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Comcast, CenturyLink Fail to Stop Longmont Fiber
City Will be Allowed to Use its Own Fiber Network
by Karl Bode 08:54AM Friday Nov 04 2011
For years we've covered how ISPs have used some very sleazy tactics to stop towns or cities from deploying their own broadband. In Lafayette, Louisiana, pollsters there were hired to tell locals that a municipal fiber network meant the government would begin rationing their TV viewing and take away religious TV programming. In Illinois, Comcast and AT&T (then SBC) tried to convince locals that building their own broadband meant they'd be subsidizing porn. In every case, incumbent ISPs have sued, hassled, harassed, and otherwise assaulted these projects -- then insisted they were always destined for failure when the efforts stumble under assault.

The real problem, however, is that these projects (good, bad or otherwise) would never have been started if locals were happy with the level of service they were getting from their broadband providers. Instead of improving service though, carriers spent millions on push pollsters, propaganda, and lawsuits. In Longmont, Colorado, locals were tired of sub-par Qwest service and tried to work out a public-private broadband expansion in 2005, but a protectionist law proposed by Qwest prohibited it.

Qwest's law required that Longmont pass a referendum to allow local businesses and resident to use a network the town itself built. In 2009 the city put the referendum to a vote -- with 56% of the voters saying no after Comcast and Qwest poured more than a quarter million into attacking the plan. Locals realized they'd been boondoggled, so this year the city tried again. Despite Comcast and CenturyLink spending even more money on the kind of astroturf efforts we've seen time and time again, voters this time voted 60% to approve the plan:
quote:
Longmont's Ballot Question 2A cruised to victory Tuesday night, carrying about 60 percent of the vote for most of the night. The vote lifts state restrictions on the city's use of its 17-mile-long fiber-optic loop, allowing it to offer services to residents and businesses either directly or through a partner....The city built its 17-mile fiber-optic loop in 1997. The $1.1 million cost was paid for by the Platte River Power Authority. But about two-thirds of it has remained "dark" -- unused -- thanks to a 2005 state law that barred the city from providing retail access to the loop, either directly or through a private partner.
Some of these projects succeed, while some of them fail. Many of them fail thanks to ceaseless lawsuits from companies that simply don't want to compete, actions supported by people who amusingly then insist they simply believe in the free market. Again though, these actions would not be taken by towns and cities if there was a functioning and competitive free market. Instead what we've got is a broken duopoly that effectively writes protectionist state and federal laws, while pushing propaganda insisting the market isn't broken. That makes a victory like this one all the more impressive.

Unfortunately for Longmont the battle only just begins here. Not only must the city device a working business plan, they've got to do so under constant legal assault by CenturyLink and Comcast. History has clearly illustrated they won't stop attacking the plan -- then when it crumbles under assault they'll insist that all such plans are simply destined to failure. Of course if that really were the case, neither company would be spending hundreds of thousands to make sure.

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Duramax08
To The Moon
Premium
join:2008-08-03
San Antonio, TX

1 recommendation

Competition

Aint it a bitch?

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

1 recommendation

Re: Competition

It's a bitch when the muni providers don't play by the rules.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

1 recommendation

Re: Competition

1.) They had every chance to improve service preventing this place from even wanting to provide this service to begin with.
2.) They choose to invest in stopping this instead of investing in their network stopping the need for it.
3.) Rules or no rules the people voted on it and the government is there to serve the people.
4.) Consumers are not "owned" by these incumbents, especially when they are tax paying citizens that can change the rules to their favor if the want to.
5.) If the current incumbents dont like it, they can close up shop and move on. As a matter of fact I would even encourage them to do so. Let them put their assets/networks up for sale in these communities and stop servicing them all together. See who cares?
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS
said by battleop:

It's a bitch when the muni providers don't play by the rules.

Rules? Comcast and CentryTel are not the poster children for following so-called big business "RULES". These greedy companies have LONG been overdue for some municipal payback, espeically in the southwest and western plains & mountain states!

I hope they undercut both companies and put them out of business in that municiapality or it might spur them to do what they SHOULD have beeen doing decades ago.. UPGRADING THE DAMED NETWORK and making infrastructure upgrades as an investment in the future and not sit on their ass like a till of the hun with a dedicated monopoly/duopoly and all of a sudden act like the sky is falling because the government is sick and tired of hearing about consumer complaints! I'm also sick and tired of hearing from corporate appologists. When they do good I praise them.. when they do bad... they get raked over the coals, just like everyone else!

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: Competition

Is there anyone more greedy than the government? Do you really think that they are in this for the good of the people?

What business are you in? If the government decided tomorrow that they were going to get in that business and do business at a loss by using your tax dollars subsidize the loss would you feel the same?

