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Two Cities Ask the FCC To Preempt State Laws Banning Municipal Fiber Internet

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the fighting-the-man dept.

The Internet 200

Jason Koebler writes Two cities—Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina—have officially asked the federal government to help them bypass state laws banning them from expanding their community owned, gigabit fiber internet connections. In states throughout the country, major cable and telecom companies have battled attempts to create community broadband networks, which they claim put them at a competitive disadvantage. The FCC will decide if its able to circumvent state laws that have been put in place restricting the practice.

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You mean (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47529967)

"battled attempts" is really lobbied attempts.

Vote (5, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 months ago | (#47529977)

Vote out the scumbags at the state capitol that passed such a law

Re:Vote (3, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | about 4 months ago | (#47530041)

But what about if every politician you get to pick from is all spouting the same BS about why municipal broadband is bad?
Who do you vote for then?

Re:Vote (4, Insightful)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 4 months ago | (#47530055)

Then you run for office.

Re:Vote (0)

John_Sauter (595980) | about 4 months ago | (#47530081)

But what about if every politician you get to pick from is all spouting the same BS about why municipal broadband is bad? Who do you vote for then?

Then run for office yourself.

recoiling in disgust is not the same as apathy (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 months ago | (#47530529)

Then run for office yourself.

EEEEEWWWWWW
Have you seen the caliber of psychopathic nimrods that run for office?
That's beneath me.
/jk

Re:Vote (4, Informative)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47530877)

I cant, my state says I must believe in the Lord to hold public office...

Re:Vote (3, Insightful)

disposable60 (735022) | about 4 months ago | (#47530945)

I believe!
I believe that contravenes the US Constitution's ban on religious tests to hold office (Article VI, paragraph 3).

Re:Vote (1, Flamebait)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47531203)

Yup.. and those provisions haven't enforced in most of US history.

There are a few states that had constitutions before the US constitution was created. Before the 14th amendment, the majority of the US constitution only applied to the federal government.

Re: Vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47531253)

Or start a referendum movement. That might have been appropriate here.

Re:Vote (2)

pereric (528017) | about 4 months ago | (#47530231)

Have you checked the Greens? They tend not be as involved in corporate welfare and - coincidentally(?) not really take much financing from such corporate entities ...

on the other hand, they oppose building ...anythin (3, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#47530441)

On the other hand, they oppose building broadband, or anything else. The level of regulation they want pretty much means we'd be headed back to the stone age. Further, their policies would make it much, much harder for independent ISPs because their platform is that the government should do everything, and the government is controlled by the big corporations. So while it's not their intent, their policy proposals actually strongly favor the large established corporations by their effects.

Re:Vote (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530521)

Their also a bunch of fucking moron socialists that refuse to allow anyone to build or expand anything and would have us all living in fucking caves eating vegetables all day. I'd sooner kiss a toilet seat than vote for the idiots in the "green" party.

Re:Vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530659)

Run, you fools, run!

Re:Vote (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47531149)

But what about if every politician you get to pick from is all spouting the same BS about why municipal broadband is bad?
Who do you vote for then?

Who PAID for that municipal fiber?

Was it Google? No.

Was it the politician, right out of his pocket? No.

Was it the local resident in that state or town that paid for it via taxes? Yes.

I don't give a shit who is spouting BS. They should get two words from the local taxpayers. Either "Fuck Off" or "You're Fired"

Stop insulting scumbags. (-1, Troll)

drainbramage (588291) | about 4 months ago | (#47530099)

I live in Washington.
Those aren't scumbags, those are democrats.
Stop insulting scumbags.

Re:Stop insulting scumbags. (0, Flamebait)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 4 months ago | (#47530139)

And republicans are even worse.

You stupid partisan hacks are too blind to see both parties are full of shit and scum.

Re:Stop insulting scumbags. (5, Informative)

visualight (468005) | about 4 months ago | (#47530171)

Wow you really added to the discussion there.

FTA:
Last week, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the cable and telecommunications industry, introduced an amendment to a key appropriations bill that would prevent the FCC from preempting such state laws.

Re:Stop insulting scumbags. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47531069)

"Last week, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the cable and telecommunications industry, introduced an amendment to a key appropriations bill that would prevent the FCC from preempting such state laws."

GET THE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS!

Re:Stop insulting scumbags. (5, Insightful)

dywolf (2673597) | about 4 months ago | (#47530293)

except most of these laws come from republican controlled state legislatures.

Oh, you want a local internet utility to compete with your shoddy telco monopoly? Can't allow that.
Oh, you want a local minimum wage higher than the state or federal minimum? Can't allow that.
Oh, you want a local employment non-discrimination law? Can't allow that.
Oh, you want any of a dozen other topics we oppose as a local level? Can't allow that.

