Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The number of cities with municipal broadband has jumped over 4x in two years (gammawire.com)
584 points by sharkweek 14 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 324 comments



https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/02/gop-plan-for-bro...

Remember that Republicans tried to ban municipal broadband federally only two months ago! Just an absurdly, transparently corrupt move.


"In the face of compelling pandemic-driven evidence that affordable broadband Internet access is essential to modern life, that tens of millions of Americans are being left behind, and that an emergency requiring immediate action exists, five enlightened Arkansas Republicans recently persuaded their overwhelmingly Republican legislature to vote unanimously to give local governments significant new authority to provide or support the provision of broadband Internet access."

We'd be better served by providing the names of the ones who introduced it instead of a blanket statement making it sound like all Republicans supported this, especially when at the local level where it really matters they did not support it, they did the exact opposite.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio) Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.)

The general idea that there should be competition is good, just not going about it by blocking attempts to create municipal broadband. I'd like to still have the choice to choose private companies if I feel the public option isn't meeting my needs.


The republican point of view is that if something is government-supported, it's unfair to compete against, as the government option will offer better quality service at lower cost than is economical for a private company, since the government has no profit motive.

(This somehow leads to the conclusion that government services are bad.)


Don't try to describe a viewpoint that you're only familiar with from stereotypes. It doesn't contribute to the discussion in any meaningful way, and only serves to further propagate the stereotype.

The problem Republicans (in general) have with government-run businesses is not that they operate at a lower cost and so thwart competition, but that they seem to operate at a lower cost because they run on tax dollars rather than on paying customers. Combine that with the fact that the government is not incentivized to make the business profitable and you have a lot of wasted resources used to provide a service that isn't any good but is so cheap to the end user (not to the taxpayer) that it's impossible to compete.

Whether this model of government-run systems is accurate is open to debate, but it's not helpful to set up straw men.


There are a lot of conservative narratives baked into this post. Let’s look at the horrible mismanagement of the USPS. I’m 2004 DHL and UPS wrote a law to increase the pension liabilities of the USPS. It passed in 2005 after being passed by a republican super majority. Prior to it’s passing the USPS use to be the poster child of government done right. Service was excellent and reliable, affordable, revenue neutral or surplus generating.

In light of this new budgetary crisis created entirely by private business one of their attempts to generate revenue was to sell merch. For a short time you could buy an Official USPS Outfit Dog Costume for example, and it was actually working. Republicans saw them doing that and passed regulation saying no you can’t sell merch or do anything outside delivering mail.

The post master general at the time said fine, if we can’t raise money other ways then we need to raise rates. Guess what republicans did. They told them to piss off. After kneecapping the usps they just pointed at them and used them as an example of bad government which they themselves caused. Classic “starving the beast”

The narrative republicans have around government inefficiency is either wrong or entirely self inflicted. The USPS is just my favorite example.

And if the republicans actually cared they’d propose alternatives and be active in the legislative process with an intent on servicing the “average” American. Trying to ban municipalities federally does nothing but obstruct and protect their corporate funders. That is unacceptable


In the UK when the GPO was part of the civil service both the postal and to a lesser extent the telecoms side was used as a source of revenue - need more tax add a penny to the cost of a stamp.

That story is a dramatized version of events designed to be a Facebook meme: https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/apr/15/afl-cio/wi...

That page does not refute anything GP said except to note that the prefunding obligations concern health benefits rather than pensions, but that's not core to the point they were making.

Try arguing with what people actually say instead of making a strawman of some Facebook meme.


I don’t get the facebook meme thing but I last I heard it being discussed was on a podcast called “opening arguments” around the time DeJoy was brought in. The show is a comedian and a Harvard lawyer discussing policy and law. Highly recommended to those who may not know about it. They research and go a lot deeper than what you’d read in a comment or news article on a variety of issues. Well worth a sub

I am curious, has anything got fixed after latest USA elections?

Naah, it's been over three months and Biden hasn't fixed even half of the government problems that have been deliberately introduced since Reagan took over in 1981. Which of course goes to prove that the Democrats suck.

> The narrative republicans have around government inefficiency is either wrong or entirely self inflicted.

if it's self inflicted, then it's not wrong. the fact that they can hamstring important services/bills for purely political reasons and still get away with it at the polls is a great example of how perverse incentives in government lead to mismanagement. if you want to persuade me that X government service will be run efficiently, you need to first convince me that a certain mainstream party will not be able to sabotage it.


A very similar argument can be made for private capital, except it is subject to almost zero democratic controls/influences.

