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The Internet United States

Virginia 'Broadband Deployment Act' Would Kill Municipal Broadband Deployment (arstechnica.com) 200

Virginia lawmakers are considering a bill called the "Virginia Broadband Deployment Act," but instead of resulting in more broadband deployment, the legislation would make it more difficult for municipalities to offer Internet service. From a report: The Virginia House of Delegates legislation proposed this week by Republican lawmaker Kathy Byron would prohibit municipal broadband deployments except in very limited circumstances. Among other things, a locality wouldn't be allowed to offer Internet service if an existing network already provides 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds to 90 percent of potential customers. That speed threshold is low enough that it can be met by old DSL lines in areas that haven't received more modern cable and fiber networks. Even if that condition is met, a city or town would have to jump through a few hoops before offering service. The municipality would have to pay for a "comprehensive broadband assessment," and then issue a request for proposals giving for-profit ISPs six months to submit a plan for broadband deployment. After receiving proposals from private ISPs, the local government would have to determine whether providing grants or subsidies to a private ISP would be more cost-effective than building a municipal broadband network.
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Virginia 'Broadband Deployment Act' Would Kill Municipal Broadband Deployment

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 13, 2017 @02:42PM (#53662227)

    If you can't even do as well as the government, you don't deserve to be in business.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by neonv ( 803374 )

      The government can subsidize the costs and offer service for well below the actual costs, which is unfair competition.

      The issue in high costs with broadband come from partial or complete monopolies of ISPs. ISPs like Comcast can charge whatever they want in many areas because they are the only viable option.

      In order to reduce costs, the government can help introduce competition. When many companies offer similar service, they compete for customers in price and customers win. I really like this idea in Vi

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @03:07PM (#53662441)

        In order to reduce costs, the government can help introduce competition.

        Here is how to do it: When trenching the streets, install a wide (12" or more) PUBLICLY OWNED conduit pipe. Then allow any bonded provider to run cable or fiber through that pipe for a small standard fee. Since 99% of the cost of providing service is the trenching, this will make the market far more competitive.

        Imagine how competitive the package delivery business would be if FedEx, UPS, and USPS each had to build their own network of roads? A single network of publicly owned roads fixes that problem, and allows competition to thrive. We can do the same with cable conduits.

        • Better yet let the government own sll physical lines at street level. Let different providers compete to dig down new fibers for the government. Then let anyone compete in these fibers be it isps private ppl or whatever.it's retarded to try and compete on the infrastructure level. It's too exoensive so you will never gave a free market there.
        • by n8_f ( 85799 )
          Sorry, but this is a horrible idea. That's like cutting a 160 foot swath across a state and then having each package delivery company pave their own roads. Or putting up power poles and forcing a bunch of power companies to run the wire. You've just significantly increased the costs. And when you're talking about tunneling, they go up fast. Just build the damn road. Run fiber to each building and run it as a utility. If you want to introduce competition, then allow ISPs to lease fiber connections to
        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          Here is how to do it: When trenching the streets, install a wide (12" or more) PUBLICLY OWNED conduit pipe. Then allow any bonded provider to run cable or fiber through that pipe for a small standard fee. Since 99% of the cost of providing service is the trenching, this will make the market far more competitive.

          Why bother? Copper and coax are quite clearly inferior solutions for new deployment and laying down a 12" pipe would be a huge cost, just lay down a fiber to the nearest central and let companies compete for what boxes they want to put on the ends. Put out a bid with a reasonable residential SLA for line maintenance, make sure the penalties are sufficient for good service.

      • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @03:14PM (#53662519)
        Horseshit. This "act" is Rent-seeking [wikipedia.org] at its most basic and obvious, and all the Free Market evangelism in the world won't change it.
        • Horseshit. This "act" is Rent-seeking [wikipedia.org] at its most basic and obvious, and all the Free Market evangelism in the world won't change it.

          Stigler nailed it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          • This won't change as long as the voters stop paying attention and instead instinctively vote only for those of the correct red vs blue teams. They don't know if the guy is a crook or not, but they'll vote for him because that's the lever they always pull. And besides these issues are extremely complicated for the average voter to think about, as compared to easily digested voter information of "my opponent is an evil liberal/conservative with his hand in your wallet".

      • The government can subsidize the costs and offer service for well below the actual costs, which is unfair competition.