Welcome to the The GOP: the party of small government, handling things that lowest or local level...unless we oppose it.

Re:Stop insulting scumbags. (2)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47530381)

you forgot "Oh, you want a free market in sales (such as car)? Can't allow that."

bigger than Steve Jobs. ? (0)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 months ago | (#47530619)

Did you see dear leader on The Colbert Report last night?!!! /swoon

I'm sure that story will wander its way to /. in a few days.

(Just poking fun at /.'s mancrush on EM. I think it's nice that a few billionaires are willing to spend a little of their money on nerd projects like Musk, Bezos, Cameron.)

Re:Vote (4, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about 4 months ago | (#47530495)

And, when, as is the case in North Carolina, those scumbags have gerrymandered both parties into "safe" districts, with the party most responsible having over 50% of the state as such?

What then?

Protest at the capital where they arrest hundreds of people on trumped up charges? Become a violent revolutionary over a tiny infrastructure debate?

Re:Vote (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47530935)

Vote out the scumbags at the state capitol that passed such a law

This is a very complex issue and has very little to do with the topics you're probably concerned with.

I'll burn up even more Karma educating the ill-informed.

Back when Telephones were a new thing, the government wanted to push their expansion to everyone in the country. It was seen in the same light that we see the internet today. A huge economic boost that would be the most beneficial in rural areas.

First the government just mandated "If you serve here you have to serve rural areas!!!" That went over like a lead balloon. Businesses just refused to install anything. The problem is that one company would come in and do what the government wanted, install service in the profitable city centers, then raise prices for those people to offset the costs of servicing rural customers who are extremely unprofitable to serve. But, rural customers having telephone service is, in the long run, more profitable for society as a whole. But then a competitor would come in and install only for the profitable business centers and drag their feet on installing the rural customers. Able to offer the business parks a cheaper rate, they'd drive the first company out.

So an agreement was struck. The local municipality would sell the telephone company a "franchise" or whatever the term in your local area is. Often this is called a "Monopoly" by the ill informed, but it's anything but that. This agreement comes with heavy burdens for the telephone company. They agree to provide service to everyone, at the same price. (differences exist for commercial and residential) They can not charge you more based on where you live. They also agree to provide service for a period of time, and they cannot abandon this obligation without approval from the municipality. In return, they retain exclusive rights to provide twisted pair copper service in that area.

They do have competitors... LOTS of competitors. Your local cable company, other phone companies, wifi providers, and on and on. It may seem as if there is a monopoly because where you live there is only one option.

Here's the key point to all of this: If you only have one option for a phone company that's because it's unprofitable to serve the area you live in. The only reason you have a phone company option at all, is because they are forced by that franchise agreement to serve you. If the Monopoly you're complaining about did not exist, you would have no phone service at all. None. There are hundreds of phone companies in this country, if it were profitable to provide you service, you'd have a lot of options. Go to any telephone company website, find their get a quote section and put in an address for the local buisness park around you. You'll have dozens of options for service. Alternatively, the easiest way to see where its profitable to provide service is to simply look at your local cable companies footprint. Cable companies are not under the franchise obligations. They only serve areas that are profitable. That footprint is very tightly held within the profitable part of town. Outside that the phone company is losing money.

Now, recently, some municipalities have tried to start their own fiber services. The fact that they are leaving out in these projects is where they are targeted. I've seen dozens of them (I work for a telco) and in every single case the local town is trying to instal Fiber to a local business park to attract new business. A noble idea, but the fact of the matter is, that business park in almost every case is the only profitable part of the entire town. (most towns that try this are relatively small) The park is paying for everyone elses phone service! If they suddenly had virtually free fiber service, the town suddenly becomes a huge expense to the telco. They'll refuse to sign the next franchise agreement and the town will be stuck with maintaining the infrastructure themselves.

If you support this sort of thing you have to realize that what you're supporting is lower prices for businesses, poorer service for everyone else and probably a lot of rural service loosing standard pots service and internet all together.

Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47529983)

major cable and telecom companies have battled attempts to create community broadband networks, which they claim put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Complete bullshit.

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about 4 months ago | (#47530015)

major cable and telecom companies have battled attempts to create community broadband networks, which they claim put them at a competitive disadvantage.

Complete bullshit.

No - they are right. Municipal broadband might have good customer service and actual high speed connections, which would be a serious competitive disadvantage to entities like Comcast, who do not want to have to match those.

Re:Bullshit (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530039)

Yes. When I think government service, I think good customer service. Then we would have the choice between an ISP that charges for carry on and another that is modeled after the DMV.

Re:Bullshit (4, Informative)

FictionPimp (712802) | about 4 months ago | (#47530065)

I'd love comcast to have the level of service the Indiana DMV provides.

