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The Internet Technology

Cities Building Own Fiber Networks 301

Posted by simoniker
from the using-wheaties dept.
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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Cities Building Own Fiber Networks

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  • by ImaNumber (754512) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:12PM (#8432213)
    I'm not sure which is worse...the government having control of my line or the cable companies having control...
    • by steak (145650) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:13PM (#8432237) Homepage Journal
      I'd rather have the government, at least you can threaten to vote for someone else if they get to cheaky.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:28PM (#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.
      • by JediTrainer (314273) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:49PM (#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.
        • by dontspellsogood (674913) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:23PM (#8433089)
          Well, as one who does pay and does use the 407, I may grumble about the price increase, but at least (IMHO) I get what I pay for. I drive the 407 about 30km each way to/from work. Rarely is there traffic congestion (usually due to rubberneckers at an accident), and when it snows, its salted and plowed almost immediately. You break down at the side and those 407 trucks are right there to help out (if the OPP doesn't stop first.)

          They're always adding to it, expanding lanes and lengthening it and stuff.

          Its a privately owned highway... if the government wanted to restrict rate increases then it should have been included in the terms of the sale.

          re: reasonable timeframe. heh. you're always free to get up that hour early and take the 401. :)
        • by pr0t0plasm (183810) <pr0t0plasm@noSPAm.luckymud.org> on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:44PM (#8433937) Homepage
          So, to sum up:

          Ontario's government abdicates management of highway 407 to one those aforementioned greedy corporations, which employs untility-like, estimation-based billing methods because checking actual usage rates is expensive. This greedy corporation then raises rates and restricts access, which leads to the conclusion that the government should not be trusted to manage infrastructure.

          Um... could that be revised to 'The government can't be trusted to privatise infrastructure'?
      • by HMC CS Major (540987) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:49PM (#8432722) Homepage
        The problem is that the government has no incentive to invest the time and money keeping the system current.

        As anyone in Los Angeles can tell you, the best way to make sure that the infrastructure is built once and never updated is to let the government control it. Just look at the 405, 105, 10, 60, 5, 210, 134, 2, 91, 710, 605, 110 freeways. Of all those, I know of two areas of "construction" (maintenance) in the last few years: repaved the 5 for about 10 miles through Burbank, and they added about 30 miles of new highway and called it the 210 (from Glendora to San Bernardino). The rest is a torn up collection of pot-holed, congested asphault. Not exactly what I want the internet to resemble in a few years.
        • by duffbeer703 (177751) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:04PM (#8432889)
          The problem with Los Angeles is that real estate interests influenced the construction of the ridiculous freeway system to begin with.

          The New York City metropolitan area was the first urban area to have an integrated highway system. The results were clear after about ten years: more highways spawn more traffic. Of course the person behind the New York system, Mr. Robert Moses, made it exceedingly difficult to see the NY highway system as anything but an unqualified success.

          Had the powers that be in Los Angeles built a responsible combination of expressways and public transit rather than hundreds of miles of unmaintainable highways, Los Angeles wouldn't be the posterchild of urban sprawl that it is today.

          The telecom companies are less progressive than any local government. They've made trillions of dollars over the years overcharging for analog lines and are fighting desperately to preserve their monopoly.
          • by El (94934) on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:13PM (#8433637)
            LA, having the first freeway system, also got to have the worst. All other areas have learned from their mistakes. As far as I know, there are still left-lane exits on I10 that go around blind corners that cause several accidents per day. Why in 50 years nobody has bothered to fix the problems is beyond me.
          • by SacredNaCl (545593) on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:39PM (#8433880) Journal
            The telecom companies are less progressive than any local government. They've made trillions of dollars over the years overcharging for analog lines and are fighting desperately to preserve their monopoly.

            I'm from Missouri, home of SBC's (then Southwestern Bell) "We're sorry we invinted several non-existant charges and charged you for years...If you let us keep it we will use it to wire up fiber to the home.." That was 1992-1993? What fiber?

            Sorry guys, no fiber here! Either do it, or give the people of Missouri their money back + all the years of interest.

            Competitive? Ha. At least the government as slow as it moves can complete a fiber network. The phone company isn't going to get any sympathy here. Hell, SBC hasn't even started! 10 years from now they will still be talking about their "just around the corner" same song and dance and no results.