I have a HUGE problem with a government agency taking my tax dollars and creating a closed network in which they refuse to business with the local providers. If they were really interested in helping the people and not their pockets they would build OPEN muni fiber projects.

whataname

@iauq.com

Re: Competition

This is actually a reasonabe position. Done as an open muni-fiber network that private ISPs can compete on, basically taking care of the infrastructure only.

This way you get increased competition, spur small business and innovation and encourage growth. Something like Utopia did, but hopefully with significantly less lawsuits trying to slam it into the ground.

Thaler
Premium
join:2004-02-02
Los Angeles, CA
kudos:3
said by battleop:

I have a HUGE problem with a government agency taking my tax dollars and creating a closed network in which they refuse to business with the local providers.

Even though the local providers clearly have no interest in doing business in the area?

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: Competition

Every single provider (not AT&T/Comcast size) in EPB's network area has made good faith efforts on multiple occasions to connect to EPB's publicly owned network. Each time EPB has refused to cooperate with these local companies.

For example I know of at least two providers who attempted to buy 100Mb circuits from EPB. At that time EPB had a street price of $2000/mo. They quoted one provider $5000/mo and another $7500/mo for 100MB plus installs in excess of $200,000. BOTH providers were in the downtown area and both were passed by EPB. Fiber was on the same pole that their electric came in the building.

Another example was another provider who was looking to get access to their customers. They knew they could not compete with EPB on bandwidth but they were looking to deliver other services like cloud, voice, and backup. When first approached EPB quoted this provider a rate that is 3 times their street price. Then several hours later the rate was raised again and then by the end of the day EPB said they would not sell the service at all to this provider. Note this was a RETAIL product that they were after and not wholesale.

These examples are just one muni project but many. How can these guys be for competition when they them selves are anti competitive?

David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101
Reviews:
·DIRECTV
·AT&T Midwest
·magicjack.com
·Google Voice

Re: Competition

So even a cell network wanting to increase capacity and coverage would get the same results assuming they connect back end to EPB fiber?

That kind of sucks if true, isn't that what the public wanted was competition? seems like just the opposite to me (again based on your example.)

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: Competition

I don't know abut the cell carriers other than AT&T and Verizon are installing AT&T Metro E circuits at every tower they can right now.

"isn't that what the public wanted was competition?"

The public was not given a choice, there was no vote and there was never an outcry for the service. EPB has already increased our power rates which they promised they would not do. When it was time to use those reserves after the April storms they were low because money had been spent on fiber along with the $100 Million + in grant money for a "Smart Grid" and $200+ million in bonds.
davidhoffman
Premium
join:2009-11-19
Warner Robins, GA
kudos:3
What are the names of these companies/providers that were denied EPB service?

mob
On the next level..
Premium
join:2000-10-07
Reviews:
·SureWest Internet

Re: Competition

battleop See Profile always breaks out the "poor companies, always being kept down by the big bad government" cry rag when it comes to a local government deciding to provide a beneficial service to residents.
»Re: Yay socialism!

NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:12
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC
said by battleop:

It's a bitch when the muni providers don't play by the rules.

The only "rules" the Telecoms play buy are expending capital on favorable (to them) legislation.

Although I don't count myself among those demanding it, there is a demand for higher speed Internet than the Telecoms are currently providing. But the cost of upgrading would mean lowering CEO salaries and benefits, and the profit margin. Most retail stores actually operate on an extremely thin profit margin, and the telecoms prefer to keep theirs fat.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: Competition

I am talking about Rules set by the FCC. One like LNP and some of the bullshit reasons they come up with to stall port outs and then they send in their sales teams to reterm the customer.

toby
Troy Mcclure

join:2001-11-13
Portland, OR
said by battleop:

It's a bitch when the muni providers don't play by the rules.

Its even worse when the monopoly phone providers have no intention of providing any service and still fight against others providing it.

I'm sure other pay your school/fire/police taxes. Same thing.

Kommie
Premium
join:2003-05-13
united state
kudos:3
said by battleop:

It's a bitch when the muni providers don't play by the rules.

Someone works for the Boradband Industry ?

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: Competition

Yep, but not for one of the mega huge carriers.

Kommie
Premium
join:2003-05-13
united state
kudos:3

Re: Competition

said by battleop:

Yep, but not for one of the mega huge carriers.

What I understand is your worried about City-Owned Competition because your working for a private carrier that might be affected by this.
jEdgarSwoop

join:2011-11-11
Comcast follow the rules? Century Link follow the rules? Are you kidding? For example, big corporations are supposed to pay 35% taxes (only on profits, mind you, not on income like people).

$-Millions
Tax Year 2009

Comcast CenturyLink
Profit 5262 813
Tax 802 154.8
Rate 0.152 0.19

That's a lower tax rate than people. And less than half (for Comcast) than they should be paying. Is that fair?

