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Cities Building Own Fiber Networks

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the using-wheaties dept.

The Internet 301

cmburns69 writes "It's been posted before that some municipalities have plans for building their own networks (such as Utah's UTOPIA). There are many people who don't want that to happen. But despite that, CNET News has coverage of some success stories regarding 'a growing number of municipalities, state and county agencies, and local governments that are building their own networks.'"

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Lesser of the evils (5, Insightful)

ImaNumber (754512) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432213)

I'm not sure which is worse...the government having control of my line or the cable companies having control...

Re:Lesser of the evils (5, Funny)

steak (145650) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432237)

I'd rather have the government, at least you can threaten to vote for someone else if they get to cheaky.

Re:Lesser of the evils (2, Interesting)

jumpingfred (244629) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432329)

Are you serious? I don't think that free fiber for all will make any difference to any political campain.

Re:Lesser of the evils (3, Insightful)

marktoml (48712) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432569)

Wonderful logic, if you ignore the fact that too few people actually try to make a difference by voting (or voting intelligently) at least in the US.

In that respect the original drafters of the US constitution may have been right*.

-I now make it impossible to underestimate my fellow citizens...

*(read up on why the electoral college was there to begin with)

Re:Lesser of the evils (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432449)

The government should own and maintain the infrastructure, while private entities should provide service that uses that infrastructure.

Think of the road system. You maintain your connection to the system (driveway), while the government maintains the entire system. You provide your means of access (car, which you also bought from a corporation), while the government keeps the roads suitable for your use (more or less).

This way, the government can't restrict use of the roads for any reasons other than monetary ones (toll roads are legal, keeping people off the roads because they might be breaking the law usually isn't), and greedy corporations can't control the roads (pay me for a license, pay me a monthly access fee, pay me again for joining the flow of traffic just now, now pay me some more at a rate of n-per-mile... plus tax and environmental fees).

Everything is a world of ends. The infrastructure lets us get from one end to another. Roads, telephones, the internet, power, water, sewer... It should all be maintained the same way - the government should facilitate the ends coming together... a public square. Their reach should not extend beyond that, nor should they allow anyone to encroach upon the public square.

And I didn't even get into the hierarchical breakdowns of government and infrastructure. It's not evil. It's just common sense.

Re:Lesser of the evils (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432643)

amen
I see it the same as you, and have been advocating this for years.

Re:Lesser of the evils (5, Interesting)

JediTrainer (314273) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432716)

and greedy corporations can't control the roads (pay me for a license, pay me a monthly access fee, pay me again for joining the flow of traffic just now, now pay me some more at a rate of n-per-mile... plus tax and environmental fees).

Uhh... I beg [407etr.com] to differ [407etr.com] .

Even our government (Provincial government of Ontario, Canada) can't seem to be able to control [google.ca] the skyrocketing rates the Highway 407 corporation has imposed. Unfortunately with few alternative ways to get around for those of us who live in the 905 within a reasonable timeframe, we are at their mercy [ontariondp.on.ca] . Whether or not we actually use [thestar.com] the thing.

Re:Lesser of the evils (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432459)

Just make sure you buy your tinfoil hat from a third party vendor and you'll be fine.

or your government's criminal actions (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432496)

to control other governments:
US ousts Aristide in coup, by abducting him.

Another example of the flawed and criminal behaviour of the Bush administration.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid= 57 8&e=1&u=/nm/20040301/ts_nm/haiti_aristide_kidnap_d c

Please read: Why I modded parent up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432688)

1. This is a correct URL redirect for the Yahoo story, which won't be broken up by spaces in two locations:

http://tinyurl.com/24us2

2. This "story" is getting flooded by ACs to /. articles and keeps getting modded down to -1 Troll or -1 Flamebait.

3. I never mod posts down, only up. If we're building a free marketplace of ideas, it's appropriate to ignore (via thresholds or custom content area promotions [the famous "Read at Flamebait +5" bit]) offtopic or troll or flamebait posts rather than wasting mod points on them. I'd rather see more insightful posts brought to the critical +5 mass.

4. The parent post is clearly not going to get attention until it reaches some critical mass where enough moderators review it, get informed, and determine whether to discard or include in in the /. rhetoric sea.

5. The story the parent post goes to -is- informative, whether you believe the statements in it by Aristide or not. It either exposes a major US foreign policy blunder, or it showcases the tactics world leaders use to salvage their power bases after they've lost office. Ergo, it's interesting.

6. You're right, it is off-topic. But it needs to go somewhere...

Re:Lesser of the evils (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432618)

In many cases it's not that the government controls YOUR Internet connection so much as providing backbone infrastructure for its own utilities. There has been a fiber ring in Winston-Salem, NC for a few years now actually, of which Wake Forest University is a part. It's a Metropolitan Area Network but doesn't really allow private users to connect directly through it. In most cases these would be built expressly for use by government and necessary infrastructure, and education.

Re:Lesser of the evils (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432659)

I'm not sure which is worse...the government having control of my line or the cable companies having control...

