Muni Fiber and Politics

Chris Boyd cboyd at
Mon Jul 21 22:31:05 UTC 2014

On Jul 21, 2014, at 1:38 PM, William Herrin wrote:

> The only exception I see to this would be if localities were
> constrained to providing point to point and point to multipoint
> communications infrastructure within the locality on a reasonable and
> non-discriminatory basis. The competition that would foster on the
> services side might outweigh the damage on the infrastructure side.
> Like public roads facilitate efficient transportation and freight
> despite the cost and potholes, though that's an imperfect simile.

I was planning on staying out of this debate, but.....

I was involved in an effort a few years back to legalize municiple fiber buildouts in Texas for a few reasons:
	Lack of fiber penetration in smaller cities where pent up demand was not being met.
	Lack of competition in high speed data services in all but a few markets in the state.
	This being the heady days of WiFi, allow cities who chose to build out public access to do so without interference from any incumbent.
	And locally, allow the cities that already had fiber built out to use that fiber to earn additional revenue by leasing capacity to any carrier who wanted it.

To put it mildly, the incumbents went off.  Massive lobbying efforts.  Astroturfing.  End of the telecom world rhetoric.  During the regular session, using a pro market argument that allowing open access to a city built fiber network would improve the comepetive landscape, we fought the anti-muni bill to a draw in the regular session.  It was, of course, passed in a dead-of-night action in a follow-on special session.  Cities were pretty well blocked from leasing fiber to others.

Now almost 10 years later, I'm finally seeing stirring of real competition on the utility poles in my neighborhood.  ATT is hanging new fiber and advertisting new high speed service on uVerse, TWC has increased their service levels without increasing prices.  The change? Google Fiber.


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