I can do 95% of what I need without going into the office. If I do go in I can schedule a slot and simply walk in, do my business and walk out. I recently bought a new vehicle and was shocked at how fast and pleasant the experience was.

Comcast on the other hand quotes you a 8 hour time frame the installer will arrive, sends a contractor who may or may not be competent enough to even pull cable, and then blames you if anything goes wrong.

Re: Bullshit (3, Insightful)

Amtrak (2430376) | about 4 months ago | (#47530181)

I was just about to say the same thing. I've lived in 4 different states and the Indiana DMV is the best run government office I've ever had the displeasure of working with. On a side note the Illinois Secretary of State was the worst.

Re: Bullshit (1)

Pascoea (968200) | about 4 months ago | (#47530941)

Surprisingly, IN MY EXPERIENCE (In Minnesota), the DMV was an absolute nightmare, even compred to Comcast. I have lived in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and now Minnesota. MN has BY FAR the worst DMV. It took me 3 hours and four trips to two different buildings get my drivers licenses and vehicles registered. Comcast, on the other hand, was insanely painless. I stopped in their store, grabbed a cable modem, went home and plugged it in. Now, let's not talk about the time that they shut my internet off for no reason, blamed it on "security" (apparently someone had walked into the store using my address to start up a new account). Since it was after 8PM the sales office was closed and they couldn't turn my internet back on. It took an hour, but eventually I got through to a call center in CA that was able to turn it back on.

Re: Bullshit (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 4 months ago | (#47531533)

Even the District of Columbia DMV was pretty good, and DC is not known for efficiency. When I got rid of my car, it didn't take very long to hand the plate to the guy, who marked it invalid. That was that. Comcast? I got charged after disconnecting, and the dispute is unresolved after two months.

In other words, "disconnecting" from the DC DMV was easier than disconnecting from Comcast.

Re:Bullshit (1)

plover (150551) | about 4 months ago | (#47530379)

I have to say something on Comcast's defense here. I have never had bad customer service from them, and I've had cable through them for a very long time. Do I pay through the nose? Yes. But they answer the phone when I call, they get a service guy out to my house in hours, not days, and they hit their promised windows. The technicians are competent, and they're friendly: "hey I've got a 1TB DVR in my truck, if you want I can swap out your old 200GB DVR, you'll get a lot more hours of storage."

I have had no problems with Comcast's customer service. (That said, I haven't had to cancel my service with them for about 25 years, and haven't had to go through the horrors of talking to a "Customer Retention Specialist".)

Re:Bullshit (4, Informative)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 4 months ago | (#47530505)

I live in Florida. Yesterday I had to call the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. All I had to do was wait for the option to press '1' for spanish to expire and I was connected immediately to a real person who answered my slightly complicated question easily, clearly and quickly.

I also own a business (and have owned two) in Florida, and every time I've had to deal with the Florida Department of Revenue (sometimes I got busy and forgot to pay my sales taxes) they have been friendly and helpful.

I wish, wish Cox Cable had the kind of friendly and expedient service Florida's government entities do.

Re:Bullshit (2)

Mr Foobar (11230) | about 4 months ago | (#47530207)

Yes. When I think government service, I think good customer service. Then we would have the choice between an ISP that charges for carry on and another that is modeled after the DMV.

I don't know about your state or province (or whatever), and as a resident of Florida, I can certainly find a lot to complain about with my state's services. Our DMV is not one of them. Excellent and friendly service, in and out in minutes (beside a the small wait in the lobby), just an overal great experience from off all places, a freakin' state agency. As the guy ahead of me mentioned, my time with AT&T is nothing to compare with our DMV. A lot of companies could learn from them.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530225)

I would reccomend you attempt to use the DMV in PA. About 15 years ago it went from being an abyss of pain and torment, to one of great customer service and remarkably low wait times. What took me hours to accomplish in the 90's takes me 10 mins their today. It is the best has become one of the best run services I have had to deal with.

Re: Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530297)

There is no competition to provide the infra, when the buildout is subsidided by the people, there will be competitors. Think deregulation of energy.

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 4 months ago | (#47530299)

Actually, communities tend to run infrastructure remarkably well. Look at water systems. When is the last time you were in a location with city water, turned on the tap, and nothing came out? (Assuming you weren't cut off for lack of payment, of course.) Towns know how to keep the water flowing. If a town is without water for a period of time, it makes national news. (Yes, there are developing nations that do not have potable water coming out of their taps. The US is not one of those nations, and this is a US topic.)

Governments are not incapable of running such a program, and they are not inherently guaranteed to suck at it.

Now, is this different because it will require tech support? Sure. Are cities prepared to deal with the calls, the service interruptions, the network attacks, etc? The cities that are asking are going into this eyes wide open. The FCC is not mandating that cities must carry their own networks, they are simply being asked to rule on a non-competition clause that unfairly prevents the city itself from providing said competition.

