11 August 2016

The Reality of Private Internet Service Providers

The DC Court of appeals just overturned the FCC ruling invalidating state bans on municipally owned internet service providers:
Federal regulators just suffered a major setback in their efforts to help cities build Internet services that compete with large providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

In a federal-court decision Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission was told that it doesn't have the power to block state laws that critics say hinder the spread of cheap, publicly run broadband service.
Rather ironically, the feel good story of the day is how a cooperative of rural communities in Minnesota jsut put together their own high speed internet services.

These services are both better and cheaper than the commercial alternatives:
Seven years ago, Winthrop, Minnesota, population 1,400, decided it needed an internet upgrade.

Most local residents were served by companies like Mediacom, which Consumer Reports consistently ranked among the country's worst internet providers. Slow connection speeds made work difficult in local schools and businesses, but farmers outside of town, who increasingly rely on connectivity to do business, experienced the worst of it.

Fourteen miles from Winthrop, in Moltke Township, population 330, one soybean- and wheat-farming family reported its sluggish DSL connection often made it impossible to upload reports to business partners.

Organizers in Winthrop knew they were too small to fund a major internet infrastructure-building project on their own, so they reached out to other neighbors, the town of Gaylord, population 2,305.

And the towns attracted 25 more municipal allies.

Today, in this sparsely populated swath of Minnesota, a grassroots, member-owned cooperative spanning more than 700 square miles and four counties is poised to expand high-speed broadband access -- without relying on federal funding. After seven years of development led by local leaders and volunteers, RS Fiber, now in its first phase of construction, is expected to deliver high-speed broadband internet to more than 6,000 rural households by 2021. And unlike companies like Mediacom, the co-op is owned by local customers who have a say in rates and how it's operated.


Once complete, the RS Fiber network is expected to match the 1 gigabit top speeds of cities like Cedar Falls, a milestone that would make southern Minnesota the envy of rural America. According to recent data, only 55 percent of rural residents have access to broadband internet faster than even 25 Mbps (compared to 94 percent of urbanites). Moreover, the investment already holds promise for boosting the local economy. In May 2015, the Minnesota College of Osteopathic Medicine announced plans to set up services in an old school building in Gaylord -- a decision officials said was because of RS Fiber's infrastructure investment.
US internet performance has been lagging since the 1990s because the mantra of unleashing the market has led to monopoly providers and monopoly rents, which in turn leads to higher prices and lack of investment in infrastructure.

From a business perspective, it makes sense for the ISPs to suck wet farts from dead pigeons.

From a societal perspective it is a disaster.


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