Iowa Goes For The Fiber — With Open Access For All
from the a-step-in-the-right-direction dept
There have been plenty of discussions lately about municipal broadband offerings, but they always seem to devolve into the standard debate: incumbents are afraid that they’ll be competing against tax-payer subsidized broadband vs. local governments (and residents) who are fed up with being ignored by broadband providers. Unfortunately, that simplifies the debate way too much. The real question is whether or not there’s some sort of market failure — and the lack of competition for broadband in many places suggests there is. There is a potential “middle ground” solution to all of this. If people believe that fiber-based internet access is a “natural monopoly,” like the highway system, why not treat it like the highway system? Let the government set it up, but then give equal access to everyone else to use it? In other words, don’t have the muni fiber competing with the traditional broadband providers, but working together to save them money. Some have been suggesting exactly this sort of solution for quite some time, and it’s worked in places like Vermont. It looks like Iowa is realizing the same thing as 80 communities across the state are teaming up to do exactly that. They’ll install fiber lines to the home, and then offer up those lines to outside broadband providers to offer service to residents. This cuts out the costs of maintaining their own network for the service providers, while guaranteeing more competition and higher levels of service for subscribers. The broadband providers, of course, won’t be happy because it removes their monopoly position, but what did they do to deserve the monopoly in the first place?