Expand Broadband Internet, Not The Size Of Government


I’d like to respond to two letters in your July 13 edition that praised Rep. Mike Carter’s efforts to expand statewide broadband access. Rep. Carter wants more government involvement in the broadband sector, including an expansion of taxpayer-funded, municipal broadband networks.

Rep. Carter’s supporters argued he’s standing up for consumers against huge telecommunications companies, but by supporting greater government ownership of broadband he’s really working against small businesses like mine. While it’s true many of my colleagues in the telecom sector oppose Rep. Carter’s efforts, the bills he supports wouldn’t hurt the giants of the industry. They’d hurt small, locally owned internet service providers like mine that are struggling to provide good service in our neighborhoods and good jobs in our communities. Continue reading

Cable Lobbying Group Claims More Competition Would Hurt Consumers

You just have to laugh at this stupid comment.

by Karl Bode

The FCC recently voted 4-1 to approve Charter‘s $79 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The agency just released its full order (pdf) pertaining to the deal, outlining the various conditions the FCC hopes to enforce to keep Charter from simply becoming another Comcast. Among them are a seven-year ban on usage caps, a seven-year ban on charging for direct interconnection (the heart of the telecom industry’s battle with Netflix last year), and a ban on any attempt to pressure broadcasters into refusing deals with streaming video providers.

But the FCC says the merger conditions also require Charter to deploy broadband service to an additional 2 million locations, one million of which need to already be served by another competing provider. The faint threat of competition was enough to upset the American Cable Association (ACA), the lobbying organization for smaller cable providers. According to ACA CEO Matthew Polka, the added competition will actually be a horrible thing for consumers, because, uh, well, just because: Continue reading

Swiss Get FTTH

What would be interesting to know is how St. Gallen funded the effort and whether they hope to break-even or make money.  Seven different service providers will certainly keep Swisscom on their toes.  It would also be interesting to know how much they are charging for dark-fiber or bandwidth.

ALTDORF, Switzerland — Early this year the town of St Gallen launched its new fibre-optic network. In March the public utility company switched on the first connections in the quarter Im Vogelherd. Thanks to Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH), residents in around 1000 homes and many businesses now have faster, more extensive access to the internet, TV and telephony (Triple Play), and to many additional services offered by seven providers.

Continue reading

NoChokePoints Coalition Slams AT&T for Rate Hikes

Last-mile access is about to become a bit more expensive for businesses and wireless carriers.  The real solution here is not more regulation, but competition.  Allow cities and service providers to build their own infrastructure.  Frankly I agree with Frank Simone’s question asking why service providers are not building more fiber access to customers.  The answer is simple.  It is cost prohibitive in most cases.  A carrier could spend more than $10,000 pulling a fiber pair to a building.  They have two options, charge an up-front fee or try to amortize it over a few years.  Most customers will stick with an incumbent carrier rather than pay an up-front fee, and if the carrier amortizes the costs they have no guarantee that the customer will stick with them long enough to make laying the fiber profitable.

I have asked several Tier 2 service providers whether they support municipal broadband networks and they typically state that telecommunications is not a governmental function.  I agree with them, but there is an important difference here.  First of all the government is just leasing last-mile access to the service provider in my model.  They are not actually selling services to customers.  Second I only see these carriers pulling fiber to only the most profitable buildings because of the dilemma I mentioned above.  What about the small independent insurance agent or rural physician that has broadband needs as well?  A few years ago, I worked for a public company with 125 people in a facility and no carrier would bring fiber to our building without a $35,000 initial payment even though fiber ran right down the street we were located.  Perhaps letting the price-cap expire will initiate the deployment of more fiber.

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2010 – AT&T’s special access lines are set for price hikes, and the NoChokePoints Coalition says FCC regulation of this “is essential to the health of our information economy.”

The coalition held a teleconference panel discussion Tuesday to call on the FCC to take action and regulate what it says is a rapidly developing monopoly.

Continue reading