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City-Owned Internet Services Offer Cheaper and More Transparent Pricing, Says Harvard Study (arstechnica.com) 113

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Municipal broadband networks generally offer cheaper entry-level prices than private Internet providers, and the city-run networks also make it easier for customers to find out the real price of service, a new study from Harvard University researchers found. Researchers collected advertised prices for entry-level broadband plans -- those meeting the federal standard of at least 25Mbps download and 3Mbps upload speeds -- offered by 40 community-owned ISPs and compared them to advertised prices from private competitors. The report by researchers at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard doesn't provide a complete picture of municipal vs. private pricing. But that's largely because data about private ISPs' prices is often more difficult to get than information about municipal network pricing, the report says. In cases where the researchers were able to compare municipal prices to private ISP prices, the city-run networks almost always offered lower prices. This may help explain why the broadband industry has repeatedly fought against the expansion of municipal broadband networks.
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City-Owned Internet Services Offer Cheaper and More Transparent Pricing, Says Harvard Study

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  • No shit Sherlock! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by youngone ( 975102 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @06:51PM (#55934643)
    What the publicly owned ISP's don't offer is campaign contributions, which is why there are state laws against them, which is as it should be.
    The American people should just continue to pay for the private infrastructure of the monopoly providers and give up on this pointless dream of cheap, fast internet access.

    It sounds positively Socialist shudder.

    • by torkus ( 1133985 )

      Now, to be fair, government run services tend to be pricey and poorly done. Cost overruns and project delays are the norm.

      To realize that the government is able to provide these services better than a private company is shameful. Not entirely unexpected given the horrific state of telecom companies but still shameful. If there was ever an industry that needs revitalization, they are high on my list. This is doubly true since they're critical to almost every industry in virtually all modern and semi-mode

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @06:54PM (#55934659)
    will be buried in a landslide of counter studies by various pro-industry think tanks. A while back Comcast admitted in their SEC filing what it actually cost to provide internet access. It was about $9 bucks. That includes the tech support. Of course, don't you dare suggest we nationalize it. Here in America we privatize the profits and nationalize the losses, so it all balances out.

    Oh, and if you're scared of the gov't censoring you when it's nationalized just cast your eyes to China. They don't _need_ to take control of it to censor. The mega-corps are happy to play ball.
    • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @08:19PM (#55935067)

      I'm so confused why people are concerned about government censorship if it's nationalized. Comcast, AT&T, etc are legally required to censor if it's in the shareholder's benefit. The government is legally prohibited from censoring.

      I mean, we could just regulate net neutrality, but that seems like a stopgap that's better handled by nationalizing wires. There's a place for competition, but it doesn't seem like stringing wires is where we want to rely on the free market.

  • by Valacosa ( 863657 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @07:41PM (#55934891)

    Funny to see this today, given today's news up here in Canada [www.cbc.ca].

    "Private enterprise is more efficient!" go the cries of the free-market absolutists. The question is, more efficient at what, though. Because here it seems telecoms are optimized to extract maximum dollars from the population, which is not something the citizenry wants out of basic infrastructure.

    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @09:05PM (#55935279)
      Free market absolutists would be quick to point out that when the government grants companies legal monopolies and competition is barred from competing, you don't have much of a free market. Government would have far fewer problems to solve if it weren't creating so many of them to begin with. When you don't have to worry about outside competition taking your business, is it any wonder that a company can devote maximum effort to rent seeking behavior like this?
      • Of course, free market absolutists would do well to remember the phenomenon of the Natural Monopoly [wikipedia.org]. There are situations where competitive forces simply do not, and cannot, apply. In these situations, the only way to avoid rent-seeking and other exploitative behavior is government intervention.
      • by pointing out that government is far too useful for the ruling class to just pretend it doesn't exist, and so you're going to have government involvement whether you like it or not. So the only question is are you going to take control of the government or are you going to leave a power vacuum in place for the wealthy to exploit to your detriment?
    • You seem to think this is a price comparison between public services and private enterprise. It's not.

      It's a price comparison between public service and a private company with a government-granted monopoly. If the government deliberately hands a private company a monopoly, of course its price is going to be higher than if the government provided the service itself.

      The whole point of private enterprise is for competition to drive prices down and encourage the rapid development of technological advanc
    • Private enterprise is more-efficient when properly regulated, when transparent, and when there is a profit motive for being more-efficient.

      Public utility is more-efficient when demand is roughly absolute, complexity is relatively-low, and information is readily-available.

      Let's talk healthcare.

      Around here, Medicare averages $49 for an office visit. Carefirst pays $32 (with blood draw), and as low as $29. Medicare can pay $65 at a practice where Carefirst pays $32, while Aetna pays $185. The price on t

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @08:10PM (#55935027)

    I don't want to hear about any of this NN or Socialized ISP crap until we grant right of way to cables and conduits for third parties.

    Its a giant shit show with monopolists of different types arguing for their monopoly.

    Every article is "wahhh, monopolies that no one is allowed to compete with are behaving badly" or "waaah, government built ISPs which are even more monopolistic are even better!"...

    How about no monopoly?

    To which one of you knuckleheads will say "but then there will be too many cables and that will be ugly!"... This discussion is increasingly an argument against democracy if only because people are allowing themselves to be manipulated into taking positions because they're being told to adopt that position.

    Think for yourselves or stop presuming to have an opinion.

  • by techdolphin ( 1263510 ) on Monday January 15, 2018 @09:11PM (#55935315)
    Here is evidence that sometimes government does things better than private industry: Chattanooga Was a Typical Postindustrial City. Then It Began Offering Municipal Broadband. [thenation.com]
  • The Internet, at least here in the U.S., should be treated like any other public utility, this goes some of the distance to proving that, and I think it's the best possible future for it.
  • Should be obvious because the two entities have two, conflicting goals. The telecom wants people to sign up to one of the fastest connection with no limits. They aren't going to do that by making the slower connections look like good deals in comparison to the package they wish to sell.

    The municipal network wants to get as many people connected as possible so it makes sense for them to be charging less for the lower speed connections. All they care about is making enough money back to maintain and make the

  • Community-based Internet could have been AWESOME had the WiMax (802.16 series) technology--one that could handle thousands of wireless connections from one transceiving tower--taken off in the USA. WiMax could have made it possible for community Internet, especially in rural areas where the "last mile" connection would have been very expensive to do.

  • 25 down/3 up is considered "entry level" now? Wow, I need an upgrade. I'm at 12/3 and that's not the lowest speed package my ISP (AT&T) offers.

    12 seems plenty enough for me, streaming one or two movies at a time, no gaming, no file sharing. no heavy uploads. Video quality is good but not fantastic.

  • 'Surprise, surprise, surprise!'

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.

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