EU Says No To Muni-Fiber Effort

from the not-allowed dept

Despite massive telco lobbying efforts in the US, it looks like the US Senate at least recognizes that states shouldn't ban cities from offering muni broadband networks (the question of city vs. state vs. federal regulatory arguments is a discussion for a different post). However, in Europe, it looks like they might be going in the other direction. The EU has told a Dutch town that it cannot move forward on a muni-fiber network, because it represents unfair competition to private companies. We tend to agree that muni networks don't always make the most sense, but if the people want it, it seems a bit silly to have a non-local government tell them they can't have it. From the description in the article, it actually sounds like the plans for this muni-fiber offering were done like other smart deployments. That is, it's not a "government run utility," but rather a fiber network that any provider could then offer service over. In other words, it's not what most people immediately think of when they hear "muni-broadband." This isn't about the city offering service -- but about them offering infrastructure to private service providers. For fiber networks, this remains a smart plan -- as it involves creating real competition without overbuilding infrastructure. Instead, the town will have fewer competitors and more infrastructure -- even though they wanted it the other way around. It's a recipe for much more limited, but still more expensive, service.
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  1. identicon
    DoxAvg, 20 Jul 2006 @ 11:07am

    Re: Didn't bother to title

    > By making your statements about The Man you are showing your true colors: A conspiracy theorist who just wants to point a finger.

    Au contraire; I'm a cynic who looks at a long history of government mismanagement and abuse of centralized structures, and when offered a choice of "Do you want your bandwidth provided by the government", I say "no, thanks".

    I was conflicted on this issue for a very long time. Like many others, I'm very dissatisfied with the service provided by the local monopolies or duopolies. And yes, there are many infrastructure items that I think the government _should_ centrally manage. The highway system has been pretty useful, and a look at any city's history when the bridges were private concerns will show you the inefficiencies that an open market will create. As you pointed out, the sewers are a big hit.

    But for broadband, I don't think it's the right choice. Had we muni narrowband in days of yore, would DSL have ever been rolled out? Who is going to sign up for $40/month 512k data service when my local municipality provides 56k for free (or close to free)? Without the bulk of subscribers, DSL and cable-modemtry would never have gotten off the ground. If we roll out muni-DSL, would anybody be interested in providing FTTP? I sure wouldn't target that market if I were a competitor.

    My cable company prohibits me from running any kind of server on my cable-modem line. If they were the only game in town, I'd be sunk. Thankfully, I have a choice of commercial DSL providers, and can pick one that supports me running my little tiny server, and that makes me happy. However, if I had to choose between my $50 DSL bill, and a tax-subsidized $10 DSL line, I know which I'd choose, and my little piece of the web would disappear, I couldn't play Empire Earth with my buds, and my Jabber wouldn't work any more. That's what I don't want to see.

    Don't read too much into The Man. It was a toungue-in-cheek reference to the government, business interests, and lobbyists whose agenda doesn't match yours (whatever it may be). An affection borrowed from the 60's, when people were very concerned (no matter how mis-guided) with freedom, privacy, and individuality. Please have a great rebutting any of the points I've made and don't let this interesting thread degenerate into name-calling. Shame.

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