Wisconsin Kills WiscNet, Because The Only Good Infrastructure Is AT&T Infrastructure
from the infrastructure dept
Support for the “free market” is a phrase that is often abused by companies to really mean “support for this particular company.” It seems that’s what’s happening in Wisconsin with AT&T. The University of Wisconsin has been pretty instrumental in its role in developing key internet infrastructure technologies, which it uses in various ways. The current WiscNet helps supply high speed internet to Wisconsin schools and libraries, and also acts as an important testbed for new technologies. And AT&T hates it. So it was able to kill it off by suggesting it was somehow anti-free market:
The move was accomplished via an eleventh hour provision AT&T managed to get inserted into the budget, in a state ranked 43rd in broadband access nationwide. Christopher Mitchell at Community Broadband Networks directs our attention to the fact that Internet 2 President H. David Lambert tried to help prevent WiscNet’s defunding, writing a letter to Wisconsin’s Governor Walker regarding his since-successful effort to help AT&T kill WiscNet:
Yet, just when other states in the country are scrambling to invest in network infrastructure to help their universities rise to meet the international research and education challenge, this legislation could essentially disconnect Wisconsin from the global research it now leads. The result would be devastating. As the only intensive research institution in the United States that would be barred from participating in its own networks, Wiscnet and Internet2, the University, with respect to the ability to participate in global research, would become an immediate equivalent of a third-world University.
AT&T’s ability to crush any and all public Wisconsin broadband benefit projects would be slightly-less obxnoxious if AT&T was providing the kind of infrastructure that made all of these projects unnecessary, but they’re simply not. AT&T connectivity in many parts of Wisconsin consists of over-priced T1s, and lawmakers there are more than happy to write laws protecting AT&T ability to not only over charge for outdated infrastructure, but ensuring that connectivity-strained communities have no alternatives. Wisconsin’s AT&T-run government is the future for all states without serious U.S. political reform, and the result will inevitably be disastrous for the future of cutting-edge connectivity.
We see this all too often in the telco world. If there were real competition, this probably wouldn’t be an issue. But so many telcos seem to focus on making sure that they’re the only game in town, creating a monopoly — which is a real “free market” problem. Contrary to what people are saying, this isn’t a “free market” issue, this is an issue of regulatory capture, leading to diminished infrastructure.