Techdirt Podcast Episode 9: Is Muni Broadband A Monopoly Killer Or A Killer Monopoly?

from the the-debate-rages-on dept

Just this morning we wrote about a newly proposed bill that would stop states from blocking municipal broadband. This comes just a few weeks after President Obama similarly proposed having the FCC pre-empt state efforts to block cities from offering up their own broadband service. Muni broadband is often seen as a way to fight oligopolistic control of the broadband market by letting local communities offer another competitor (and often better, cheaper service). Critics, however, argue that local governments shouldn't be competing with private companies, and we shouldn't have governments getting into the broadband space at all. At the same time, they worry about the federal government stepping in to block states from making their own laws (though they don't seem to express similar concern about states blocking municipalities from making their own decisions). This week on the Techdirt podcast, we discuss municipal broadband and whether it's good government interference in the market, adding competition against incumbent legacy providers, or bad government interference in the market.

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Filed Under: broadband, muni broadband, municipal broadband


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  1. icon
    communitynets (profile), 29 Jan 2015 @ 9:15am

    Telephone poles and Google concessions

    Hey guys, I enjoyed the show but I wanted to encourage you to dig a little deeper on this. Local governments cannot be blamed for the AT&T's or an electric company's refusal to work with a fiber deployer. The pole owner has broad discretion and local governments are not in the loop.

    As for Google's arrangements with cities, I always hear people talking about them in the abstract, nothing in the specific. From what I can tell, they aren't that outlandish though some of them I think are difficult tradeoffs, like letting Google refuse to serve some areas of town where demand is low. That is a tradeoff that is worth discussing. But Kansas City and others have said they will give those same deals to others. The trick is just that TWC, Comcast, AT&T, etc refuse to invest in that level of service.

    I'm not saying every local government has its act together on these matters. But the vast majority are doing what they can to encourage deployment. The big carriers previously claimed that statewide franchising was retarding investment so half the states eliminated it - but saw no change in investment patterns.

    If you want to encourage competition, you should studiously ignore suggestions from the biggest carriers.

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