            Okay, SBC -- Show me. Do it. You promised it 10 years ago, I want it hooked up to my house and everyone else in my neighborhood by the end of next month. You want to be competitive? That's competitive. Until then -- save your "unfair playing field" whine. Stealing billions from your customers is a pretty "unlevel" advantage as well.

      • by gessel (310103)
        Absolutely right.

        Like basic mail service, like the streets that connect our houses, our LOCAL governments, which do tend to be accountable, should provide LOCAL network service to our houses. Backbone service is different, and for that there should be competition... rather like the mail (commercial airlines carry airmail, in fact that's how they got started).

        The networks should be managed by law under common carriage.

        Blockbuster or WalMart is what happens when a monopoly imposes it's ideology - no naug
    • by Anonymous Coward
      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 Evils (Score:4, Interesting)

      by schodackwm (662337) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:01PM (#8432848) Homepage
      well... I'll take my chances on government, I guess, since the cable company maintains its content-control by refusing to wire the neighborhood.
      Besides which, at the rate media companies are growing, it's going to be hard to dif governmnet and cable
  • We did this (Score:4, Informative)

    by PhraudulentOne (217867) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:12PM (#8432218) Homepage Journal
    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 :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:12PM (#8432220)
    Bran Fiber!!
  • by NeoTheOne (673445) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:12PM (#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.
    • 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?

    • by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:26PM (#8432427) Homepage Journal
      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.

      • by scottay (195804) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:07PM (#8432920)
        Your point about oversight is essential.

        In theory, I support the idea of municipalities developing networks in the hopes that subsidizing the costs will lower the current "barriers for entry" for non-profits, schools, etc. However, my fear is that a network managed by the government will have standards of use dictated by the government that will eliminate the social benefit it could provide.

        Consider the radio airwaves ... a public, shared resource managed by the government. The FCC has guidelines for the content that can be broadcast over those airwaves in order to "protect" the public from content that they believe the majority of the citizens do not consider an appropriate use of that shared resource. A shared network infrastructure could be a significantly different beast, but only because the resource both is less scarce and more hidden from the general public. I can view the contents of a website without my neighbor knowing how I'm using their tax dollars. However, a concerned citizen could argue that they don't want their money used to support the viewing of certain types of web sites, and therefore that those sites should not be available over the municipal network. A similar argument has been made to coerce libraries into installing net nannies on their public computers.

        These arguments are natural whenever the government is providing or subsidizing resources; if this resource is "owned" by the collective, then it should be managed according to their will. Fortunately, the free economy guarantees that if people want a network unfettered by government regulation, they will pay for it (see satellite radio and cable TV). However, in that case, the social benefits of a municipal network are lost. That means the only remaining benefit of a public network is to provide competition with the incumbent corporations ... and breaking the monopolies seems a much more cost-effective way to do that.

        • by Yokaze (70883) on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:50PM (#8434009)
          > Fortunately, the free economy guarantees that if people want a network unfettered by government regulation, they will pay for it (see satellite radio and cable TV)

          Ah, yes. ABC is a goverment controlled company. I'd say, companies are even more willingly following the public opinion (call of the buck) than governmental agencies.

          IANAL, but aren't governmental agencies more strictly bound by the consitution and laws?
          For example, you can certainly demand from a govermental ISP to publish all what you want, which is covered by the First Amendement, but I'd say you can't do the same with a commercial ISP.

          > A similar argument has been made to coerce libraries into installing net nannies on their public computers.

          I think the main argument was not the costs incurring due to such use, but more the public nature of the computers.
          Arguing through the costs could backfire as the costs for maintaining such control is probably more expensive than the actual use of the net.
      • by Evil Al (7496)
        They're trying this in Ireland at the moment... the government is paying for huge amounts of fiber to be put into the ground. There are a number of problems with this that make it a hugely stupid idea for Ireland (might be fine for wherever you live, before I get flamed!)

