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Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 5:36 pm UTC
by jewish_scientist
Boston Globe wrote:At a Special Town Meeting on Dec. 6, they [the town] voted to build their own $1.5 million broadband network — at an added cost of nearly $1 million over the Comcast offer.

Charlemont is one of several municipalities in Western Massachusetts puzzling over how to ensure that decisions about connectivity stay in local hands. Some residents are wary of trusting a big company to make decisions about such a crucial service.

“I like the idea that it will be owned by the town. It’s something that the town should be proud of,” said Trevor Mackie, a member of Charlemont’s broadband committee, which has been examining the puzzle of how to network the town for several years. If something goes wrong with the town-built system, he said, “You can talk to a person. You don’t have to talk to a corporation: Push 1 for this. Push 2 for that.”

One of the things that really excites me about this news is that internet connection is a municipal service. Fundamentally, the goal of a municipal service is to provide services, but the goal of a business is to make profit. That change in perspective should have major impacts in the long term. I am really hopeful that this becomes a trend that spreads everywhere.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 6:28 pm UTC
by ucim
jewish_scientist wrote:I am really hopeful that this becomes a trend that spreads everywhere.
Be careful what you wish for. It's not like politics is immune from evil influence. And lately, politics isn't even immune from evil influence based on the pecuniary interests of a single individual.

Jose

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 6:54 pm UTC
by Zohar
ucim wrote:Be careful what you wish for. It's not like politics is immune from evil influence. And lately, politics isn't even immune from evil influence based on the pecuniary interests of a single individual.

This is not something I'm concerned about. First, because commercial internet is already very shitty in the US. Second, because no one will force you to use the municipal service, and if a company thinks you're getting bad enough service to want to switch to commercial - they'll offer that service.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 4:49 pm UTC
by EdgarJPublius
Zohar wrote: because no one will force you to use the municipal service


I wish that were true of my Municipal Power Company...

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 7:13 pm UTC
by Flumble
Who's going to install and maintain the network? Are those people going to be on the municipality's payroll or will they have a contract with 3 or more companies? Is one of those companies going to be comcast (or another horrible provider) after all?

I wish them good luck. I guess that this one municipality will succeed, assuming this is a first, but that telecom companies will double down on propaganda for their inadequate solutions in other municipalities. These initiatives have been actively lobbied out of existence here in the Netherlands (very densely populated and virtually socialist by US standards), so I foresee a very bleak future for it in the US. Which is a damn shame, because internet is as important as water, electricity and road access these days, and... err... at least one of those is organized much better in the US.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:10 pm UTC
by Krealr
This isn't really something new. My hometown has been doing this since 2003. (After I'd moved away of course...)

https://www.ci.sandy.or.us/SandyNet/

As I recall it was originally because the big ISP's like comcast refused to serve the rural areas around town so they decided to do it themselves.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 11:01 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
Reminds me of this thing in the UK

No direct experience of it myself. But maybe in the future… hence why I've made a few mental notes about it.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:19 am UTC
by CorruptUser

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 6:25 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
Krealr wrote:This isn't really something new. My hometown has been doing this since 2003. (After I'd moved away of course...)

https://www.ci.sandy.or.us/SandyNet/

As I recall it was originally because the big ISP's like comcast refused to serve the rural areas around town so they decided to do it themselves.

My hometown did something similar. Ended up being more trouble than it's worth and was never upgraded, a local ISP bought it out and is now servicing it making moderate improvements to it, so my mother can now actually do something like watch Netflix.

All wireless so there's basically no infrastructure to it other than a few towers here and there. Much cheaper than dropping wire in the ground, copper or fibre.

Not suprisingly, about a month *after* the wireless project started, suddenly both the local cable and telcom were offering much better internet speeds than the wireless could do (another reason it had problems staying afloat when in City hands). Astounding how that works.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:02 pm UTC
by sardia
SecondTalon wrote:
Krealr wrote:This isn't really something new. My hometown has been doing this since 2003. (After I'd moved away of course...)

https://www.ci.sandy.or.us/SandyNet/

As I recall it was originally because the big ISP's like comcast refused to serve the rural areas around town so they decided to do it themselves.

