For the record, I think municipal broadband should be the Third Pipe of last resort, but in a duopoly world it’s a necessary evil.
The broadband duopoly exists only with the help of government – local state and federal. By locking down right of ways, the telco and cable giants have been able to maintain a low investment enterprise with declining costs while routinely raising prices to consumers. When municipalities try to use their right of ways to provide better service, the duopoly always invests in lobbying rather than trying to compete.
There are plentiful pols who are all too willing to carry the duopoly’s water. Fortunately, one case to thwart muni alternatives in North Caraolina has been defeated:
Indeed it has. North Carolina Senator David Hoyle’s (D-GA) now-defeated amendment (S-1209) was cosmetically titled “An Act to Ensure That A Local Government That Competes with Private Companies in Providing Communication Services Has The Support Of Its Citizens.” But advocates of city/county backed high speed Internet projects just knew it as the Municipal-Broadband Must Die Die Die bill.
Hoyle’s proposal would have banned any Tar Heel state city or county from contracting to “purchase, or finance or refinance” any kind of property to set up an “external communications system.” The law defined the latter as anything that “provides broadband service or other Internet access service, cable service, telecommunications service, video programming service, or a combination of these services.” (Ars Technica)
I hope NC voters will have enough common sense to send Senator Hoyle on permanent vacation from his law making duties when his term expires.
With the lack of will in Washington and most state houses to open the market for competitive broadband, the time for muni networks is here. These networks should not be the last alternative, but hopefully the one that will beak the duopoly strangle hold. Around the world broadband is moving from copper to fiber at break neck speed at falling prices. World Class Broadband isn’t delivered in electrons any more, it comes in photons. It’s time to join the race and leap ahead or stand on the sidelines with our duopoly and watch the rest of the world race by.
Lets just get to the meat of it ok. Then more after the jump —
Google is planning to launch an experiment that we hope will make Internet access better and faster for everyone. We plan to test ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. Our networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We’ll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.
From now until March 26th, we’re asking interested municipalities to provide us with information about their communities through a Request for information (RFI), which we’ll use to determine where to build our network.
That’s from the website.
Now notice this is not some high speed to the head end sort of offer. They specifically say FTH. So they intend to go right to the curb. Their testing will test some 50-500k patrons. What is not clear, is that a single site or a mix of smaller sites.
Google goes on to say they will provide —
* Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it’s creating new bandwidth-intensive “killer apps” and services, or other uses we can’t yet imagine.
* New deployment techniques: We’ll test new ways to build fiber networks; to help inform, and support deployments elsewhere, we’ll share key lessons learned with the world.
* Openness and choice: We’ll operate an “open access” network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we’ll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory, and transparent way.
What I find of particular interest is the commitment to an open transport layer. A place where anyone can play? ISP and Google? If true that would be a game changer in the data transport marketplace. Fact if true it would complete a vision that was the reason that this blog was created for — create an open backbone and permit service providers to battle it out in the marketplace of products and services.
We keep our fingers crossed.
When I first read that Google’s Sergey Brin is leading a tiger team to improve search in response to the launch of Microsoft’s Bing, I discounted it as a logical move to maintain technical advantage over the latest MS effort. After all, competition is a good thing, and Bing will certainly cause Google to raise it’s own bar a bit. But there’s more to this story than who does search better.
Love him or hate him, you’ve got to repect Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer as a worthy and formidable competitor. When he’s decided to do battle for a business, he typically fights to the death. He’s set his sights on search and the lucrative ad business that Google built, and Google’s finally heard the wake up call in the release of Microsoft’s Bing. Why? Many in the tech media think that Bing may have what it takes to win a few battles. Even if Google management and most of its users do not agree, perception is reality in the marketplace. The perception for many is that Bing is a serious threat to Google’s dominance.
