[TriLUG] TW and Embarq work to keep Wilson style internet from spreading
hunteke at earlham.edu
Fri May 1 13:03:58 EDT 2009
At 11:54am -0400 on Fri, 01 May 2009, Charles Fischer wrote:
> I think the 80% access rule is enough that the bill should be killed.
> The cost of capital should not have to be local. The private
> communications service providers will shop for the best rates including
> investors, so the city should also shop for the best rate.
> The private communications service providers will piggyback their
> service onto existing cable or phone systems. To make the city charge
> what it would cost to build a service from scratch would be wrong.
Note that private communications companies *do* get tax breaks, as well
as rights-of-way for lots of construction and use of public facilities
> As a tax payer, if a city can provide a utility cheaper, I want the city
> to do so. That is true for water, sewer, trash and Internet. Some
> things private companies do better, some things the government does
> better and a few like the Internet may depend on location.
I think that is exactly the rub. Most people don't understand or think
of the network infrastructure (better known as the Internet) as a
utility. It's a luxury.
I happen to disagree, and I would surmise that a majority of folks on
this list do too.
To borrow from something I wrote in a separate venue:
I have a simple question: How do you classify digital networking?
I ask because I think we are at a critical juncture in our society. The
idea of "being connected" is foreign to some folks and completely
natural to others. In my personal life, I have found that this split
seems to heavily correlate with age. The younger you are, the more you
"get" the idea of a digital network ("The Internet" to most folks),
while the older you are the more likely you will view it as an
unnecessary and frivolous endeavor.
A couple of months ago I pondered why the Internet is ingrained in my
life. What does being constantly connected do for me? Is it email? I
could write more letters. Is it streaming radio? Maybe I should buy a
receiver. And podcasts? I really should not be biking while wearing
headphones anyway. Remotely working from home? I could suck it up and
just go to work.
But what do these activities all have in common, and why do I feel I
could not replace them? I finally realized the unifying thread:
/communication/. Networking is communication -- fast communication --
and communication is absolutely _essential_. I cannot replace my email
activities with letters and phone calls; it would be monetarily and
temporally prohibitive. The ability to work from home is necessary in
my line of work; I access and administrate computers across the globe on
a daily basis. I develop an operating system with people all over the
US; the most economical way to transfer the large files involved is a
We are social creatures and communication is very important to us.
Extended-distance communication is a problem we have tried to solve
since the dawn of time. In recent memory, we have postal mail -- the
mental image of waiting by the mailbox is still strong in our collective
minds. Then Alex Bell gave us the phone -- we share a 60's,
pastel-colored mental-image of a fifteen year-old girl waiting
expectantly by the phone. Now we are in a new era of "You've got mail!"
It's better because it's faster. It's better because it's cheaper.
It's better because it's much more versatile than just the medium on
which it operates. It's a revolutionary technology and we depend
heavily on it.
The way I see it, the Internet is a fundamental medium in how today's
world works. Consequently, I believe we should treat it as such. Like
water, sewer, and power, it should be part of our infrastructure.
As I believe digital networking should be a utility, I believe it
*should* be operated by regulated entities and paid for by public funds.
Infrastructure is for the government. Innovation is for the private sector.
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