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[ NNSquad ] Re: Fight over municipal broadband rules in North Carolina
While the cable companies have a visited interest in limiting competition we need to be more concerned about framing the debate on the presumption that the only funding model is "cable".
There's the implicit assumption that simply having a city create its own broadband network is automatically a good thing. But as I keep pointing out the business model of expecting people buy services in order to fund infrastructure is problematic, even more so when it is competing with commercial providers with deep funding. As we've seen in Burlington VT, if a city borrows from bondholders it is in hock to them but doesn't have the scale and deep pockets a company like Comcast has to cover the debt even if the particular cable system is not profitable.
Think of the 911 example -- why does the emergency respond system depend on people making enough phone calls to fund it. If the model makes sense we'd use it to fund fire and police services. But it doesn't make sense and we fund the fire and police services. So why do we fund the emergency signaling system by taxing phone calls. Even worse, we then use this funding model abused and used as a way to make some VoIP services illegal by demanding they pay for 911 service in an arbitrary location.
What cities need to do is change the framing and build a common infrastructure as an asset for the city that they pay for once and own. They can then use it all purposes ranging from police and traffic lights to exchanging bits for consumer applications like video and medical monitoring and home fire detection.
We need to assure the legislation doesn't prevent a city from investing in new fiber or Wi-Fi or using existing copper as infrastructure completely distinct from services be they "cable" or simply exchanging bits (sometimes called "Internet").
Too bad some of the loudest voices are the most conservative -- advocating that cities emulate the old line cable companies rather than embracing the future by creating new infrastructure and opportunity.
The cable companies would still oppose funding infrastructure but we’d have to explain the wires are like sidewalks and not like television. I’d welcome a real debate.
Fight over municipal broadband rules in North Carolina
http://j.mp/fGNZe9 (Innovation Policy Blog)