My hometown did something similar. Ended up being more trouble than it's worth and was never upgraded, a local ISP bought it out and is now servicing it making moderate improvements to it, so my mother can now actually do something like watch Netflix.

All wireless so there's basically no infrastructure to it other than a few towers here and there. Much cheaper than dropping wire in the ground, copper or fibre.

Not suprisingly, about a month *after* the wireless project started, suddenly both the local cable and telcom were offering much better internet speeds than the wireless could do (another reason it had problems staying afloat when in City hands). Astounding how that works.

So, given that experience, would you recommend it to other towns? Or just for rural desolate places?

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:15 pm UTC
by CorruptUser
I would. You figure, you have 10,000 households all paying $100/m for internet at speeds of 5 MBs. That's $12m that leaves the town. Every. Single. Year. Never to return. You spend $5m of municipal money to start up an alternative, and suddenly the price of the local internet drops to $60/m at speeds of 25 MBs. Even if the muni one goes under you've already saved the town a permanent $4-5m every single year and have given them faster internet.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:43 pm UTC
by speising
wow, that's pretty steep. i pay about $40 for 35MBs plus TV and phone which is the smallest package of my cable company.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 7:50 pm UTC
by Trebla
CorruptUser wrote:I would. You figure, you have 10,000 households all paying $100/m for internet at speeds of 5 MBs. That's $12m that leaves the town. Every. Single. Year. Never to return. You spend $5m of municipal money to start up an alternative, and suddenly the price of the local internet drops to $60/m at speeds of 25 MBs. Even if the muni one goes under you've already saved the town a permanent $4-5m every single year and have given them faster internet.


This highlights how badly market-driven forces have failed in this domain and the inefficiencies of unregulated monopolies (in most markets with only a single internet provider). If significantly better service (5x speeds) can be offered at significant cost reduction (40%), competition should have driven the service and pricing closer to this point.

The conclusion, if sound (let's assume it's correct), that local implementation of the service to create competition and "correct" the market would be more efficient by local municipalities regulating the service provider with price and service-level requirements. This eliminates the losses from installing the infrastructure wastefully (assuming it's discarded when the municipally owned service goes under). Of course, it sets a bad precedent and the Comcasts and Coxes seem to be willing to spend a ton of money fighting such legislation... ahh corruption, just thinking my way through this paragraph depresses me.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:02 pm UTC
by CorruptUser
Was hypothetical numbers, it varies wildly throughout the country. But nearly everyone in IT and related agrees that the Telecoms are basically the Devil when it comes to abuse by big business. I disagree, I feel that Rx is worse, but hey, hell has enough room for more than one Prince of Darkness.


As for correct solution, internet is infrastructure and as a natural monopoly it should most definitely either be heavily regulated or state run.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 8:14 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
sardia wrote:So, given that experience, would you recommend it to other towns? Or just for rural desolate places?

I'd recommend it, yes, with the proper warning that the local telcomm/cable co is going to drop it's rates by half and/or double their speeds magically* as soon as you get serious about it.

*I say Magically because you'll probably be on record as having multiple citizens and your own city government repeatedly requesting upgrades and being told that they weren't cost effective, the local network couldn't support it without millions in upgrades, they'd need massive tax breaks to make it economical, etc etc etc.

But do something to compete and/or do better than them and watch as it magically gets cheaper to upgrade everything!

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:59 pm UTC
by jewish_scientist
Even if Comcast started offering a better service and a lower cost, I do not think this town would switch. Consider that the town is spending 3 times as much building their own network than what Comcast proposed. The bigger issue seems to be who has control.
Charlemont is one of several municipalities in Western Massachusetts puzzling over how to ensure that decisions about connectivity stay in local hands. Some residents are wary of trusting a big company to make decisions about such a crucial service...

“I’m sure it will be fine for a while, maybe for 10 or 15 years, maybe forever. But who knows? . . . When their agreement with the state is expired, will they [Comcast] continue to invest in their system like they will in a system in Eastern Mass., or even in Springfield? I doubt it.”...

Local governments can choose their own equipment, and many have gone with faster, state-of-the-art fiber optic lines rather than the cable connections the companies might offer...

