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U.S. Representative Congratulates Iowa Community for Muni Network
Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA), recently recognized the city of Indianola on the US House Floor to recognize the community's municipal network. On February 15th, he spoke to the body about Indianola's recent certification as Connected by Connected Nation and Connected Iowa.
From his recognition speech, as reported on CapitolWords from the Sunlight Foundation:
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the City of Indianola, Iowa, for earning the Connected program's Connected certification. Indianola is the first community in the state of Iowa and the third in the country to garner this technology designation.
The Connected certification is a title applied to communities that display top-tier proficiency in the access and utilization of broadband-supported technologies. This coveted certification is awarded by Connected Nation and its subsidiary Connect Iowa, who advocate for broadband access on the state and national levels.
The City of Indianola is one of more than 30 communities across Iowa actively participating in the Connected program, and the first to become formally certified. Indianola has a team in place that has developed a comprehensive plan to increase broadband access by assessing the broadband landscape, identifying gaps, and establishing manageable goals. Attaining the Connected certification adds to the long list of desirable attributes that make Indianola such a great place to raise a family or grow a business.
Travel Back in Time with Trent Lott
"I think the rural electric associations, the municipalities, and the investor-owned utilities, are all positioned to make a real contribution in this telecommunications area, and I do think it is important that we make sure we have got the right language to accomplish what we wish to accomplish here." - Fmr. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Mississippi)
Former Senate Majority Leader, now affiliated with DC powerhouse lobbying firm Patton Boggs, spoke those words in 1994. At the time, he particiapted in Senate hearings on S. 1822, known as the Communications Act of 1994 (Mr. Lott's comments are at pg. 370). Clearly former Majority Leader Lott had an early grasp on how important community and municipal networks would be to the future of telecommunications.
As reported from the Sunlight foundation, and covered in numerous publications, Lott has since lobbied on behalf of AT&T and others, spending $150,000 alone in the first quarter of 2010.
While Mr. Lott now works to influence his former colleagues on behalf of the gigantic telcos, we want to remind him and thank him for previously taking a stand for local authority because these decisions should be made at the local level.
New Mexico Media Groups and Residents Lobby Senator on Value of Munis
Not long ago, we told you about Farmington, New Mexico, a community of 32,000 residents who want to capitalize on its current fiber network. Residents are tired of waiting for private investment in their community and want to take matters into their own hands. The city's electric utility uses the existing fiber network and the city has encountered five separate companies interested in leasing dark fiber as a means to offer services.
New Mexico does not currently have state barriers in place, but its residents recognize the important role of municipal networks and want to proactively block restrictive state legislation. The Media Literacy Project and the Free Press recently met with New Mexico's U.S. Senator Tom Udall's staff in Albuquerque. Udall is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and a member of the Subcommmittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
The goal of the meeting was to make sure he knows the potential for publicly owned networks in the state. Both groups encouraged him to take the lead on federal legislation that will prevent anti-competitive state bans on municipal networks. At least 19 other states' legislatures have responded to heavy lobbying from large telecommunications companies. The results are crippling restrictions and outright bans on publicly owned networks.
In July, Udall officially announced that the first phase of the Connect America Fund would bring high-speed Internet to 8,000 New Mexicans within three years. According to Udall's announcement:
Broadband and telecommunications companies CenturyLink and Windstream will receive $2.3 million to build broadband infrastructure for New Mexico homes and businesses that currently lack high-speed internet access, connecting them to the $8 trillion global internet economy.
Senator Franken Calls on FCC to Actually Enforce Its Rules
Nonprofit Approaches Solve The Rural Broadband Problem
Poor State of US Broadband a Result of Poor Regulation
In truly competitive markets that display some degree of commodity-like characteristics, large and small vendors tend to coexist. I'm drinking coffee right now, which is a good example. Maybe Maxwell House and Folgers (and their parent companies) have a large share of the market, competing on price for their swill. But there is plenty of room for others to differentiate their product. Dunkin and Starbucks have built huge chains on their own style of semi-premium product, while another couple of niches of premium and superpremium beans are easy enough to find. Food markets tend to be like this; check out any Whole Foods (a/k/a The Museum of Modern Vegetables) for a supply of priced-above-commodity products. I feel foolish for selling most (not all, thankfully) of my Whole Foods stock when it was in the dumps a couple of years ago. The same thing happens in many fields. Apple itself sells computers above commodity price levels. There's a whole "high end" audio business catering to those who like to show off how much they can afford to spend. The automobile industry has mass-market commodity cars and several premium tiers. Internet access in the US lacks that because the natural monopoly on outside plant is not properly regulated. If it were treated here by EU norms, then any number of ISPs could access the wire. Some would just be cheap; some would offer premium help desks among their services. That doesn't happen, however, when the usual number of "competitors" is two. Even more so when those competitors agree that they should divide up markets between themselves rather than overbuild, or (heaven forbid) let outside information providers onto their facilities. The wire should be regulated. ISPs shouldn't.Amen. Physical connections are a natural monopoly. Even if the economics supported many physical providers, having so many would be terribly inefficient. Much better to have networks that are owned by the community and have independent service providers competing to deliver services -- just like the roads.
DC Revolving Door, Comcast, and Campaign Finance Reform
New Year, Same Lame Cable and DSL Monopolies
AT&T Abandons Wireless Consolidation Attempt
“Without the combination, we think the wireless industry will be further weakened by continued hypercompetitive activity, particularly regarding subscriber acquisition costs,” said Nomura Securities analyst Mike McCormack. That means customers can still get lower rates as the industry competes for their dollars. T-Mobile, for example, will continue to be a low-cost competitor, according to consumer advocacy group Consumers Union. A survey showed that data plans from T-Mobile were $15 to $50 less per month than those offered by AT&T.An excellent reminder that what is best for Wall Street is not what is best for the 99%. Big companies like AT&T find competing for customers a hassle that lowers their profits -- they consider a market with four sellers to be hypercompetitive. In wireline, they have acquiesced to the "competition" of two competitors -- cable and DSL. This is one reason communities build their own networks -- the private sector is not truly competitive when it comes to ISPs and most communities have no prospect real of improvement absent a public investment. But we should rejoice in this victory -- because we earned it. Without the hard work of many grassroots groups, it is hard to imagine the Department of Justice or FCC standing up to such a powerful corporation.
Stop the Real Government Takeover of the Internet
I've censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet--a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit: http://americancensorship.org/posts/15925/uncensor
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