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Is telecomm a role for the public sector

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
I think no, in that telecommunications is and has been changing so rapidly that I don't believe municipalities or regional authorities have the ability to keep their system upgraded. That's my first thought.

At least with munciple water systems, the basic delivery method hasn't changed much, only the treatment. With telecommunications, delivery methods are always changing and "treatment" or formatting is always changing.

If the industry was mature and beyound the rapid changes, then maybe.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
I think that it is a waste of money. I also think that this agency is essentially creating extra work for themselves to try and remain relevant while most communities within this region have decided that they would like more of a say in how their community is developed. This agency used to create a large chunk of the Comp. Plans in the region but communities realized that people that don’t have a stake in a community have no business making local land use decisions. I think that communities are best served making telecommunications tower location decisions themselves. I wouldn’t have a problem with them creating some type of a guide for communities to assist with telecommunications decisions or if the agency would provide technical assistance on an as-needed basis.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
I don't know about SE WI, it is a well-populated region, but are parts of rural America will simply be left behind if the public sector doesn't participate in providing service there.
 

ludes98

Cyburbian
Messages
1,264
Points
22
Wireless has long been regulated in many communities. I don't think there is a danger of new wireless technology destroying the fabric of communities. in addition to that, wireless is a very easy way to provide service where the cost of infrastructure (copper lines) is or has not been cost effective.

Fiber is more difficult. It is still expensive and is often not feasible, especially in smaller communities, without government help. I know a mid-sized city that is working to install a fiber loop in their community to help attract businesses.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
To offer a little more background, the region conducted an audit in about 2000-2001 that found the level of service to be generally poor, and varied across the region. Dial-up service was widely available, but some communities could average no better than 9600 kBps. DSL coverage was spotty, and almost exclusively within the larger communities. Or so the highly-paid consultant claimed. I did an audit of my own community and its surrounding area. Where the consultant claimed we did not have DSL, which I use in my home and office, I found two different providers with three switches, covering all of the city and adjacent rural areas. One provider offers wireless broadband in the rural area, but not in the city because he would be competing with the university. There are over a dozen ISP's in the city, not including national services, and most offer ISDN. T-1 and fractional T-1 service is offered by four or five. We are located on four OC-48 SONET circuits just through the LEC, several of our local ISP's have private fiber back to the POP in Milwaukee, and the university is on yet another circuit.

I'm on the fence with this one. I clearly do not believe it is appropriate for any government (or planning agency) to exercise the broad role envisioned by SEWRPC, especially when they begin to talk about the routing of fiber, etc. In fact, I think they fail to recognize the true nature of the infrastructure, where numerous telecommunications providers and unrelated private entities may all be running their own cable. Sure, it is nice to be able to talk of providing broadband access to everyone, but then there is a reality that some areas are simply difficult to serve, and does a farmhouse need a T-1? Besides, technology is evolving and satallite, or perhaps combined electrical/data lines will be entering the market long before they ever achieve their socialist goals of getting everyone wired.

Perhaps the role for governments in the telecommunications field is what some communities have chosen to do, either providing a service in particular districts (i.e., wireless broadband as an incentive to work or shop downtown) or in establishing municipal utilities where the private market cannot justify the expenditure.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
I think all infrastructure that is open to the public should be owned by the public.
If it's part of the commons then you shouldn't have to pay to use it (beyond operating costs).

highways, railroads, airports, airwaves, fiberoptics, etc should all be publicly owned. The city owns the airport here. It turns a profit through the user fees it charges.

I think the same can be said of a fiber-optic superhighway. If the public is making a large investment in the infrastructure it shouldn't come in the form of a giveaway to private companies. That's not to say that the private sector shouldn't be responsible for providing the service through lease agreements.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,523
Points
23
Without Federal Government investment, Australia would not have a universal telco service due to our low, overall population density. The main (government owned) Australian telco is called Telstra and 49% has recently been floated. Private providers have also been invited into the market (mainly utilising Telstra infrastructure) to generate some competition benefits, but they still face population density limitations leaving Telstra as a virtual monopoly.

The problem one faces now is that unless a new or enhanced service makes immediate business sense to Telstra, and their capital budgets can accommodate it - you won't receive that service unless you take steps yourself to get it. A number of Councils and incorporated community bodies have taken that step and are operating small scale, higher service telco businesses. For some it is the only way supperior services will be received within an reasonable time frame.
 

JNL

Cyburbian
Messages
2,449
Points
25
Since (NZ) Telecom's monopoly was removed in 1990 (one of the first telcos in the world to be fully privatised), providers have gradually become much more competitive on price, range of services offered, and customer service.

However,

Rem said:
The problem one faces now is that unless a new or enhanced service makes immediate business sense to Telstra, and their capital budgets can accommodate it - you won't receive that service unless you take steps yourself to get it.
we have the same thing here. Neither of our 2 major providers are planning to install cabling for high-speed internet on my street :-@
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
jresta said:
I think all infrastructure that is open to the public should be owned by the public....

If the public is making a large investment in the infrastructure it shouldn't come in the form of a giveaway to private companies.
What is "open to the public?" Telecommunications (wired, at least) has always been a private endeavour. Private companies have always been the primary supplier of phone, wireless, broadcast, internet and other telecommunications services. Except for the airwaves, all of the infrastructure is private as well. Are you proposing to nationalize the "phone company?"

