Light Readers Embrace 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