Cable Monopolies Drive Up Prices, Drive Down Competition

Big surprise: cable companies leverage their monopoly status in local markets to increase prices at double-digit rates and keep competition from even getting started. Prescribing a solution to remove control from local communities, however, is very misguided. If Michigan took some cues from Utah, prices could be driven down by deploying a competitive municipal broadband network with multiple private providers. This removes the main barrier to entry for competitors: the infrastructure.

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Santa Clara University to Host Municipal Broadband Symposium

It's not exactly in our neck of the woods, but worth mentioning. Santa Clara University is holding a conference on municipal broadband and is specifically inviting the underserved from Silicon Valley to help formulate public policy on broadband. This sounds like just the kind of thing we need in our neck of the woods to get UTOPIA available to the hundreds of thousands of Utahns living in areas not eligible to join.

(See press release. Warning: Unnecessary superlatives, hyperbolic statements.)

Rural Internet Access Shutout Caused by Telcos' Broken Promises

It's not surprising to read, but many in rural areas are shut out from high-speed Internet options since most telcos and cablecos refuse to expand there. Oh, they'll line up to the trough for the $2 billion rural telecommunications loan pool, but actually doing something with it is a different matter. Maybe these smaller counties need to take the lead and deploy their own broadband networks to make up for the shortcomings of their monopolistic phone companies.

(See full article.)

Support HR 5252!

HR 5252 includes provisions to encourage development of municipal broadband, ensure Net Neutrality, and update telecommunications laws to work with VoIP. This summary provides a breakdown of the bill and the great things it will accomplish. Let's write our legislators to encourage support of this bill so that companies like Qwest and SBC can no longer sue municipal broadband away.

Builders in Wisconsin Sue Over Municipal Broadband Requirements

A group of homebuilders in Wisconsin have sued the city they're building in for asking them to install dedicated conduit for their municipal broadband project. While they claim that it's requiring them to install a non-essential service, access to data over the Internet has rapidly become the one-stop shop for information. With telephone and television networks moving towards Internet-like structures, we will soon notice no difference between services: they'll all be on the same line.

Boo on the builders for raising a stink over some plastic pipes that cost just $250 per home yet increasing the value of those homes immensely.

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High-Speed Internet Brings Benefits to Rural Canadians

A private company in the far reaches of Nunavut, Canada is providing high-speed satellite Internet access to remote villages. The service has been bringing increased access to goods and services and the information is helping local businesses improve the way they operate. Of course, this comes at a price: $60 a month for the service, a large premium over fiber-based services like UTOPIA provides. There's also no competition for services. If UTOPIA expands to smaller communities like Vernal, Logan, and Moab, you could see the same benefits taking shape and a true expansion of broadband to rural areas.

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US Still Lags in Broadband Development

Thanks to the cable/telco duopoly, Americans are lagging behind with adopting broadband since it's just too darned expensive. While the Japanese and Koreans can enjoy a bundle of telephone, cable, and high-speed Internet (often at speeds well beyond what we can get here) for about $35 a month, it's hard to find just an Internet connection for that in this country. Over 1/3 of US households still have no choice but dial-up for Internet access.

Alarmingly, companies like AT&T have been lobbying to get municipal WiFi systems outlawed. I guess they figure that if they can't compete on price or service, it's time to roll out the high-priced lawyers. This should come as little surprise as AT&T was one of the chief proponents of a tiered Internet, effectively ending "Net Neutrality".

Since the telcos and cablecos are doing such a terrible job of rolling out access and affordably pricing their services, can there be any other option but municipal broadband projects like UTOPIA? Wishful thinking isn't going to get them in line with thier 1996 Telecommunications Act promises.

(See full article.)