And for many in the region, the appeal of independence is hard to ignore.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:46 am UTC
by CorruptUser
The town has to cover fixed and variable costs. Comcast can use other towns to cover the fixed costs while this town could be charged the variable cost only, allowing Comcast to always undercut the town if they truly wanted to. This does not get in to the bundle packages of internet, cell and cable, and efficiencies of scale with only have one bill for all three. And while many people hate their cable company, if crotchety old man Jenkins decides that he'd rather pay $40/m to Comcast than $45/m to the local muni, he's going with Comcast.

The magic is, as ST says, as soon as the town offers the alternative, Comcast finds a way to make the costs lower than the town can and old man Jenkins is only paying $40/m instead of $70/m, and he can now spend an extra $30/m at the local spitoon or whatever it is that crotchety old men do.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 6:47 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
SecondTalon wrote:Not suprisingly, about a month *after* the wireless project started, suddenly both the local cable and telcom were offering much better internet speeds than the wireless could do (another reason it had problems staying afloat when in City hands). Astounding how that works.

Not your point, but a wired service is going to be better (if done right) than a wireless¹ one. Saves on digging more trenches, if the existing POTS isn't good enough to run over, and more resilient to some forms of geography², but I would treat that as a stop-gap or additional layer of connectivity rather than the service-proper.

(Nice to see it led the way to a full utility version, though.)


¹ At least until you pull serious tricks out of your ass with a polyplexed 5G system, which still needs to be serviced by some form of bundled Fibre-to-the-mast wires at the fixed stations. And contention between users is harder to control.

² If you unwisely lay your fibre cluster across an irrigation ditch and the farmer forgets about it next time they do some routine ditch-clearing, say.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:03 pm UTC
by Zohar
You can still get very decent speeds over wifi towers. If you have 10 devices at home then sure, maybe that would become an issue.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:06 pm UTC
by CorruptUser
Image

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:22 pm UTC
by speising
CorruptUser wrote:Image

that just seems like selection bias to me. if you're at home and your wifi funks out, you can just quickly switch to mobile. it's improbable that that is out of service at the same time.
But if you're somewhere outside and your mobile connection fails, you can't usually switch to wifi, so the situation isn't symmetric.
(note that the light gray text and the graph don't really fit together in light of this. you would *always* have been preferrably on wifi, not "sometimes switched to it" at least prior to the intersection point.)

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:49 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
Soupspoon wrote:
SecondTalon wrote:Not suprisingly, about a month *after* the wireless project started, suddenly both the local cable and telcom were offering much better internet speeds than the wireless could do (another reason it had problems staying afloat when in City hands). Astounding how that works.

Not your point, but a wired service is going to be better (if done right) than a wireless¹ one. Saves on digging more trenches, if the existing POTS isn't good enough to run over, and more resilient to some forms of geography², but I would treat that as a stop-gap or additional layer of connectivity rather than the service-proper.

Prior to the wireless service, the town's fastest available speeds were a 6mb connection for $80/mo and my mother couldn't get anything. Within a year she could get a 6mb connection from AT&T (and has a $15/mo 5mb wireless connection, which serves her needs), the AT&T connection is now maxing out at 10mb (with no upgrades to the copper on her part), and I understand some spots in town can get now 100mb for $50-60/mo.

I am absolutely crediting the upgrades and price drops to the wireless showing up and competing, as when it showed up it was offering 1.5 for $15. No, it wasn't as fast and never will be as fast as the local cable or telcom, but it's also serving the county (15,000 total), not just the two towns (6000 total).

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:00 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
Also, "home wifi" includes the problems that both lines of connectivity encounter. I prefer a dedicated cable connection from router to desktop. It works perfectly unless the hub isn't routing at all or (rarely) something has physically damaged the Cat5/RJ45s. Pretty much anything else not under the discretion of the ISP is the fault of the PC (or PEBCAK), and would likely apply to a WLAN link too.