        To start with, Ireland already has a huge amount of unlit fiber in the ground. At the hight of the boom, when Ireland was trying to sell itself as the "eCommerce hub of Europe," about half a dozen telcos laid down glass. The problem? The v
  • Dark Fiber (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanoTime (677061) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:13PM (#8432233)
    Why not use (buy) all the Dark Fiber everyone cries about from the Telecom Boom in the 90's?
    • Re:Dark Fiber (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:16PM (#8432274) Homepage
      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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:17PM (#8432314) Journal
      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 (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Short Circuit (52384)
        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.
      • by Minwee (522556)
        Fiber needs to be laid

        That must represent an interesting maintenance problem. I heard somewhere that if your fiber doesn't get laid, your network may go down.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:20PM (#8432356)
      Because strong is the path to Dark Fiber...Too much and it will eventually consume you...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:54PM (#8432784)
      ... of about 100K population in Texas. We're installing our own fiberoptic lines for a couple big reasons. First of all, using WAN links that are operated by commercial 3rd parties does not pass muster with the Homeland Security goons for law enforcement and other public safety related network traffic. Something about being paranoid that the phone company's Middle Eastern technical employees might tap into, or deliberately disrupt the service in times of emergency.

      Secondly is that all that dark fiber that's laying dormant all over our city will likely stay dormant forever because the phone company does not want to sell it unless they can make a killing off of it. When we approached them about leasing some, the dollar signs just lit up and rolled in the salesmen's eyes. They came back with a price quote that was utterly ridiculous and didn't really want to hear what we were asking for... they instead came back with basically double the quantity and bandwidth links we'd asked for. Remember that cheesy Computer Associates television commercial with the thin cardboard software salesman that keeps saying "Great!!! 500 units is is!!!" when the customer only wanted 25? That's what it's like dealing with these maroons. They don't want to sell their dark fiber to anyone, or else they'd price it according to the market.

      We did the math and the cost of installing our own fiber to the various municipal buildings across town will pay for itself in under 5 years, plus since it is securely owned and operated, it satisfies the tinfoil hat guys.
  • by chrisopherpace (756918) <cpace@NOsPaM.hnsg.net> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:13PM (#8432251) Homepage
    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.
    • by RickoniX (667001) <RickoniXNO@SPAMRickoniX.com> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:15PM (#8432265) Homepage
      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
    • 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 ;)

    • Lessig Agress (Score:5, Informative)

      by rwiedower (572254) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:31PM (#8432504) Homepage

      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!

    • by bigpat (158134) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:38PM (#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.

      • by garcia (6573) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:05PM (#8432904) Homepage
        from my experience there are no markets with real competition. DSL has never been able to compete with cable for speed. I would be far more willing to spend more money for cable for the speeds I get (and no, I have never had good service w/DSL and always have had killer speeds w/cable -- TW and ATT/Comcast).

        DSL here is 640/160 IIRC. Cable here is 3000/256. DSL is $59.99/mo (plus phone service) where Cable is $42.95/45.95 (own modem/their modem plus cable service) or 60.95/63.95 (own modem/their modem no cable service).

        Ok, so we have Cable where I live (no DSL available at my particular residence). If Burnsville, MN decides to setup a Fiber access for the town and offers something identical in speed (I don't care about "extra services" like email and webhosting) I would see that as a reason for Comcast to drop the price.

        What real competition does Comcast have when I can't get DSL and even if I could it would be about 1/5th the speed?
  • by darrelld2 (307106) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:14PM (#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?

    • by anonicon (215837) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:22PM (#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.
      • by Artifakt (700173) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:05PM (#8432901)
        To be fair, I suspect the prior poster was thinking more along the lines of:

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

        which can be a fair criticism.

        To answer it, consider this. Other posts to this thread have mentioned cities or municipalities doing the work themselves, and finding out that it cost only about 10% of what they were quoted by commercial concerns. Local governments have also looked at providing their own broadband because they want to reach poorer neighborhoods that some businesses consider unprofitable, or to create a special tier of services for schools and other such reasons.
        Based on their own statements, interested businesses seem to be steering towards "cherry picking", wanting to select the wealthyest customers, and even ignore a share of these that are above the average for their middle class neighborhoods. Yes there are exceptions to this, and I suspect those exceptions are the ones who will make money in the long run.
        I'd say net access is moving towards a ubiquitous model, and the only way to make money there is to do like the grocery store chains, and aim for a relatively modest profit margin. Most groceries are glad to get 3 to 4% or so. That price is mostly because there's lots of competition, not because the government is involved. Notice that margin is very low even though food is _not_ a luxury item, and most of us can't put off purchasing it indefinitely. Can you imagine if a grocery store chain said, "Yes, there's lots of competitors, and some people even plant their own gardens or take up deer hunting just to give us less business, but if the government would just stop giving away cheese, we could have a 10% per annum profit margin.". Would anyone take that claim seriously? (Well here on slashdot, someone would.).
    • Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mark_MF-WN (678030)
      Companies don't need to compete. If the government can provide a service better than businesses, then they should. The public wins by getting better service at a lower price. What on earth could be wrong with that?

