Popping The Anti-Muni Broadband Balloon
from the bam dept
There's been so much happening in the muni broadband (mainly muni WiFi) space lately that it's been difficult to figure out what's worth writing about. If you're really interested, you can always follow most of the news over at Muniwireless. However, today, Glenn Fleishman pulls out the big guns and simply obliterates many of the arguments made by those against muni broadband. On the question of "tax-payers" supporting broadband instead of having private companies do it, he retorts: "Once again, subsidies rear their ugly heads: I'd like Comcast to disclose every penny they're received in subsidies or allocated taxes. It's only fair. We already know how much money Verizon got for a fiber-optic network they never built in Pennsylvania." On the claim that government's don't know how to offer services: "Help me, I've fallen down laughing. A telephone company is lecturing public entities on providing service." On the claims that cities can't accurately estimate the cost of such networks: "Comcast argues that the city's estimate of $10 million to set up and $1.5 million a year is too low. But how would Comcast know? They don't run broadband wireless networks for public safety or for wide access. It's more likely that other cities would understand the costs than Comcast." The incumbent broadband providers are obviously spending a lot of money to fight municipal broadband these days. If they only used that money to actually provide broadband, most of these issues wouldn't matter anyway. The only reason why governments are looking at providing broadband is because the big providers aren't. It's that simple. While governments can certainly be inefficient providers of services, when done right it can help everyone. Not every place should have a municipally funded broadband project -- and the ones that do should be watched carefully. But, muni projects that blend public and private offerings (gov't grants the real estate and right of way issues, but lets private operations build the network and offer services) seem to make a lot of sense.