The biggest threat to Google is a change in the behavior of the public; people will expect the search engine to do some of the work for them and to anticipate their needs. Bing’s “decision engine” does provide better search results than Google when it comes to its ability to help searchers narrow down what they are actually looking for. Search for “cell phone” on Bing, and it spits out a list on the left-hand side of deeper results related to cell phones: Shopping; Brands; Buying Guide; Providers; Plans; Accessories; etc. This makes it easy for searchers to find exactly what they are looking for in fewer clicks. The same search on Google leaves users to find their own way — not quite “search overload” as Bing’s ads suggest, but nonetheless Bing provides a stronger search experience for the user. (GigaOM)
Microsoft is a masterful organization when it comes to spinning the perception of the masses in its favor. It’s repeatedly dominated markets with inferior products through skillful manipulation of perception. I see nothing terribly revolutionary or compelling enough in Bing to break my Google habit. Having said that, Ballmer will work tirelessly to change my mind. While Google will probably maintain technical superiority, it’s not been that good at the obligatory snake oil salesman’s spin. If Ballmer gets his way, the next battle will be over perception rather than actual product quality. In that arena, Microsoft tends to win.
First, let me say that I’m no big advocate of government being in the broadband business. Then again the 100% private model that supports a duopoly hasn’t worked so well either. Facing an quick trip into the dark ages, the Australian lawmakers will build a 90% FTTP network and open it to any and all access providers. If the government must do it, then this is the correct way.
“The Government has announced it will establish a new company that will invest up to $43 billion over eight years to build and operate a National Broadband Network delivering superfast broadband to Australian homes and workplaces”, said an announcement on the DBCDE website.
Calling it, the “single largest infrastructure decision in Australia’s history”, Rudd said the project would employ up to 37,000 people a year and help stimulate the Australian economy. Private industry would contribute up to 49% of the funds, and the government would sell the company after operating it for 5 years, he said.
The tender process was cancelled as “none of the national proposals offered value for money”. “The Panel noted the rapid deterioration of the global economy had a significant impact on the process”, it said. (whirlpool)
I doubt that the Aussies have any less inefficiency in government than do other nations, so cost overruns and missed deadlines will be the rule in completing the network. Assuming that the wholesale access to the pipe is low, there should be plenty of competition. That will mean big bandwidth and small prices.
Here in the US, we’re throwing away trillions on every imaginable nonsense project while only commissioning studies and micromanaged grants to a duopoly that will do nothing except allow our pols to say they “voted to fix it”. In in a little less than 19 months, you and I should vote to fix it. We should retire every incumbent in Congress regardless of party.
The residents of Lafayette, Louisiana got tired of trying to get first rate broadband at any price from their local duopoly and the city took matters into its own hands. As with most government run construction projects, time to completion was slow, and likely more costly than it should have been. Never the less, they’ve beat the duopoly not only in time to market, but service level for price as well.
The other day we noted that Lafayette, Louisiana was finally getting close to offering municipal fiber to the home, after years of opposition from local incumbents. Though they’ve been tight lipped on pricing, local papers are now reporting that Lafayette Utilities System will offer triple play bundles ranging from $84.85 to $200, with downstream broadband services ranging from 10Mbps to 50Mbps. Customers on network will communicate with other LUS customers at 100Mbps, notes LUS Director Terry Huval. (DSL Reports)
While Comcast has decided to refuse service to you if you use too much, Holland’s access providers move ahead with offering more for less in Gigabit access. How can they do that? It’s simple. Holland’s access providers have already invested in fiber to the home. Adding capacity with fiber is a plug and play upgrade.
In Amsterdam, where they already have a fiber optic network, they’re now thinking about upgrading it to symmetrical speeds of up to 1 GB. On Sept. 10th, fiber optic network owners GlasvezelNet Amsterdam, BBned and InterNLnet will show off such speeds on a live fiber optic network in the Osdorp region. Nearly 40,000 households are connected to this network. Speeds like this are more than enough to offer, say, four parallel HD streams on one connection, something the three companies plan to show off as well.
Such speeds are going to become a reality in places around the planet soon enough, especially in places where fiber broadband is being deployed. Here in the U.S., meanwhile, market leaders such as AT&T and Comcast are proposing the implementation of caps, a move that will only serve to cause problems for innovators.(GigaOm)
If you aren’t angry about this, you should be. Our fine American access duopoly has had a free ride at your expense investing in almost everything except upgrading the last mile connection to you (with the exception of limited FIOS build by Verizon). We’ve all been had by a propaganda machine that is trying to convince us that bandwidth is a limited commodity when the opposite is true. When you vote this November, remember that any support for Network Neutraility is misinformed. Net Neutrality is a cop out that assumes that bandwidth is by its nature scarce and must be rationed. We must open the market to competition and / or require the duopoly to divest of any business that does not provide access.