Question: can you vote for board of directors of the cable "company"? HTH.

We did this (4, Informative)

PhraudulentOne (217867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432218)

A previous ISP that I worked for in a rural location in Canada did this with the local town to split the costs. Its not that interesting, but I thought i'd try for first post :)

for more throughput ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432220)

Bran Fiber!!

Re:for more throughput ... (0)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432531)

Bran Fiber reduces throughput, after a few bowls of Horken Fiber Chunks (tm) it takes me about four times as long to get done in the bathroom.

This is the future... (4, Insightful)

NeoTheOne (673445) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432223)

These communities are fueling the future economy...one where the corporate media cannot control all of your information. I just wish I could be involved in this in my own city. Multi-megabit pipelines for pennies on the dollar. Everyone needs to support this.

Think of the African children (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432263)

What about the starving African children? Think of the children!

Oh wait. Who cares if I can get all the p0rn I want in a blink of an eye...

Screw the African children! I want my monkey-porn and I want it NOW!

Re:Think of the African children (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432361)

You want starving African kiddie pr0n?!!! Duuuuuuude, you've got issues. Even for slashdot.

Re:This is the future... (2, Interesting)

BillFarber (641417) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432405)

one where the corporate media cannot control all of your information

Would we really want to replace that with the government controlling all of our information?

They already do (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432587)

Would we really want to replace that with the government controlling all of our information?

When you control the mail, you control information.

- Newman

Re:This is the future... (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432427)

These communities are fueling the future economy...one where the corporate media cannot control all of your information. I just wish I could be involved in this in my own city. Multi-megabit pipelines for pennies on the dollar. Everyone needs to support this.

This could be a good thing, this could be a bad thing, one thing it requires is the public pay attention to who runs these things and what decisions (arbitrary or what) they exercise over them.

From the article:

That's struck a nerve among incumbent carriers, like the regional Bell operators, that are serving these areas. Not only do these carriers lose customers when people decide to build networks themselves, but many local governments, municipalities and educational institutions that build networks for their own use wind up selling services as well, thus becoming competitors to the regional operators.

Where the municipality is a competitor... Wasn't this the sort of thing that have some depression era things struck down ERA/WPA/CCC because effectively private companies taxes could be funding the government to compete with them? A shame, really, as some of these structures and works still pay off 70 years later, guess we shouldn't let that happen again.

Running a telecommunications network is not a sure thing, as many private competitive providers have already discovered.

Particularly where executives overstating profit and taking huge compensation are concerned.

Where I worked we were quoted a few times, massive amounts for running a fibre network and finally elected to do it ourselves, despite dire warnings of us not having the properly skilled people and tools to do it ("Too delicate, too sahn-se-tahv") We did it anyway for about 10% what we were quoted and it worked fine.

lastly, I've always favored the municipality putting in these kinds of infrastructre, then leasing it out to the phone/cable/internet/CCTV, what have you. More competitors make for a better market, right? But where I live there's only one company for high speed internet and one company for cable, forget any other choices. Having the public involved, assuming good people are overseeing it (and you don't usually know they aren't good people until it's too late) can guarrantee far better service than the private sector (milk every last cent you can out of that copper, baby!) can really do.

It's the Venezuela debacle all over again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432225)

Why was no-one fighting for Aristide? Why are there foreign troops all over Haiti right now?

Because the US wanted him removed for being too leftist!

Read more here [democracynow.org] and here [local10.com] .

Aristide did not resign! He was abducted by the US Special Forces.

Re:It's the Venezuela debacle all over again (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432276)

Aristide did not resign! He was abducted by the US Special Forces.

Turnabout is fair play. Aristide was installed by US forces under President Clinton - another one of Clinton's "legacy building" moves.

Like bringing peace to the Palistinian-Israeli conflict.

Like signing an agreement with North Korea that would stop them from developing nuclear weapons.

Re:It's the Venezuela debacle all over again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432366)

Aristide was installed by US forces under President Clinton

Oh really?!

Well, I think it is just unfair that he was removed by the US SPECIAL forces if he was installed by just US forces. Where's the justice in that?!

Re:It's the Venezuela debacle all over again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432422)

Clinton sucked, yes. But it's not only the Democrats that have been meddling in the affairs of others. Saddam Hussien got lots of help from 80's Republicans, and the Pentagon was even aware of Saddam gassing the Kurds and yet did nothing. Saddam only became the bad guy after invading Kuwait (which he told us he would do beforehand) and began messing around with oil. Haiti is not a concern because they control no oil and is not a threat to Israel.

You know it's true... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432468)

Hispaniola would be prime real estate if it just wasn't infested by all those dirty poor people!!!

Re:You know it's true... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432596)

Well, you Canadians, Frenchies and Americans have your troops in there right now so fight it out.

Let's figure out who gets to out the darkies from the prime real estate...

first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432230)

im wondering how they will manage to put all that fiber in place with all the copper that's around.

