Marveling at the Munis

Yes, municipal broadband networks are hot and gaining more attention. But are such networks part of the broadband competition solution, or are they just another kind of monopoly? It's a debate that's generating curious poll results from Light Reading's readers. (See We're #16! and Poll: RBOCs Fuel 'Broadband Gap'.)

More than 60 percent of respondents to our most recent poll -- Breaking Up Incumbents -- don't like the idea of governments using taxpayer dollars to fund their own networks. By way of a single click, they say such networks "recreate the telecom monopolies we've been dismantling for the last 25 years."

Of course, monopoly or no, it's tough to imagine that municipally owned networks are going to be huge profit centers anytime in the near future. To wit, the most talked about muni networks these days are either ad supported, vendor financed, or just not getting that many subscribers. (See Google's Ad-Mad Network , The Philadelphia Experiment, and Muni Networks: The Public's Not Buying.)

So why, then, are municipal networks getting so much attention? And will incumbent carriers ever sit up and take notice?

Those issues, and several more, are addressed in the new report Municipal Broadband Networks, which was published on Light Reading yesterday. In addition to a rundown of the most recent news developments relating to municipal broadband networks, the report features a listing of some of the most influential municipal broadband network organizations in North America.

Finally, while our readers are skeptical of muni networks, they aren't letting incumbent carriers off the hook. In our poll, 60 percent of respondents say that dominant carriers shouldn't be left to run their own networks as they please. Such a freewheeling environment would, "kill competition, stifle customer choice, and lead to higher prices for customers," so sayeth the poll.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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