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[ NNSquad ] Re: Additional or differentiated services
On 8/27/2010 12:51 PM, George Ou wrote:
While it may be inappropriate to consider the existing "last mile" broadband infrastructure as "public property," it is likewise inappropriate not to realize that it should be dealt with as a public utility, just like electric lines, water lines and sewer lines. It is simply cost-prohibitive (and certainly inefficient) to run multiple broadband connections to each home (especially rural ones being subsidized already by the UTF). The "last mile" should be managed more efficiently for municipal use, just like we figured out years ago for phones, power, water and sewer.
Should a municipality desire to "own the infrastructure" (such as Kutztown, PA; an example of municipal fiber suspiciously absent from Mr. Ou's essay on "failed municipal broadband"), they should be allowed. If, on the other hand, the more common model is used where a private company builds and manages the infrastructure, it should be regulated like the monopoly it is and forced to share the bandwidth, just as I can now, here in Pennsylvania, purchase electric power from a variety of providers, but it is delivered by the local transmission network managed by Execlon / PECO, and regulated by the PA PUC. I'm not saying the PA PUC does a great job of representing PA's consumers vs. the companies they're supposed to regulate, but it's a start. Also note that that "telephone companies" have promised regulatory commissions that they will deliver broadband / fiber to a wide range of areas, and been allowed rate increases to fund that. Actual delivery has not matched the promises. Better regulation and oversight is definitely needed.
And to be clear: I am a "small government" proponent. Smaller government and fewer regulations are my desire, except in cases where it makes sense. Last mile broadband is one of those cases where it makes sense. Competition in the last mile does not make sense. Running a half dozen fiber optic lines to every home in the US in order to get a free, open market competitive situation simply is not going to happen and is not cost effective. We can't even get a single fiber connection to every home at this point, much less a half dozen. And it's just a waste anyway. When choice of electric provider was introduced in PA, we didn't string six more power lines to every home.
To dispute that broadband last-mile networks should not be treated as a public utility is just as mistaken as calling them public property.