Big Cable Owns Internet Access. Here’s How to Change That.
Susan Crawford
62575

While I’ve viewed high speed internet as a critically important utility for many many years, frankly your prescribed solution is laughably unworkable. Why? Because your solution calls for the federal government to take over a multi-billion dollar private industry, wipe out state and local regulation and finance the whole thing with taxpayer money. WHY do cable and telco companies control internet access? Because they attracted the investment necessary to build and maintain it all, something the federal government cannot afford to do. Cable companies don’t hold a near monopoly over internet access because they’re evil profit leeches, but because they pony up the capital investment, and more importantly, municipal governments WANT monopoly cable because it generates massive franchise revenue to government entities, in the same way the federal government collects huge tax revenues from telecom customers. A few changes will make a huge difference. One, follow the electrical power model and make pole infrastructure a separate entity any carrier has access to with shared capital and maintenance costs. Next, outlaw monopoly or near monopoly municipal franchise contracts that close markets to competition. One viable model is Chattanooga's, where the city utility owns the fiber infrastructure. There you can get 1Gb internet to every resident in the city for $70 per month. In fact, I’m astounded you ignored their example in your essay.

While I have no issue with finding ways to encourage local infrastructure investment, even local government investment, a massive federal bureaucracy running the internet would be far more painful, inefficient, and harmful than the local DMV.

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