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Friday, June 30, 2006

Community Based Infrastructure To Preserve Net Neutrality

Bob Cringley comes out with an astounding idea that its tine to own our own last public mile to enforce net neutrality - he bases his ideas on that of Bob Frankston who sees the issues surrounding Net Neutrality come down to billability and infrastructure. For ISPs it isn’t about service, it is about creating billable events, that's all. He contends that with a preferred or exclusive provider versus a competitive marketplace, prices are always higher, not lower. The ISPs (telcos and cable companies) would very much like to go back to the sort of system, where they, not you, are the provider and determinant of what bits are good bits and what bits are bad. He points out that we build and finance public infrastructure in a public way using public funds with the goal of benefiting economic, social, and cultural development in our communities & for people to own the last mile Internet connection. The idea is simple: run Fiber To The Home (FTTH) and pay for it as a community of customers - a cooperative. The cost per fiber drop, according to Bill's estimate, is $1,000-$1,500 if 40 percent of homes participate. Using the higher $1,500 figure, the cost to finance the system over 10 years at today's prime rate would be $17.42 per month. Such a connection is a gigabit-capable circuit with no bits inside - just a really fast connection to some local point of presence where you could connect to ANY ISP. The effect of this move would be beyond amazing. It would be astounding. No more arguments about Net Neutrality, for one thing, because we'd effectively be extending our ownership and control of the wires all the way to the ISP interconnect. There would be a community-financed Internet revolution and this time, because it would be locally funded and managed, very little money would be stolen. Dark fibers would be lighting up all over America, telco capital costs would plummet, and a truly competitive market for Internet services would emerge.
Like in the road system: Local builders add capacity; communities add capacity and large entities create interstate roads. They don't create artificial scarcity just to increase toll revenues - at least not so blatantly, its time for a model in which the infrastructure is paid for as infrastructure - privately, locally, nationally, and internationally can create a true marketplace in which the incentives are aligned. Instead of having the strange phenomenon of carriers spending billions and then arguing that they deserve to be paid, we'd have them bidding on contracts to install and/or maintain connectivity to a marketplace that is buying capacity and making it available so value can be created without having to be captured within the network and thus taken out of the economy. Sound vision- definitely worth discussing further.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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