Let's just cut to the chase: municipal networks must be a viable threat or why the pushback?: Why are incumbent telecommunications firms and cable operators so afraid of municipal networks? They must work or they wouldn't be spending tens of millions of dollars in lobbying and advertising to fight them. You have the touching daily reports of Comcast and Verizon, just to take two examples from today's New York Times, weeping over how the taxpayers' dollars will be wasted, how the municipalities can't possibly understand how hard it is to run networks--news flash: running an electrical utility is tough, too, fellas--and how the whole project will go down in flames.
It fills me with such civic virtue to know that giant telecommunications and cable firms are so full of ruth and kindness that they extend their gaze down to the level of mere towns and cities, their beneficent knowledge of business, ethics, and operational efficiency bestowed upon grateful citizens.
No cable company ever lied about earnings and subscribers. No telephone company ever prevented competitors access to their networks. No executives have ever received enormous compensation that decreased shareholder value and threw the companies into disarray. No operator ever accepted public subsidies and taxes levied on their bills and then didn't built services required for those fees. Never happened.
As I turn to the scions of what is right and just, I ask myself: if municipal networks were really a bad idea, they'd let them fail. Then they'd sweep in with a plan to take over or rebuild the network at pennies on the dollar, charging a hefty price and not guaranteed universal service, and restore their margins with a multi-decade franchise lock-in.
The mere fact that giants of industry feel compelled to hire firms to create arm's length reports, to call in favors from think tanks that typical deal with entirely different issues, to go full frontal on taxpayers' fears of paying more taxes tells you that municipal wireless has been evaluated internally at these firms with expensive reports we'll never see and shown to be efficacious.
Municipalities need to each consider the costs and risks of starting broadband operations with independent analysis of the viability of the network, its integration with other city or local services, and with rigorous testing of pilot projects prior to full rollouts.
But the incumbents are frightened because municipal broadband might work.