The description of the network they'd like to cover 1,500 square miles is out: Joint Venture Silicon Valley has put out a press release and its scope document describing what they want from an RFP to cover building a wireless network across the entire region.
The San Jose Mercury News includes typical remarks from an incumbent broadband provider, Comcast:
"Andrew Johnson, a Comcast Bay Area spokesman,...said companies that have spent billions of dollars to build wired networks shouldn't be undermined by taxpayer funds focused toward a rival."
Interestingly, virtually no municipal RFPs now involve taxpayer funds, but incumbents continue to play from that script. This RFP will involve roughy $40,000 from a few dozen cities.
" 'The free market should be allowed to play out,' he said. 'A municipal subsidy, or a provision of a municipal WiFi network would not be the best use of taxpayer funds.' "
In other words, regardless of the fact that broadband firms have been spreading the notion that high-speed access is critical to individual businesses and entire communities, those communities have no right to ensure that they have what they want if they're paying for it directly despite massive public subsidies paid to incumbents, which are never mentioned in the same breath as the "billions" spent. This statement reiterates the "taxpayer funds" issue.
" 'While on the outside it might appear to be a simple and easy business, those of us in the industry think just the opposite. It's very complex, it's very detailed, it's very labor intensive and thus, something that a local municipality would have a tough time dealing with.' "
Same old script: This assumes that municipalities would start from scratch instead of finding private companies to bear the risk and who have the expertise to build such networks. Some of these companies build networks for cellular operators worldwide, install Wi-Fi in corporate and college campuses, and, gasp, have even built citywide public safety wireless networks, too.
They don't seem to have a "tough time dealing with" building those networks.
Is there any intellectually rigorous opposition to municipal networks that doesn't rely on an outdated script? If taxpayer dollars and municipal expertise are taken out of the mix, then what's left on the table to complain about?