And in that referendum you are bitching about, neither you nor I could get away with making the kind of false statements (lies!) that they did and you know it.

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000

Re: Competition

Try and port numbers from some of these munis in a timely manner. They are government owned and they believe that the rules don't apply to them so they don't follow the rules set aside by the FCC or PUC. It's funny how they can drag it out until just before it goes to arbitration and then they all the sudden release the number if the customer has not changed their mind.

ArrayList
netbus developer
Premium
join:2005-03-19
Brighton, MA

just think

if providing internet service is profitable for a business, why can't it be profitable for a government? I don't see why it couldn't be. Just get business minded people in there to manage it.

whome123

@att.net

Re: just think

Doesn't really need to turn a profit, just cover expenses. Our system of corporatism has failed, capitalism is nonexistent, so what is our alternative?

woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA
There are those on this site that would disagree and say that would give the govt an unfair advantage at the taxpayers cost. I see this as no different than a sports franchise getting it's stadium/arena subsidized by the taxpayers. Until lately you haven't heard much about that .There should be some law against them getting in the way.
--
BlooMe

Ghandi

@embarqhsd.net

Re: just think

I can't wait until the local government starts putting up there own restraunts, retail stores, cafe's, car dealerships, and factories, then we'll have real competition. We should all be happy when the government competes against private industry, right? Seems like people only want this type of action when they think they have something to gain. This pandora's box should never be opened.

whome123

@att.net

Re: just think

That is just sensationalist nonsense. For the most part the businesses you listed are EXTREMELY competitive and actually have a market.

The telco / cable industry is hosed because of a complicated mix of too much bad regulations and too few good ones.

Nothing to see here, move on.
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO

1 recommendation

The stupidity in what you say is at a new high.

All of those things you listed have lots of competition in just about every way. All of those things do not have nearly the prohibitive cost and barriers to entry that building a network does. All of those things do not involve the need for multiple carriers to tear up yards, streets, sidewalks, and neighborhoods to reach their customers.

Get a clue and the come back and make a valid argument.

woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA
No one goes out of their way to stifle a restaurant, retail stores (unless walmart)car dealer ships , and factories..................when the telcos can't deliver and the govt. steps in, I see no problem as long as they get voter approval. Deliver or get out of the way.
--
BlooMe

woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA
I rest my case
--
BlooMe

HotRodFoto
Premium
join:2003-04-19
Denver, CO

sweet!

Close to me and have been looking at moving up to Longmont for awhile now.
--
Capturing the images of Colorado
»jdebordphoto.com

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

What motivates starting up municipal fiber plans ?

quote:
The real problem, however, is that these projects (good, bad or otherwise) would never have been started if locals were happy with the level of service they were getting
I don't buy this as the key reason that these municipal fiber systems are started. Empire building by politicians & heads of public utilities that get to build and control these new systems and pad the payrolls with relatives and friends is much more likely the reason. Sure, dissatisfaction with a cable or telco company helps these municipal systems get some support. But the typical organization's desire to expand their domain and budgets and secure their positions is much more likely the reason for their being proposed.
--
»www.politico.com/rss/2012-election.xml
»www.politico.com/rss/2012-election-blog.xml


whome123

@att.net

Re: What motivates starting up municipal fiber plans ?

said by FFH5:

quote:
The real problem, however, is that these projects (good, bad or otherwise) would never have been started if locals were happy with the level of service they were getting
I don't buy this as the key reason that these municipal fiber systems are started. Empire building by politicians & heads of public utilities that get to build and control these new systems and pad the payrolls with relatives and friends is much more likely the reason.

Its funny, I thought you were describing Cox cable in Louisiana. Most large corporations already have this nasty habit of employing friends of friends as we call it.
Sammer

join:2005-12-22
Canonsburg, PA
said by FFH5:

Sure, dissatisfaction with a cable or telco company helps these municipal systems get some support.

I wouldn't call it just some support when Comcast and CenturyLink outspent the supporters of the the referendum 60 to 1 and lost to a big majority anyway. That seems to be ample evidence that the voters of Longmont are more than a little dissatisfied with their current broadband options. Since when do corporations have a right to profit by not serving their customers needs.
Expand your moderator at work

Milliwatt

join:2010-01-26
Hotchkiss, CO

Colorado Comcast & CenturyLink

I am so glad to see these two go down in flames. CenturyLink in particular has demonstrated their incompetence on several occasions. Witness the following -

»www.summitdaily.com/article/2011···ile=1055

So where was the protected fiber ring? The last time this happened it was a stupid tree branch that knocked out most of Western Colorado's data circuits including data links between hospitals.