Dark Fiber (5, Insightful)

DanoTime (677061) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432233)

Why not use (buy) all the Dark Fiber everyone cries about from the Telecom Boom in the 90's?

Re:Dark Fiber (4, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432274)

Most of the dark fiber is long distance stuff; it won't help you connect a bunch of buildings within the same city.

Re:Dark Fiber (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432303)

Because it begins and ends in buildings owned/leased by the Baby Bells? You're not going to save much, paying what they'll charge.

Re:Dark Fiber (3, Interesting)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432314)

Fiber isn't like radio waves -- if somebody isn't using the spectrum you can't just rebroadcast in another direction. Fiber needs to be laid, so if you have no dark fiber around it doesn't matter.

Re:Dark Fiber (2, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432383)

Oh, there's plenty of dark fiber around. It usually gets there when telecom companies upgrade to a newer model. (I.e. The company doesn't want to spend the money to maintain their OC-3 connection when they just put in an OC-12. Too much maintenance and too many routing issues to track.

Re:Dark Fiber (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432356)

Because strong is the path to Dark Fiber...Too much and it will eventually consume you...

Fibre would be great (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432240)

Hell, I'd even be happy with clean drinking water!

Let's go cities! YAAY!

Great site for learning (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432244)

Here [me-boy.com]

this is very good.... (5, Interesting)

chrisopherpace (756918) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432251)

This has the potential to take the power of broadband away from the cable and phone companies, and treat it as a utility. This is a great idea, and I don't know about you guys, but I sure as heck wouldn't mind some of my dollars going towards movements like these. Monopolies over broadband are sickening, and growing more and more. Currently, I pay $100/mo for 512 sync, because my ISP is the only ISP in my small town.

Re:this is very good.... (5, Interesting)

RickoniX (667001) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432265)

Exactly, once broadband starts spreading like phone lines (though probably not exactly as well distributed), it will mean a lot more competition and a better market, probably with the companies competing with higher and higher bandwidth caps between them

Re:this is very good.... (1)

hey (83763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432575)

Maybe they'll invent ADSL that will take broadband over phone lines. That would be great. I can hardly wait.

Re:this is very good.... (2, Interesting)

PhraudulentOne (217867) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432285)

The ISP that I work for is the only one around here too. We charge $39.95 CDN for 1.5Mb/256Kb. I guess we aren't scammers like your ISP ;)

Re:this is very good.... (0)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432455)

Yeah, god forbid age old economics were to play in that price with need and availibility.... Jesus people are so selfish.

Re:this is very good.... (1)

chrisopherpace (756918) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432572)

I don't exactly consider the same company I get broadband through charging an additional $25/mo for something I don't need (cable TV), selfish on my part. More like it is age old control over a service that only one provider can offer...what's the word again? Oh yeah, monopoly.

Lessig Agress (4, Informative)

rwiedower (572254) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432504)

He think it's a good idea [wired.com] and reminds people it's a perfect example of a natural monopoly, except in this case, citizens own the infrastructure, not a private organization. Go local fiber runs!

Re:this is very good.... (5, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432593)

I agree that this is a good thing at the moment, but city governments often don't act much better than commercial companies when they set themselves up as a monopoly. Eventually the tendency will be for those local utilities to compare their prices and services to other monopolies rather than the bottom line.

A competitive and free market is still the best way to insure the best value for the best service over the long term. With telephone pole space limited, it seems unlikely that wired communications will ever truly be competitive, so perhaps government sponsored utilities are the way to go, but remember when ATT ran the show on behalf of the government... they wouldn't even let someone connect their own phone to the network let alone a computer. Government sponsorship often means government regulation of content and use. If this model became popular, then how long till those restrictions that are found in a Comcast customer contract, like not hooking up any "servers" or not having multiple computers behind a firewall, suddenly have the force of criminal law rather than just contract law. It is one thing when a company can stop doing busines with you, but quite another when they can throw you in jail.

Like Memphis Networx (5, Insightful)

darrelld2 (307106) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432253)

Memphis Networx [memphisnetworx.com] is one that is owned by the city. They promised to only provide backhaul services to begin with, now they are competing with local ISPs. World Spice [wspice.com] and Time Warner Telecom [twtelecom.com] are really put in a bad position by cities doing these things.

How can a company compete when the playing field is not level?

Re:Like Memphis Networx (4, Insightful)

anonicon (215837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432371)

"They promised to only provide backhaul services to begin with, now they are competing with local ISPs"

Wow, I can't believe the people of Memphis haven't rose up and smited the local government for providing a service that the people seem to want. Unbelievable.

"How can a company compete when the playing field is not level?"

Bribe the representatives and get the legislation you want passed? Seems to work for many other businesses in the U.S. See "Eldred" for an example.

Can't run unchecked.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432256)


Today the cities will build fiber networks.. next they'll start paving the roads.. building sewers.. maintaining bridges..

Re:Can't run unchecked.. (5, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432375)

. . .next they'll start paving the roads.. building sewers.. maintaining bridges..