      There's nothing worse than people who are willing to suffer inferior service at bloated prices, just to conform to some ridiculous capitalist ideal.
    • You mean like ISPs that have to rely on the phone company to provide DSL and internet connectivity services? Especially when those companies are marketing the same services. How about when those phone companies charge the ISPs more per connection than they pay for themselves?

      Local phone companies have all the benefits of having a monopoly on the market and now the entity that allowed them become one is tired of doing business with them. Where was the competition that was supposed to come about from ope

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:14PM (#8432256)

    Today the cities will build fiber networks.. next they'll start paving the roads.. building sewers.. maintaining bridges..
  • Sad thing is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) * <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:14PM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:16PM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ryan Amos (16972) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:38PM (#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?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:15PM (#8432269) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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?! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sandor at the Zoo (98013) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:32PM (#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.

      • Re:Complaints?! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by anonicon (215837) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:51PM (#8432743)
        Nice troll, really nice troll...

        "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"


        You mean just like the private companies who do it now, charge more for their service, and provide less in return? Holy Crock-O'-Shit, Batman, I don't want to compete with that!

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

        Uh, one small but eternally permanent problem with that - towns, small municipalities, and other cities can't tell X Internet companies to "get your ass in here and compete, or else we'll do nothing."

        Or were you referring to offering incentives to attract Internet-access companies? If so, thanks, but no thanks to corporate welfare.
      • Re:Complaints?! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Oligonicella (659917)
        "Or, they could ......"
        All of which, they could be voted out for.
        Can you vote out your corporate provider?
      • Re:Complaints?! (Score:3, Insightful)

        Two notes:

        1) I think you might be confusing the installation and maintenance of cabling infrastructure with operating an ISP. These are two very different things.

        2) Everything in your list can be (and is being) done by a private company. There's nothing special about governments that makes any of that more likely.

        More detail:
        • 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
          If there is already fibre now with services runni
  • Alberta, Canada (Score:5, Informative)

    by Blair16 (683764) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:16PM (#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.
  • by Operating Thetan (754308) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:16PM (#8432293) Journal
    So, um, aren't public companies meant to be less efficient than private ones?
    • by llywrch (9023) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:30PM (#8432488) Homepage Journal
      > 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
  • by Dimes (10216) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:19PM (#8432328) Homepage
    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
  • by argoff (142580) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:19PM (#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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • by magarity (164372) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:19PM (#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.
    • 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 mone

  • by AshtangiMan (684031) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:23PM (#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.

    • 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.
  • by panic911 (224370) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:24PM (#8432389) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by segment (695309) <sil@NOSpam.politrix.org> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:25PM (#8432406) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by happyfrogcow (708359)
      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.

  • 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?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:27PM (#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.
  • AFN (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kallahar (227430) <kallahar@quickwired.com> on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:27PM (#8432444) Homepage
    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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maximilln (654768)
    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 h
  • SCBN (Score:2, Informative)

    by DotNM (737979)
    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 additio
  • palo alto fiber net (Score:5, Informative)

    by wheatking (608436) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:33PM (#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.
  • City Lans (Score:4, Interesting)

    by papasui (567265) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:36PM (#8432570) Homepage
    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.
  • by RobertJLove (744705) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:38PM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:41PM (#8432627) Journal
    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.
  • by darthv506 (571196) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:44PM (#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/
  • Selective Amnesia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bethanie (675210) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:49PM (#8432721) Journal
    The cable and telco that whine about unfair competition seem to conveniently forget that that their facilities were paid for under regulations that gave them monopoly status. Most municipalities that get into the broadband business do so because the incumbents have not provided anything but vague promises for the future.

