osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

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An immodest gloat from last night's liveblogging

So Dick Durbin asks, "why should I support the Lautenberg/McCain Community Broadband Act of 2007, which would prevent states from preempting local governments from offering broadband. My answer and Durbin's response below.

I said

First, my thanks to you again for participating.

The best source of information on municipal broadband deployment is Esme Vos' muniwireless.com website. But allow me to describe a few specific examples.

About 2 hours north of here, in Cumberland MD, the county has a wireless network that is providing interoperable public safety communications and affordable broadband to a community that would not hope to see deployment by incumbents anytime soon. Why? Because the terrain and low population density makes it very expensive to provide service. So the County has done it.

In Memphis TN, the city is providing wireless broadband through a municipally owned provider. While the service is not profitable (yet), it has brought in two new technology businesses dirctly employing over 100 people and is attracting more attention.

In St. Cloud, Florida, the town is providing wireless internet access. This has not only brought affordable internet access to residents and small businesses, it has prompted the local cable and telephone companies to upgrade their services and lower their prices to compete.

In Rockwood County, PA, a poor community in the Poconos, the local school district could not get internet access. So they provisioned themselves by building a wireless network with unlicensed spectrum. They offered subscriptions to the parents, so that children could do their homework and parents could become better involved in the school.

In San Diego county, the Tibal Digital Village is using technology developed by CUWIN and others to bring highspeed broadband to a federation of fourteen indian tribes in the arid region outside the city. Before the arrival of the network, these tribes lacked basic phone service. The ability to provision themselves has permitted them to unite culturally for the first time since they were settled in a geographically broken land more than 100 years ago. It has transformed unemployed laborers with no skills into web designers and network administrators, and it has provided asource of revenue to the tribes.

These are only a few examples of what is possible when local governments have the freedom to provision themselves.

Durbin replied
Harold, these are great examples of what communities are doing to address this. This is the kind of information I can really use in conversations I have with people here.

You've done a lot of great work helping people understand how FCC decisions affect people and communities on the ground. That's an important part of policy-making -- connecting federal action to the communities we live in.

Oh - and I appreciate the recommendation on Lautenberg/McCain. I'm leaning in that direction.

You can find all of this at: http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=430

To make this more than merely a happy gloat at feeling rather good at what I do, I will make the observation for those who want to influence decision makers -- people need to get how it effects their lives. As I am wont to say, "public policy is made by human beings." All of you who are out to impeach Bush -- or smething as mundane as get a policy adopted -- please remember this. Principles matter. People appreciate prnciples. But they relate to other people and to concrete realities.

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