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Light Readers Embrace Muni Nets

The RBOCs wouldn’t agree, but city-run broadband networks are a good thing for the telecom industry, according to respondents to Light Reading’s latest poll: Muni Nets.

While conflict is escalating between municipal authorities who see universal Internet access playing an important role in local economic development, and service providers that see taxpayer-funded networks as unfair competition, an overwhelming number of our respondents aren't siding with the RBOCs.

Of the 112 poll takers so far, 74 percent reckon municipal networks are a good idea for the industry. The growing number of public services provide high-speed Internet access to underserved communities where the telcos and cable companies are yet to deploy broadband.

For example, Alamedapt.com"target="new">Alameda Power and Telecom in California says its cheap broadband and cable TV services have forced to come up with pricing specific to Alameda, the only community in the Bay Area where it faces competition.

Telecom operators argue local governments have unfair advantages -- low taxes, public funds, less pressure to turn a profit -- and are fighting back with lawsuits and lobbying to try and block them from building networks.

Even if they don’t think the industry will benefit, respondents to the poll would be willing to sign up for service themselves -- 76 percent of respondents said they would buy broadband access from a municipal network, a figure that feeds into the operators' fears of losing subscriber dollars. Seventy-three percent would also be prepared to buy telephone or TV service from their city.

In a recent poll, 59 percent of Light Readers agreed municipal networks could help improve broadband penetration in the U.S., which is not even among the top 10 broadband markets worldwide (see Poll: RBOCs Fuel 'Broadband Gap').

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:06:11 AM
re: Light Readers Embrace Muni Nets Good work rjm

OldPOTS
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:06:08 AM
re: Light Readers Embrace Muni Nets We should let these "service providers" put their money where their mouth is. If their IP-TV "services" are so great, they should love to offload all the layer 1 grunt-work to the munis. Let them compete with GOOG in "services" while "transport" is taken care of in the usual fashion (as it is with roads and electricity).

If they insist on merging services with transport, we can infer they prefer an artificial monopoly in transport to stuff their "services" down our throats. Perhaps they are afraid of a little, low-cost, bare bones transport.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:06:07 AM
re: Light Readers Embrace Muni Nets If they insist on merging services with transport, we can infer they prefer an artificial monopoly in transport to stuff their "services" down our throats.

Another possibilty is that our complex socioeconomic systems have not created a financing model which pays for the necessary network upgrades while still supporting the ideal of structural separation. If that is the case then a network provider turning to subsidies from "services" would be an expected behavior.
LightWarrior 12/5/2012 | 3:06:06 AM
re: Light Readers Embrace Muni Nets Any time there are gaps in what market forces can produce to meet customer demand, there have been calls to "push" the innovation curve through public/private combos. Just today, I heard on NPR how private companies will start builing and maintaining toll roads to help ease the nation's traffic jams. Same thing with muni's expect it is the opposite problem-- there is no traffic/access in some folks, or it is priced to high or the service offering is weak in some way-- so adoption will never take off until all public/private methods are exhausted to give the most options.

God bless the muni's.
palaeozoic 12/5/2012 | 3:06:05 AM
re: Light Readers Embrace Muni Nets ...from this debate is whether or not we want the part-time, non-technical, non-market oriented small-town politicians responsible for roads and city council meetings to be operating network infrastructure. Thank you anyway, but not in my town. I'll take my chances with the ILEC and the cable guy.
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:06:04 AM
re: Light Readers Embrace Muni Nets ...from this debate is whether or not we want the part-time, non-technical, non-market oriented small-town politicians responsible for roads and city council meetings to be operating network infrastructure.

More than likely, expert third parties would design, construct, and operate the infrastructure. The city would help raise the capital to pay for the project.

Thank you anyway, but not in my town. I'll take my chances with the ILEC and the cable guy.

This is a perspective many (most) will take. And so be it. But it shouldn't be forced on *everybody*.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:05:59 AM
re: Light Readers Embrace Muni Nets rj says: "Another possibilty is that our complex socioeconomic systems have not created a financing model which pays for the necessary network upgrades while still supporting the ideal of structural separation."

We have electricity, water and sewage. These are commodity transport services operated at sufficient volumes at reasonable rates. Why is communications bandwidth inherently different now that we have TCP/IP?
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