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The Internet Government Networking Republicans United States

Marco Rubio and Other Senators Move To Block Municipal Broadband (theintercept.com) 352

New submitter h33t l4x0r writes: Presidential candidate Marco Rubio recently "fired off a letter (PDF) to the Federal Communications Commission asking the agency to allow states to block municipal broadband services." The municipal services offer cheaper, faster broadband alternatives to the large telecoms. Rubio's campaign has taken large donations from AT&T, and the article notes that other providers, "fearing competition, have used their influence in state government to make an end-run around local municipalities. Through surrogates like the American Legislative Exchange Council, the industry gets states to pass laws that ban municipal broadband networks, despite the obvious benefits to both the municipalities and their residents."
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Marco Rubio and Other Senators Move To Block Municipal Broadband

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  • by Bruinwar ( 1034968 ) <bruinwar@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:51AM (#51128555)

    For someone who represents the people, how can they possibly justify being against municipal broadband? What is it going to take to get a by the people, for the people government? Torches & pitchforks?

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @09:00AM (#51128581) Homepage Journal

      Because corporations are people too? ;-)

      I don't know, I think it's ideological nuttery to be honest, the same sort you see exhibited in the very first post to this article (which may or may not be a spoof, but it's a common viewpoint.) "The free market can always do better" they argue, even when presented with systems that exist purely because the free market isn't even bothering to participate.

      • Because corporations are people too? ;-)

        You added the smiley but this is exactly their reasoning. Municipal broadband would hurt the other ISPs because the competition might force prices down and might force the big ISPs to improve their service. All this would mean lower profits which "hurts" those companies. Instead, we've got to let the big ISPs grow bigger and get fatter and fatter with profits.

        Remember, all people are equal, but some people (corporations and the rich) are more equal than others (nor

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by DarkOx ( 621550 )

          I think you are over looking the potential for municipal broadband to choke change and growth. Say what you will about Comcast and friends but we have things like 100Mbps down 75Mpbs up links at affordable prices. Compare that to what you could get in your home a decade ago. Now think about how fast your local municipality does changes anything. Consider the article about Flit Michigan's water system the other day. The issue was really not the water source but the infrastructure. How many places have

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I think you are over looking the potential for municipal broadband to choke change and growth.

            And other people may think you're not appreciating the potential for corporate entities to choke change and growth.

            Say what you will about Comcast and friends but we have things like 100Mbps down 75Mpbs up links at affordable prices. Compare that to what you could get in your home a decade ago.

            I'd rather compare it to what I could get in my home today. Gig Fiber. Which Comcast and friends opposed.

            Now think about how fast your local municipality does changes anything. Consider the article about Flit Michigan's water system the other day. The issue was really not the water source but the infrastructure.

            No, they had a decent water source, but the state controller made a change, for no good reason, and refused to make the necessary fixes.

            That's a lesson in not letting a corrupt autocrat appointed by another corrupt autocrat control you.

            So all you're saying is that Michigan needs a better f

          • Fuck Off. Since you have your head so far up your ass, let us educate you. Most municipalities do not have a broadband provider, some that do are undeserved. If these fucking private ISPs don't want to have the specter of a government run ISP, then they need to provide the service or fuck off. It's that simple.

            We can also talk about all the tax payer money going to these ISPs but then you'll look even more like an ass-hole.
          • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:06AM (#51128915)

            I think you are over looking the potential for municipal broadband to choke change and growth.

            It is also able to drive change and growth. The notion that all government's do is stifle progress is demonstrably nonsense.

            Say what you will about Comcast and friends but we have things like 100Mbps down 75Mpbs up links at affordable prices.

            In some places you do. In others not so much. And you might consider picking an example of a company that is somewhat more beloved than Comcast. They are among the least liked companies in America for well deserved reasons. Monopolies don't do shit to improve service unless there is some form of competition. I guarantee that if AT&T or Verizon isn't there to compete that Comcast wouldn't improve their service very fast.

            Consider the article about Flit Michigan's water system the other day. The issue was really not the water source but the infrastructure. How many places have over crowed schools, etc?

            Do you have any concept of how hard it is to get taxpayers to fund upgrades to a water system even in a city without financial problems? Taxpayers routinely vote down school levies. This isn't government failing, it is the citizens saying they don't want to pay for any of this.

