Local news editors seem inspired by the current network neutrality debate at the FCC. Newsrooms considering the prospect of paid prioritization are reassessing the value of municipal networks.
Not long ago, the Olympian ran an editorial offering the basics of municipal networks. Editors mentioned NoaNet, the statewide fiber project that brings access to a series of community anchor insitutions and approximately 260,000 people. The piece also acknowledges that port authorities and some Public Utility Districts (PUDs) offer fiber connections in several regions of the state. We have reported on a number of them, including Benton, Okanogan, and Chelan.
The editorial points out that the cities of Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater have fiber and conduit they use for government operations. The cities share the fiber and conduit with the state Department of Transportation. The Olympian also notes that if a city wants to provide telecommunications services, its location is critical:
Republican Sen. Trent Lott championed a 1996 bill that prohibited states from blocking any entity that provides telecommunications services. Despite that far-sighted bill, big provider lobbyists have persuaded 20 states to pass legislation making open access difficult.
As suggested by other editors, The Olympian advocates for a municipal approach to curtail damage that will result if network neutrality disappears:
If approved, individual consumers in the South Sound and other U.S. communities can expect slower speeds for smaller services, nonprofits and independent content creators. Why pay for the “HOT” lane, unless traffic is backed up on the main line?
If the FCC votes to effectively end net neutrality, residents of the South Sound do have a potential alternative that is gaining traction elsewhere: turning to local Internet service providers who ride on municipally-owned fiber optic networks.
Paid prioritization and the proposed Comcast Time Warner Cable merger may result in further degredation of broadband in American. On the bright side, more people realize that municipal networks are a better option.