Cities Push Back Against Bans on Public Internet
|July 26, 2014||Posted by Staff under Inequality / Concentration, Land Disputes, Subsidies & Waste & Public Debt|
This 2014 excerpt of Motherboard, Jly 24, is by Sam Gustin.
Two cities —- Chattanooga Tennessee and Wilson North Carolina —- have asked the federal government to help them bypass state laws banning them from expanding their community owned, gigabit, high-speed, fiber internet service.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has made clear that he believes the FCC has the authority to preempt state laws that erect barriers to community broadband efforts, which are proliferating around the country.
Many of the areas surrounding Chattanooga are “too rural for it to make economic sense for a major telecom to lay with fiber,” leaving residents in those areas in “a digital desert”.
Tennessee is one of 20 states with laws on the books that pose barriers to community broadband efforts —- laws that in many cases were pushed by cable and telecom industry lobbyists. In states throughout the country, major cable and telecom companies have battled attempts to create community broadband networks.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the Tennessee Republican who has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the cable and telecommunications industry, introduced an amendment to a key appropriations bill that would prevent the FCC from preempting such state laws.
Ed. Notes: Your internet bill could be a lot lower if your local government owns the fiber network. So does that make it a go? If your grocery bill were lower, should government own the supermarket chains? Where do you draw the line? Should a line be drawn?
Somethings historically have not been owned by individuals, such as paths, roads, and streets. Even land itself, long enough ago, was not owned by anyone. Of course, that changed. Now, only land that everyone can use in total view of everyone else — roads, sidewalks, parks, beaches, wilderness — is still held in common while land we use privately, such as the sites beneath our homes, has left the commons.
Some atomists want the roads to be owned privately, too. But should we allow that? Should everything be private, or public, or a mix?
Is there a principle to follow to determine what to own individually and what to own together? Some suggest monopoly. For instance, you couldn’t have competing water delivery systems in a city, those pipes constitute a natural monopoly, so the community should own them, to prevent anyone from over-charging for water delivery and raking in an undue fortune.
That model could serve for other utilities, too, such as power delivery and phone cables. That might make it easier to put the unsightly telephone wires underground, along with gas lines, along side water pipes, near any sewer system. Already, customers of public utilities pay much less than customers of privately-owned utilities. The goal of progress should not be to enrich a few owners of monopolies but to reduce the cost of living for everyone. Fiber connections make a logical addition to our resurrected commons.