            I am sure public broadband systems could deliver today's technology to consumers more cheaply and better serve under served areas, but the cost would likely be that the level of service rarely improves.

            As long as the municipal system doesn't prohibit via laws private enterprise from competing, what is the problem? If the municipal system doesn't improve then private enterprise can fill in the gap. But if the citizens of a town collectively want to run their own broadband that should be their right to do so. If they end up paying more in the long run then that is their problem isn't it? Towns that consider municipal broadband probably aren't being well served now by the private companies so why should they expect that to change in the future?

            If you allow municipal broad band it will choke out terrestrial ISPs. The broad band market is broken because there is to little competition, plan to effectively make it so the government is the only game in town isn't a solution to that.

            Your argument makes no sense. Trading a public monopoly for a private one doesn't improve anything and it means the citizens have even less say in what they want. There is no reason to prohibit municipal broadband provided private companies are still legally allowed to build their own networks too.

          • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:08AM (#51128935) Homepage Journal

            Say what you will about Comcast and friends but we have things like 100Mbps down 75Mpbs up links at affordable prices

            To be specific, you have that. I also have that available, I think (I'm not 100% sure, Comcast is very careful to avoid quoting uplink/downlink speeds in their advertising for people in my area.) But a significant number of places don't have that, and there's little or no commercial incentive to introduce it. Hence municipal broadband in those areas.

            Surely you can agree that if the free market is not delivering something badly needed in a particular market, then it's reasonable to suppose that the free market is not the answer at that location.

            Can you name any US locations that have perfectly good, affordable, high speed broadband, but where cities are setting up their own rival subsidized systems anyway?

            Stuff like this doesn't come out of nowhere. Few governments have ever said "There is widespread satisfaction with this already adequate and accessible service. Let's take it over anyway." Even the mass nationalizations that occurred in Europe after WW-II happened during a period where most companies taken over were bankrupt or nearly bankrupt thanks to the damage of six years of continuous war.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            A couple of points. How would overcapacity ever be a problem for a nonprofit? Sure, more money spent up front, which may be considered wasteful, but it sure beats the cost of having to add capacity later.

            As to "the cost would likely be that the level of service rarely improves," I don't understand. Isn't it the mantra of capitalism that the private sector can always offer goods and services more cheaply and efficiently than the government? Yet how is it that Comcast and Verizon don't even offer 1-GB Interne

          • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

            Ever been Chattanooga lately?
            Guessing not.

          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            How would it choke off growth? I don't know of any existing or proposed municipal broadband that forbids commercial competition (but I do know of more than one commercial entity that pays lots of money to get laws forbidding municipal broadband). If they are so incredibly competitive and so much more efficient, they can surely move in and compete. Perhaps even buy out the municipal system at a fair price once they prove how much better they are.

            And about that growth, it seems that with newly imposed caps an

      • Because corporations are people too? ;-)

        I don't know, I think it's ideological nuttery to be honest, the same sort you see exhibited in the very first post to this article (which may or may not be a spoof, but it's a common viewpoint.) "The free market can always do better" they argue, even when presented with systems that exist purely because the free market isn't even bothering to participate.

        The free market *can't* participate because of the presence of very heavy regulation.

        • ...which, even if true, is of no consequence here. The discussion is not "Should we deregulate internet provision?" but "Should cities be banned from providing municipal broadband in locations where the free market is not providing it, dooming their cities to economic oblivion?"

          I suspect there's no regulatory problem anyway. Anyone can get a license from the FCC for basic P2P TD-LTE/WiMAX/etc systems, as a basic example. Laying cable is more expensive, but I seriously doubt that the areas that lack broad

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )

          Poor regulation. Other countries with much better internet access have heavy regulation, but as the regulation is in the interests of the consumer, it ends up with great competition, and the ability for small ISPs to compete against the big players.

          Saying "regulation" like it's all the same isn't a particularly intelligent or useful comment.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by frnic ( 98517 )

      Two Words:

      https://secure.berniesanders.c... [berniesanders.com]

    • by m76 ( 3679827 )
      To be no monetary incentives in it. You can remove the current government with torches and pitchforks, but the next one will become just as corrupt as the current in no time. It's the game that is rigged, it's not the players fault.
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I grow weary of that excuse. "Hate the game, not the players." If the game is straight up evil then I can sure as hell hate the participants who are enabling by playing it.

