The LinkNYC network is being put together by a consortium called CityBridge together with city government. CityBridge’s main players include the transit advertising company Titan; the advertising and design agency, Control Group, networking giant Qualcomm; and hardware manufacturer Comark. Partners on the New York side include the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Continue reading

Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability

Not often will I agree with opinion from “The New York Times,” but in this case they are pretty close to getting it right. After you dig through the comparison to other cities and slamming of our communications service providers they get to the heart of the matter by saying that a duopoly is not competition and competition will lower prices and improve the quality of service. Note that I did not mention “speed.” 

here are structural differences that make the U.S. different from Asian and European countries such as our lower population density and more people living in single-family dwellings. These two facts dramatically increase the cost to build a network to where at best two providers can make a decent ROI. Why do you think that AT&T and Verizon keeps shedding their rural territories? Where we see competition, we see lower prices and better services. Another reason many of these countries have lower prices is that governments have subsidized building of these networks with taxpayer dollars easing the challenge of turning a profit to service providers. In many of these countries service providers use to be owned by the government so they still have a cozy relationship. Continue reading

The Empire Strikes Back: AT&T threatens to pull Paltry US Fibre Investment

Whether or not you think that AT&T is bluffing on halting or slowing its capital investment, the reason that they are investing in residential services is that it is not regulated and they are finally facing some competition. Implementing Title II regulation will limit their return-on-investment and drive up their costs so naturally they will start investing in areas where they can make more money just as they have done since divestiture. Look at the amount of money that they invest in business and wireless services that are not subject to regulation. 

People are naive to think that introducing regulation will make service better and lower prices. Only competition will do that. Regulation will bring you consistent price increases each year and a lower quality of service with little to no innovation. Look at any of the utilities that your city or county provide. What new and exciting services has your water or trash company offered lately? Have you seen your price go down? The same goes with the electric utility. The only innovations that have creeped into their services are to lower the cost of providing electricity so they can achieve higher profits.

Once again I caution, “Be careful for what you wish. You just may get it.” 
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