back to article The Internet Association backs FCC's muni broadband push

Count the likes of eBay, Facebook, and Twitter among those who support the FCC's plan to allow municipal governments to become ISPs. The Internet Association, an industry group whose membership also includes Google, Amazon, and Yahoo!, has filed an amicus brief with the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the FCC …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    So ISP service is substandard in some areas and not getting better after a long time. Clearly the cause is protectionism of some kind, because without it you would see competition and improvement.

    And the answer seems to be, not "remove the protectionism" but instead "keep the protectionsm but let the government in on it."

    Yeah, that sounds like it will 'work' pretty well. Can't let free market forces correct the problem, nooo, just shovel more manure into the old wagon and hope it can stand the strain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fixtures

      It isn't protectionism, the problem is that it either the return on investment isn't there at all (wiring a sparsely populated area never will be) or the return on investment is better in other locations.

      This is a free market failure that doesn't provide residents of these areas any options for decent broadband. They can either wait for years and hope the ROI equation changes, or they can try to bring in an alternative that doesn't have to concern itself with meeting an ROI target (i.e. municipal broadband, or start their own COOP)

      The city owns fiber in only a handful of places in the US, but almost everywhere the city owns the right of way where cable company & telco fiber is run. Owning the fiber is not all that different than owning the right of way - owning fiber and leasing access to all comers may be the best way to inspire free market competition as the barriers to entry are far lower when you don't need many millions in capital to run your own fiber before you're eligible to compete.

      Today's situation where companies own/run their own fiber means that in most areas you have only two choices for wired broadband so it is hardly a situation rife with "competition and improvement". An oligopoly does little to drive down prices, and that's one of the main reasons why US broadband prices are some of the highest in the developed world (even after adjusting for cost of living)

      1. ratfox

        Re: Fixtures

        I'd add that the oligopoly between US providers is especially chummy. There's lots of oligopolies and even duopolies which see vigorous competition, but somehow this just isn't happening here. To the point that the CEO of Comcast stated they should be allowed to form a monopoly with TWC, since they were already not competing anyway…

    2. strum

      Re: Fixtures

      > Can't let free market forces correct the problem, nooo,

      The 'free' market isn't free. Never has been, never will be.

      Markets must be regulated and, if a light hand won't fix things, then heavy boots are needed.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: Fixtures

        "The 'free' market isn't free. Never has been, never will be."

        I don't know which part of the market you're talking about, but historically the FCC was the main reason that the telecommunications market in the US wasn't free. Read Tim Wu's book The Master Switch to understand how the FCC was originally used as the tool of the Bell system and RCA to enforce unnecessary regulations in restraint of trade. It's still going on but maybe this push is a chink of light.

    3. 404

      Re: Fixtures

      I've been on the AT&T DSL waiting list since late 2006.

      Seems the antiquated DSLAM only has x ports and they're passed down the family via will when a subscriber dies.... Suffering with satellite 'broadband' until I get this place sold and move somewhere with infrastructure.

  2. Mikel

    Somehow the court will find that providing critical infrastructure is not the government's business

    Despite the fact that that is in large part what the government is for.

    > We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Once upon a time....

    Many municipalities had their own ISP including infrastructure. The big guys sued on "unfair competition" and made the usual promises of high speeds, reliability, and connections for everyone. If they didn't win the lawsuit, they just raised their rates to where the users in the cities couldn't afford the ISP. Well, here we are now... poor service, lousy speeds, and high prices because the big guys can "compete". They won't connect to rural areas or anywhere it might be a tad unprofitable, but hey... they're the good guys and they're still promising the green pastures to all who listen.

    And now, we have (other than Google) non-ISP companies backing this idea of muni IPSs. The big ISPs are strangely silent.

    Reminds of the shenanigans the major power companies pulled with muni-owned power companies.

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