Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shocker! Fiber to the home adds value to the home!

Community Broadband Networks is the first place I go for news about broadband. The reason is simple, community or municipal broadband networks are the wave of the future. I like to call it "muniband" for short, but I don't know if that will ever catch on.

Anywho, Community Broadband Networks has found yet another study that shows that fiber to the home adds value to the home. In aggregate, the study found that fiber to the home has added 1.1% to the GDP of the cities with fiber, with a total value of more than $1 billion. That number may seem small in a $16 trillion economy, but fiber to the home is still relatively rare compared to copper.

For people who see home value as an indicator of economic activity, this is welcome news. For cities looking to attract jobs and businesses, this is one more brick to put into your foundation to support your argument in favor of municipal broadband with fiber to the home.

Going toe to toe, municipal broadband is cheaper and more reliable than commercial broadband. Even if private providers like Comcast or Verizon run fiber, they are still going to be more expensive than a municipal broadband service for one simple reason: community interest.

Comcast and Verizon have both shown a lack of interest in the communities they serve. The city of New York is just now waking up to the fact that Verizon is not living up to their end of the bargain when they promised fiber buildouts in exchange for preferential treatment received from that fair city. Comcast is legendary for their customer service failures and selective buildouts (I know, I still don't have Comcast here).

On the other hand, community broadband serves the community by offering service to everyone in the community. The most famous example is the Electric Power Board in Chattanooga, TN where fiber is rolled out to every address and can serve everyone in that city with a gig for $70 a month. That's a gig up and down, while legacy incumbents almost always offer asymmetrical service where the download speed is far greater than the upload speed.

Comcast has announced plans to roll out gigabit service to all subscribers by 20126. But even that will still be on copper. That means they are still a legacy incumbent service provider, unwilling to make that shift to fiber. Fiber is far more reliable than copper and is essentially future proof. It just doesn't get any faster than light.

What is interesting to note here is how hard the incumbents have been fighting higher speeds and better prices for more than a decade. They didn't really start to budge until Google Fiber made national news, but now, legacy incumbent carriers are trying to buy time with announcements of higher speeds. It's a tactic used by Microsoft called "vaporware". Promises, promises.

Not only are legacy incumbent carriers reluctant to upgrade their networks, or build out beyond their most profitable service areas, they are fighting communities that want to build their own fiber networks. Incumbents are fighting to prevent communities from adding a fiber connection to their homes with community broadband, a connection that adds value to their homes.

When legacy incumbent carriers fight municipal broadband, they are fighting the people they serve. They are working hard to prevent local self-reliance, to stunt local economies and to retard the growth of fiber to the home which can increase home values. If you own a home and love your community but would like faster, more reliable internet access, you know what I'm talking about.

If you live in a community that has community broadband, and you're connected, thank your lucky stars. If you're not connected to community broadband and you're stuck with a legacy incumbent carrier for an "ISP", then you might consider agitating for community broadband in your town. That's what I'm doing and I won't stop until I get fiber to my home from Utopia, Utah's municipal broadband carrier.

When legacy incumbent carriers fight municipal broadband while refusing to expand or improve their service, they are violating the public trust. It is up to us to revoke that trust in the legacy incumbent carriers and restore it to a carrier that serves the community rather than belittles it.

By creating community broadband services in our cities and towns, we are creating an organization that serves the community. Community broadband services are not owned by an absentee corporation. They are owned by their respective communities and as a part of that community, share a common interest to serve and to prosper.
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