Muni Fiber and Politics

Miles Fidelman mfidelman at
Tue Jul 22 01:33:03 UTC 2014

I've seen various communities attempt to hand out free wifi - usually in 
limited areas, but in some cases community-wide (Brookline, MA comes to 
mind).  The limited ones (e.g., in tourist hotspots) have been city 
funded, or donated.  The community-wide ones, that I've seen, have been 
public-private partnerships - the City provides space on light poles and 
such - the private firm provides limited access, in hopes of selling 
expanded service.  I haven't seen it work successfully - 4G cell service 
beats the heck out of WiFi as a metropolitan area service.

When it comes to municipal fiber and triple-play projects, I've 
generally seen them capitalized with revenue bonds -- hence, a need for 
revenue to pay of the financing.  Lower cost than commercial services 
because municipal bonds are low-interest, long-term, and they operate on 
a cost-recovery basis.

Miles Fidelman

Aaron wrote:
> Do you have an example of a municipality that gives free internet 
> access to it's residents?
> On 7/21/2014 2:26 PM, Matthew Kaufman wrote:
>> I think the difference is when the municipality starts throwing in 
>> free or highly subsidized layer 3 connectivity "free with every layer 
>> 1 connection"
>> Matthew Kaufman
>> (Sent from my iPhone)
>>> On Jul 21, 2014, at 12:08 PM, Blake Dunlap <ikiris at> wrote:
>>> My power is pretty much always on, my water is pretty much always on
>>> and safe, my sewer system works, etc etc...
>>> Why is layer 1 internet magically different from every other utility?
>>> -Blake
>>>> On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM, William Herrin <bill at> 
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM, Jay Ashworth <jra at> 
>>>>> wrote:
>>>>> Over the last decade, 19 states have made it illegal for 
>>>>> municipalities
>>>>> to own fiber networks
>>>> Hi Jay,
>>>> Everything government does, it does badly. Without exception. There
>>>> are many things government does better than any private organization
>>>> is likely to sustain, but even those things it does slowly and at an
>>>> exorbitant price.
>>>> Muni fiber is a competition killer. You can't beat city hall; once
>>>> built it's not practical to compete, even with better service, so
>>>> residents are stuck with only the overpriced (either directly or via
>>>> taxes), usually underpowered and always one-size-fits-all network
>>>> access which results. As an ISP I watched something similar happen in
>>>> Altoona PA a decade and a half ago. It was a travesty.
>>>> 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.
>>>> Regards,
>>>> Bill Herrin
>>>> -- 
>>>> William Herrin ................ herrin at bill at
>>>> Owner, Dirtside Systems ......... Web: <>
>>>> Can I solve your unusual networking challenges?

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra

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