Today, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), Chairman of the Subcommittee, introduced the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2015. This bipartisan bill, also known as “Dig Once,” would mandate the inclusion of broadband conduit -- plastic pipes through which companies can easily pull fiber cables when construction is finished -- during the construction or upgrade of roads receiving federal funding.
The Verizon/cable deals are a bad deal for consumers and a sad sign of the state of the communications market. But at least they finally expose the state of broadband competition for what it is. In particular the deals illustrate, through the actions of the companies themselves, that mobile wireless is not a "competitor" to wired. They're different products with different uses. This is an obvious point to most but the hope that the broadband market was going to get competitive "real soon now" due to the pending arrival of some kind of wireless competitor or another has driven many of the FCC's policies in the last decade. Unfortunately these policies have had the effect of undermining actually existing competition in the broadband market to pave the way for this prophesied competitor. As it stands the FCC's record in predicting the future is on a par with Harold Camping's.
As reported by Christopher Mitchel from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Qwest has scored quite the little victory in its efforts to keep itself (and the good people it serves in Minnesota) from the evil socialist menace known as "local government providing broadband when the incumbent does a lousy job."
Apparently,MN State Senator Bakk and MN State Rep Dill introduced a bill that would have made it easier to for local governments to build municipal networks. Right now, it takes a local referendum vote with 65% to authorize a locality to build a network that offers commercial telephone service (and therefore any "triple play" broadband access service -- or so they read it in MN).
Last week, we filed comments in the FCC's open Notice of Inquiry on what to put in the National Broadband Plan. Among other things, we called for a "mindful" federal (and state and local) policy that looked to leverage opportunities to advance broadband deployment and adoption as part o our policy efforts generally and not just in its own little "broadband" pigeonhole.