Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Cabling America: Fibre in paradise"

The Economist, Britian's venerable and well-respected newsmagazine, reports on Bristol Virginia's BVU and its FTTH project. Long-time readers will recall Bristol, Virginia: claims that BVU was a failure were a regular and regularly ugly feature of the fiber fight here (summary). The truth was that Bristol was very successful, the first municipal utility to offer the triple play, and has done extremely well for its community. The Economist points this out, emphasizing the rural nature of the location and the jobs it brought to its Appalachian corner of Virginia.

It's satisfying to see Bristol being recognized as an economic success by the Economist.

It's also a treat to read the Economist—the weekly news magazine is known for its unusual combination of tight, fact-filled language and light-hearted tone. The reader is encouraged to read through the article for themselves just to reassure themselves that it really can be done. The following is offered up as an example of clean reasoning that will resonate with Lafayette readers:
Should cities be in the business of providing fast internet access? It depends on whether the internet is an investment or a product. BVU could not afford to maintain its fibre backbone without selling the internet to consumers. And it could not build a subscriber base without offering cable television and a telephone line as well; households these days expect a single price for all three services.... Fibre is expensive, and a purely commercial business would not have been minded to pay for it.

All this is true for much of rural America, and it is an analogue of the reason why municipal utility companies were launched in the first place: to electrify thinly-populated areas where commercial utilities would not go.
Good stuff.

(via Christopher Mitchell @ Muninetworks.org)

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