  • How dare they (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:57AM (#51128571)

    How dare they try to provide a service that people want!

    Next they'll have some kind of crazy thing called a "postal service" where people can send letters and packages to other people fairly inexpensively, and the government will operate it! After that they'll force everyone to use something called "public libraries" and "fire departments". Where will it end??

    The end game will be complete when they institute the final piece of Satan's plan called "public schools", where every child will be able to be get an education. O The Horror!

    Soon the Evil State will force people at gunpoint to use these municipal broadband services, and if you don't, it's off to the FEMA re-education camps with you, citizen! I swear it's true, Glenn Beck told me so!

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      Actually, many Conservatives believe that public schools ARE part of Satan's plan because of indoctrination of non-biblical beliefs.
  • Because Freedom? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nucrash ( 549705 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:59AM (#51128579)

    I live in a town with a gym that was paid for with tax dollars and a gym that was paid for privately. They compete. There are no problems. If you don't like one, go to the other. Same goes for education.

    I don't see the problem, but then again, I don't have a problem competing with the government. Only a protectionist claiming to be a capitalist would.

    • The big ISPs don't like competition. Competition means they need to lower prices and improve service. Compare the offerings of any of the big ISPs in a location with Google Fiber versus an area without Google Fiber. If the big ISPs remain as monopolies in their areas then they can charge as much as they want for horrible service and they can be assured that people will pay because they'll have no choice.

    • I live in a town with a gym that was paid for with tax dollars and a gym that was paid for privately. They compete.

      The customers of the private gym must also pay for the tax funded gym, yet you have declared that competition is happening....

      • by nucrash ( 549705 )

        A good gym has pretty much become a staple to being part of healthcare. I pay taxes because this gym provides services to the community as giving courts for kids to play basketball or volleyball, a track for running, and wellness programs.

        Paying taxes for a gym gives some access to resources to help them maintain happy and healthy lives. There are fees with membership to the gym, but they pale in comparison to the private gym. The private gym offers 24 hour access as well as some resources and less crowd

      • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @11:02AM (#51129429)

        and if the private gym wants customers it has to provide more than the public gym.
        yet it also must charge a fee, a fee that some folks maybe couldn't pay.
        and so for them they use the free public gym.
        and thus does society benefit, instead of segregating itself into the haves and have nots, where the haves are healthy because they can afford to be healthy, and the have nots cannot. this way the opportunity is there, and the only limiting factor is ones actual desire to be healthy, not ones pocketbook.

        the same argument applies to healthcare, quite nicely.

      • by dave420 ( 699308 )

        Which means there are less people at their gym, and everyone gets the benefit of having a more fit populace. The amount they pay for the other gym would be a tiny percent of their private membership, so I don't see your point. I have a sneaking suspicion you don't either.

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @09:01AM (#51128585)

    "“The FCC is promoting government-owned networks at the possible expense of private sector broadband providers..."

    Boy, it's just been a week of "almosts" and "maybes", hasn't it. Started with the drone registration that was justified because of potentially unsafe incidents and now this bullshit.

    What's next, mobilizing our military because of a rumor?

    Oh and Rubio, this makes you look like a corporate shill whore that will gain you nothing. Enjoy your reputation. You've earned it.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @09:20AM (#51128671) Journal
    The real American tradition is for the municipalities to tax the local citizens and give that money to large private companies to build "infrastructure" that will bring great economic growth to the communities. That is how the canal companies got their money those days. George Washington lobbied the federal government to fund a canal through the Cumberland Gap to connect the Mon valley to the Chesapeake Bay. His group of "investors" had claimed square miles of land in the Mon valley hoping to make a killing once the canal got built. That canal was never built but many other canals, notably the Erie Canal, was built by local taxes given to canal barons.

    Then came the railroads. The canal companies lobbied heavily to keep railroads out of the canal towns. Even today you can see quaint little towns along the Erie canal that successfully kept the railroads out. They, and their canals, went bust and economic growth by passed them. But municipalities courted the railroads like gangbusters. All levels of the government local, state and federal shoveled money to private companies to build railroads, large land grants. So much of land was given to railroads they actually acted as a catalyst to immigration and populating the Great Plains. They gave away 40 acres of land to immigrants from Europe if they would buy train tickets from New York to Nebraska! Well, history repeated. Railway towns like Altoona, PA actively fought to keep the Interstate high ways away from them!