If literally the only thing standing in the way of sunshine and roses in this picture is that the Republicans are in charge, why is it so necessary for the Democrats to put them in charge?

The Democrats could just let the post office be privatised then run their own, on the side, out of to the Democrat HQ. It'd give them an electoral edge delivering pamphlets too.

The reason they can't do this is because the post office, fundamentally and inescapably, doesn't generate enough revenue to justify running it the way they want to. The Democrat voters don't want to bear the cost of the service they want. And the Republicans have noticed this.


Whoa, calm down and show some respect. Parent post is right. That is one of the narratives you hear quite frequently. Your addition is also valid.

I'm not being defensive (I'm not a Republican), but I do want to ensure that our discussion accurately portrays both sides. Setting up straw men is not only offensive to those we disagree with, it dulls our own capacity to argue for our viewpoint effectively because we never face the real alternative.

I grew up (and still live and work) in a forever-red conservative state. My dad was a glutton for conservative political news, so I grew up immersed in Fox News, Hot Air, Instapundit, Glenn Beck, Drudge Report, you name it. I'm still surrounded by conservative commentary, both educated and ignorant, at every social function I attend.

In all my years of exposure to conservative thought, I have not once read or heard someone say that their concern with the government doing a task is that they'll do it too well. Where do you hear it?


No, really, that's not a Republican perspective at all.

In fact, the Republican perspective is the opposite; that government-provided options will be invariably be worse value for money - this is why Republicans favor privatization.

I think the Republican objection is to general revenues being used to operated a subsidized Internet service.

If that is what you mean by "government-supported", then there is a reasonable argument to be had about whether forcing everyone to pay for the municipal option through taxes really results in a fair competitive landscape for private providers.


Yes - government supported is just a fancy euphemism for taxpayer funded.

It’s easy to champion crap when everyone else is paying for it :p


> as the government option will offer better quality service at lower cost than is economical for a private company, since the government has no profit mo

FFS that’s not why republicans have problems with the government services. The issue isn’t that government doesn’t have to make a profit, it’s that it doesn’t have to be sustainable at all (i.e. it doesn’t even have to bring in enough money to support itself unlike a non-profit).

Additionally, nobody is afraid the government is going to be “better quality”. That’s not the case in most markets where the government operates.

The concern is that the government can operate a service financially unsustainably and and offer a shitty service for so cheap that it destroys the market for better services.

A government-funded high-speed deployment of 20mbps to the house that goes out for an hour during the night and occasionally disconnects for a few seconds throughout the day that only costs $2.99/mo will destroy the competition, run a deficit, and people will have worse service because of it.


Which is just as stupid as if the republicans are so concerned about sustainablily, why haven't they made a peep about or made attempts to ban the VC model that American startups operate under?

The money the VCs are swinging around on was put in their care voluntarily (you invest in the VC fund) or voluntarily by proxy (you invest in a fund that invests partially or wholly in vc stuff) whereas public coffers are kept full by threat of violence and therefore need to be treated with more respect.

When you take someone's money by threat of violence under the premise that doing so is a net positive for society you have a much greater obligation to pursue that result and sustainability is one of many considerations when it comes to whether or not something is a net positive for society.


And explain to me how private debt, and wealth, isn't also enforced by a threat of violence? Why I can't just walk into a store and take a car? Also a threat of violence. Why can't I just tell the bank to shove it when I've moved in? Threat of violence. When big business poisons a river, or puts forced arbitration clauses in their contracts, or mistreats their workers, more threats of violence should you try and seek redress.

You're a hypocrite, picking and choosing your argument to suit your position.

The same thing will happen to you if you don't pay your taxes or don't pay back your credit card debt.

And the extremely unlikely end result, jail, is exactly the same for both public and civil debt.

And that's the trouble with these stupid arguments. Not only are they childish extremes, anyone using them are all just massive hypocrites who want to pillage the commons for their own gain and have the rules always work in their favour, conveniently different when it comes to reining in monopolies, or using their excessive wealth to force others out of business, it all depends on which side they stand to gain most money out.

Then they just flip their argument on its head to justify their privileged position, which is maintained by a threat of violence.


Debt isn’t enforced by violence in the US. You can’t end up in jail for failing to pay credit card debt.

Setting aside that obvious gaff, you’re comparing individuals being prevented from stealing people’s property to the government being allowed to. It doesn’t really make any sense.


> VC model that American startups operate under?

Because it’s not tax payer money being squandered. How is that so hard to grasp?

