Tag: "christopher mitchell"

Posted December 4, 2010 by Christopher Mitchell

On November 29, 2010, MPR published our commentary about community broadband. The Twin Cities has slower and more expensive broadband Internet than the nearby town of Monticello. The Twin Cities metro area has a population of 2.8 million and the highest density of people and businesses in the state. So why is our broadband Internet slower and more expensive than that enjoyed by Monticello, population 12,000? Several years ago, the city of Monticello (45 miles northwest of Minneapolis) recognized the increasing importance of reliable, high speed, low cost broadband. After the incumbent telephone and cable companies declined to build the network city leaders had in mind, the community decided to build one itself. Now, FiberNet Monticello offers some of the best broadband packages available in the country, while the Twin Cities is lagging. A new analysis by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance compares the available broadband speeds in Monticello to those available in the Twin Cities metro. In the metro, as in most of the United States, broadband subscribers choose between DSL from the incumbent telephone company (Qwest) and cable broadband from the incumbent cable company (Comcast). Monticello's offerings are faster at every price point, but Comcast appears to offer comparable downstream speeds in the highest tier of service. This apparent equivalence, however, is like comparing dirt roads with interstates. Both are roads that allow you to travel from point A to B, but they have fundamentally different characteristics in carrying capacity and reliability. For a variety of reasons, DSL and cable almost always fall short (and often, well short) of the advertised "up to" speeds, whereas full fiber networks regularly achieve the speeds they promise. In the metro, cable offers most residents the fastest option for broadband, but only one choice of provider. The Monticello network not only created a new choice for its residents, it induced the incumbent telephone company to greatly upgrade its network to remain competitive. Now, Monticello residents can choose between two extremely fast broadband providers, as well as a cable internet connection. The community-owned network may have only been the third broadband option, but it fundamentally changed the market. Prior to Monticello's investment, residents and small businesses had access only to asymmetrical broadband...

Read more
Posted September 29, 2010 by Christopher Mitchell

On August 19, 2010, I was one of hundreds of people telling the Federal Communications Commission to do its job and regulate in the public interest. My comments focused on the benefits of publicly owned broadband networks and the need for the FCC to ensure states cannot preempt local governments from building networks.

My comments:

I’ll start with the obvious.

Private companies are self-interested. They act on behalf of their shareholders and they have a responsibility to put profits ahead of the public interest.

A recent post from the Economist magazine’s technology blog picks up from there:

WHY, exactly, does America have regulators? … Regulators, in theory, are more expert than politicians, and less passionate. …They are imperfect; but that we have any regulators at all is a testament … to the idea that companies left to their own devices don't always act in the best interests of the market.

They go on to say

If companies always agreed with regulators' rules, there would be no need for regulators. The very point of a regulator is to do things that companies don't like, out of concern for the welfare of the market or the consumer.

When we talk about broadband, there is a definite gap between what is best for communities and what is best for private companies. Next generation networks are expensive investments that take many years to break even.

With that preface, I challenge the FCC to start regulating in the public interest.

The FCC does not need a consensus from big companies on network neutrality. It needs to respect the consensus of Americans that do not want our access to the Internet to look like our access to cable television.

But while Network Neutrality is necessary, it is not sufficient. The entire issue of Network Neutrality arises out of the failed de-regulation approach of the past decade. Such policies have allowed a few private companies to dominate broadband access, giving communities neither a true choice in...

Read more
Posted July 24, 2010 by Christopher Mitchell

A few weeks ago, I joined Curtis Beckmann, host of "Minnesota This Week" on Radio City Networks to discuss broadband networks and what communities are doing to improve access to real broadband. The 30 minute program discusses problems with existing broadband networks, the lack of competition, how and why communities have built their own networks, and a variety of other topical subjects.   Listen to or download the program here.

Image used under Creative Commons License, courtesy of Flickr's JSchneid

Posted June 22, 2010 by Christopher Mitchell

We have a piece published on Alternet about the battle to maintain an open Internet and proper access to it.

