Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Municipal Networks

Monticello, Minnesota may soon begin building a fiber network to every home and business within its municipality soon. The Minnesota Supreme Court sided with Monticello after incumbent Bridgewater Telephone Co., a subsidiary of TDS Telecommunications of Madison WI, appealed two lower court rulings. (I would suggest the comments be read after the story as well).

Monticello passed, with a majority vote ~70%, to finance $26 million and build the fiber network within in the municipality. The Monticello network creates positive and negative consequences.

Fiber network in a town that has previously been bypassed
Connections to every home, not just business or "better neighborhoods"
Possible lower prices (speculation at this point)
A network that is more attentive to the people of the municipality

Financial obligation of the municipality towards the network
Overbuilding network, not every house or business may want services
As the article mentions, alienation of private investment in the municipality (speculation as well)
"Government" control over the network

Like any large investment there are negative and positive consequences. Burlington Telecom (Vermont) conducted a similar project several years ago. That entity seems to be doing well. However a quick glance at their Internet speeds/price structure is troublesome. Though it is hard to compare my cable ISP in Wisconsin to a fiber ISP in Vermont.

No matter the outcome of the Monticello fiber network, the project can provide further information for othre municipalities bypassed by incumbent service providers. The municipal model could even lead to such things as Internet service being moved into the utility sector, which I have advocated for quite some time.


Christopher Mitchell said...

Ditzler - some thoughts on the negatives you point out:

"Financial obligation of the municipality towards the network" - the network is financed by private investors who purchased unsigned bonds so I'm not sure what financial obligation you cite.

"Overbuilding network, not every house or business may want services" - I'm not sure what you mean by this. They are going to connect subscribers, not those who do not want access. Overbuilding means they are competing against an entrenched network, not that they are going to force everyone to take access.

"As the article mentions, alienation of private investment in the municipality (speculation as well)" - private investment already neglected the community. Surveying the rural landscape, it is clear that communities who build a local alternative get more private sector investment (both from companies taking advantage of a competitive telcom market and from telecom companies investing to offer better services).

'"Government" control over the network' - again, I do not know quite what you mean. "Government" already controls our roads by owning them. The network here will be operated by HBC, a private company, Monticello won't be snooping on your traffic in the ways that other private ISPs do to better target advertising.

Anonymous said...

cheap viagra tablets free sample pack of viagra viagra 6 free samples does viagra work viagra shelf life generic name of viagra mexico viagra viagra lawyer ohio how to get viagra is viagra safe for women viagra attorney columbus viagra for sale without a prescription price of viagra viagra lawyer columbus