Yes, it's a beautiful dream, isn't it?

KFG

Sad thing is (4, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432262)

Sad thing is that there are enormous quantities of dark fiber here in the US literaly doing nothing. Enormous increased bandwidth is immeadiately available and it is being kept off to create an artificial shortage. If telcos wont make their fiber available at reasonable rates to the people of the US, than the cities have to do it for them.

We here in the US are NOT at the top of the world when it comes to bandwidth available to the masses, I believe top would be South Korea. The whole thing is absolutely deplorable, were squandering our once high tech lead in the name of greater profits. By the time the powers that be finally realize it, it will be hell to catch up.

Re:Sad thing is (4, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432277)

There's lots of long-haul dark fiber, but almost zero metro fiber. The latter is required for fiber-to-premises service. Long-haul is just overbuilt presently.

Re:Sad thing is (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432443)

This may be a little offtopic, but I knew a guy that worked for EMC. He brought home some leftover equipment from the office and had Fiber running through his house!!! Talk about overkill, but he will be ready for on demand anything (as long as it happens in the next 20 years anyway)

Re:Sad thing is (4, Interesting)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432597)

"Dark fiber" is kind of a misnomer. It implies that there's a resource that's being ignored. There is not; all this dark fiber is on runs stretched across the country, but if there's no fiber in the cities themselves, there's nothing to light it up with. Nobody's squandering anything; save the companies who laid so much way, way overly redundant fiber in the first place (but they're mostly out of business anyway.) The US will invariably be slower than most other countries to roll out new, expensive technologies-- this is guaranteed by our large land mass, not to mention the fact that most of that land is livable. Comparing the US to a country like South Korea is unfair; South Korea has about 2% of the land mass that the US does.

The same thing happens with cell phones. We were stuck on CDMA/TDMA forever because it was so expensive to upgrade the networks, and we're only now getting nationwide GSM as the rest of the world is phasing it out in favor of 3G. Building infrastructure is very, very expensive, and a company will only do it if they know they can make money off it. That's not apparent with municipal fiber, because the vast majority of consumers will not pay more than about $30-40/mo for internet access, and they can offer DSL or cable at that price and consumers will pay it. They don't even know what a kilobyte is, they just know their porn sites load up real fast. High bandwidth killer apps will drive the need for faster connections.

Complaints?! (5, Informative)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432269)

I've wanted my city to do this for a long time now. All the complaints I hear involve taxpayer money, privacy, and government abuse of such a system.

Honestly, I'm sick of paying $45 a month for Comcast. If the city would be willing to offer the service:

They could partner with an existing provider.
Keep fees very low.
Use the revenue from that service to maintain the service, expand and even pour it back into the city's budget.

I don't know the actual numbers, but consider the Comcast (and others) monopoly-type situation. This is not something to complain about, it's something to push for and watch closely enough to keep it safe.

Re:Complaints?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432391)

After having been on dial-up for over 2 years, because broadband wasn't available, and RCN was LAZY, and Comcast finally came in, I don't mind paying $45...

This just proves that... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432423)

wireless is about to be ubiquitous.

I mean, be honest, have you ever heard of an instance of any gov't endeavor being cost effective and timely?

Re:Complaints?! (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432429)

Cable companies don't make a whole lot of money from offering cable internet. Consider the type of bandwidth necessary to offer 100,000 customers 2mbit service. Sure it is oversold as not everyone will be using it at the same time but you are still looking at having multiple OC-3s to support that kind of customer base. Most of the cost for your service goes right back into supporting that same system.

Re:Complaints?! (4, Insightful)

Sandor at the Zoo (98013) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432507)

They could partner with an existing provider.

Keep fees very low.

Use the revenue from that service to maintain the service, expand and even pour it back into the city's budget.

Or, they could

  • see it as a cash cow and milk it for more than you're paying now, sinking the money into higher salaries for town officials
  • farm out the maintenance to the lowest bidder, who has 20 hours of downtime/week
  • outsource support to india
  • decide that 500kbps is fast enough for everyone
  • mandate Windows usage if you want to get on the net
  • any number of other stupid things

I'd rather see towns mandate multiple cable/DSL providers and let the market drive the prices down.

Alberta, Canada (5, Informative)

Blair16 (683764) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432275)

has had a network [albertasupernet.ca] like this in the works for a couple of years now. It is supposed to be finished within the next year I think.

Wireless Networks (1, Interesting)

MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432291)

Another decade or two and the majority of the country (if not the world) will be wireless-capable. Think of wireless repeaters in all public buildings, all major stores, gas stations, even in cars. Then they install the RFID tags in your skull while you sleep, and even the tin-foil hats won't save you from Big Brother. They'll find you. They'll get you. They know where you live, they know when you sleep. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

Re:Wireless Networks (1)

Angus Prune (660032) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432695)

Only on /. would this get modded +5 Interesting.

$320k less a year, with *8000* times the bandwidth (3, Insightful)

Operating Thetan (754308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432293)

So, um, aren't public companies meant to be less efficient than private ones?

