Back at Freedom2Connect I wrote about James Salter at Atlantic Engineering, who was advocating municipal fiber networks as the solution to the Bell monopoly.
But I admit my heart was not in it.
Like most others at the event I was more interested in the idea of municipal WiFi as a solution. I was more interested in people like Ron Sege, because he proposed a quick way around the bottleneck by using WiFi and WiMax to reach competitive longhaul fiber.
I was wrong.
TechDirt has, since that spring conference, published a number of examples where municipal fiber actually delivered on its promises. DSL Reports has also covered a number of small towns where competitive fiber brought in new jobs. Google, which everyone knows is not hard up for money, actually chose to site a new facility in The Dallas, east of Portland, specifically because of a municipal fiber project.
What are the keys to success?
Sell bandwidth to all comers. The city is not the retailer of the fiber, but a wholesaler of capacity.
- Keep control of costs. South Dundas in Canada spent under $1 million for its fiber project.
- Ignore the nay-sayers. Most of the opposition to municipal fiber comes from Astroturf groups, paid shills for the incumbents. You need investigative skills to flush these birds out, but once you do you’ll win public support.
What this also speaks to (and this is vital) is just how insidious the Bell monopoly is. It’s not just a question of last-mile competition. Wherever a bottleneck may exist — and my great fear is that the latest merger makes the core non-competitive — that bottleneck must be fought.
We are rapidly becoming a Third World tech economy, because of the AT&T monopoly. Our highest priority should be to end it, with a healthy dose of competition. Give Salter a call. Get some fiber into your city’s diet.