Craig Settles’ Broadband Question of the Day (August 13)

This question comes from an attendee of my Webinar “Finding the Right Business Model for Community Broadband

What is your take on the Google Fiber project?

In my Webinar on business models a couple of weeks ago, someone sent me this question that I didn’t have time to answer in the session. Right after ending that event I saw the first wave of the Twitter tsunami on the Google-Verizon deal before I even saw the question. I figure today’s a good day to tackle this given that a whole bunch of folks are over at Google protesting the new Evil Empire.

First here are my thoughts the day after the Google Fiber announcement in Ferbruary. But you probably want a take on GF in light of The Deal, right?  Ok, here it is.

Forget for a moment the pain of that perceived – ok, actual – knife in the back of net neutrality. Remember the scene from The Godfather 1 where the Mafioso who planned to whack Michael Corleone gets caught? Before they take him on his final ride, he says, “it’s just business…nothing personal. I like Mikey.”

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Strengthen the FCC’s Hand through Third Party Validation

While it’s easy this week to get caught up in the Google-Verizon news and bemoan the end of the Internet as we know it (though I think the real news is that Verizon gave net neutrality advocates a HUGE boost), a little watched sub-plot is cooking in the FCC vs. incumbents Battle for DC Domination. The FCC may be waving the V sign soon, but for Validation. Here’s why validation can mean victory for communities wanting better broadband.

Implementation of the National Broadband Plan has kind of stalled in the face of a he-said/she-said argument of epic proportions. Communities, consumer advocates, a lot of policy wonks and a majority of the FCC have been vigorously stating that (summarized) “broadband in the U.S. sucks!” Incumbents and their allies have been stating just as vigorously “no it doesn’t suck and we’ll spend a ge-zillion dollars telling you it doesn’t. If the FCC issues a report, we’ll spend another ge-zillion telling everybody why the report sucks.”

Who’s right? More importantly, who is right enough to persuade the policy making machine in D.C. and influence broadband deployments locally. This is where the V-word comes in. Lack of independent validation (Connected Nation doesn’t count) is the Achilles heel of the broadband stimulus, those grants sent to states to develop broadband maps, the national plan, attempts at Congressional legislation and the role of the FCC as broadband regulator.

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