Free Press Responds to 'Sloppy' Incumbent Broadband Arguments

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to develop a national broadband strategy. FCC invited comments and then invited replies to those comments in summer 2009. The Free Press Reply Comments deserve to be singled out for revealing some of the lies of large telecommunications companies like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Qwest, and others. It also describes many of the ways that these companies harm the communities that are dependent on them for essential services. I've highlighted some passages below that show the ways in which these companies put profit above all else. These companies claim that regulation discourages investment and deregulation (allowing a higher degree of concentration or larger monopolies) encourages increased investment in better networks - an incredibly self-serving claim that Free Press shows to be false on pages 13-29.

Competition -- meaningful and real competition -- and not regulation is the primary driver behind investment decisions. Where meaningful competition exists, incumbents are compelled to innovate and invest in order to maintain marketshare and future growth. Where competition is lacking -- such as it is in our broadband duopoly -- incumbents will delay investment, knowing full well they can pad their profits on the backs of captured customers who have no viable alternatives. (Page 14)

Regulations like open access and non-discrimination encourage competition and should be strengthened. Read more...

Cook Report: Broadband Mapping, Connectivity, the Five Freedoms, and Prosperity

This is an interesting interview that explains why mapping is important and how it should be done to ensure the final product is useful for policy. Unfortunately, much of the broadband mapping in the U.S. has been done by a telco-front group called Connected Nation that produces shoddy, unverifiable maps without making any useful data public. In this report, Gordon Cook interviews Sara Wedeman, a mapping expert who also works in behavioral economics. Cook describes the interview here, on his blog. The discussion ventures beyond mapping, offering keen insights into why universal broadband availability is so important.

A Study of the Economic and Community Benefits of Cedar Falls, Iowa's Municipal Telecommunications Network

Doris Kelley takes a look at one of the early citywide publicly owned broadband systems - Cybernet in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Cybernet is run by Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) and is an HFC (cable) network that also offers some fiber-optic connections for businesses. In this paper, Kelley takes a look at some of the benefits the network has brought to the community.

The Case for Public Fiber-to-the-User Systems

Jim Baller and Casey Lide are two of the foremost experts on municipal broadband systems in the United States. This report offers a clear and rational defense of publicly owned broadband systems. The discussion takes on philosophical, economic, and pragmatic arguments and comes to the conclusion that communities should not be prevented from building their own networks.

Future of Broadband in Saint Paul

This is the report developed by a Broadband Advisory Committee established in 2006 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It recommended a phased approach to building a network that could ultimately offer a full FTTH open-access network to everyone in Saint Paul.

Open Access Fiber Networks

At a high level, everyone understands what it means for a network to be open: (1) whatever else it might do, the network offers a pure “transmission” service, so that users can freely communicate with each other; (2) users can connect any devices they want, as long as they don’t harm the network; (3) the network connects to other networks; and (4) the network doesn’t discriminate among users or among the services, information, and applications users want to provide to each other. None of these points should be controversial. The concept of open networks is at least 40 years old in the US. The FCC’s seminal 1968 Carterphone decision held that a network operator may not forbid the use of devices on the network that benefit the user and do not harm the network itself. A decade later the FCC established its equipment registration program requiring interfaces to the telephone network to be standardized and fully disclosed.

Broadband and Economic Development: A Municipal Case Study from Florida

In this paper, we explore whether broadband investment by municipalities has an effect on economic growth. To do so, we employ an econometric model to compare economic growth in Lake County, Florida, with other similar Florida counties.

Paying the Bills, Measuring the Savings

Full Title: Paying the Bills, Measuring the Savings: Assessing the Financial Viability and Community Benefits of Municipally Owned Cable Television Enterprises. This paper provides evidence that municipally owned and operated cable television enterprises are financially viable and provide large rate savings to their communities. The findings contradict allegations in Costs, Benefits, and Long-Term Sustainability of Municipal Cable Television Overbuilds, a 1998 paper authored by Ronald J. Rizzuto and Michael O. Wirth, that such enterprises are likely to be poor investments for cities.

Bringing Fiber to the User: Market Opportunity and Case Studies

Discussion about Bristol Virginia Utilities and Chelan Public Utility District in Washington. Bristol Virginia Utilities (BVU), a not-for-profit electric municipal utility, began offering voice and data services to local schools and government operating in the Bristol, Va., area in 2001. Using a fiber optic network, the company affordably provided the community with access to the most advanced communications technology available. As a result, BVU satisfied a primary objective of enabling economic prosperity and new business development from the improved communications infrastructure.