Community Broadband and the Changing Free Market

Earlier today, my Gigabit Nation radio show tackled the source of many of our broadband woes – the lack of sufficient ¬†broadband competition in the U.S. despite incumbents’ fairy tales to the contrary. The flip side of the same counterfeit coin of “robust competition” is the claim that the free market can meet all of our broadband needs and local governments cannot. Pul-leaze!

Last week I had to lay out the facts of broadband life to dispel this “free market” myth. Someone who clearly did not listen to my interview with Loma Linda, CA about their muni-owned network tried to make the case, “The free market insures that a provider delivers the services the market demands at a fair price or competition steals the business..[broadband]..should be left to market players who know the business best, understand the risks, and who risk their OWN money or that of investors willing to risk their own.”

However, his conclusion about government’s inability to succeed and the state of competition are proven not true. How’s that? First, take Loma Linda. As everyone who listens to the interview will learn, the City started their network specifically because the incumbents wouldn’t or couldn’t provide services to meet individuals’ and companies’ needs, and no free market competitor was there to fill the void. So the City filled it. FURTHERMORE, the City runs a multi-product/service ¬†broadband business that breaks even. Meaning the business is paying all of its bills. Has been for some time.¬†

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