I think the biggest problem the cable companies face is that cities now know exactly how much it costs to run a network, and it's nothing like the extortionate rates the cable companies are charging today. If the city has a competent manager leading the project, and good engineering staff, they will deliver fast data along with great customer service at a price that is not only going to be competitive, it's going to dominate. Everyone wins, except for the shareholders of the cable companies - and as they've been winning for a couple of decades already, my sympathy for their plight is not exactly overwhelming.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530767)

I kind of wonder about how much more network privacy there would be as well. I mean if you are working between local points, data wouldn't have to go through N-S-A chokepoints. Since Comcast, Verizon and others are more nationwide they would have less incentive to enforce privacy for a local city's citizens than the city council would itself. As bad as some city councils can be, they do love to look like heros. Providing better service at a lower cost with greater privacy. . . . hmmmm. Sounds like a nice way to get re-elected.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530957)

Really? Because the American Society of Civil Engineers gives US water distribution infrastructure a D.

http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/drinking-water/

At the dawn of the 21st century, much of our drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States. Assuming every pipe would need to be replaced, the cost over the coming decades could reach more than $1 trillion, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The quality of drinking water in the United States remains universally high, however. Even though pipes and mains are frequently more than 100 years old and in need of replacement, outbreaks of disease attributable to drinking water are rare.

Hundred year old infrastructure with hundreds of billions of gallons of fresh water leaked every year is "remarkably well?"

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530383)

I own a large commercial building in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. We rent offices to small businesses who need 1-3 rooms. Ephrata is one of only two cities in Pennsylvania that are permitted to sell electric directly to their citizen and not permit free choice in providers. At my home I pay 6.6 cents per KWH and 9.9 cents during the daytime in winter and 12.2 cents in summer. In Ephrata we pay 16.5 cents per KWH! This makes me wary of municipal offerings.

Re:Bullshit (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47530611)

Then dont use the municipal broadband, use comcast....This is not giving the cities a monopoly...

Re:Bullshit (1)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 4 months ago | (#47530713)

Providing choice in providers doesn't really help all that much. I would know, living in central Connecticut. In CT, we have exactly two power companies - Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating. UI only serves a small portion of the state, so CL&P has a monopoly over the vast majority of the state. Technically, you're free to choose your power provider.. except all of the providers are CL&P. The state had to add de-regulation language to allow the "choice' in providers, and most of the people in the legislature acknowledge it was a gigantic mistake to do so.

As a result, Connecticut residents pay some of the highest electric rates in the country, and we get worse service - it took CL&P weeks to clean up after Irene and an October snowstorm we had a few years ago because they were busy sending all of their workers to other states because it was more profitable to do so.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#47530861)

I own a large commercial building in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.

That's a small commercial building, Dwight.

Re:Bullshit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530063)

And when the municipal broadband costs 10x as much, just raise taxes and throw people in jail if they don't pay. And if the service is bad, again raise taxes and throw them in jail if they don't pay. And if they complain, just raise taxes and throw them in jail if they don't pay.

Your competition being able to raise prices (taxes) at the point of a gun to pay for their bad business is a competitive advantage. Not being able to opt-out is a monopoly with the police enforcing it on citizens.

Sure it might be better, but it definitely can be much worse.

Re:Bullshit (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47530121)

Can you point to a single multiple broadband setup that uses that model? The 2 in question support themselves from the services, not through taxes. Using hyperbole, or just in general made up scenarios, does not help your cause.

Re:Bullshit (2, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#47530269)

How can you be so crass as to bring filthy, filthy, empiricism to a discussion about government?

Only people who lack faith in the a priori truths of Objectivism would be so base as to drag some nonsense about "what is actually happening" into the discussion. It's simply a fact that absolutely anything a government does is just a cover for expropriating the wealth creators and building a cadre of elitist bureaucrats to centrally mismanage things.

Re:Bullshit (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47530311)

I think you forgot a /sarcasm, lol.

Re:Bullshit (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#47530549)

I'm not sure I want to live in a world where that statement doesn't imply sarcasm...

Re:Bullshit (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47530621)

Obviously it did to me, but sadly there are lots of people who it would not.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530125)

and throw people in jail if they don't pay.

Just stop the service. And be strict about it. Also require a deposit before restarting the service. Treat it as a regulated utility; not as a mandatory item like property tax.

can be done (4, Insightful)

John_Sauter (595980) | about 4 months ago | (#47530205)

And when the municipal broadband costs 10x as much, just raise taxes and throw people in jail if they don't pay. And if the service is bad, again raise taxes and throw them in jail if they don't pay. And if they complain, just raise taxes and throw them in jail if they don't pay.

