Friday, February 08, 2013

Crawford: High Prices, Slow Speeds for U.S. Internet Users

What's Being Said Dept.

Found this bit of a gem in The Valley News out of New Hampshire which ran a nifty review of Susan Crawford's book. (That's the same Susan Crawford that's a dark horse candidate for FCC chair.) The opening paragraphs of the piece set the tone for the review and reveal what the author thinks will set the hook for readers is the story of Lafayette's successful battle for fiber.
(Excerpted from Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.)Terry Huval is a large, friendly man with a lilting Southern accent who plays Cajun fiddle tunes in his spare time. He is also the director of utilities in Lafayette, La. “Our job is making sure we listen to our citizens,” he says.  
In recent years, the citizens of Lafayette have been asking for speedier Internet access.In 2004, the Lafayette utilities system decided to provide a fiber-to-the-home service. The new network, called LUS Fiber, would give everyone in Lafayette a very fast Internet connection, enabling them to lower their electricity costs by monitoring and adjusting their usage. 
Push-back from the local telephone company, BellSouth Corp., and the local cable company, Cox Communications Inc., was immediate. They tried to get laws passed to stop the network, sued the city, even forced the town to hold a referendum on the project — in which the people voted 62 percent in favor. Finally, in February 2007, after five civil lawsuits, the Louisiana Supreme Court voted, 7-0, to allow the network.  
From 2007 to mid-2011, people living in Lafayette saved $5.7 million on telecommunications services.
The article then goes on to discuss the problems with cable's monopoly power as Crawford sees them.

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