What Happens When Communities Plan to Build Their Own Broadband Network?

If your town or city government starts making serious noises about constructing your own, municipally-owned broadband network (especially one built with fiber optics to the home), existing providers who have repeatedly said “no” to requests for faster service at more reasonable prices have a track record of quickly turning around and saying, “yes — why didn't you ask us before?”

What happens when a municipality first announces its plan to build a network? Here are the Four Stages of Telecommunications Competition Grief:

1) Behind the Scenes Threats and Anger: Incumbent providers work the phones with local officials trying to browbeat them into dropping the plans to construct municipal broadband, try to gin up partisan opposition, issue overinflated cost estimates, issue warnings about the trouble they'll cause local politicians who support such initiatives, and snow a blizzard of documents illustrating how wonderful and reasonable their existing service is;

2) Stall Tactics Through Negotiation: Once home office is notified, a series of negotiations to attempt to forestall the project begins, such as throwing crumbs for incrementally better service, offers to build showcase mini-projects that represent a “win” for local politicians, or “looks good on paper” concessions that end up amounting to far less. Most of these discussions are designed simply to stall to allow the company to prepare for stage three.

3) PR and Legal Blitzkrieg: Assuming local officials haven't been discouraged away from their idea, or dropped it after starring in a company-sponsored press event – ribbon cutting a small wi-fi or school connectivity project, the next stage is a multi-front battle involving company legal teams filing lawsuits to delay or kill projects, public relations and astroturf lobbying efforts to distort issues and build public opposition, legislative maneuvers to make such projects untenable through industry-friendly laws, and often vague promises about impending upgrades making the entire project unnecessary.

4) Acceptance, Competition, and Better Service: The final stage is the realization consumers don't always get suckered by astroturf groups and company scare tactics. They accept the project is moving forward, and send out the press release saying they welcome the competition and are announcing their own significant service upgrade because “customers asked for it.” Price increases slow, speeds increase, and service improves, all because of the reality that an aggressive competitor is in their future.

Read the full article: http://stopthecap.com