Friday, September 16, 2005

"Community Internet under Attack"

During the height of the Katrina crisis not a few good articles on community broadband got skipped. This one, entitled: "Community Internet under Attack" was originally published on September 1st. Luckily, it has been reposted by the Free Press. It's basically a review of recent municipal success in this arena which tries to summarize the lesson learned. Its a relief to read an analysis of the issue that lays out so clearly the values on which the analysis is based:
"Who might control the future of high-speed Internet? Will it be municipalities and communities that can make the Internet into a widespread and affordable public service like electricity or running water or big cable and telecommunications companies, like SBC, Comcast, and Verizon, who would redline communities and inflate prices to maximize profit? "
Partisan? Yes. But all writing is based on assumptions about what is worth writing about. Mostly the values on which those assumptions are based are implicit and we have to either guess at them or puzzle them out by their indirect signs. When the authors themselves are unclear or inconsistent it can be very hard to figure out whether or not the authors assumptions lead them to ignore things the reader might consider important. We've gotten into a strange place where much "objective" reporting that has anything to do with business implicitly adopts the point of view that what is really worth reporting about are issues which are important to corporations and their bottom line--this goes far beyond the "business" sections of the paper. (Why aren't there "in the public interest" sections of the newspaper?) So it's refreshing to see an article that both adopts another point of view and doesn't make you work hard to figure out that point of view.

The story briefly reviews several successful municipal broadband cases. Lafayette is covered. The most interesting section is the lessons learned portion. Give it a read.

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