Monday, May 06, 2013

"New Yorkers Envious of Lafayette and Chattanooga? Yes."

What's Being Said Dept.

Community Broadband Networks posts a nifty short piece that points to how ingrained a positive perception of community-owned fiber networks has become among the digerati. Notice that this really isn't a story about community networks; the basic story is about creating a strong digital workforce in New York City.  The person interviewed is using Lafayette as shorthand for attending to the basic infrastructure needs supporting a vibrant tech community. I like that NYC considers Lafayette to be the obvious case of a community that has done its basic homework. (Of course, we still need to get about building on what we've made possible.)

Aw hell, rather than summarize the summary, I'll simply repeat; it's pithy enough to reproduce in full; enjoy:

In a recent New York Daily New article, Scott Stringer wrote about the Big Apple's tech employment trends. He noted that more tech related positions now come to the city but those jobs still tend to elude women and people of color. He suggests looking at New York's own workforce and offering better science and technology training. How do they do that? Improve curriculum, of course, but: 
Ultimately, the new workforce is only as strong as the infrastructure that supports it. Today, fast, reliable Internet access isn’t a luxury — it is a core utility of the modern age.
Stringer notes the antiquated copper throughout the city and looks south for a model:
Lafayette, La., constructed a municipal fiber network in 2005, linking fiber to every home and business. In Chattanooga, Tenn., the city worked with the public electric company to build a fiber network that not only helped modernize the energy grid, but also linked 150,000 homes and businesses to a gigabit connection that is 20 times faster than connections in much of New York City.
London-based Foreign Direct Investment recently recognized Lafayette as one of the top 10 Small American Cities of the Future, in part due to its fiber infrastructure. Chattanooga has receivedmultiple recognitions for it innovative municipal network.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/opinion/editorial/lessons-learned-from-iprovo-and-google-fiber/article_80f1393a-278f-59ce-88a3-7533d5ceb2ca.html

I think the residents of Provo are uniformly thrilled that Google is taking over iProvo. I anticipate excellent service from them, and finally Provo will be out of the TelCom business. But this is also an important teaching moment about the proper role of government. Provo should never have sponsored this network, and we have paid a hefty price for this misadventure. This is not mere hindsight. Members of BYU's Economics Department specifically warned against the project during its inception. Their concerns were dismissed, yet history vindicates every point.

John said...

Oh anono person, I'd appreciate knowing who you actually are. We have a real identity policy on this blog as you were notified before you wrote...

What I see is what I often see in anonymous comments is that such authors feel free to simply ignore the actual evidence in the post and reach their own conclusions based on something else altogether. They do that, I think, because they can't easily address the real issues raised and prefer to just change the topic. That's a lot easier to do anonymously than it would be if the writer's name was on the line.

Actually in the post I made: Evidence from two very successful municipal builds (Chattanooga and Lafayette). Both are doing well using a DIFFERENT business model than the one that Provo was forced to use. In those two cities the city itself offers services and sells to its citizen/owners directly. The Utah lege, in its wisdom, decided to forbid the business plan that every successful private business owner of a last mile network has used: Sell it yourself, guarantee your own reliable, proudly offered top to bottom service. Provo (and the other Utah cities) are forced to farm out all their customer-facing businesses (phone, "Cable," internet) to small inexperienced companies that, frankly, were at best barely competent. These private businesses failed multiple, closing and transferring their customers abruptly to another, similarly incompetent provider. The big guys, of course, wouldn't step in and run it and the small guys didn't have the competence or the capacity to compete. Google is planning on using the same closed network model and I have not doubt that they will be more successful.

It has been entirely different in cities that run their own networks and offer their own services. Citizens are very happy with the local guys and the cheaper service they provide. Now the secondary economic development benefits have started to flow. That is what the article and my post is about. Provo used a different model and isn't relevant to cases like Lafayette or Chattanooga.

John said...

As to the supposedly authoritative opinion piece cited in anono's moment a point by point rebuttal from a Utahian with some actual knowledge of networking is worth reading:

http://www.freeutopia.org/2013/04/29/learning-the-wrong-lessons-from-iprovo-and-google-fiber-a-rebuttal/