        That seems like a red herring. "The Government" isn't some giant mega-corp paying out stockholders, it is run and funded by the citizens. That's not "the government" subsidizing the costs, it's the taxes paid by the people who live there. The people are subsidizing the costs, so why shouldn't the government be allowed to build and maintain a network for the benefit of the people which is paid for by the people? The answer of course is because the ISPs think they deserve everyone's money. That doesn't m

        • by Jiro ( 131519 )

          If the private company can't build a better network and provide better service than the people doing it for themselves then the private company doesn't get any business.

          Even if the private company can build a better network at the same price, the customers of the private network will not just be paying that price--they don't become exempt from taxes, so they'd have to pay double. This prevents private networks from becoming successful.

          What you would be saying is only correct if the people can choose to p

        • The people are subsidizing the costs, so why shouldn't the government be allowed to build and maintain a network for the benefit of the people which is paid for by the people? The answer of course is because the ISPs think they deserve everyone's money.

          You have it 180 degrees backwards. When a commercial ISP serves a community it gets money from some of the people. When a government runs an ISP they get money from ALL of the people, even those who don't want the service. It's the governments who think they deserve everyone's money, and they regularly increase the amount of everyone's money they take by raising taxes.

          Why shouldn't they do this for internet? Because it creates and unfair marketplace for existing commercial operations, and subsidizes the re

          • And when commercial services just have no interest in serving your community? You can't force these companies to serve you. So, you just do without? So, you doom a community to having no new companies move in because you cant give them good internet service? That was Winston Salem, NC. And they provided their own service because NOBODY ELSE WOULD. And then the NC legislature stepped in and banned the practice for future communities. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

            So, we have a law banning local government

            • And when commercial services just have no interest in serving your community?

              Start one. Or accept the fact that it is not cost-effective to provide service where you are. "I don't want to pay what it would cost" isn't a reason to force others to subsidize your internet.

              So, you just do without?

              I would love it were there a Golden Corral in my town. There isn't. I cannot force Golden Corral to come to town, so I should get the city to open up a buffet restaurant operated by taxpayer funds? I should not worry that such a "business" operated at cost or below might drive other for-profit restaurants already in t

      • The government can subsidize the costs and offer service for well below the actual costs, which is unfair competition.

        Except that the government has to pay those massively overpaid gov't workers who only work 3 days a week.

        You can't have it both ways.

      • This is a silly argument though. You may as well say that if a company doesn't have the same need to have high profits that they shouldn't compete as it's unfair to the fat cats. Generally the conservative stance for as long as I can remember was "government are inefficient, slow, wasteful, and out of touch with the citizens." But as soon as government does something efficient and desirable the message changes to "government shouldn't do that!" I think some of this is just bitter resentment that their t

    • by dbreeze ( 228599 )

      I'm gonna quit Frontier ASAP for backing this kind of nonsense...
      http://www.telecompetitor.com/... [telecompetitor.com]
      https://muninetworks.org/conte... [muninetworks.org]
      https://www.benton.org/headlin... [benton.org]
      https://psmag.com/the-fight-ov... [psmag.com]
      " AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, CenturyLink, Verizon, Frontier. To stay in power, they’ve fought against cities and municipalities in state legislatures across the country.
      “It’s been kind of a war,” says Christopher Mitchell, the director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative.

  • by Frightened_Turtle ( 592418 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @02:45PM (#53662263) Homepage
    ...Strike Virginia off my list of potential places to live. :/
    • As I've been told by Virginians themselves, "In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there ain't nothing common wealth about it. You're either poor or got too much money to play with."
      • You're either poor or got too much money to play with."

        The poor folks are mostly in southern or western Virginia, where they have lived for generations. The rich folks are mostly Yankee immigrant lawyers and politicians living around the beltway. There are now enough northern immigrants that Virginia has gone blue in the last three presidential elections.

        • by pezpunk ( 205653 )

          we aren't immigrants. we're merely educated. i've lived in Northern Virginia all my life.

          • i've lived in Northern Virginia all my life.

            Do you know how to make cornpone? Do you eat biscuits with gravy? Have you ever BBQed a road killed possum?

            • That description would cover every state from Texas east to the Atlantic Ocean, and North to the Virgina - with a few Midwest states thrown in for good measure.
    • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @03:07PM (#53662451)
      First, this isn't a law yet. The Republicans have a majority in the statehouse, but the governor is a Democrat (though I haven't seen any word on how he intends to respond). That said, there's already a law on the books restricting Municipal broadband. Most of the built-up suburbs have at least two options between FiOS and Cable (mostly Comcast, but Cox has a few counties including Fairfax, the biggest DC suburban one). Currently the only part that has municipal broadband is Bristol, in the southwestern part of the state on the Tennessee border, where they have full FTTP. Unfortunately, it's not exactly a large city (population ~17k).

