MPR News recently ran two stories on the trials and tribulations of new and prospective broadband networks. Conrad Wilson's story about the continuing Monticello drama and Jennifer Vogel's account of factors affecting the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) projects give us a good idea of the many hurdles in the way of building new fiber-optic networks.
We have reported many times on the drama that has unfolded in Monticello. The municipally owned fiber-optic network has faced some withering challenges and yet perseveres.
Monticello asked for a modern communications network but the existing service providers, the cable and phone companies, insisted the city was "sufficiently wired." Conrad's reporting suggests otherwise:
Bill Tapper, who owns a cabinet company with clients around the world, recalls a time just a few years ago when the Internet was so slow it hurt business.
"The service we had in Monticello was horrible," he said. "My employees would sometimes take the data home where they had a better Internet connection than we did and do their uploads at night."
Tapper said he lost out on business, but at the time the established Internet service providers like phone and cable TV companies told Tapper and other frustrated business owners in town that the city was wired sufficiently.
After the community voted in favor of a publicly owned fiber-optic network, the incumbent provider, TDS, filed a lawsuit. The lawsuit strategically succeeded in stalling the development of the new network but did not destroy the project. Even though the incumbent provider describes pre-network status as "just fine before the city got involved," TDS took advantage of the delay they caused to began building their own fiber network.
Currently, subscribers in Monticello are benefitting from their high-speed fiber in ways beyond expanded and improved access. Because of the threat of competition, Charter is...Read more