This Election Day has yielded a break for community broadband infrastructure and real broadband competition in the USA.
This has occurred in Colorado which is one of many states that enacted protectionist legislation written by incumbent telcos and cable-TV operators to prohibit local governments from setting up broadband infrastructure for community-broadband efforts. These laws are written with a veil of preventing mismanagement of public funds by local government when it comes to creating broadband infrastructure or municipal wireless broadband setups, but are really to protect the likes of Comcast in operating broadband-service cartels.
The law that was in place in Colorado required a ballot measure to be put to referendum by the local government if that government wished to set up broadband infrastructure that had any sort of public funding. 43 of these communities ran referenda about this topic on this year’s Election Day and the results turned up in the favour of the local government wanting to establish a community broadband service in these areas.
The victory was driven because CenturyLink and Comcast were suffocating the quality of broadband service that was offered in that state as is common in must of the USA. Citizens were seeing a reality that a high-quality broadband service that is value for money can only be achieved with real competition as has been noticed when competitive deployments like Google Fiber were rolled out.
Such laws were also found to be suffocating economic development and private investment because of the inability for public-private broadband infrastructure projects to go ahead. As well, it would be hard to do business in areas affected by these laws because today’s business operations are relying on information to be provided at the speed of light. This is more so with small and medium business who is after a decent broadband Internet service that doesn’t stifle them financially.
The community broadband services, which typically are maintained by the electric utility ran by the local government can also allow for a European-style shared-infrastructure model where retail broadband operators can rent bandwidth on the infrastructure to facilitate their Internet services This is in addition to the local government providing broadband to schools and libraries, covering their Internet-service needs and even being in a position to sell broadband service to the community.
As well, this competition can effectively give CenturyLink and Comcast the “kick in the pants” they need to raise their game when it comes to value for money and customer-service attitudes. Who doesn’t want all their customers churning to better service?
At least this Election Day in the US represented a step towards real competition for that country’s broadband Internet services.