[funsec] Not so fast, broadband providers tell big users (fwd)

Daniel Senie dts at senie.com
Tue Mar 13 18:19:15 UTC 2007

At 01:33 PM 3/13/2007, Roland Dobbins wrote:

>On Mar 13, 2007, at 10:10 AM, Daniel Senie wrote:
>>As with the deployment of telephone service a century ago, the
>>ubiquitious availability of broadband service will require
>>government involvement in the form of fees on some and subsidies
>>for others (might be a good use for the funds Massachusetts is
>>trying to extract from Verizon for property tax on telephone poles,
>>I suppose). Otherwise, we'll see the broadband providers continue
>>to cherry pick the communities to service, and leave others in the
>>digital dustbowl.
>Various rural phone companies aside, the majority of this was
>accomplished in the U.S. via a regulated monopoly, and in many other
>countries via a government-owned regulated monopoly.

And today we have unregulated monopolies in many communities, and 
unregulated duopolies in the rest. Are we better off without 
regulation? That's unclear.

>   Do you believe
>that's necessary and/or desirable in order to make broadband

A universal service charge could be applied to all bills, with the 
funds going to subsidize rural areas. Even the electrical utilities 
have this kind of thing going on... there's an energy conservation 
charge on my electric bill that is used to pool funds that are used 
for energy efficiency projects. The solar panels on my roof were 
partially paid for by a grant from such funds.

There are alternatives to close control of monopolies using 
mechanisms of this sort. If it's in the best interests of the country 
to provide universal access, then such a mechanism will likely be the way.

>   How do longer-range wireless technologies like WiMAX
>potentially impact the equation?

If cell phone companies have not covered an area, what makes you 
think WiMAX is a magic solution? How well does WiMAX work to cover 
hilly, forested, rural terrain? Who will pay to put up enough towers 
to provide coverage? Will municipalities unhappy about the look of 
towers consider this a reasonable alternative to running services 
along telephone poles that already exist? If the cell carriers 
haven't found it economic to provide coverage, why would the WiMAX provider?

It all comes back to economics. If there's an interest in providing 
universal access, then somehow there will have to be financial 
incentives for less populated areas to be covered. Verizon, Comcast, 
ATT and the like have no hearts and thus will not cover rural areas 
out of the goodness of those non-existent hearts, unless there's a 
financial incentive to make it worthwhile.

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