    ....Bethanie....
  • by Graymalkin (13732) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:50PM (#8432737)
    Finally, someone listened! Municipal data networks make perfect sense. Many municipalities manage their local utilities, adding data services to that I think is the natural extension.

    The pricate telephone companies are never going to outlay the cash for significant upgrades to a local telecom system. They would much rather stick with their relatively old lines and equipment and charge their customers and arm and a leg for them. When the cities and counties own the lines, they're going to get a better price on services because they can shop around. I'm not saddened by the stories of woe coming out of the local Bells. Municipal data networks are being built and proposed because there is a need for them that isn't being met by the current owners of the data networks.

    I don't understand why they don't work with the munis on these projects. Instead of whining about competition they should offer to manage the networks. They can get the management dollars without the outlay for construction. I suppose they don't like to play games where they don't make up the rules. If they're concerned about municipal networks competing for commercial services it because the market is the telcos' to lose. There's plenty of areas of the country that have a lot of cheap office space and a high standard of living. They do not however have the sort of data infrastructure that many businesses are looking for and are thus avoided by larger businesses. Building competitive data networks can draw a lot of business to an area. The Bells want to focus business in particular markets where they have a lot of leverage while a municipality wants to move business where it is.

    It's sad that the telcos are so successful in their lobbying to prevent municipalities from reselling excess capacity. The money an RBOC makes it not going into local communities. The money Bumkiss county makes however does go into the community. In Georgia where the schools stand to make money the situation is even worse. The school districts could generate cashflow by selling something they're not using and wouldn't miss. At the very least it would be possible for their network to break even an essentially give the county schools a free 10Gb data network. At best they could put money back into that county's coffers. Even if those dollars don't go directly back into the school system the schools could still benefit. Hopefully the legislature in Utah and the SC in Missouri's case will see the telcos are whining about having their uncompetitive monopolies taken away and side with the municipalities.
  • by O0o0Oblubb!O0o0O (526718) on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:50PM (#8432738) Homepage
    I read an interesting article [heise.de] lately about a company in Vienna, Austria, which has developed a machine called "cable runner" that can deploy fibre cables in sewage tunnels. This eliminates the need for digging. It mentions though, that this is not meant for a wide network but rather for point to point connections. Oh, here's the company's website [wienkanal.at].

    Looked like an interesting idea to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:51PM (#8432752)
    Despite the ranting of laissez-faire ideologues, many communities have municipal utilities of various sorts and in general the public seems to be satisfied. This shouldn't be considered such a great big deal.

    There's every reason for a town to provide its own services if the magic of the marketplace isn't doing the job.

    The town of Norwood, Massachusetts, population 40,000, not a hotbed of socialism by any means, has town electricity, and a few years ago added town cable TV and internet access: Norwood Light Broadband [norwoodlight.com]. It coexists with (and competes with) private offerings.

    People I know who live in Norwood are generally happy with the town services. Compared to neighboring towns, the perception is that the electric service is somewhat more reliable than that provided by Boston Edison. And it is slightly cheaper. The municipal light department has been in operation for, oh, many decades and I wouldn't say people swear by it, but they certainly don't swear at it.

    Norwood Light Broadband is newer, but it is competing successfully with private companies, and again, people who use it seem to be happy with it. This is particularly relevant, because before town cable, there was a succession of cable companies (Adams-Russell, Cablevision, MediaOne, Comcast... I think I've left at least one out) that came and went and merged and a long succession of unreliable service and unresponsive customer service. Each one disclaimed responsibility for the broken promises of the previous company and, in turn, made and broke promises of their own.
  • by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Monday March 01, 2004 @03:51PM (#8432756)
    Naturally, I have to take a midterm that night:

    The Quixotic Quest for Universal Broadband [computersociety.org]
    Rich Wiggins
    Overview and Bio

    Wednesday, March 3, 2004 7:30 PM - 10:00 PM

    Ann Arbor IT Zone
    330 E. Liberty
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    Description

    It seems broadband will cure whatever ails you. Economic developers for villages and states claim it's essential for business growth. Comcast and SBC claim their broadband offerings will transform your Internet experience. A Carnegie-Mellon professor promises 100 megabits/second to 100 million homes.

