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Subject: [IP] more on Public Broadband Hits Political Speedbumps

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To: Ip ip <>
  • Date: Mon, 18 Jul 2005 05:35:24 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: July 18, 2005 1:00:46 AM EDT
To:, 'Ip ip' <>
Cc: 'Robert Berger' <>
Subject: RE: [IP] more on Public Broadband Hits Political Speedbumps

I hate to repeat myself but perhaps the points are better understood in specific
contexts. The goal is not any fixed unit of broadband. We need a sustainable
process -- just like the Internet itself which continues to move beyond narrow
specifications. There is no &quot;Internet&quot; just a community.

The problem with a muni service provider is that it shifts the incentives. If
you are funding your connectivity with your cable TV business then those who get
their content elsewhere are defunding the Internet. Same as VoIP defunding E911.

A second problem is that governments tend to have to over-specify their mission
in order to prevent fraud and other problems but that doesn't work above
fungible bits. It's not just funding but the entire regulatory process. We need
to obviate regulation rather than naively removing.

A big problem is the idea of self-funding which makes sense for cable TV but not
for the Internet (or roads or garbage) which is a public good but cannot capture
the value in the billing model. This is especially true for connectivity that
enables innovations which aren't initially as &quot;valuable&quot; as a cable TV
subscription. The incentive is for more channels rather than more bits. Sharing
with passers by is another issue. Connectivity is for the larger community not
just the residents.

Layer one fails if it has to be self-sustaining.

I'm concerned that efforts like that in Lafayette confuse the agenda and make
the Internet another TV channel. The goal is not to defeat the evil carriers but
to defeat the business model that requires such extraordinary effort to keep
them alive. Expropriating this model isn't the answer.

And, again

Quibble with terminology -- &quot;End-to-End service provider&quot; is used below in the
sense of &quot;Womb-to-Tomb service provider&quot;. End to end means the middle doesn't
define the contents but I guess we now need to call that Peer-to-Peer via an
unfettered infrastructure.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of
David Farber
Sent: Sunday, July 17, 2005 18:59
To: Ip ip
Subject: [IP] more on Public Broadband Hits Political Speedbumps

Begin forwarded message:

From: &quot;Robert J. Berger&quot; <>
Date: July 17, 2005 3:38:10 PM EDT
To: Randall <>
Cc: Dave Farber <>, Dewayne Hendricks
Subject: Re: [IP] Public Broadband Hits Political Speedbumps

I am personally not against Municipalities that want to attempt to be a service provider (i.e. manage and support Layer 2+ services on top of a Physical Plant (layer 1).

But I believe that it is much more difficult and more prone to
failure than just running a Layer 1 service (I.e. Dark Fiber). Dark
Fiber is primarily a physical deployment and maintenance issue. And
it does map to the same kinds of  capabilities and economic
mechanisms as roads/water/sewers/power. You just have to make sure
that the roads/sewers/power is built and flows. The technology and
capital costs of the physical layer generally move on the decade scale.

The technology and capital costs, of layer 2+ services move on a 2 -
4 year cycle and the support and operations costs are something that
most Municipalities are totally unprepared to handle.

Also if the Municipality is the application layer service provider,
it can lead to the same problems of monopolization as having an RBOC,
or CableCo be the monopoly. Less choice and stifling of technical
innovation. If the Municipality runs it as an open access layer 1
offering, then innovation and markets can bloom.

Almost all the examples of failed Municipal broadband is where the
municipality tried to be an end to end service provider.
Unfortunately, we don't have too many examples of municipalities that
have tried to do layer 1 only (Stockholm, Sweden is one shining light
of a positive example though)

On Jul 16, 2005, at 3:14 PM, Randall wrote:

On Sat, 2005-07-16 at 14:22 -0700, Robert J. Berger wrote:

The Municipalities should not be service providers. Lighting the fiber and delivering content is the right place for competitive, primarily commercial providers. These competitive providers would gain access to the dark fiber or the routers operated by other competitive service providers who light fiber, collocated at Municipal Exchange Points where everyone can collocate equipment on a cost plus, open access basis.

Why should municipalities not be service providers? Here in Kentucky the city of Glasgow owns the CATV provider; they have the lowest cable TV rates in the state. Our third-largest city, Owensboro, owns Owensboro Municipal Utilities, which provides electricity, gas, water and sewer service at a lower rate than any private providers does to other cities in the state.

The city of Louisville owns the Louisville Water Company and the
Metropolitan Sewer District.  The former company is run on a
profit-making basis, with the profits being paid as dividends to its
sole shareholder, the city.   Water is cheaper in Owensboro than in

--- Robert J. Berger - Internet Bandwidth Development, LLC. Voice: 408-882-4755 eFax: +1-408-490-2868 PGP Key:

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