Tales of the Sausage Factory

Fairpoint Tries To Scuttle Maine Broadband Stimulus Grant

Ya know, if my state got a grant for $24.5 million to build out broadband networks in underserved areas, I would jump for joy. Not only does that mean jobs in the short term, but economic development in the long term. So why did Maine State Senator Lisa Marrache (D-Waterville) and Maine State Rep. Stacey Fitts (R-Pittsfield) introduce legislation to keep the University of Maine from participating in the $30 million partnership project with Great Works Internet (also based in Maine)? is it a coincidence that Fairpoint — that champion of rural private sector broadband which has proved the power of the private sector by defaulting on debt, declaring bankruptcy, and pissing off regulators — has been busy challenging this application and has been chanting the usual slogans about how the public sector should (a) keep out of broadband, and (b) hurry up with my Universal Service Fund bailout?

Without knowing whether Marrache and Fitts are direct recipients of Fairpoint’s campaign contribution largess, or merely ideologically sympatico with the notion of keeping federal money for job creation out of Maine and telling their constituents that they’ll get broadband when Fairpoint is good and ready to give it to them, this little incident provides a valuable reminder why Congress ought to finally pass the Community Broadband Act, which would prevent states legislatures from shafting their citizens in the name of ideological purity.

More below . . .

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Posted in Tales of the Sausage Factory, The Stimulus Package (ARRA) | Also tagged , , , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Not Only Will the Lion Lie Down With the Lamb, He Will Make Big Bucks Opening a Feed Store (While Still Running a Butcher Shop on the Side)

Y’all remember how AT&T (under its old name SBC) launched over a hundred lobbyists into the Texas legislature to kill muni broadband in TX? How it tried to kill muni broadband in Indiana? Not just once, but twice?

Guess what? AT&T has now cut a deal to build a muni wifi system in Springfield, Il. The article quotes an AT&T spokescritter as saying that AT&T expects to close many more such deals, and will seek them out where it makes economic sense.

Whoa! What happened to all of that rhetoric about the brave incumbent telco capitalist captain of industry going eyeball to eyeball with the evil Socialist menace of a publically financed internet? Answer: increasingly, the incumbents have realized this is a losing issue for them and have decided to figure out how to make money out of it.

While I take this as the latest and most potent sign that the move to outright kill muni broadband has run out of steam, I think a note of caution is advisable as well. Some victory snark and reflections on the future challenges for both muni broadband and other forms of community-based broadband below.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

How SBC Lost TX- And What It means More Broadly

Sorry to all, especially John, for being on an unintended hiatus. Got lots poppin’ at work and at home.

In a down to the wire fight, SBC suffered major defeat in Texas on two major legislative initiatives: one to prohibit municipal broadband, the other to remove local franchising requirements for their new fiber systems. In response, SBC Alum and wholly owned subsidiary Pete Sessions (R-TX), to introduce a new federal anti-muni bill, reconfirming my view that most major corporations behave astounding like 6 year old children.

How the Bell companies blew it represents a fascinating case study. Contrary to what a few folks have suggested, it was not an “accident”. In fact, it may, possibly, suggests some interesting things about how progressive politics (by which I do not mean “Democratic Party” I mean genuinely progressive regardless of party) may work for the next few years. My lengthy random musings below . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Muni Momentum Swings Toward the Telcos, But The Game is Far From Over

After a number of victories, the momentum has recently turned to the Telco side of the muni fight.
On the plus side, we have not yet lost anything definitively. There is still time for citizens in these states to make this an issue. But I’m having the feeling I usually reserve for the Boston Red Sox in August.

Well, let’s see if we can’t make this our 2004 World Series. Anybody in these states interested in trying to fight these bills, let me know and I will try to put you in touch with folks on the ground there.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

A Big Win in TX, But It's Just Round One

SaveMuniWireles.org, a group opposed to the anti-muni bill in TX, reports that the anti-muni provisions of the legislature’s gift package to SBC (the local baby Bell) has been stripped. But hang on to your seats folks, because it goes to the floor next week and SBC is fighting hard.

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Posted in General, Tales of the Sausage Factory | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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