In the wake of the Comcast Time Warner Cable proposed merger, an increasing number of local communities across the country are expressing their dissatisfaction with their broadband options. The Concord Monitor recently published an editorial suggesting the community prepare for publicly owned fiber.
Concord's main street will soon be excavated; the Monitor recognizes that this creates an excellent opportunity to adopt a dig once policy. As we know from places such as Sandy, Oregon and Mount Vernon, Washington, dig once policies accompanied with intelligent conduit policies can make a significant impact. Deployment costs less and happens faster when the network's foundation already exists.
The Monitor notes that the merger underscores the importance of municipal networks to protect affordable access:
The companies serve different geographic regions, so proponents of the merger claim prices won’t increase. The flip side of that, of course, is that prices won’t go down because the two companies won’t compete against each other for future business. The merger needs regulatory approval and may never happen. But other factors suggest the city should, as technology expert Susan Crawford suggests, see high-speed internet service as a basic utility like the provision of electricity or water.
Crawford is the author of the new book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Gilded Age.
“Truly high-speed wired internet access is as basic to innovation, economic growth, social communication and the country’s competitiveness as electricity was a century ago,” Crawford contends in the book, “but a limited number of Americans have access to it, many can’t afford it, and the country has handed control of it over to Comcast and a few other companies.”
That’s the situation in Concord.
The monitor recognizes that the FCC's proposed regulations for the Internet could lead to higher prices passed on from content providers to consumers. The threat to network neutrality underscores the importance of municipal networks.
New Hampshire is home to FastRoads, a state effort to expand access with fiber. Conduit in place, as the Monitor suggests, could ease deployment of FastRoads in Concord, even if the City chooses not to build or operate its own network.