Re:$320k less a year, with *8000* times the bandwi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432395)

Efficiency is measured mainly by the company's revenue, not by the quality and quantity of services it provides. Therefore a private company can be more efficient then the municipality, with the later being the users' choice.

Private vs. Public efficiencies (4, Insightful)

llywrch (9023) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432488)

> So, um, aren't public companies meant to be less efficient than private ones?

(I'm assuming that by "public companies" you mean companies owned by the government.)

No, that's just one of those stories corporations keep telling to keep ownership of businesses like utilities in private hands. You can run any public business well, or run it poorly; it all depends on the management, just as in the private sector.

The folks defending private ownership like to raise the threat that any government-owned business doesn't need to watch it's bottom line, because they can always get a bail-out from raising taxes. What they appear to forget to mention is that any major business of enough impact to the local or national economy can always get the same deal by twisting the right arms. Sometimes management can get direct or indirect subsidies for their company even if they aren't in danger of going out of business; they just have to start hinting that they are likely to move operations elsewhere.

Geoff

Why not like a Water utility?? (5, Insightful)

Dimes (10216) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432328)

I hadn't truely thought about it in this context, but why shouldn't all houses/apt's/condo's etc get net connections like a water line or a sewage line(yeah, that analogy isn't lost on me either). It should just be. You would then get actual services(mail, web, etc) through external providers. Seems to me like this is really how it should be.

dimes

Re:Why not like a Water utility?? (1)

WorkingHome (250528) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432571)

If you do this, you also need to make sure it's regulated to the point of having an uptime promise just like the water, heat, and phone companies have now. It's great to have every house wired, but how quick will they fix it when Joe Blow cuts a major line while digging a ditch?

Why have a central authority at all (4, Interesting)

argoff (142580) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432331)

With wireless mesh technology, it would seem simple enough to set up a community internet without any central government or corporate provider at all. Besides, if the city controlls it, then it is only a matter of time before they monitor it, you should see the list of restrictions that most city libraries impose if you want a taste of whats to come.

Re:Why have a central authority at all (2, Insightful)

Kookus (653170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432397)

For some reason the sound of more wireless stuff increasingly makes me want to build my house like a faraday cage. Sure, cell phones and radio won't work, but then I don't have to worry about the amount of traffic going through my head at all hours of teh day.

Re:Why have a central authority at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432409)

nothing more will come, those restrictions ARE the limit. anything more and hthe supreme court will destroy it.

they are also not allowed to monitor it when there is an expecation of privacy. ie from your home.

Re:Why have a central authority at all (2, Interesting)

Percy_Blakeney (542178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432471)

I can't speak for any other implementations, but Utah's UTOPIA is not run by the city, state, or any other government. It is a private company that is seeking government backing on some bonds (they get a much lower interest rate if they have the cities as cosigners.) The network is supposed to be self-sustaining, in terms of revenue. That means that, assuming that enough people and providers sign up for the service, UTOPIA will never receive any tax money.

Re:Why have a central authority at all (1)

maximilln (654768) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432557)

While Percy makes a nice sales speech the fact of the matter is that anything even remotely associated with the government is not self-sustaining. There is overhead for the politicians to debate it, and overhead to write the contracts, and overhead to go out to interview and entertain competing providers or subcontractors. With the government involved there will eventually be rules and regulations written and that doesn't happen for free. Then there's the separate appropriations committee and their new staff of secretaries and filing clerks.

The governmental aspect is only half of it. If a private *smirk* entity is seeking government backing then the authority issuing the bond is making up the difference somewhere else. Chances are the authority issuing the bonds is affiliated with banking and insurance. The returns on other bonds are sacrificed, home mortgage rates are increased, insurance premiums and deductibles are raised.

Nothing happens for free. It was a nice sales speech, though. :-)

Re:Why have a central authority at all (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432539)

  • what makes you think in this era of de facto TIA that you aren't monitored no matter who owns what?
  • And even if the city provides a fiber connection, what's to stop you from setting up a wireless mesh?
  • Lastly, what makes you think they can't monitor a wireless mesh?

not all monopolies are bad (5, Interesting)

magarity (164372) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432334)

some municipalities have plans for building their own networks ... There are many people who don't want that to happen

I'm usually in agreement with complaints about monopolies but in some cases they have their uses. This is one of them. Rather than several companies all running their own cables everywhere in town, it is a LOT more cost effective (and therefore more likely to get done) to have ONE set of cables. Note that this cuts down on construction (digging up the streets for buried cable) and/or clutter in the sky (poles and cables strung along).
As citizens, instead of private consumers, you have to use the apropriate weapon in case you are unhappy with the service (for whatever reason). In the case of a government owned service, use the vote.
So given that one provider is more efficient than multiple providers in this case, consumers have a choice. Do you want a government sponsored company to run it or a private one? Keep in mind there are plusses and minuses on both sides.