Your competition being able to raise prices (taxes) at the point of a gun to pay for their bad business is a competitive advantage. Not being able to opt-out is a monopoly with the police enforcing it on citizens.

Sure it might be better, but it definitely can be much worse.

If you do a decent job of structuring the municipal broadband delivery company, you can bias it towards the “better” end of the spectrum. For example, you can require that there be no cross-subsidy between broadband and any other municipal function, and no support from general taxation.

The broadband company would have to support itself through user fees, like the Water District does in my town. You pay a monthly fee if the fibre runs past your house. If you want to connect the fibre to your home, you pay a one-time connection charge, followed by a higher monthly fee plus a charge per bit for incoming and outgoing data. If there is a problem you pay to call Customer Service, and a higher price if the call requires a technician to visit your home. These charges would be refunded if the company decides that the problem is their fault. There would also be a service level agreement, and your costs are reduced to near zero if it isn't met.

In addition, and this is crucial, there must be no legal barrier to someone else running his own fibre, and connecting it to the municipal system. He would pay the municipal system for his connection, of course, and provide his own customer service. That competition, or even the possibility of it, will keep customer service quality high.

Re:can be done (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 4 months ago | (#47530603)

Frankly if this is done right the muni primarily provides the natural monopoly portion, just the glass back to the CO, no active gear on poles etc. At the CO they could provide power/cooling and implement there own layer 2/3 network to act as an ISP.

CWDM makes it easy to have a muni network and 8+ other networks on a single fiber. A muni might also resell it's active infrastructure allowing smaller players to enter a market and for efficiency serving lower utilization clients. Besides internet access it's fairly simple to provide library, school and government web site access via a google like install fee to cover costs. Offering metro area network type services is an easy add on, point to point via a dark channel and lit services and multipoint via lit services can be a huge boon to companies. Companies can fill in back-hauling to telco hotels and other muni's allowing for meta services to be built on top much like today's long haul fiber market.

Re: Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530217)

So then they should be allowed to do to. They can compete with that.

With out spouting private industry does every thing better. The cable cons are concern the the government is doing it better a cheaper. You think they spent money lobbying to protect the citizens?

Re:Bullshit (1)

Lord Lemur (993283) | about 4 months ago | (#47530247)

Why wouldn't you be able to opt-out? They want to compete with, not ban the other Telco's.

Re:Bullshit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530339)

Tell me how to opt-out of Social Security and Medicare? They did not ban 401K or IRAs, just you have to pay them for their service FIRST before you can have options.

When the government gets its mits on something it does not let go ever.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530463)

Don't pay income taxes in the first place. That's one way I can think of.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47531345)

Given that Tennessee doesn't have an income tax, it's pretty safe to say that Chattanooga's fiber isn't paid for by income tax.

Re:Bullshit (5, Insightful)

StatureOfLiberty (1333335) | about 4 months ago | (#47530319)

Sure it might be better, but it definitely can be much worse.

Worse than no high speed broadband service? Wilson built their system because Time Warner and others refused to. So, the city decided to solve the problem themselves. When you refuse to serve a community, you can't complain about 'unfair competition' when they decide to serve themselves.

(Time Warner thanks you for your loyalty)

Re:Bullshit (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 4 months ago | (#47530111)

I don't see what's wrong with having government have a monopoly on some basic necessities. The government has a monopoly on my local water utility, and they do a pretty good job of things. Electricity and natural gas are highly regulated by the government, and I'm very happy with the service I'm getting.

In fact, of all the monthly utility bills I have, the ones I despise the most are landline phone, and cable tv/Internet. And those are both delivered by commercial entities that have a monopoly because they own the lines. With cable and phone lines, you can buy services off another companies, but they are just paying big corps who own the lines, making it so that there's really no way to escape them. And if you ever need your lines fixed, and you're with one of the other guys, the guys who own the lines make sure it isn't fixed quickly. Even with other connectivity problems, the internet providers are often just renting some racks inside the big corps data center, meaning even small configuration issues can take a long time to get resolved.

I like my cell phone provider, because they've allowed smaller players to buy some of the spectrum so they can operate completely independently of the big boys, and they offer much better service, with lower prices for more features.

Re:Bullshit (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 4 months ago | (#47530789)

Especially since the alternative is for the government to delegate the monopoly to another company. It's a monopoly either way.

Re:Bullshit (5, Informative)

snake pliskin (1319891) | about 4 months ago | (#47530215)

The Chattanooga fiber network (electric power board provided - owned by the local city government) competes with comcast and at&t for internet, tv and telephone service. When you have a problem you call a local number and speak to a local person.... not someone two states away or a different country in some cases. And yes, the fiber here is legit. You get the speeds you pay for.