A battle is raging for control of the Internet and it is not taking place in Washington. Scores of cities, fed up with the recalcitrance and outright arrogance of their providers and Washington’s lack of action are taking their information future into their own hands by building their own high-speed networks. To Harold DePriest, head of Chattanooga’s municipally owned fiber network, currently the largest in the country, the issue is clear: “Does our community control our own fate or does someone else control it?” He who owns the information highways makes the rules of the road. Today those rules are made by a handful of global corporations with little public oversight.

Photo used under Creative Commons License - Courtesy, Baldinger

Posted April 11, 2010 by Christopher Mitchell

Last week, I spoke with Jeff Pesek and Peter Fleck of Tech.mn about telecom and broadband in Minnesota. They have also created a timeline of important broadband events in recent MN history.

Posted February 8, 2010 by Christopher Mitchell

I was the guest on Jesse Harris' February Podcast about the UTOPIA network in Utah. Running time is about 1 hour and we cover a number of interesting issues relating to broadband networks both in and outside of Utah, including the perception of networks, success stories, the tactics of incumbents, the background of my project at the New Rules Project of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Posted October 23, 2009 by Christopher Mitchell

Wherein I answer some questions to clear up common misconceptions about the broadband and cable networks upon which we depend...

Posted October 20, 2009 by Christopher Mitchell

On Thursday, Oct 22, at 1:00 PM PDT (which is 4:00 PM EDT and, most importantly, 3:00 CDT), I will be a guest on CNET's The Real Deal - a live show that takes questions from listeners and viewers. We will be talking about some of the nuts and bolts of broadband infrastructure - from the laws around deploying networks to whether access to the Internet should be treated as a utility. Drop by at the appointed time (on the CNET site, not here) and ask some questions.

Posted July 7, 2009 by Christopher Mitchell

The Charleston Gazette published this opinion piece encouraging publicly owned broadband on July 5, 2009:

Just as railroads and highways were the essential infrastructure for development in the 19th and 20th centuries, broadband networks will be essential for 21st-century competitive economies. Small cities and even isolated, rural communities that have strong educational systems and human talent will be able to compete in the new global information economy. West Virginia's beautiful mountains and valleys, coupled with low density make most of the state an unattractive investment for private phone and cable companies. Fortunately, no community has to be left behind, each can seize the future with smart public investments. This should not come as a surprise. Local and state governments built our roads. Thousands of rural communities gained access to electricity through publicly owned networks. Thousands of communities today are forced to make a difficult choice when it comes to fast and affordable broadband networks. Our international peers have used smart policies to surpass our broadband networks while Washington has proved unable to keep up. But hundreds of communities across the United States have grown tired of waiting and publicly provide some level of broadband to encourage economic development or educational opportunities. There are some who argue, as Frank Rizzo recently did in these very pages, that publicly owned broadband systems never succeed. These myths have been encouraged by telecom-funded think tanks for more than a decade, despite having been proved false time and time again. Mr. Rizzo claimed, "commercial providers generally offer more reliable and faster service." But the fastest networks at the most affordable prices are publicly, not privately owned. In Lafayette, La., the public utility's network offers 10Mbps symmetrical connections for less than $30 a month. In Wilson, N.C., the publicly owned network offers a better triple-play package (phone, TV and Internet) at substantially lower prices than the private provider, Time Warner. Details and more comparisons are available from Municipal Networks and Community Broadband. Across the country, public networks have succeeded by every metric. They create local jobs by keeping support services local rather than off-shoring it. They keep prices down because they don't have to pay millions...

Read more
Posted July 7, 2009 by Christopher Mitchell

Geoff Daily, from App-Rising.com, and I recently did a vidchat about muninetworks.org and its purpose. App-Rising.com pulled some key points from it, but you can view the entire 9 minute segment below.

Pages

Subscribe to christopher mitchell