Re:not all monopolies are bad (2, Interesting)

fishbonez (177041) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432434)

I could see this as a viable option if no company were interested in providing broadband service to the town/city. But based on what happened with cable I don't see this turning out to be that great for the taxpayers.

In the 80s a number of municipalities paid to run cable lines or subsidized the installation costs. But now many of those government-paid cable lines are de facto controlled or even owned by the cable companies. Ultimately, the cable companies were able to do this because a little bit of money goes a long way in local politics. Will this not just happen again with the fiber?

Re:not all monopolies are bad (1)

ryanw (131814) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432677)

Rather than several companies all running their own cables everywhere in town, it is a LOT more cost effective (and therefore more likely to get done) to have ONE set of cables.
If the internet is going to be close to the vision that was depicted back in early `90s SOMETHING drastic is required to happen. T1s still cost hundreds of dollars a month, DS3s still cost thousdands, OC3, OC48, OC192, etc, comeon!

Gigabit Ethernet is pretty standard now, it came with every system I purchased last year. It would be nice to have fiber to everyone's house and have channels of it leased out to each vendor you would like to get services for. Phone, Internet, TV, etc.

I don't see any ONE company willing to stick their neck out to install a fiber network to every house in the HOPES of people ordering a specific service. But if the government could put it in with the knowledge that people would probably get at least "A" service through that fiber to your home, then we could have tax dollars spent wisely, government could get money back on the program by charching service providers a small tax/fee to use the provided fiber, and increadible services/broadband options opened to us.

Government vs Public (5, Insightful)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432384)

I love the quote from a telecom industry rep saying that the Government should not be allowed to do this. This being to build a public infrastructure. This type of action is in the best interest of Capitalism in its pure form. A public alternative that is lower cost will force the private commercial enterprizes to improve their business model and stop raping consumers. I would support this in this industry as well as power generation and other utilities and infrastructures. I know of some municipalities who have their own power generation capabilities to great economic benefit of the municipality and its residents.

I hope we see more of this kind of thing in the future.

Re:Government vs Public (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432501)

I agree, and nowhere in the article was a consumer asked their opinion about it. $28/month versus $50/month or more? sure why not?! Taxes you say? How much in taxes is a good question. But if they could take the smallest possible tax, and use part of that $28/month instead, it wouldn't be that bad. Like the guy said, it'd pay for itself in the next few years. At that point, give a low income tax break to people who probably can't afford the $28/month but have been taxed a little to build the infrastructure.

Sacramento has had that for years (5, Interesting)

panic911 (224370) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432389)

Here in Sacramento, Surewest Broadband offers 10mbit Fibre (to your home) for about 50 dollars a month, if you live in a neighborhood with Fiber in it. A little over a year ago they bought out the company who was originally providing it (I can't remember their name), but they had been around for a year or so before that. The fiber is still slowly being laid around the city, and hopefully I'll be getting it pretty soon.

http://www.surewestbroadband.com/products/reside nt ial/internet/

Its about time (4, Interesting)

segment (695309) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432406)

Seriously,.. It's about time some US cities finally are getting their act together. If Saddam and company did so through the late 80's then why should some citites over here lag?
The fiber optic Tiger Song air defense network was installed in Iraq during the 1990s by China in violation of the U.N. ban on weapons sales to Baghdad. The Chinese network has been bombed several times, suffering only a slight degrade in service until Iraqi engineers could repair it.

Tiger Song is a more widely distributed network than the French Kari system and is similar to the Internet, allowing Iraqi mobile radars and missile units to link into the network from pre-positioned fiber optic sites. Both systems are linked together, with the French Kari network providing the overall command and control.

U.S. warriors hope to be able to penetrate the Kari and Tiger Song systems through computer links from the Internet or Iraqi phone system. The Tiger Song network is reportedly also cross-linked with an Iraqi oil pipeline communications network that employs microwave communications links. U.S. forces could tap into the Tiger Song system using the microwave links.

Another alternative is for U.S. Special Forces teams to penetrate Iraq and plant active electronic taps into the Iraqi systems. The Tiger Song network of fiber optic lines is much more difficult to attach hardware electronic taps to. However, U.S. cyber warriors may be able to use the same pre-positioned link points that Iraqi air defense units utilize.

Cyber War Against Iraq [newsmax.com]

Problem with this country is the (ir)regulations and big money by corps. such as Verizon who lobby to congress, who then in turn coincidentall find the idea of free enterprise a bad idea.

Re:Its about time (2, Insightful)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432577)

the article is about bringing fiber to individuals at their homes, not radar installations for millitary use. How much of that Tiger Song was usable by the common citizen of iraq in "the late 80's" as you say?

you are comparing apples and oranges.

The disparity (1)

gpinzone (531794) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432413)

Where the heck does this huge disparity in the price quoted in these kinds of articles come from? What part of the network is doing the gouging? Or is it really just an unspoken agreement between the phone companies (DSL) and cable companies to charge what they do?

