[internetworkers] N.C. Bill Limiting Municipal Internet
mindcrime at cpphacker.co.uk
Wed Jul 25 18:41:04 EDT 2007
Cristóbal Palmer wrote:
> This isn't about competing with for-profit ISPs. This is about
> government stepping in where for-profit ISPs won't. Yes it's possible
> that large ISPs like TWC might lose some small markets. Should we
> care? No. TWC is beast created by a cable system that allows for local
> monopolies. They're making their money on an un-level playing field
> already. You should be concerned with good outcomes, not profit.
> You're not a rational consumer if your primary concern is other
> people's profit.
My concern isn't with other people's profit, it's with my profit
when I try to go into business providing broadband in the area
served by a tax subsidized business. Ok, not really, but I still
contend that a tax-subsidized business is highly likely (if not
guaranteed) to discourage other competition from trying to
enter the market; and that this will hurt in the long run. I
believe this would turn into a classic example of the "law
of unintended consequences."
At least with the purely private system that everything is
complaining about there is some potential for new competitors
to come along (actually I don't see any possible way that they
won't, if the perceived profit available is high enough).
> There never was and never has been a level playing field for
> communications infrastructure. It's highly capital-intensive, and for
> every major technological leap (eg. electricity, radio) there has been
> some level of government involvement in the rollout. Give up your idea
> of a level playing field. It doesn't exist now and never will.
Ok, fine. I'll grudgingly allow for some initial government
investment to get the ball rolling (this is my more pragmatic side
talking). But I don't like the idea of govt. running businesses
that operate at a perpetual loss, subsidized by taxes.
>> of citizens from forming private wireless mesh networks.
> That connect to the commercial internet how? Who pays for transit? You
> haven't fixed the problem of connecting rural communities to the rest
> of the world.
I'm being a touch speculative on that one, but I could see mesh networks
as a possible (at least partial) solution to the "last mile problem."
>> TWC / Bellsouth duopoly (if such a beast exists)
> You're looking at it. Who else provides broadband around here?
Wild Blue Satellite
Time Warner Cable
maybe others that I'm not aware of...
> we should _define_ broadband. Oops... we have to define broadband as
> being 200 Kbit or faster to get any meaningful range of providers.
Going from memory, I'll admit, but I believe any of those listed
options above can provide at least 200Kbit downstream. Satellite
does admittedly have issues with latency and usually has pretty low
upstream bandwidth, but I'm not saying there are are an unlimited number
of perfect options.... just that there are options and there is competition.
> Both of these blow goats. Have you tried either? These are in no way,
> shape or form "broadband" access... unless you're the FCC. If my local
> government tried to roll out one of those technologies, yes I'd be
> pissed. I'd make my voice heard. No, I don't need your law to shield
> me from that risk.
Would you even know if they tried to do it? Without this
law and it's required transparency, it seems like the LocalGov
could probably sneak something like this through and have
contracts signed before most citizens even knew what was
going on. Ok, maybe you are an exception to the rule, and
routinely read the minutes of the county commissioners
meetings, committee meetings, etc., and might pick up on it
without this law. But in general, I believe those
provisions are a positive in terms of trying to provide
transparency and accountability.
>> Or petitioning the government to remove artificial
>> barriers to entry that discourage more private companies from entering
>> the market.
> Such as? Please let's eliminate these, yes.
> Many consumers have access to both cable TV and satellite service.
> But only about 1.5 percent of households with video service nationwide
> enjoy effective competition based on the presence of a wireline competitor,
> according to the FCC. While federal law prohibits municipalities from
> granting exclusive franchises, cable firms have long exercised a de
> facto monopoly.
> Government interference in the video market, notably the monopolistic nature
> of the cable franchise regime, is a significant factor in this lack of competition.
> The Federal Communications Commission highlighted the problem it an order issued
> March 5, 2007 to constrain municipalities’ franchising authority over video services.
> As the commission concluded: The current operation of the franchising process constitutes
> an unreasonable barrier to entry that impedes the achievement of the interrelated federal
> goals of enhanced cable competition and accelerated broadband deployment.
The interesting thing is, and it's on that page if one reads further
down, the franchise agreements were originally done with a noble purpose
in mind: to encourage investment in cable infrastructure by ensuring
that the carriers could garner a large enough market share to recoup the
investment. But in practice, they've served to create monopolies.
Another example of the "law of unintended consequences," IMO. Not
to mention unnecessary. Business routinely invest in things when the
return on investment isn't guaranteed. That's one of the fundamental
principles of capital markets, that there is benefit to be had, but
counter-balanced by risk.
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