      Overall the state isn't a bad place to live, though it has its crazy quirks, and some parts of it are very different from others. Most of the tech jobs are up near or in DC, and relate to the Federal Government in some way. The DC suburbs are pricy and traffic sucks (though not as bad as the Bay Area still). The weather usually isn't too bad, though people have no clue how to drive in snow. The food is pretty good, and you're well positioned between both the Northern and Southern regions of the country.
    • by Scutter ( 18425 )

      Ok, I've made a note in your permanent file.

    • It was on your list?

      Be honest now. You didn't really have a list, did you?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's just more of that Republican love of smaller, more local government at work. Smell the FREEDOM!

    Notice a funny thing about these Republican bills: their content is usually the OPPOSITE of the bill's name. This is because when you summarize it, it never sounds like sonething you would want to pass. At least if you are an ordinary citizen, that is, and not some megacorp or rich person.

    • To be fair, letting corporations run everything is technically "smaller government". Republicans might be stupid, but they are consistent.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Consistently retarded.

      • by Kenja ( 541830 )
        It's weird that they have to keep passing laws and increase the size of enforcement agencies in the pursuit of smaller government.
        • What they really mean is that they want a smaller government if run by their opposing party, but a larger government if their party is in charge. It's the only way to ensure that you prevent the people from doing things your party disapproves of and that you're allowed to keep doing what the other party disapproves of.

      • by no-body ( 127863 )

        To be fair, letting corporations run everything is technically "smaller government". Republicans might be stupid, but they are consistent.

        It's not!

        There is a huge difference between Corporations and local governments.
        Who are both responsible to? Shareholders somewhere or people actually you know from local City Council meetings.
        What is their underlying objective? Increase return of investment to shareholders or run a municipality most efficient serving the people living there.

        You can see how municipalities are fought for their independence by state governments occupied by people dependent on campaign contributions when municipalities trying

  • Uh huh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @02:52PM (#53662325)

    "Small government!" "Local control!"

  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @02:55PM (#53662355)
    More entitlements given to the wealthy. Looks like Virginia is going to practice more wealthcare.
  • Does it surprise anyone that it is a Republican? I know, Dems can be bought too, but it appears that Republicans have a fire sale going on.
  • Crony Capitalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @02:59PM (#53662389) Homepage Journal
    Just another case of Gov't providing Corporate Protectionism at the expense of the People Anyone that still thinks that "People" are the Citizens Gov't serves are either delusional or hopelessly naive The real Citizens of the US are the Corporate Personhood and the Wealthy Elite
  • Results (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @03:00PM (#53662399)
    I think this may spur on people to do it themselves on a smaller scale. In parts of rural UK, this is already happening. A group of people got together and decided to hell with muni or corporate, they're going to do it themselves.
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      That's a great idea, but eventually, somebody has to get paid for an Internet connection, whether the last mile is handled by an ISP or a group of individuals. I wouldn't be surprised if the Republicans pass laws to make it illegal to do what you're describing, in which case no ISP would sell a group of people bandwidth to be sub-divided.
      • whether the last mile is handled by an ISP or a group of individuals.

        A group of people banding together to become an ISP _IS_ an ISP. And the law in question here doesn't stop that.

        in which case no ISP would sell a group of people bandwidth to be sub-divided.

        Upstream providers would be HAPPY to sell service to anyone they can. It's money in their pocket. Why wouldn't they? It won't be illegal for people to form an new ISP to take advantage of an underserved customer base. What other excuse would there be to not sell to them?

  • owns Kathy Byron?

    Or do they share..

  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @03:02PM (#53662409) Journal

    I think this state law goes a bit overboard. That I can think of, municipal fiber is only a problem in two types of cases. Sometimes, city council just isn't very good at running an ISP - they are mostly car dealers, real estate agents, and insurance agents, not networking experts. So they waste taxpayer money with their toy ISP. The local voters can probably handle that most of the time.

    Many of us probably recall Google announced they'd build out Google fiber only in cities where the local government didn't get in the way too much, dragging out permit processes for years, demanding kickbacks, etc. That reminds us that cities can and sometimes do make it very difficult, time consuming, and expensive for ISPs to offer improved services. Suppose you're councilman Jones. Two years ago, you proposed spending $50 million of taxpayer money building Muninet, run by the city. You get Muninet operational, a bit over budget, but it's providing 25 Mbps for $35. You and the rest of the city council aren't experienced at running an ISP, so sometimes there are glitches, but it should recover the $50 million investment over the next 12 years. You've taken some heat from the local newspaper for increasing taxes to pay for mediocre service, but you'll probably manage to get re-elected - you can spin it as a reasonably successful project, in it's first two years.

