While Cox Communications can make rate decisions in a private conference room several states away, Lafayette conducts its business in an open forum, as it should. While Cox can make repeated and periodic requests for documents under the Public Records Law, it is not subject to a corresponding obligation – a “show me your plans, but don’t dare ask to see mine” mentality. Louisiana law limits the ability of a governmental enterprise to advertise, but nothing prevents the incumbent providers from spending millions of dollars in advertising campaigns. An important focal point of the legal challenges involved the right or ability of Lafayette to pledge assets of the utilities system as security for the bonds, something that the private corporations do all of the time without the slightest scrutiny. To be sure, the “playing field is not level,” but it is the government which is disadvantaged, not the private companies.
Ford Foundation Annual Report Promotes Publicly Owned Networks
The Ford Foundation has recognized the important contribution of publicly owned broadband networks to improving affordable, reliable, and fast access to the Internet in communities throughout the US. Using data that we helped to gather, they have launched a single map identifying publicly owned networks around the country and showing states with barriers to such networks.
Ford Foundation explores the context around the map here:
The stakes on this issue are high, and the questions are complex—making the involvement of philanthropy especially important. Questions are emerging, for example, about the lack of market competition, and what appears to be the resulting failure to provide good service to rural and working communities. Some localities are responding by establishing municipal broadband networks that meet the infrastructure needs of their citizens and ensure that local businesses and families are not left behind. Our grantee partners are informing debates on issues like these, where the real future of Internet rights is being determined—and where the public interest can easily get lost.
We look forward to seeing this map add more communities as they take responsibility for their digital future.