Re:Bullshit (1)

jjerjor (3765513) | about 4 months ago | (#47530455)

First: From my personal experience, municipal fiber was quite good as deployed in Provo UT. The city installed and owned the fiber and leased usage to telco companies. The usual major players were allowed to use the lines as well, but were not as popular for internet because smaller start-ups offered better service at a lower price for the same or better speeds. I recall having 100Mb down AND up through a company called MStar for $49 a month (not an introductory rate). Second: No such wine exists. Just grab two bottles.

Big Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47529999)

F#ck the little people, screw the community. Work for us and get paid a slave wage. Only the board of directors is allowed to private-jet set around the world. Welcome to America! Enjoy the nightmare!

The free market at work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530027)

Got money? Use it to law-twist any possible threat to your monopoly into non-existance! You can't give us even a hint of 'competitive disadvantage', that's illegal!

Analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530097)

Isn't that a bit like asking the bouncer at a casino that cheated you to help you get your money back?

this is also known by a different name (5, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about 4 months ago | (#47530117)

A tale of two cities who subsequently found their mayors and city council ousted in the next election by a multi million dollar political campaign whos donors coincidentally happen to be in "battled attempts to create community broadband networks." These cities later rescind their request, disband the municipal network, and offer local cable companies a grant for unspecified improvements. cable rates increase, another batch of phone support goes to india, and somewhere, in a tropical land far away, a man on a yacht begins a tireless and agonizing journey into the wineroom to select an elusive vintage that can pair with both lobster as well as filet mignon.

Re:this is also known by a different name (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47531085)

''A tale of two cities who subsequently found their mayors and city council ousted in the next election by a multi million dollar political campaign whos donors coincidentally happen to be in "battled attempts to create community broadband networks."''

- GET THE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS!

Re:this is also known by a different name (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 4 months ago | (#47531571)

Apathy is the greatest danger to democracy. If the voters did not care to know the issues, if the voters could be bamboozled by a few million dollars spent on an ad campaign and turn against the mayor who tried to help them, how can the be helped?

Go Greenlight (5, Informative)

poeman (60885) | about 4 months ago | (#47530163)

As a Wilson Resident, I can say confidently...

The local bank (BB&T) couldn't get speeds fast enough to do business.
The city ran fiber and put in great speeds - residential basic is 10/10 and business is even better.

Time Warner - the local incumbent cable cried bloody murder while they offered nothing close.

Any problems? call a local number and talk to someone local and problem gets solved.

Re:Go Greenlight (2)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 4 months ago | (#47530439)

North Carolina has been passing some batshit crazy laws ever since the Republicans managed to get a large enough number of seats to run the show as they please. I had hoped that they would fix some of the problems with the batshit things that had been piling on before them, but instead they made things ten times worse. I hate both parties. They're equally scummy. It makes one feel powerless to know that voting the bums out always means voting more bums in that are not any better in the end.

Back on topic, something I witness with regularity is that anyone who lives in a rural area can't even get DSL. CenturyLink doesn't put in the equipment needed to reach a surprisingly large number of people. Probably 1/3 of the county is on dial-up, satellite, or 3G-if-you're-lucky cell provider based Internet access. I know one guy who has a Verizon MiFi that he has to place in a box in his front yard and then use a wireless repeater to make it reach his home. The cities can't "compete" with CenturyLink due to the bullshit NC law that de facto outlaws municipal broadband, but CenturyLink doesn't give half a crap about servicing the entirety of the county. The cable providers (Charter, Time Warner) aren't any better, but their existing delivery infrastructure is far more limited and would take longer to build up.

The bottom line is that the monopoly ISPs won't spend any money to service more people while taking money from rural broadband initiatives to do just that, and towns that want to fix that problem for citizens are legally barred from doing so. In terms of Internet access, this state of affairs is borderline totalitarianism and should not exist in America.

Re:Go Greenlight (2)

An Ominous Coward (13324) | about 4 months ago | (#47530607)

How are the two major parties equally scummy when by your own statement the Republicans made things ten times worse than the Democrats?

Re:Go Greenlight (3, Informative)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 4 months ago | (#47530787)

Because the Democrats had already managed to royally fuck things up before the Republicans showed up. Hell, the NC Democrats started the process of ruining NC broadband in the first place. [bluenc.com] Granted, there's an equal number of "R" sponsors listed...but look at who wrote it up in the first place.

Also of interest to readers of this post: a blog the City of Wilson started [wordpress.com] when they got fed up and took things into their own hands.

Re:Go Greenlight (1)

John_Sauter (595980) | about 4 months ago | (#47530815)

.... I hate both parties. They're equally scummy. It makes one feel powerless to know that voting the bums out always means voting more bums in that are not any better in the end.

You've bought in to the lie that there are only two parties. Look beyond the Republicans and Democrats and you might find better bums.