    Now Google comes knocking, wanting to offer gigabit for $70. That makes your Muninet 25 Mbps look like utter shit. If Google is allowed to offer gigabit, nobody will pay for Muninet service anymore and your record will show taxpayers (voters) were left holding the bag for the $50 million construction cost. Are you going to approve Google fiber ( the death of Muninet) or are you going to do everything you can to keep gigabit at bay, protecting your Muninet project?

    When the politicians who are responsible regulating / approving services are also running a competing service, they have a conflict of interest. That does need to be addressed somehow, but I don't think it means tax payer ISPs need to be banned.

    • When the politicians who are responsible regulating / approving services are also running a competing service, they have a conflict of interest. That does need to be addressed somehow, but I don't think it means tax payer ISPs need to be banned.

      I don't know about that. I think maybe it does. I think that governments that want to enable these projects need to take viability into account. What technology is muninet using? If it's using wireless, then it would have better been enabled by simply letting someone else do it. Make it easy for technically proficient residents to run a WISP and they'll do it themselves. If it's using fiber, then they should have pulled fiber useful to people like Google, who can then use their fiber. If it's copper, that w

    • It sounds like you should get kicked in the taint for rolling out a new network in the age of fiber but deciding to run with Cat-5 because you got a great deal on spools. Just because the network is publicly-funded doesn't also mean that all of the expertise needs to come from the community. Part of that public funding is hiring a designer who knows what they're doing.

    • Municipal fiber shouldn't mean "municipal ISP".

      IMHO, the municipality should charter a municipal corporation and use the municipality's bonding authority to fund the network buildout. Obviously the relevant experts should be hired from the utility and telecoms environment so that it's built to whatever the current standard is in such a network, with an eye towards long-term viability and maximum flexibility.

      Once built, the fiber network is only that -- a fiber network. Part of the network buildout should

  • The bottom line is - we all want more fast, inexpensive broadband options. So when you live in a city that doesn't really have them, you jump at the first opportunity that comes along. Sometimes, that's going to be your local government proposing a roll-out of a city-wide system.

    If it seems like a law is trying to block that from happening, your first reaction is to protest that law!

    But like someone else on here pointed out? Municipal Internet doesn't always have the best long-term track record. It's likely

    • As opposed to Verizon stopping their roll out of fiber.....
    • And yet what if there's no choice? So many parts of the world have great inexpensive internet, but in America we're told that it's too expensive to roll out service if you're unlucky enough to live where you do, or the costs are extremely high for rather mediocre service, and in order to keep those prices down to an almost affordable level they had to fire all the customer service people who know what they were doing. Seriously, if former republics of the Soviet Union can have faster and cheaper internet

  • If our corporate overlords can't make any money from something, it has a value of zero to the people in charge of those kinds of decisions.

  • And this doesn't scream "Bought and paid for by Cable Companies".....

  • by oh_my_080980980 ( 773867 ) on Friday January 13, 2017 @04:32PM (#53663051)
    "“I just think government needs to be very cautious about investing taxpayer dollars in these networks that they not only have to be able to manage, but they also have to maintain them,” Byron told The Roanoke Times. "Maintaining this type of stuff is much better done by private business.”" http://arstechnica.com/tech-po... [arstechnica.com]

    Really cock sucking whore. Do you have proof to support this assertion that does not come with wheel barrels full of cash....
    • "Really cock sucking whore. Do you have proof to support this assertion that does not come with wheel barrels full of cash....

      Cocksucking whores across all of America join in demanding an apology from you for comparing them to a conscienceless bottom feeder like Kathy Byron. Spokes-slut Anya Neeze says that when the lipstick hits the love muscle, at least she and her colleagues provide something of value to average guys. The only things Byron sucks hang small, limp and useless from the crotches of rich

  • Clearly the cable companies don't like competing against hyper local internet providers who cater to their customers... Since they can't compete, they're next tactic is to simply make it illegal. How do they do this?

    Thanks to bullshit like citizens united I can only speculate that the cable companies went door to door acting as citizens making large contributions to law makers who saw the world as they do.
  • Why not allow every municipality to offer the service for a fee and also allow private companies to offer their services. It is absurd that any cable company be allowed an exclusive territory. Make them compete like everybody else. That exclusive nonsense is nothing more than corporate welfare.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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