Spoiler:
Image


(@2ndT: Yup, it was a useful interim. Might still be a useful interim for some. Hard to know what state-of-the-art (with improved tech anyway) would have reached there by now in the alternate timeline without the stop-gap. Could have been nothing, still, could have been what you have now because of natural roll-out schedules. I still assume the wireless was a catalyst. Or even an actual Catalyst, if it was Cisco hardware. ;))

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:43 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
I mean, the only way my mother is getting a decent connection is if we pony up the cash to run the line ourselves as the Telcom sure as hell isn't going to run a quarter-mile trench across private property farmland for one house.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 9:55 pm UTC
by CorruptUser
Hmm. What is the cost to lay coaxial cable, per foot? Like, if a town has 500 miles of streets, how much would it cost for the city to conect everyone to the internet, should internet become like water/sewer and mandatory for all homes but only like, $5/m due to, you know, being much easier to install than a sewage pipe and requiring comparatively minimal additional infrastructure.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:36 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
I already linked to the B4RN guys, who deal with 'trenches across private farmland' plus otherwise thread around rural communities that it sounds like these states-side towns are more like than anything I'm familiar with.

Checking the villages and towns near me for population,
Spoiler:
one village is down as 2500ish (comparable to each/either of the two towns at 6000 together?) and I know it has superfast fibre installed already across much (if not all) of it, within the UK telecoms atmosphere. In fact most of the district (around twice the population of your county as stated, though perhaps significantly smaller and denser) has opportunity for a choice of ISP (atop of telecoms provider, whether or not you decide to bundle) from multiple players. I'm fairly sure that a village of 250 that I pass through has fibre cabinets in it. Not sure how well off the farms that surround it are, compared to those in the village itself.

Trying to look for a "Smallville" I might know about, there is one of 500ish people (latest published census tells me), but even the main-drag is stretched out for five or so miles in the middle of a wide farming belt (elsewhere in my county, but several districts over). I shall have to check for signs of cabling next time I drive through. No, wait… checking an online broadband checker, five of the six exchanges within 5 miles of the centre of the village are fibre-enabled, giving an average of 67Mbps. The one that isn't is the nearest one, though (the surrounding ones cover other villages or towns, on more major roads, not sure they'd 'service' this place I'm thinking of). As a fall-back, copper ADSL at 11Mbps is apparently available. Which I'd be Ok with, even if it's not really so good for streaming TV (which some people want).

(The remotest place I have actually lived has 55 possible broadband deals from 11 different providers, according to the checker I have been using just now: BT (British Telecom), DirectSave (??), EE (mobile specialists, with landline offshoot), John Lewis (High Street store!), PlusNet (yer actual ISP), Post Office (the envelope delivery people - hope that's not a daily SneakerNet connection!), Sky (Murdoch's satellite empire, diversified), SSE (Scottish and Southern Electricity, who also do gas, and now apparently internet…), TalkTalk (rubbish telecoms/ISP entity), VirginMedia (not yet providing Fibre-to-curb, within 5 miles) and Vodaphone (another diversified mobile company). Some of these may be rebranded offerings over others' networks, and using BTOpenReach cabling for the most part, anyway. The cheapest deal is around £16pcm (all in, including setup) for 11Mbps)
But this is different from rural Leftpondia, I know. I was only really commenting on the tech in use, not the business atmosphere and greater infrastructure issues that arise from that and the relatively unpopulated geography.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 11:02 pm UTC
by Quizatzhaderac
@CorruptUser

I don't know by foot, but the town in the article is about $869 per person, or $2,099 per household (using 2010 census figures). Which seems fairly comparable to google fiber's start up costs.

Xfninty's (Comcast's cable internet division) 2017 revenue was $52.52 billion and their capital expenditures were $7.952 Billion which includes all long term maintenance and expansions of their network.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:09 pm UTC
by SecondTalon
CorruptUser wrote:Hmm. What is the cost to lay coaxial cable, per foot? Like, if a town has 500 miles of streets, how much would it cost for the city to conect everyone to the internet, should internet become like water/sewer and mandatory for all homes but only like, $5/m due to, you know, being much easier to install than a sewage pipe and requiring comparatively minimal additional infrastructure.

Difficult to say, due to lots of different factors.

Does it all have to be in the ground, or can it be attached to existing poles? Are there existing laws that may interfere with that? Is the customer willing to accept a rate/tax increase to pay it off faster, or is the organization doing it needing to put the money in up front? Is the organization needing to rely on bonds and loans that have expected repayment dates, or is there enough money right now to do it? Does it have to, by law, be bid on by different organizations or is the organization wanting to install it allowed to use their own resources? How much will road closures for installation cost the city? That alone is hard to predict as different roads will run different amounts based on usage.

