The growth of municipal broadband networks

Joly MacFie joly at
Sat Mar 26 01:48:09 CDT 2011

I take your point, the separation was of a different order. But a
separation, nonetheless. The motive is not so much different.

I think we can all accept that "traditional telephone regulation" is rapidly
losing its grip as the beast morphs. Now that applications outnumber
networks new problems require new solutions.

I've heard Allied Fiber's Hunter Newby argue convincingly that really it's
about separating Level 0 - the real estate, the wires and the head end
premises - from everything else, and facilitating sufficient open access to
guarantee healthy competition in services.

And yes, where there's a monopoly there will have to some price regulation.
At least that's traditional.

As we've seen in the UK, while it's not so much a stretch to impose even
higher level unbundling on the telcos, when it comes to the cable industry
it's going to be a very painful pulling of teeth.


On Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 2:01 AM, Richard Bennett <richard at>wrote:

> The principle that kept telegraph and telephone apart wasn't a functional
> layering concept, it was a "technology silos" concept under which all
> communication networks were assumed to be indistinguishable from their one
> and only one application. If you read the Communications Act of 1934, you'll
> see this idea embodied in the titles of the act, each of which describes
> both a network and an application, as we understand the terms today. Wu
> wants to make law out of the OSI model, a very different enterprise than
> traditional telecom regulation.
> On 3/25/2011 10:27 PM, Joly MacFie wrote:
>> aka the "separation principle" ( Tim Wu - the Master Switch)
>> What surprised me is that when I put his point to Richard R.John at the
>> Columbia Big media event back in Nov
>> <>  - John totally agreed with it, citing
>> the
>> precedent of the telegraph companies being locked out of the telephone
>> business back in the day.
>>  j
>> On Fri, Mar 25, 2011 at 10:52 PM, George Bonser<gbonser at>
>>  wrote:
>>  It is only in very recent times that we have been able to overlay
>>>> Internet on both cable and television, and to have television
>>>> competition via satellite.
>>> In "the old days" the phone company didn't provide "content".  You
>>> called someone and the people at each end provided the content or the
>>> data going over the network.  The phone company simply provided the
>>> network.  I still believe the biggest mistake we made was breaking up
>>> the Bell System.  We should have let them be, regulated the crap out of
>>> them, and then said "no, you can't get into the business of providing
>>> content".  They system should have been left as a regulated public
>>> utility.
>>>  To that end, I think the US would be much better off with fiber to the
>>>> home on a single distribution infrastructure.  That could be owned and
>>>> operated by the municipality (like the water system) or owned and
>>>> operated by a corporation granted an exclusive right to service an
>>> area
>>>> (think telephone, at least pre CLEC).
>>> Yup, bring back "The Bell System".
>>>  Where you immediately run into a snag is the next layer up.  Should
>>> the
>>>> government provide IP services, if the fiber is government owned?
>>>> Should private companies be required to offer competitors access to
>>>> provide IP services if the fiber is privately owned?
>>> I would say they provide network access only, not content.  They would
>>> be kept out of providing content and kept in the business of reliably
>>> connecting content to consumer.  That would be their focus.
>>>  Having looked around the world I personally believe most communities
>>>> would be best served if the government provided layer-1 distribution,
>>>> possibly with some layer 2 switching, but then allowed any commercial
>>>> entity to come in and offer layer 3 services.
>>> I don't.  What happens when the "government" then decides what content
>>> is and is not allowed to go over their network?  If one had a site that
>>> provided a view that the government didn't like, would they cut it off?
>>> I want the government very strictly limited in what they can and cannot
>>> do and I want them to have to go to an outside entity for things like
>>> lawful intercept because it is another check on their power.  A private
>>> entity might insist that there is a proper warrant or subpoena while the
>>> government might simply decide to snoop first, get the paperwork later.
>>> Keeping the network at arm's length from the government helps to make
>>> sure there is another entity in the loop.
>>>  For simplicity of
>>>> argument I like people to envision the local government fiber agency
>>>> (like your water authority) dropping off a 1 port fiber 4 port copper
>>>> switch in your basement.
>>> Big difference.  Water is not a good analogy.  The "content" in that
>>> case is from a central source and everyone gets the same thing.  With
>>> the network, you have people communicating back and forth and much of
>>> that communications is private or expected to be private (say, a phone
>>> call or a secure financial transaction).  If a private entity screws up,
>>> it is much easier to fine them or fire the person responsible than it is
>>> to punish a government department or fire a government worker.  Besides,
>>> we really don't need yet more people on the government payroll.
>>> Though I do agree that it is a natural monopoly.  It should be managed
>>> by a regulated utility that is explicitly prohibited from providing the
>>> content, only provide access through the network.
> --
> Richard Bennett

Joly MacFie  218 565 9365 Skype:punkcast
WWWhatsup NYC - -
 VP (Admin) - ISOC-NY -

More information about the NANOG mailing list