Re:Go Greenlight (1)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 4 months ago | (#47530833)

I vote Libertarian when candidates are available for a position. The problem is that everyone else doesn't. Those people are what's wrong with the political process.

Re:Go Greenlight (1)

John_Sauter (595980) | about 4 months ago | (#47530909)

I also vote Libertarian when I can; I am a card-carrying member of the Libertarian party. When I can't, and I'm too lazy to run myself, I do enough research to figure out who is the current office-holder, and vote for his opponent. If he is the only person on the ballot for the position, I leave the line blank.

I'm confused (2)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 4 months ago | (#47530173)

Aren't these two states, Tennessee and North Carolina, states who routinely harp on federal government interference in states rights?

Now they're asking the federal government to override what their own state governments have said.

Reminds me of Texas where that company blew up because they were storing exorbitant amounts of explosive materials and which had never bothered to be regulated because, you know, regulations are evil. Once the place blew up, Gov. Perry says "Texans take care of their own" then proceeded to whine how their request for federal disaster aid was (initially) rejected.

It would be nice if people had some sort of internal consistency. Either the federal government is too big and needs to stop weedling into state government, or it's not.

I can't wait to hear how those who say there is no need for net neutrality will react to their own states asking for just that.

Re:I'm confused (4, Insightful)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47530357)

The problem is that, at least in NC, the hypocrisy of the states rights group is large and thick. They dont want federal involvement in state affairs, but the state has no problem taking rights away from the cities, counties and other municipalities, same as they account the federal government. This is a local city trying to get the feds to stop the state governments abuse of power.

Re:I'm confused (1)

istartedi (132515) | about 4 months ago | (#47531591)

States Rights has always been nothing more than a tool used by people who want something. Usually what they want is to take something from other people. They would just as easily use religion, economics, erroneous statistics, philosophy, or any other intellectual tool they could find.

IMHO, ultimately states don't have rights any more than corporations do. PEOPLE have rights. The PEOPLE should have the right to freely associate and provide broadband. If they want to do that through their city government, fine. There's no need to appeal to "states rights" which has quite a checkered past.

FCC does not make laws (1)

Scutter (18425) | about 4 months ago | (#47530191)

Since when does the FCC have the power to "preempt" laws?

Re: FCC does not make laws (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530359)

Federal agencies can override state laws. Bush started a policy of using federal regulations to override state laws restricting business. A policy which was stopped by Obama - http://www.progressivereform.org/preemption.cfm

Re:FCC does not make laws (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#47530389)

internet is interstate commerce since the data will cross state lines, which means its subject to federal regulation

anything that goes on strictly inside the state is not subject to federal regulation

Re:FCC does not make laws (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47530553)

There are lots of things that happen within state lines that fall subject to federal regulations...

Re:FCC does not make laws (1)

swb (14022) | about 4 months ago | (#47531219)

Welcome to a law school! I see you have chosen extended scholarship on the history, scope and meaning of the US Constitution's Commerce Clause.

Please see the law librarian for a beginniner's biography to begin your studies.

Re:FCC does not make laws (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47531309)

I am not just talking about the commerce clause... A state cannot just build a nuclear reactor, even if they are not going to sell the electricity across state lines, without NRC approval. The EPA can have a say in spills inside a state...

Re:FCC does not make laws (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 4 months ago | (#47530407)

Since when does the FCC have the power to "preempt" laws?

Since their founding. Your city cannot pass a law permitting the operation of a 200kW tower broadcasting white noise at 2.4 GHz. It's why the FCC exists.

Re:FCC does not make laws (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 4 months ago | (#47530841)

When a state law and a federal conflict one of them has to win. If the federal law is within the powers delegated to the federal government then it will (yeah, yeah, as if there are any in practice limits to federal law these days...).

In this case there's a federal law stating:

The Commission and each State commission with regulatory jurisdiction over telecommunications services shall encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans (including, in particular, elementary and secondary schools and classrooms) by utilizing, in a manner consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, price cap regulation, regulatory forbearance, measures that promote competition in the local telecommunications market, or other regulating methods that remove barriers to infrastructure investment.

If that and a state law preventing the deployment of "advanced telecommunications capacity" conflict then to the courts it will go to determine which one trumps the other and if that one even applies to the case in question. And in an ideal world if the federal government has the authority to create such a law.

Editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530373)

Why won't you edit?

raise money privately? (0)

mrlibertarian (1150979) | about 4 months ago | (#47530443)

If the residents of these cities want fiber internet, can't they just pool their money and start a privately owned ISP? Not only would the early investors get the internet speed that they want, but they'd make a profit as well after their company takes off. Or, if they want to, the early investors could even run the ISP like a cooperative. All that the city would have to do is get out of the way.

