Municipality provides broadband infrastructure; ISPs provide content?
October 20, 2010 4:04 PM Subscribe
Smart people: I'm trying to understand the issues relating to municipal broadband. It seems to me -- a complete layperson, understand -- that the proper approach here is obvious: The municipality should build out the fiber infrastructure, and leave the provision of services open to private ISPs. What is the current thinking on this issue?
posted by Alaska Jack to technology (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here in Anchorage, telecom consumers are basically hostages of a duopoly comprising one cable company and one DSL provider. There is no real market pressure on these companies to offer products consumers want -- unbundled high-speed internet, for example -- at a reasonable price. So they don't.
I was pondering this, and it seems like the proper way to address this is obvious: A municipal utility should provide the physical infrastructure (the way analogous utilities provide roads and water pipes) while private ISPs offer the actual services.
To throw one model out there, the city could address the "last mile" problem by requiring that all new construction include the laying of a fiber connection.* Upgrades and expansions could be covered with a small tax either on ISPs or directly on subscribed homeowners.
I'm not naive here: I understand that there would still be a significant public cost to all this. But it seems to me that cost would be small in comparison to the costs (financial and otherwise) of being under the thumb of the monopoly as it now stands. And this is an issue that I think the public, which is widely critical of the current telecom situation, could pretty easily grasp.
So what have I missed? What is the reason this seemingly logical model has not been adopted? Or has it? What are the pro's and cons?**
* This doesn't seem that unreasonable. After all, these homes all clearly somehow got wired for cable to begin with.
** This Municipal Broadband Wikipedia page seems to think such a thing would be a good idea (see last para under "Pros of Municipal Broadband"), but the page is pretty clearly biased.