The US's broadband infrastructure would make a former Soviet bloc country blush. Rural areas are often stuck with slow dial-up or expensive satellite Internet service. Even urban centers lack better high-speed service options, as the increasing deregulation of the telecommunications industry has helped prop up monopolies - which then have no incentive to improve broadband speed or lower costs.
Tim Nulty offers a great vision and hope for the future of rural broadband networks. He discusses the long history of large telcos viciously attacking publicly owned networks and notes that FTTH is possible in nearly all rural areas in the U.S.
Among the advantages of public ownership, he notes the high quality of service, universal coverage, and the potential for common carriage or open access networks.
Our economy and society have evolved over the last 20 years to the point where universal availability of the most modern broadband communications is essential to fully participate in every aspect of our nation’s life. Without it, the promise of an equal chance to succeed is hollow. Our nation came to that conclusion two centuries ago when it created the national postal system, and in subsequent years with respect to roads, water, power and voice telephone. Now, it is coming to the same conclusion about the next level of communications: broadband connectivity. ...
[T]he main entrenched incumbents (both telephone and cable) are strongly reluctant to bring the latest technology to rural areas....focusing, instead, on cheaper but inferior “retrofits” to their legacy copper plant. The claimed reason is that it is not economically feasible to extend the latest technology to less “juicy” areas. In fact, this is not true. Based on the experience of a number of “non-incumbent” FTTH projects, it is clear that it is economic to bring universal FTTH to virtually any rural area that has a density of 12/13 homes per linear mile and all or most of whose plant is aerial. These characteristics cover the overwhelming majority of rural Americans.
Note: Nulty's piece appears on page 23 of the article linked to below. Preceding his piece is a poorly written piece riddled with the very sort of inaccuracies we started this site to correct. The article cites few examples and relies on worst-case, very low probability scenarios to scare the reader. Their discussion of the Utah networks suggests they are unaware of the most basic history of the project, and finally, their comparison of Burlington Telecom to Verizon is laughably simplistic and worthless.
A recurring feature in Broadband Properties is the Municipal FTTH Deployment Snapshot. The Aug/Sept 2008 issue featured one of oldest municipal citywide FTTH deployments in the United States - Bristol Virgina Utilities' Optinet.
The article featured a wealth of technical data from the network as a well as a short history of their legal fights and their "Biggest Success."
InternetforEveryone.org is working to shed light on the millions of Americans who live without regular Internet access or lack the training or equipment to get online. A small reporting team is traveling to communities across the country to tell people's stories. Free Press' Megan Tady interviewed residents of Los Angeles, Calif., and Washington, D.C. On this site, you can follow our trek and get an up-close view of America’s urban digital divide. InternetforEveryone.org is working to shed light on the millions of Americans who live without regular Internet access or lack the training or equipment to get online. A small reporting team is traveling to communities across the country to tell people's stories.
Free Press' Megan Tady interviewed residents of Los Angeles, Calif., and Washington, D.C. On this site, you can follow our trek and get an up-close view of America’s urban digital divide.