@Soupspoon - I'm not trying to be all "Ha ha! This is why you are wrong and suck!" just tryin' to give you some context on the distances we're talking about here as Leftpondia is sparsely populated. As I mentioned to someone on Reddit from the UK not understanding some distance thing or the other - the UK is a little more than the population of California and Texas, all crammed in to a space the size of Illinois.
Spoiler:
I was actually wrong - county population is only 12,000 something. County-wide density is currently 38/sq mi (15/km2), with a total area of 348 sq mi (901 km2).

The main city, population in the low 6000s, is 9.01 sq mi (23.34 km2) with a density of 704/sq mi (271.9/km2) The other city is 0.6 sq mi (1.6 km2) with a density 646/sq mi (249.3/km2), higher than it's population of right about 400.

So that leaves 357.61 square miles for 5600 people. If I calculated that right, that's 15.65 people per square mile.

And just using a quick Area tool on Google Maps, I know there's plenty of spots in the county where you can pick out a 5-8 square mile chunk that have a single household population of 5. Because it's the farmhouse on the big-ass farmland. As an example, the farm my mom lives on and the surrounding farms are about 2.5 square miles. There's six houses in that space. If you expand it out you can hit a little subdivision that popped up as close to town as they could get it as the farms in between didn't sell out and subdivide, and that'll add in another 16 houses for 2.75 square miles.

That's still only 5.something houses per square mile. That's pretty sparse.

Ain't no Telecom going to run wire to those six houses. There's no profit in it. But a $50 radio stuck to their old antenna tower? Easy peasy.

... oh, that subdivision has it, by the way, as a quarter mile across a field on the other side of the road is another subdivision. So to hit those houses it was a hell of a lot cheaper to just run it across that field than it was down the mile and a half long road. I don't blame them..... but I'm also still a little bitter being that it meant I didn't have cable until I moved out on my own.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:31 pm UTC
by gd1
Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 doesn't require an internet connection.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:19 pm UTC
by Drumheller769
Yea, I live a 5 miles outside the city limits of Erie, PA. Wired cable internet stops about .75 miles from my house. I've been waiting a decade for it to come out this way along a state road and it hasn't, nor will it ever. I once put in a construction request with Spectrum, and they quoted me $53,000 to run the line to my house.

I wish we could get some sort of municipal internet in my township. The township board has apparently tried to engage other ISPs to bring faster internet to the area, but there is no interest from any company.

I wonder what Ill have to do once Verizon kills my 3mb DSL that I pay $50 a month for :p

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:10 am UTC
by sardia
gd1 wrote:Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 doesn't require an internet connection.

Some people grow up, and move for reasons, and I'm too antisocial to invite new people. Hence, internet required D&D.
Spoiler:
Roll20 is what I use. Not great, but it gets the job done.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2019 6:42 pm UTC
by gd1
sardia wrote:
gd1 wrote:Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 doesn't require an internet connection.

Some people grow up, and move for reasons, and I'm too antisocial to invite new people. Hence, internet required D&D.
Spoiler:
Roll20 is what I use. Not great, but it gets the job done.


There's always skyrim...

I'm too chicken to even do roll20.

Paladin of Benevolence [self plug 3.5 paladin variant homebrew]

In semi related news:
If Microsoft decides to make their OS as a service, I might have to get linux on a cd just in case.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:20 am UTC
by sardia
If Microsoft decides to make their OS as a service, I might have to get linux on a cd just in case.
https://www.howtogeek.com/360938/no-microsoft-isnt-turning-windows-10-into-a-paid-subscription-service/
Fake news?

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:33 pm UTC
by gd1
sardia wrote:
If Microsoft decides to make their OS as a service, I might have to get linux on a cd just in case.
https://www.howtogeek.com/360938/no-microsoft-isnt-turning-windows-10-into-a-paid-subscription-service/
Fake news?


Maybe, but it won't take much more effort than having a boot cd rom with linux on it to be prepared so it's not too much of a problem.