The time has long passed for ALL basic fiber resources to be in the public domain with maintenance and operation bid out to private firms. Excessive screw ups are then easily and quickly taken care of by dumping the offending contract company. They way things work today, the end user has little or no say and often must endure bad service at inflated prices.

jseymour

join:2009-12-11
Waterford, MI

1 recommendation

Profit vs. Non-Profit, and other thoughts

In the end the big difference between a government-operated system and a commercial one is that the government system is only obliged to satisfy its customers, while the commercial system is obliged to make profits for its shareholders, as well.

Unfortunately, commercial systems, like most American companies, these days, are mostly driven by shareholders and run by bean-counters. The customer often comes a distant second. Enter the municipal systems.

Random additional thoughts...

There's some misinformation going on here, btw. Some, perhaps many, of these municipal systems are funded by bond issues and designed to be self-sustaining afterward. They're not taxpayer-subsidized.

ISTM that if the commercial companies spent more of their time, energy and money making their product better and more affordable, rather than spending so much on advertising, lobbying and fighting battles against municipal initiatives, everybody'd be better-off and any lack of competition would become essentially a non-issue.

I'm stuck in a dualopoly situation, but, luckily, one of the two, Comcast, is offering what I want for the max I'm willing to pay and able to justify. Otherwise I might be pushing my town to consider a municipal system.

Jim
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

If the people vote yes

to Muni-Fiber than no court should be able to stop it. I think even the laws that some areas have to prevent muni-fiber should be nullified if the people vote yes, since the law in such a case has no element in protecting people just the shareholders of a corporation who do not want to provide top quality service.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

Transmaster
Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

join:2001-06-20
Cheyenne, WY

1 edit

Good things happen

You may all recall Greybull, Wyoming put in a Muni Fiber system several years ago. Thanks to this state of the art system I get anywhere from 4 to 6 calls a day from call centers that have opened up shop there. Yes I am on the no call list but these calls are made for charities, polling firms, and political parties which are exempt from no call regulations. Looking up the spoofed, numbers and locations, I see some of these calls are for outfits with less then a sterling reputation. But for Greybull these call centers are providing jobs mostly for young adults, and in that part of Wyoming there is not much in the way of work available for this demographic.
--
I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
- Mark Twain in Eruption

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

Oh noes!

Decent speeds at fair prices. . .
HOW DARE THEY!

Kommie
Premium
join:2003-05-13
united state
kudos:3

More Power to the Local Muni!

If the people voted 60% in Favor for Socialism then that is their choice. I am tired of seeing working class people protecting corporations that do not give a damn about them. Hell just look at the Caps. Having Public Broadband would at least keep the caps in check.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS

Re: More Power to the Local Muni!

said by Kommie:

If the people voted 60% in Favor for Socialism then that is their choice. I am tired of seeing working class people protecting corporations that do not give a damn about them. Hell just look at the Caps. Having Public Broadband would at least keep the caps in check.

Big businesses always tout the "free market capitalism" as long as they own a majority market share that can push any and all competitors out of business (the Fox news network commentators always tell HALF the storyline about capitalism & the true nature of big businesses such as the OIL industry, Telecom, Banks, etc).. in that sense it's not FREE MARKET, it's monopoly market capitalism they support and pursue (at all costs). The historical context was to establish primary providers for utility services so that infrastructure which has to run through and around public/private property doesn't get trashed (much) or too entangled to be of use to anybody. These rules of business put a PUBLIC TRUST in these utility companies that they would be fair in the prices charged and upgrade services in a prudent manner that would benefit the majority of their customers. Telcos & Cablecos lead by AT&T and Comcast have flouted these rules time and again only to be rewarded by government with more USF and public subsidy. The infrastructure rules for major cities are NOT a one size fits all approach for suburban & rural geographies! This is a misconception that all across the USA there should be only 1, MAYBE 2 carriers (the 1996 telecom reform act making Cablecos a phone/voip company turned into a nightmare of stagnation with respect to infrastructure upgrades all the while chewing down telco profits).. In major metro areas public & private property could withstand 3 or 4 carriers competing for customers. Even with all the TIER-1 ISPs who've run fiber throughout the country... we've gone from about 8-12 down to about 7 major companies who own the infrastructure that all bandwidth runs on in this country. There are many hubs that could split off muni fiber projects to a 3rd or 4th competitor.

SECraft

@bellsouth.com

Still faces a bigger hurdle....

And that is programming. There are dozens, if not hundreds of failed offerings by Munis for TV services, because of potential subscriber base alone. Networks like HBO, ESPN, and Fox just to name a few don't want to talk to you if you can't offer a significant subscriber base, and charge such high rates as it is, that it becomes financially unworkable for Munis anyway.