Once upon a time, last mile access was competitive. That was before broadband. Then we had a duopoly. The telco side of the fixed line business has become focused on the wireless business, leaving cable as the only provider of next generation broadband. It is physically impossible for wireless to provide 100MBPS+ service levels and beyond to the same number of customers as fixed lines. That leaves us with a broadband monopoly. A monopoly always guarantees slow upgrades, high prices and rationing. The only solution offered by the feds are promised regulations the would force the monopoly to behave responsibly. History has shown us that Federally regulated monopolies have always put interests of the monopoly ahead of the consumer most of the time.
Providing competitive fixed line service requires physical right of ways. Any upstart’s attempt to obtain new right of ways is met with protracted legal battles with the very deep pockets of the incumbent providers. That leaves two potential competitors – the energy providers and the utilities. While there is hope that the utilities may eventually take an interest in broadband, the more easily influenced entity is the local municipality. Nearly all of them operate, sewer and drainage pipes that can often proved a ready conduit for new fiber. While municipalities have usually proven to be poor to mediocre service providers, cases where the muni has been the infrastructure provider have fared much better. By providing the basic physical plant for any willing competitor to deliver service on, a truly competitive market can be created on a common infrastructure.
While I’m not convinced muni networks will end existence of overpriced and under performing broadband in America, it may be the best last hope. To make this happen we need to become proactive. Many state legislatures (including Texas where I reside) have already been convinced by the duopoly to pass laws that severely limit a municipality’s right to build networks.
Evidently. South Carolina all but tells Amazon to go stuff it with a new distribution center. This is after Texas does the same darn thing two months back —
Amazon all but told South Carolina goodbye Wednesday after the online retailer lost a legislative showdown on a sales tax collection exemption it wants to open a distribution center that would bring 1,249 jobs to the Midlands.
Company officials immediately halted plans to equip and staff the one million-square-foot building under construction at I-77 and 12th Street near Cayce.
“As a result of today’s unfortunate House vote, we’ve canceled $52 million in procurement contracts and removed all South Carolina fulfillment center job postings from our (Web) site,” said Paul Misener, Amazon vice president for global public policy.
In the middle of the worst recession in 50 years? The State does not want those jobs? Who the hell is the State of SC working for?
It is certainly not the people.
For a business that is seen as the devil by the big studios, streaming by subscription and other models is building dangerously close to the tipping point as the preferred delivery medium, well ahead of schedule. Accomplishing what an army of MPAA lawyers, and a the Hollywood lobby contorting copyright law couldn’t, Netflix is being credited with stemming the tide of Bittorrent traffic. This proves most consumers would rather pay a reasonable price to watch what they want when they want than to steal it – when given the choice.
Amazon has already entered the premium content stream business, with Direct TV and Dish Network expected to enter the arena any day now. It can’t be long before the cable guys will need to join the party in earnest.
This will create a new reality that the incumbent media has been fighting. $100 a month TV is no longer viable. A la carte has arrived. That means more than half of the cable channels that big media owners had bullied systems to offer as part of a package will need to start carrying their own weight or die. Superior premium channels can and will survive and thrive on their own merit as stand alone businesses. In fact,their subscriber bases could grow exponentially when access is available unencumbered by the threshold of a cable or satellite subscription. It also opens tremendous opportunity for upstart producers and distributors.
The future couldn’t be brighter for those who embrace the stream instead of fighting it.
You know it is time to upgrade your choices when —
There may be no clear winner in this generation’s console wars, but there is definitely a clear loser, at least according to the people that broke into my apartment this weekend and stole every piece of electronic equipment they could get their hands on.
While they took every other gaming console hooked to my television, they passed on the Nintendo Wii.
Problem is, that is the current version of the Nintendo product line. What’s a victim to do? File a missing robber police report for a burgle left undone? Or were the thieves just showing good taste?
As the feds have burned through over $7 billion to allegedly fund rural broadband, they have little more than a half vast collection of studies and an incredibly expensive website to show for it. Any change you can actually believe in has come from the risk taking and sweat of entrepreneurs like rural Virginia’s Dennis Hunt. While the big telcos and satellite guys are feeding at the federal trough to subsidize their same old service, a few folks like Dennis are just doing it. And they are doing it not only without federal help, but in spite of its roadblocks.
Hunt now has about 100 customers along the back roads between Appomattox and Concord. He’s constantly thinking about how to expand his network and scouting for locations that hold the most promise of bringing in new customers.
He knows the service he provides is needed and some folks are willing to pay for it. He competes with AT&T and U.S. Cellular. (Charleston Daily Mail)
Want change in broadband? Make it easier for guys like Dennis Hunt to deliver service. Skip the auctions are free more airwaves for use by everyone. Not a penny of taxpayer money is required. Guys like Dennis will bet their life savings on the opportunity to deliver something better. Heck, they’ll even pay taxes if they’re successful! What guys like Dave won’t do is fund lavish retreats for pols or attend $5000+ dollar a plate dinners to fund arrogant incompetents’ elections. They’re too busy taking care of their customers instead of using big government to squelch competition. That should be food for thought as the next election cycle approaches.