=== Paranoia

"This just isn’t true. Microsoft’s “desktop as a service” plan is only for businesses, and it also includes hardware—not just software."

Software that might not work if you don't pay monthly. What hardware? I point to cars that you can't take to most repair shops.

"Microsoft Already Gets a Cut From Every PC Sold"

This is a guarantee they won't try for more?

"Windows 10 is Already Full of Ads and Subscriptions"

Shows that they are willing to go for more on their base operating system. Also, this is a guarantee they won't try for more?

"Microsoft Doesn’t Even Charge for Windows Upgrades Anymore"

But they're pretty much forcing them now. Also, for now they aren't charging. Also, this is a guarantee they won't try for more?

"Hey, An Optional Windows Subscription Could Be Nice"

Until it's not optional anymore and the established software makes it mandatory. Especially if the hardware won't accept anything else. Mac...

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 4:07 am UTC
by idonno
You probably don’t want this at home, but businesses can pay a single monthly fee to get a fleet of PCs and have Microsoft manage them. The business doesn’t need a big IT department.

Depending on prices and level of IT support provided, if you can get single unit subscriptions, I can think of a few relatives I would recommend this too for at home use and I doubt I am the only one.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:04 am UTC
by jewish_scientist
I feel like there is a political (for lack for a better word) aspect of this that you are missing. Whoever provides the network is the one who gets to make decision about it, thereby granting them more power.

It is easier to explain what I mean with an example. Lets say that some money has been budgeted to prepare the network for the coming winter and two options are available. The first is weather-proofing the network so it can withstand storms and blizzards and the second is hiring more general repairman. A reasonable argument can be made in favor of both of these proposals. The former is preemptive, but can only help with weather-related problems; the later can help with any possible problem, but is reactionary. Whoever owns the network is the one who makes this decision. This ability to make a decision, this agency, that is what I am referring to as political power.

Economics is about how resources are distributed within a society; politics is about how powers are distributed within a society. Actions that are seen as bad through the lens of economics can still be seen as good through the lens of politics (e.g. donating to poor counties may hurt a nations economy, but there is no denying that it increases its position in international relations).

Boston Globe wrote: At a Special Town Meeting on Dec. 6, they voted to build their own $1.5 million broadband network — at an added cost of nearly $1 million over the Comcast offer.

Even though building their own network costs 200% more, this money is being spent in exchange for wide-spread, fast internet access and an absolutely huge amount of political power. Just think about the difference between calling a help line and voting directly on an issue. If this arrangement ends up being economically viable, then that is just icing on the cake.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:58 pm UTC
by sardia
So att finally came up with a rival to Comcast's internet speeds. Time to go whack Comcast with that offer, and see what I can pry out of their grubby hands. Last time, they offered a mere 120$extra a year on top of my bill, on top of the $600 I was already paying.

Edit, crap, I can't get att to confirm that they're offering it on my neighborhood. Hmm, guess I'll call and ask anyway.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 2:30 pm UTC
by jewish_scientist
Start the call by saying that you want to cancel your subscription because you want to switch to ATT. Also, call them the next day to make sure a 'computer/employee/misfiling error' stopped your request for reaching the people who can actually changed.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:29 pm UTC
by Zamfir
Not saying that this is a bad idea, but I would have some questions here:

- how about people who won't use the service? 2000 dollar/household upfront might be reasonable if you expect a lower bill and better service in the years ahead. But it's a lot if you are not going to use the service...

- How dependent would the system be on the utility company? They build it (using their choice of equipment), they run it, they will understand it far better than the people in the town. The town might formally own the network, but will that deliver control in practice? More specific: suppose the town becomes unhappy with the utility who runs the network (perhaps Comcast buys them, perhaps they run into cash problems, whatever). I'd want to be very sure that there are other companies willing to take over the service, at a reasonable cost.

Re: Town Builds its own Internet Network

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:03 pm UTC
by Quizatzhaderac
There are a number of different companies in America able to service a large network, but only a few are interested in providing capital to build the networks in the first place.

Also, even if Comcast does end up being the one to service it, the town would be in a much stronger negotiating position as presumably Comcast's offer to build the network includes the condition that the town needs to spend $2 million to appropriate the network.