Now, if you tell me that that can't happen because customers would not be willing to pay enough money for their service to make the privately owned ISP profitable, then that means most residents don't actually want high speed internet. Right? If residents truly want high speed internet, then they should be able to make it happen without using any coercion.

It's not as if there is a free rider problem here; no one is getting internet service without paying their fair share. So, if you're telling me that we need taxation to "solve" this problem, then you're tacitly admitting that residents aren't willing to put their money where their mouth is, unless they are forced to.

Re:raise money privately? (1)

3.5 stripes (578410) | about 4 months ago | (#47530519)

Municipal companies like this are not funded through taxes..

Sorry to unstuff your strawman.

Re:raise money privately? (1)

mrlibertarian (1150979) | about 4 months ago | (#47530569)

Municipal companies like this are not funded through taxes..

Then why not start a private company? Why does it need to be a municipal company?

Re: raise money privately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530869)

And why does it need to be a private company?

Re:raise money privately? (1)

Hodr (219920) | about 4 months ago | (#47530955)

Presumably it is easier to get access to easements and existing municipal infrastructure. Funding is easier as they can self finance through municipal bonds vice getting loans from the bank, and they add a sense of legitimacy that may encourage fence sitters to choose the new option.

Re:raise money privately? (1)

mrlibertarian (1150979) | about 4 months ago | (#47531483)

If it is easier for a municipal company to get access to existing municipal infrastructure, then the municipal must be making it harder for private companies to do so. This is an example of the local government standing in the way. Remember, I said they need to get out of the way.

Financing through municipal bonds is another example of government cheating, because holders of municipal bounds are exempt from federal income tax. Also, any extra "sense of legitimacy" that a municipal has is probably based on the assumption that a municipal company will be bailed out with tax payer money if necessary. Once again, if residents want high speed internet, can't it be provided by a company that follows the rules of every other private company?

As far as easements, I've never liked the idea of governments forcing easements on private property. I think the existing easements that were created by governments are immoral, and should be retroactively converted into a leasing agreement, in which property owners allow private companies (cable companies, power companies, etc.) to rent easements for a period of 5 to 10 years for some agreed upon yearly fee. That way, the relationship is more like landlord and tenant, instead of master (i.e. government) and slave (i.e. property owner).

Re:raise money privately? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530993)

I might pose the opposite question. Why start a private company when the government can offer the same service for less? Municipal companies do not need to make a profit, so their operating costs are lower. Their motivation is serving the community, not profit. It's the dirty little secret that Business doesn't want people to think about. Municipal companies providing good service for less threatens their ability to funnel money into their own pockets.

Re:raise money privately? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#47530951)

One problem many towns would face is that there is already a restriction on anyone else using the poles, that was put in place when thy agreed to let cable companies have exclusive access for this purpose. If it were open to competitors, you wouldn't even need a co-op, somebody would come in with a better product.

Seperate the wire from the service (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47530597)

Separate the wire to the house from the service that runs on that wire. The problem will be solved.

Internet providers can still be internet providers, they do not have to be wire maintainers too.

The part that really gets me is the monopoly is maintained and perpetuated by these companies. It costs $X to install and maintain the wires in a community. Over time, the people in that community will pay $X regardless if Verizon does it, Comcast does it, Cox does it, if the home owners associations does it, or if the local government does it. Why not pay $X and let the local government or a third party handle the wires (which can contract out to Verizon, Comcast, or any number of third parties to actually do the work) and then the internet providers can compete for your service over those wires?

I know there is more to this but to me, this just makes sense.

More power to 'em, I say. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about 4 months ago | (#47530949)

Do we really want an Internet that, with regard to the U.S. consumer, is essentially owned and operated by Comcast/Xfinity? Screw that, I say, the more competition that can be arranged the better, and the sooner the better.

North Carolina has far more pressing matters! (1)

HycoWhit (833923) | about 4 months ago | (#47531263)

As a North Carolina resident--this past legislative session has been pure entertainment, if not extremely scary. The legislature has far more pressing matters to deal with then stimulating growth and ensuring our state has the latest in technology offerings. Not sure if you folks have been paying attention but women are making their own decisions regarding birth control and pregnancy and to top off the gays are trying to get married!! Who can think about prosperity in times like these!! If not for our conservative overlords legislating morality, North Carolina would be lost!! Lost I say!!

Government is GREAT at providing services! (1)

mi (197448) | about 4 months ago | (#47531567)

Roads (and rail-roads), health-care, electricity and telephone — government and government-sanctioned monopolies provide such outstanding services, only a fool or a sell-out would try to prevent their scope from expanding. Tokyo may have competing privately-owned subway lines, but we here in America know better than that!

Take Municipal WiFi — which the young and progressive generation was hailing on this very site only 10 years ago — was not that a roaring success, that swept over the nation?

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