Muni network ownership and the Fourth

Jay Ashworth jra at
Tue Jan 29 21:14:56 UTC 2013

----- Original Message -----
> From: "Elle Plato" <techgrrl at>

[ attribution lost ]
> > See, the Comcast's and AT&T of the world are right that governments
> > shouldn't be ISP's, that should be left to the private sector. I
> > want a choice of ISP's offering different services, not a single
> > monopoly. In this case the technology can provide that, so it
> > should be available.
> It has been my experience that the incumbents largely give small
> cities the finger until a muni steps in, and makes a profitable go of
> it. Then they are all about legislation to protect them from the
> unfairness of it all. The large incumbents are basically a duopoly as
> it is, and general are not offering anything innovative until they are
> forced to.

Yup.  In fact, late last year, it is my understanding that VZN FiOS 
said *in public, on the record* that they were done with new buildouts;
if you didn't have it, tough luck -- canonizing the assertions we'd all
been making for a decade that they would cherry pick, even though they
claimed they would not.

They're a public corporation; they have no real choice.

This is why we grant utilities monopoly franchises, with teeth in them
to recapture the Public Good we want from them; none of this has been 
news for 4 decades, but the fix was in.

And in fact, yes, VZN left behind state laws in several states forbidding
municipal ownership of communications facilities, which they, effectively,
purchased.  (The laws, not the facilities)

> Running an ISP is hard, and most munis have no experience in it. Then
> only reason to do it, is because the incumbents refuse to provide
> service. I don't think munis running networks is any sort of threat
> to free enterprise. I see them more analogous to rural electric
> cooperatives that provided electric service when incumbents refused
> to. Legislating that option away, just lets the duopolies serve the
> dense urban areas and ignore the less dense areas.

FWIW, the posting to which you're replying assumed that we were talking
about municipal service at layer 3+; we weren't, as we later corrected.

What we're talking about is acknowledging the high cost of fiber plant
buildout, and the natural monopoly it encompasses... and thus the 
municipal involvement it encourages, in an open access design.

-- jra
Jay R. Ashworth                  Baylink                       jra at
Designer                     The Things I Think                       RFC 2100
Ashworth & Associates         2000 Land Rover DII
St Petersburg FL USA               #natog                      +1 727 647 1274

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