County Wide School Fiber Project (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432433)

I'm a Network Admin for a school district and we are in the start of a project to link up all of the schools and libraries in our county and the neiboring two counties with fiber. If things go well, we will open up some of the unused space to local business to lease from us. No home users, though. For us this is a great thing. We get to share some resources with other schools in our area and will be able to do more with video streaming and virtual classrooms. As for my district in particular, this really isn't upping our bandwidth too much (already had fiber connect all of our schools), but this is bringing many of the schools up from dial-up.

If you want a great example... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432436)

...look up the municipal fiber history of Anaheim, CA. In the late 90s they tore up a bunch of streets streets burying their own fiber. They were going to provide data, video, even telephone service. They set up a NOC, had miles of fiber run all through the city, set up a telephone switch... and then they shut it all down. They used hacksaws to cut through the ends of the fiber rather than disconnecting it as they ripped out the switch and other equipment in the NOC. Last I heard, a nearly broke ISP had taken over the space where the fiber all terminated, and was using the tail end of bundled fiber sticking out of the wall, dark fiber that feeds all over the city, as a peg to hang spare CatV cables.

Alberta Canada Supernet (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432440)

www.albertasupernet.ca

AFN (4, Interesting)

Kallahar (227430) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432444)

Ashland, OR was one of the first cities to roll out a municipal cable internet system. For years I had been calling the cable company and asking when cable internet would be available. Then the city decided to create its own network. Within a few months the cable company had the entire cable internet system working. The two systems now compete with each other, with many people choosing the city owned provider over the faceless corporation because they prefer to help out their community.

The lesson is simple: Without competition, the current cable/phone companies have no incentive to make things better.

Political leverage (2, Insightful)

maximilln (654768) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432456)

This will lend an interesting spin to the American concept of democracy. The candidate who makes the biggest contribution to the local governing authority or network contractor will have the best spots in internet advertising. In years to come as a greater percentage of the overall population migrates from television and radio to the internet this will have increasing impact. Nothing really changes. Money rules and those who control it rule by proxy. Only a fool believes the pretty propaganda that is heard in public speeches. It is meant to appease the blissfully (and often vehemently) ignorant.

Voting in one form or another is among the oldest traditions known to man. Rigging the vote is the most obvious bald-faced secret.

Like sewage (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432466)

Most bigger cities run their own water and sewer facilities for better or worse.

This is just about the same thing. You should save a significant amount but it's not incredible. Eventually the city will have to hire corporate managers to run the service as a business so it is self sufficient.

They will charge what it takes to stay in business and a little more to pay for "expansion."

I guess the upside is that this will encourage adoption of newer technology instead of the rusty pipes they're using now. C'mon, DSL? Twisted copper is so last century.

Schools making money... (-1, Offtopic)

ticklemeozmo (595926) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432467)

In the instances where schools make money off of selling broadband access, I would only hope a substantial portion of the money goes to the teachers.

That's right, I said TEACHERS, not students. I don't care about the kids, I care about the teachers. With teacher burn-out rate going higher, and parents expecting nothing but A's, and with Bush's stupid ass "No Child Left Behind Policy"**; I hope it's the teachers who could at least get a better apartment/house/car rather than the dippy administrator who did nothing else but say "not the fiber that we eat right?"

After all, without good teachers...

** I stand on neither side of the Rep/Dem platforms when I vote against the "No Child Left Behind" policy. It would require teachers to work harder than they do now because the kids who didn't even pass the last grade are now in a higher one.

Re:Schools making money... (1)

Percy_Blakeney (542178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432553)

I don't care about the kids, I care about the teachers.

Wow. I hope you aren't thinking of ever going into education.

Re:Schools making money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432602)

Well...in the case of the school I work for (which is just about to launch an initive to link all schools and libraries in 3 counties), any "profits" we earn from it are going towards offsetting our cost of setting up and maintaining the network. We are not planning on running any fiber to homes, and only some businesses, so there certaintly isn't any room to set up a profit sharing with school employees. While we are using as much pre-existing fiber as possible, and are trying to use whatever grants we can get to offset the cost, this is not a cheap thing to set up. There may be some schools out there that use this as a money-generating scheme, but in our case, and I suspect a lot of school cases, we are simply doing it in order to benifit our students.

That's right I said STUDENTS, not teachers. Schools don't exist to serve teachers, they exist to educate students. While it is true that a school can't run without teachers, let's not forget why the teachers are there in the first place. Sorry to go into an off-topic rant.

Re:Schools making money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432709)

You don't care about the kids? Just the teachers. Reminds me of a few teachers I used to have.

Yeah, its all about the teachers getting a better apartment/house/car. Sure, that would make them better in their jobs.

Most Administrators, if you're talking System Administrators would know what kind of fibre it was. If you're talking about a school administrator, then you'll be waiting a long time for them to be paid the same as the school teachers. Maybe the MD does less work than his/her employees, yet they'll never get paid the same.

I fail to see why the increased income from this type of activity should result in a substantial increase in teachers salaries.

