The Debate Over Muni Broadband Expansion

By Stephanie Kanowitz

As communities across the country continue to clamor for high-speed broadband, the number of critics speaking out against municipal broadband is growing.

At the heart of the debate is whether governments or private industry should have jurisdiction over broadband. Those who favor private industry point to the historical success of capitalism, while “broadband populists,” as a new report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) calls them, favor government regulation and operation much like other city services. Continue reading

Proposed FCC regulation Limits Indian Country’s Access to Internet

Ross Racine (Blackfeet)

When the FCC reclassified broadband services, they stated that they were not going to get into price regulation. As expected, they did not keep their word and are now manipulating the prices in a free market. What Ross mentions below are the unintended consequences of price regulation.

By Ross Racine

When it comes to internet access, Native American and Alaskan tribes are among the least connected in our country. An analysis by the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that along with the rural South, portions of the Southwest, predominately home to Indian communities, are amongst the lowest connected regions. Continue reading

DC Court Upholds FCC Open Internet Order

 

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has upheld the FCC‘s Open Internet Order, which was issued last March and challenged in court shortly thereafter. The full text of the decision – 184 pages’ worth – is available here.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said: “Today’s ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the Internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth. After a decade of debate and legal battles, today’s ruling affirms the commission’s ability to enforce the strongest possible Internet protections – both on fixed and mobile networks – that will ensure the Internet remains open, now and in the future.”

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai disagreed. In a statement, he said, in part: “I am deeply disappointed by the D.C. Circuit’s 2-1 decision upholding the FCC’s Internet regulations. For many of the reasons set forth in Judge Williams’ [presiding judge on the case in the DC Circuit] compelling dissent, I continue to believe that these regulations are unlawful, and I hope that the parties challenging them will continue the legal fight. The FCC’s regulations are unnecessary and counterproductive.” Continue reading

High-speed Internet access impacts home sales

By CHLOÉ MORRISON

Locally and nationally, consumers are opting not to buy homes if they don’t have access to high-speed Internet. 

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted the topic, and Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors President Travis Close said that residents in rural areas value high-speed Internet access just as much as people who live in city centers.

But access isn’t always available. There are still unincorporated areas of Hamilton County with limited Internet access.  Continue reading

‘Needless experiment’: Cities weigh gov’t-backed broadband, critics see tax $$ at risk

By

A push by cities across the country to get into the business of the Internet is raising concerns that local governments, with Washington’s blessing, are meddling where they are not needed — and wasting taxpayer dollars in the process.

The push was fueled earlier this year, when President Obama in January introduced a plan for municipal broadband projects which, according to the administration, would encourage “competition and choice” while offering a “level-playing field” for high-speed Internet access Continue reading

Barriers to Broadband (Infographic)

This is a great infographic showing the state of broadband services in the United States, but the text in the article is a little misleading. First of all the reason that about half the rural residents can’t get broadband service is because the FCC changed the definition of broadband service and the incumbent carriers are trying to catch up to meet the new definition. Second allowing municipalities to decide their own broadband fate will not address the problem of reaching customers outside the city limits. 

The uninformed and big government types look at municipal broadband as the panacea to all our broadband ills, but there is a reason that 19 states have enacted laws preventing municipal governments from getting into this business. They recognize that about half of these ventures fail and leave taxpayers on the hook to cover the losses, and that bureaucracies are generally not market oriented. 
Continue reading

Surge of Broadband Investment Threatened by Utility Regulation

Patrick Brogan

U.S. broadband providers invested $78 billion in network infrastructure in 2014, according to a new analysis of capital expenditures data for wireline, wireless and cable broadband providers. The 2014 investment expenditure was $3 billion, or 4 percent, greater than the $75 billion invested in 2013 and $14 billion, or 22 percent, greater than the $64 billion invested just five years ago in 2009 amidst the financial crisis.Of the 2014 total, the wireline industry invested $28 billion, or 36 percent of the industry aggregate, compared to 43 percent for wireless and 21 percent for cable.

From 1996 through 2014, broadband providers have made $1.4 trillion in capital investments with wireline providers investing more than $720 billion, or 52 percent of this total, compared to 32 percent for wireless and 16 percent for cable. These surging investment levels have taken place during a period of light regulation, which has come to an abrupt end with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision(link is external) to impose public utility rules on broadband providers. It is difficult to predict the near-term impact of this decision on investment, but numerous economic analyses(link is external) forecast negative long-term consequences on investment, innovation and other long-term economic benefits that come with broadband investment. Continue reading