Muni Fiber Keeps Helping Economies Grow

from the well-look-at-that dept

While we've discussed repeatedly why WiFi might be the wrong technology for municipal networks, that doesn't mean the idea of municipal networks is a bad thing. While there have been some reports claiming that municipal networks never work, they've generally been written by astroturfing groups, who cherry pick their information, and often are flat out wrong. A number of the cases they cite as failures, turned out to actually be success stories. In general, though, as with any bit of government intervention, there are plenty of ways for governments to screw things up, and they often do. However, if you set it up right, a muni-broadband offering can actually be a very, very good thing. The key is recognizing two things. First, there isn't a competitive market in most of these places. Second, that's often because of the natural monopoly issue. It's simply inefficient to have every new competitor rip up a city to place their own network infrastructure in the ground. As with the highway system, sometimes it just makes sense to work out a deal to get a single top-notch fiber network in the ground and let everyone compete on it. You get true competition, which leads to better services, and you get much faster broadband.

While not many places have yet adopted this type of system, there is increasing evidence that (unlike many of the muni-WiFi efforts), muni-fiber efforts are turning out to be a big boost for local economies. We've already discussed how muni-fiber in Oregon helped bring Google to town (and plenty of new jobs), and now Broadband Reports runs through a number of other examples of muni-fiber installations boosting the local economy by attracting new companies and increasing jobs. While many of us are naturally averse to government involvement in things, it does seem like, when the market has failed to create competitive situations (sometimes because of dumb government involvement that tilted the initial playing fields, it can help if a well thought-out plan creates the infrastructure that others can compete on.

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  • identicon
    Bumbling old fool, 28 Dec 2006 @ 5:45pm


    I long for the day local governments take back their rights and start owning all the service delivery infrastructre... sigh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2006 @ 5:46am

    The Tragedy of the Commons?

    How should a goverment keep the playing field level in cases like this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    citizenj, 29 Dec 2006 @ 7:13am

    Do not sigh, instead...

    Let's just nationalize the whole dang telco infrastructure, putting the monkey telco oligopoly out of business (hey, that's TWICE today I get to use oligopoly....sweet). I mean, how hard could it be to put a bunch of techs on the gov't payroll, create a WPA style program to get welfare folks out digging ditches to lay fiber, grid the whole country out w/ fiber and REALLY start being competitive in a global economy?

    I'll be in Cuba if you need me....

    /I keed, I keed

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    spoon?!?!, 31 Dec 2006 @ 4:39am

    Aw hell...

    I was gambling on that whole WiMAX-over-blimps thing, but that never panned out.

    I'd actually go with the whole nationalization thing, but two things have to happen first: the federal level of government has to be dissolved, and the paperwork to define the parameters of the material the heads of the screws that hold the network in place must be less than 2 pages long.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pot Meet Kettle, 5 Jan 2007 @ 12:03pm

    Who's cherry picking?? chastise reports that claim muni networks never work but yet you link to a biased report produced by the vendor industry as your primary proof that they DO work??? Hmmm...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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