There are many flaws with the SEWRPC proposal. The first is that the "fear of being left behind" is based on a report that was inaccurate and outdated before the ink was dry on the PDF file. The second is that the technology proposed to be used is widely considered to be transitional, and likely to be replaced before the whole region could be completed. The third is that there is a demand for the service in every household and business. With almost no exceptions, the communities in the region have adequate services, either with cable, DSL, or higher-capacity services. The areas that are not being served are rural. In other words, if you want broadband with existing technology, I guess you shouldn't be building a new house in the countryside.
 

Rem

Cyburbian
Messages
1,523
Points
23
Cardinal said:
.... The areas that are not being served are rural. In other words, if you want broadband with existing technology, I guess you shouldn't be building a new house in the countryside.
Many of the premises that may require broadband are probably older properties - for example, engaged in agricutlural production that can't be undertaken in a more populated area. Isn't it as much to do with equity of access to what is becoming an essential service? Its probably less of an issue in a massive consumer/producer market like North America, but in Australia have to think about the Nation's competitiveness. If our dairy producers fall behind their Italian competitors, because they can't access the internet, then we have a problem as a whole. It goes to the competitiveness of regions in attracting and maintinaing their employment base as well. I'm all for public investment in infrastructure the private sector won't provide where subsidies are transparent (though preferably it is cost neutral) and the infrastructure is future proofed (or at least has a known servicable life).
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Rem, your point is a good one, and in truly rural areas there is a role for the local government in enabling broadband access. Our corner of Wisconsin, although "rural," is not really a good example of that. It is heavily settled and largely covered by multiple Internet providers. It is also among the fastest-growing and wealthiest counties in the state. We are at the edge of both the Chicago and Milwaukee metropolitan areas. The Region covered by SEWRPC takes in the most densly settled parts of Wisconsin. I may be a little cynical, but I think the staff there know telecommunications has gotten the attention of some of the business and political interests, and they are aware that in other parts of the state and country, governments have initiatives related to telecommunications. Some cities are putting wireless utilities in place. Some rural regions are exploring broadband. SEWRPC is jumping onto the bandwagon, but it seems to me that they are not particularly well informed, either on the technology or the actual need.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
Cardinal said:
What is "open to the public?" Telecommunications (wired, at least) has always been a private endeavour. Private companies have always been the primary supplier of phone, wireless, broadcast, internet and other telecommunications services. Except for the airwaves, all of the infrastructure is private as well. Are you proposing to nationalize the "phone company?"
They were not always the "primary supplier" and a few holdovers from public telephone days of yore still exist. Rochester Telephone in New York and Rock Hill Telephone in South Carolina come to mind. They were the norm before they started to get bought up by the long distance companies.

trend is not destiny. highways have always been considered essential to the functioning of our economy, a public commodity that, in the name of a free market and a functioning society, should be open to any and all users. I don't really hear people complaining about how the national highway network is "not working and should be privatized". No one would argue that telecom isn't just as essential to our economy and no one would argue that telecom hasn't complimented the highway system - they don't call it the information superhighway for nothin'.

So i'm not saying we should march up to 1717 Arch St., waving red flags, and nationalize Verizon. I'm saying that the infrastructure should be public and operating the service should be open to any and all competitors. As it is now Verizon owns the phone lines but any long distance company that pays Verizon the wholesale rate is allowed to use those lines. That's how Verizon can afford the upkeep on the lines and still offer "low" local rates. Why would it be any different if the public owned the lines?

The public invariably winds up dolling out enormous subsidies for the construction and maintenance of these lines. Why shouldn't they be public? The City of Philadelphia makes enormous contributions for SEPTA's capital costs. The city owns the tunnels and half of the subway cars are stamped with "Property of the City of Philadelphia." If the public pays the public should own.

After being conned by Verizon ( http://slashdot.org/articles/03/07/18/1951226.shtml?tid=126&tid=95 )Pennsylvania has just set out to put big subsidies into creating what essentially will be new, interstate highways, only broadband (or whatever better technology comes out in the next year or two). They want to reach the rural parts of the state with it. I see it as a sprawl inducer, sure, but that doesn't worry me as much as the subsidies they're offering for it and the money they've already wasted on it. It's a wealth transfer plain and simple - from the taxpayer to the phone company.
 

passdoubt

Cyburbian
Messages
407
Points
13
I don't really know anything about telecomm, but its privitization has never made sense to me. Why have private enterprise operating in an environment that by design is not conducive to competition? It'd be ridiculous to have each competing company stringing separate fiberoptic lines through every neighborhood. So companies like Verizon and Comcast are given geographic tracts to reign over and serve, as is only logical. But by doing this, aren't they essentially granted monopoly status? Consumers don't have any choice over local telecomm, so why should it be private? It seems like private companies have even less incentive to offer good service at cheap prices because they have a captive audience.
 

jresta

Cyburbian
Messages
1,474
Points
23
passdoubt said:
I don't really know anything about telecomm, but its privitization has never made sense to me. Why have private enterprise operating in an environment that by design is not conducive to competition? It'd be ridiculous to have each competing company stringing separate fiberoptic lines through every neighborhood. So companies like Verizon and Comcast are given geographic tracts to reign over and serve, as is only logical. But by doing this, aren't they essentially granted monopoly status? Consumers don't have any choice over local telecomm, so why should it be private? It seems like private companies have even less incentive to offer good service at cheap prices because they have a captive audience.
Thank you for putting it much more succinctly than i could.
 
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