The United States, creator of the Internet, increasingly lags in access to it. In the absence of a national broadband strategy, many communities have invested in broadband infrastructure, especially wireless broadband, to offer broadband choices to their residents. Newspaper headlines trumpeting the death of municipal wireless networks ignore the increasing investments by cities in Wi-Fi systems. At the same time, the wireless focus by others diverts resources and action away from building the necessary long term foundation for high speed information: fiber optic networks. DSL and cable networks cannot offer the speeds required by a city wishing to compete in the digital economy. Business, government, and citizens all need affordable and fast access to information networks. Today's decisions will lay the foundation of telecommunications infrastructure for decades. Fortunately, we already know the solution: wireless solves the mobility problem; fiber solves the speed and capacity problems; and public ownership offers a network built to benefit the community.
- What exactly is a Community Fiber Network?
- Who offers services?
- What does public ownership mean?
- Why publicly owned? Aren't private companies more efficient?
- I heard there is tons of dark fiber available - why isn't the City using that?
- What if a better technology comes along in a few years?
- Doesn't fiber break easily?
- Don't Comcast and Qwest already have fiber networks?
- Comcast has DOCSIS 3, isn't that as good as fiber?
- Should government compete with the private sector?
- Do we really need faster connections?
- Symmetric? Asymmetric? Huh?
- Why not wireless?
- What happened to the whole muni-wireless thing?
- What about WiMAX?
A Community Fiber Network is a community-owned broadband network that uses fiber-optic cables to connect all subscribers (the fiber cable goes all the way to the home, apartment, or business). It can offer phone, television, and Internet access. The capacity on the network is so great that it could offer tens of thousands of television channels while allowing thousands of people to talk on the phone while still offering Internet access at faster speeds than a cable modem system or DSL currently offer.
In some communities, the city government (Monticello) or local utility provides services (Chattanooga). In others, the network is only open to private service providers who compete for customers on equal terms (this would be an open network, Report: Open Access: The Third Way). Some cities have used a hybrid...