Democracy and Technology Blog

Dark side of municipal networks

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Dark side of municipal networks

What happens when a municipal broadband network fails to cover its costs? The costs get shifted. Residents of Ashland, Oregon will see a monthly surcharge of $7.50 on their electricity bills. Ashland’s cable rate payers will also get hit with a surcharge. (See the article from the Ashland Daily Tidings.) The fact that Ashland’s fiber network is not profitable, that Ashland cross-subsidizes it and that Ashland’s taxpayers/captive rate payers will foot the bill for a bailout proves what many of us have been saying about municipal networks: (1) Cities lack the expertise to successfully build and operate broadband networks, (2) Cities will discriminate in favor of their own network ventures and (3) Cities are unprepared to continually modernize the networks once built.