Muni Fiber and Politics

Aaron aaron at
Tue Jul 22 15:27:16 UTC 2014

So let me throw out a purely hypothetical scenario to the collective:

What do you think the consequences to a municipality would be if they 
laid fiber to every house in the city and gave away internet access for 
free?  Not the WiFi builds we have today but FTTH at gigabit speeds for 

Do you think the LECs would come unglued?


On 7/21/2014 8:33 PM, Miles Fidelman wrote:
> 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?

Aaron Wendel
Chief Technical Officer
Wholesale Internet, Inc. (AS 32097)

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