I also think it matters little what your politics are, the issues are generally more important than the party involved.

As regards to the "No Child Left Behind Policy", the idea is not to just put children in a higher grade, but to ensure they are educated enough to enter the higher grades. I also thought it was the children and the teachers doing the work, not just the teachers. No kid wants to be left behind. It is easily to give up on them though, let them slip behind.

Rather than give the money to the existing teachers, hire more teachers, then maybe they won't have to work so hard as you say and burn out.

SCBN (2, Informative)

DotNM (737979) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432500)

I'm located in Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada and we have a county-wide fiber network that's called SCBN (Simcoe County Broadband Network) [www.scbn.ca] . It was originally started to provide interent access to schools [scdsb.on.ca] , local hospitals and Georgian College [georgianc.on.ca] (where I go to school right now). Recently, it was opened up so that business could get in on the fiber internet... for a fee. Apparently (this is from a sales rep at SCBN) it costs about $3000 to $5000 for installation and about $100 per meg/s per month. In addition, they won't service residental areas (which sucks... imagine a 5 meg fiber line at home ;)). They're owned by Hydro One Telecom and other various Hydro companies.

palo alto fiber net (5, Informative)

wheatking (608436) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432518)

the folks living and working in the rarefied atmosphere of Palo Alto [pafiber.net] (CA) have been working at it for a few years. They also have a city run Utilities dept. and relevant experience. The trial has been very successful (i remember $90 for a fibre drop to the home) with a limited number of customers and now they are pushing for a bond-like measure to build and operate a city wide fiber access utility. As expected, the incumbent network operators (SBC in this case) is out spreading FUD at most city council meetings and with the decision makers. I hope it succeeds so we can move to a model where the road-builders are city/govt regulated and I can have my choice of service providers on the city owned/operated fiber network. Some discussions that I attended bogged down because the proposals defined fiber-to-the-home as a requirement and wasn't exactly friendly to other means of last-100ft access including wide-band wireless, ultra-wide band wireless, or copper operating at >10Mbps.

The "people" factor again || (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432540)

+There are many people who don't want that to
+happen.

Fuck them.

Ah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432664)

Spoken like a true authoritarian.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432551)

I don't know about wiring our whole town, but a campus-campus fibre line is starting to look very inviting to our municipal network. Our current ISP is offering DS1 service, but it's been having problems for two years, and they aren't addressing the issues. Currenty we're getting about 128K of bandwidth our of a full T1. Since we are a will-pay town for Universal Servicecharges^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hs, we get pittance in return for the amount our residents pay into the Al Gore Tax. We had one competitor to the local telco, but they went under. When we presented the local cable company with our requirements, they said a collective, "Huh?" Our local telco quotes the next level of digital service at three times the current rate, and the bandwidth ain't that great. Wireless is out of the question because of the hilly geography.

So, it's not like we've exhausted all our alternatives. Building our own WAN is the only option that has a definite future, and it will pay off in the long run. I imagine that the case in many places.

-Fred

City Lans (3, Interesting)

papasui (567265) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432570)

I'm all for a city fiber Lan where your specific city is responsible for maintaining it. However, I think the cities service should end at the city. If you want actual access to internet then you need to pay a larger fee for using the POP which would be provided by a major telecom. I don't know about the rest of you but I wouldn't want to loose all the funding that telecoms put into communities. Almost all of them give government buildings free service, which incluces libraries, police departments, city hall, schools, etc, and they employ local people to maintain the system.

Government Role in Build Fiber Network. (5, Insightful)

RobertJLove (744705) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432591)

At a recent UTOPIA hearing the following question was asked by some in attendance.

Is it the role of Government to build a wholesale fiber network?
Yes, I believe it is infrastructure, similar to Roads. It does not make sense for each private service provider(FedEx, UPS, etc) to build it's own road to you house or company. Instead Government provides the road allowing the citizens to have cost effective access to private services.

Having the government provide a wholesale fiber network will allow for more companies to compete without the overhead of building a network. This will reduce prices, at the same time as improving what is available.

City of the future (5, Interesting)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432627)

Today's "new" cities are planned, why not plan the bandwidth as well as the plumbing, water supply, roads. If anybody has ever been to Edmonton, Alberta you could see how a planned city works in so many ways. The streets are all numbered from the centre out (I think it's that way). Give someone your address and they know how to get there just by following the streets. Internet access is becoming just as important as streets nowadays. Unfortunately it has to be done by the governing body, the only drawback I see.

Oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8432630)

Here in Montreal, the government is barely able to keep roads and running water going... Draw your own conclusions.

Fredericton, NB Canada has a project as well... (3, Interesting)

darthv506 (571196) | more than 10 years ago | (#8432658)

They have had a dark fiber ring up and running for a while now and have just started offering free wireless service in the downtown core...unfortunately they are hitting the North-South streets before going East-West. Wonder if I can get any signal at my apt...hrmmm :) Here's the project's website, not very up to date though. http://www.e-novations.ca/
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