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Despite Cities Having Fiber Backbone, Telecommunications Lobby Blocks Usage

June 11, 2014

Despite Cities Having Fiber Backbone, Telecommunications Lobby Blocks Usage

By Miguel Leiva-Gomez
TMCnet Contributor

Lobbies have lately become a thorn on many people's sides. This time, they're making it very difficult to use the existing fiber optic lines built throughout hundreds of cities in the United States. It's become an especially painful process to open up fiber Internet particularly because of the battle over net neutrality—the hot topic of the year. Telecom operators argue that net neutrality is a bit troublesome for mobile networks, which are just beginning to mature. However, for ground-based wired internet, there really isn't a reason to eliminate the concept.

While some telecom companies themselves have installed fiber in many urban centers, there are still some who are fighting this trend by getting in bed with local governments, making fiber internet accessible only to certain groups or pieces of the public sector. This is, in essence, a hindrance to the development of improved internet access to individuals. Lobbying from corporations has also, contrary to popular belief, made certain regulations possible that present difficulties for fiber to develop, particularly in Washington State.

To counter this, some 89 cities and towns around the nation have offered fiber to their residents as a publicly owned utility, a very counter-intuitive move that doesn't solve the problem of placing the aforementioned regulatory barriers in the first place.

Given the low cost of fiber, and the high yield it gives in bandwidth, any company willing to provide it is sitting in a goldmine. Unfortunately, local governments have preferred to cooperate with lobbying interests (and sometimes even run the fiber infrastructure themselves at the cost of local taxpayers) rather than allow the fiber implementations planned by willing companies to run their course. Ultimately, the copper mongers are shooting themselves in the foot by attempting to throw off competition and keep themselves in a comfortable position.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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