    Yet there isn't even a universally accepted definition of "broadband." You may have a semi-fat pipe to your house, but we still don't have end-to-end quality of service. Universities invest billions in campus networks but struggle to keep MP3 downloads from consuming all the bandwidth. This talk explores the crosscurrents and pitfalls in the quest for universal broadband.

    Presenter Bio

    Richard Wiggins is an author and speaker specializing in Internet topics.

    Wiggins writes for national publications such as New Media, Searcher, and Internet World. He serves on the editorial board of First Monday, a peer reviewed e-journal about the Internet.

    He is author of the first book on Web publishing, The Internet for Everyone: A Guide for Users and Provider (McGraw-Hill, 1995) and is writing a new book called A Guide to the Literature of the Internet (Libraries Unlimited, 2000).

    Wiggins is executive producer and co-host with Charles Severance of a television program, "North Coast Digital," which explores Internet topics as well as broader coverage of digital developments. Wiggins and Severance previously hosted "Internet: TCI" and "Nothin' But Net," seen on cable systems in Michigan and in various systems across the United States.

    Wiggins has interviewed numerous Internet pioneers, including Vint Cerf (inventor of Internet Protocol), Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the Web), David Lytel (first White House Webmaster), Brewster Kahle (WAIS, Alexa), Michael Mauldin (Lycos), Larry Wall (PERL), and Sherry Turkle (MIT professor and author).

    (I wasn't sure if this is related enough to the topic at hand to post, but since at least one /. editor is allegedly here in the People's Republic of Ann Arbor, what the heck...)
  • by tulare (244053) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:03PM (#8432873) Journal
    The town I used to live in (and hope to move back to very soon) built [ashlandfiber.net] a city-wide group of fiber links (22 nodes for a town of 20,000) that is working out rather quite well - you can get teevee if that's your wish - not mine, but hey, scifi is cool sometimes - or DOCSYS to the curb for 5 megs down or so... the upstream used to be one until the college kids saturated the network with p2p and the admin responded by capping upload. Cost for your 5 meg connection is about 30 bucks a month depending on which ISP you choose.

    On the education front, the school district which I work for has 6 locations in three different municipalities. We were linked together by T1 lines that really were pretty terrible - bad connections which were weather-sensitive (not such a good thing in Oregon!), and slow even when they were running at full speed. We were approached by a local (and reputable) company which offered to build out and give us 2 dark fibers to each location and a pair of fibers to our upstream provider (thereby giving us glass all the way to the NOC), all for the price we were paying for our T1 line. Sounds too good to be true? Nope. We put out an RFP, the guys who made the original proposal won the bidding by miles, they did all the hanging from poles, trenching, etc, gave us our glass, we put media converters in, and voila! we've got screaminig connection between locations - all for the price of that cruddy T1 that we were apparently paying too much for.

    The moral of this story? I guess there isn't one, except to say that what they're talking about in the lead story is real, and works. As a slashdot-friendly aside, Paul Allen, in his role of higher-up for the local cable pigopoly [charter.net], swore to the City Council that he'd do everything in his power to sink the fiber project since they weren't using his Borg-infested kit to do it, preferring instead to use local people and companies. This threat occurred about 5 years ago, and the fiber network is still doing OK. Sorry, Paul =P
    • by JimmytheGeek (180805) <jamesaffeld@yah o o . c om> on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:22PM (#8433715) Journal
      Seattle has a municipal fiber net, linking schools, libraries, and community colleges. The ISP is a state agency. We've enjoyed a gigabit uplink - schaweeeeet! Since we own the fiber, we can lease it to the ISP agency for the cost of the ISP hookup, which they are cool with. They don't have to maintain and pay for T1s.

      And Qwest has its genitals in its anus where they belong. Everybody hates Qwest. Verizon would rather pay more to set up a tower than lease some space on theirs. They wouldn't lease us space in a conduit that goes under a street to our facility (and nowhere else). There's a guy who used to be in charge of leasing this stuff. His job is now not leasing stuff.
  • GMING (Score:5, Informative)

    by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:07PM (#8432924) Homepage Journal
    \One of the early success stories (as far back as the mid 90s! :) was the GMING (Greater Manchester INternet Gateway) network.


    This is a metropoliton network covering most of the Greater Manchester area, using optic fibre (not crude copper) and the ATM protocol.