    So in the great American tradition, the municipalities should tax their local population, collect all the money and lay it at the feet of Internet barons in New York and beg them to build a fiber optic network for their poor little towns. These companies would spend a dime per dollar to build the network for the towns and skim off the rest. That is the American tradition.

    Municipality building its own network! bah! What would happen next? Municipalities to have their own fleet of trucks to remove snow? Or do their own garbage collection fleets? Or run school districts? We need to put an end to all these un American activities. The only real role for municipalities, or any government, is to tax the population and give the money to private companies, with no bid contracts, and to beg them to provide basic services, after taking their cut of 40 to 60% for profits.

  • Can be, I would PREFER to have a PRIVATE company, in charge of providing internet, than the federal, state, or local government. Name one government agency that ever comes in on time, under budget and with superior service? Not that the private companies are saints, but, when you let the government give it to you "for free" (yeah right), it will come with a TON of restrictions. Sites that are negative to the government will be blocked/throttled. Now, that would be ok for some, but, you must remember, the p
    • I would not. What evidence do you have that they would put restrictions on "free speech"? Internet access should be part of taxpayer paid services just like roads. If the politicians try to regulate free speech, throw them out.
    • by swb ( 14022 )

      IMHO, the ideal model of this is the government bonding the municipal network construction (fiber, data center, etc) but giving contracting out management of the L1/2 infrastructure to someone who knows how to run a network like this.

      Actual services delivered over this infrastructure would be provided by other third parties who buy access to the network, such as ISPs, video providers, telecom, and then resell their services to subscribers. I'd probably mandate that a service provider on the network would b

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      So you've never been to Chattanooga then.

      You would do well to read http://www.governmentisgood.co... [governmentisgood.com]

      It would correct a significant portion of your ignorance.

  • Fuck Off Rubio (Score:4, Interesting)

    by oh_my_080980980 ( 773867 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @10:09AM (#51128939)
    Talk to the citizens of New Jersey that recent got screwed by Verizon who took Billions of tax payer dollars to wire the state and reneged on the deal. So again FUCK YOU RUBIO.
  • The argument that municipal broadband stifles competition in the private sector would be more convincing if it came with examples where municipal broadband was competing against the sector, instead of examples where the private sector refused to engage the market at all.

  • In my experience local, state and federal governments have a hard time providing essential services that they *should* provide. It's rare when that is done effectively and efficiently. Why do we want to grow our governments to start providing nonessential services?

    Here's the other problem: it really, truly is unfair competition when the taxpayers will be on the hook for the capital investment of a municipally operated ISP. Private companies do not have that luxury of having someone else pay for the const

  • Here's an end run for such regulations:

      - The municipalities install bundles of conduit, along with pull-boxes, manholed repeater vaults, and the like. Also install, or allow the user to install, per-house or per-apartment-complex conduit to the nearest valult. (Include this in the utility hookup zoning and permitting requirements on any new developments, too.)

      - Then lease a conduit right-of-way and vault rack space to all comers on equal terms: AT&T and your local mom-and-POP can both string their cables, fibres, or what-not on equal terms, and NONE of them have to get their investors to pony up, up front, to dig up the whole city - separately. (With N conduits in each vault-to-vault hop the first N comers initially have a conduit to themselves, though they may have to share it eventually.)

      - String fibre bundles through the first conduit, use some of the fibres for the municipal net, and (if the federal rules don't block it), lease a limited-number-per-customer to all comers, ditto (reserving a few for backups for failed fibres and for future expansion.)

    As with "dark fibre", almost all the cost is digging up the countryside to install the conduits and fibre runs. Putting in more conduit, or using fibre cables with more fibres, vastly multiplies the capacity with a small percentage increment on the cost of the installation. This "future-proofs" it. With dense wavelength division a single pair of fibres can carry a major telecom's entire local traffic. Run a dozen four-inch pipes between each vault and you can expect it to serve all the city's communication requirements for far longer than the expected life of the other aspects of the city's infrastructure.

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