    The fact it is using ATM (a point-to-point system) is significant. It means that lines aren't shared.


    The GMING system was developed out of a project by the three main Universities of Manchester and the regional computer center, and was targetted at businesses who wanted a secure, fast system to connect to other businesses in the region.


    The early talks focussed mainly on getting as many businesses as possible to buy-in. However, the ability to upgrade was also discussed. Essentially, optic fibre can support any speed you like, provided you have enough frequencies to play with. GMING was, right from the start, designed with the idea that businesses could simply buy faster connections at any time by swapping the end-points over. The only upper limit was what existed on the market.


    It didn't catch on to the point of revolutionizing Manchester - a pity, as the concept is excellent and the implementation far better than any other broadband service - in the UK or any other country.


    Nonetheless, it deserves the title of success. It has been adopted and is in use to the point where it is self-supporting.

  • Grumpy ILECs (Score:3, Informative)

    by hondo_san (565908) on Monday March 01, 2004 @04:45PM (#8433315)
    Using public telecom infrastructure for private use has not worked thus far in Columbia, MO, as the ILEC filed a lawsuit to stop it, and basically won. [gocolumbiamo.com] There is an ongoing legal debate [lightreading.com], as the telcos seem to think the FCC has prohibited municpal data access, but the cities say that the FCC has not.

    Personally, I'm in favor of the model that has the city building the infrastructure, and telcos (note the use of plural) handle the stuff in the pipes. ILECs seem fond of just providing enough service to get by, and spending lots of time protecting their turf from rogues who want silly things like modern telecommunications services. It's no bloody wonder that wireless carriers are wiping the floor with them. Like many, I use no services of the ILEC in my home.

  • FCC for the net (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nanowyatt (196190) on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:02PM (#8433506)
    The justification for the FCC is that airwaves are publicly owned and therefore the public can control the content that goes over them. The FCC is supposed to represent the public.

    If governments start to own significant chunks of internet backbone, do you really think they will decline to create an internet FCC or expand the current FCC to the net? Do you really think that a government power grab is worth it if you can get a cheaper broadband line (that will be paid for through taxes anyway)?
  • by ShaggyBOFH (694048) on Monday March 01, 2004 @05:44PM (#8433945)
    Several people have said that our networks should be just like our highway system and that it's your responsible to connect to it, ie driveway/car, and state maintains it. However, is this a good idea? It sure sounds good, but what about the fact that it's a "privilege" to drive. Can my "privilege" to surf be revoked, monitored, or controlled like my driving habits?

    Considering that the [major] purpose of the internet is for infomation, do we really want control of our information consolidated into a single entity whether it be government, AOL, or Verison?

    Big Brother aside, I don't think that state/gov agencies should be in the business of business.

    -----

  • Why not? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday March 01, 2004 @06:03PM (#8434146) Homepage
    I mean the city plans and builds our roads, sewers, powerlines, etc...

    Why not this too? The trick is what will the fiber be hooked upto? I'd rather a commercial ISP than a government.

    Tom
  • Tacoma, WA (Score:4, Informative)

    by darkain (749283) on Monday March 01, 2004 @11:02PM (#8436460) Homepage
    i live here in Tacoma, WA, and we have our own city-wide fiber optic network provided by Click-Network [click-network.com].. i must say, i love it MUCH better than comcast or any of the DSL providers around here. we have had the network ground layed out for several years, and everything seems to work just fine. the city doesnt offer the ISP themselves tho, currently there are three seperate companies offering internet access via this network. i'm guessing this fiber-op network is probably why the city has recieved the nickname "The Wired City"
  • by petree (16551) on Tuesday March 02, 2004 @03:25AM (#8438183) Homepage Journal
    The city of Holyoke, MA has municipal gas and electric. Like 8 years ago, when they were laying new gas pipes and electric cabling under city streets they decided to lay a fiber ring at the same time. For them, it's not the "last mile" that is expensive, it's literally the last 10ft. From the street to the edge of your building. Although I haven't worked with them since 2000, they used to do VLANs (Virtual LAN across town) for like $100 + $5 per location for 10mbit. And this came with a 10mbit internet connect too. We couldn't even get a T1 for those prices. Let alone the other locations.

    http://www.hge.net/ [hge.net]

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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