Rich people run out of money making stupid bets. The federal government does not.


Because they look through their rose tinted glasses and think the US is leading the world in smartphones, electric cars, pharma, and internet companies. They don’t see the problems that you see.

It also doesn't even seem accurate. Private industries can compete with public ones on both quality and cost. The problem is that, in the face of municipal broadband, private companies have to compete to actually serve the public not "compete" to gouge consumers of as much money as possible in their comfy government protected monopolies.


They can, if the public providers let them. It's a choice in that regard, since the government can simply say "we'll offer at 10% of our cost, and subsidize it with taxes", in which case you can't compete unless you're insanely more efficient than the public provider.

Where it becomes unfair is when municipal broadband is supported by general tax revenues. If the citizens of a city are required to pay for the municipal broadband whether or not they use it, then its going to pretty hard to compete with that.


I pay for trash pickup, parks, libraries, roads, schools, fire, and police regardless of my usage (all out of property taxes). I can stick 8 kids in my local school system, or none, and I’m charged the same. Even my water and sewer are provided for by local government, with only my electric service being a for profit (yet highly regulated) utility, and yet internet connectivity is put forth as a beacon of capitalism where we expect competition when a natural monopoly exists by way of the last mile.

The “unfairness” is simple. You regulate the entity who runs your muni fiber operation, and if they don’t meet your metrics you’re measuring success by, you replace them (whether that’s internal folks or an org contracted to provide services).

TLDR Ramp muni fiber deployments with rigorous operational oversight as a requirement.


Certainly, you can make a case for cities providing broadband just as they provide trash, sewer, parks, libraries, etc.

What you can't do is pretend that private broadband companies would be competing with municipal broadband on equal footing.


This is a solved problem.

The municipality provides the fiber network. All ISPs rent dark fiber, local loops, wavelengths or bitstream access on equal open access terms.

All on equal footing and equal terms.


Is it a requirement that these common goods and services have private competition that is on equal footing? Private security, trash services, libraries (netflix) all have private competition that seems to be thriving in the spaces that have higher requirements, but the baseline situation appears to be handled for much of the region.

It's not a requirement. Or at least: we commonly accept many such services provided by municipalities.

What is a requirement is acknowledging the unequal footing.


Public and private will always be on unequal footing, due to the difference in the their objectives. It may also be worthwhile to point out that public infra is designed to serve even people who can’t otherwise afford it, as well as limited by their ability to attract talent. (I’m sure there are others.)

I had assumed we all felt comfortable using “public/private” as a shortcut for all of these differences, but am learning that is not necessarily shared. In terms of moving the discussion forward, what were you hoping to achieve by pointing out some of these facts?


The difference in footing is not based on objectives but the means by which funding is obtained. In the case of private companies, the funding can only by obtained by providing services that the market demands. The government obtains its funding by taxing people.

> Public and private will always be on unequal footing, due to the difference in the their objectives.

No they won’t. Public projects can be setup to require that they are revenue neutral or positive.


I'm hoping to accomplish pointing out the silliness of the post I originally responded to, which asserted that there was no reason to think it would be unfair competition.

> when a natural monopoly exists by way of the last mile.

Given how many people actually have multiple options in the last mile, it’s not a natural monopoly.


The FCC's listing of multiple broadband providers requires you to read between the lines. For my address they list 5 providers. AT&T is on there twice, there's a cable company, and then Viasat and Hughesnet. Given that Viasat and Hughesnet exist for pretty much the entire contiguous US it makes it super easy to say there's at least two providers serving your area, so the whole 99% of people are served by at least two providers is kind of a worthless statement. Given the high latency involved in their flavor of satellite operations, low data caps (or throttling, technically Viasat says its not a cap) they're not really competitive in just about any market with modern wireline services.

So in reality I have a choice of two wired providers. Imagine how great our food would be if the only restaurants available were either Burger King or McDonalds. What a competitive marketplace!


Two wired providers is not a natural monopoly.

> A natural monopoly is a monopoly in an industry in which high infrastructural costs and other barriers to entry relative to the size of the market give the largest supplier in an industry, often the first supplier in a market, an overwhelming advantage over potential competitors.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_monopoly

It might not be limited to just one for all markets, but two choices isn't very competitive due to the massive infrastructural costs and other barriers of entry (e.g., rights of way). Also, my current residence is an example where there actually is competition. As pointed out above, just because the FCC says there's 2+ broadband providers they're including two satellite providers. So a lot of those 3 provider places are really single wireline providers.

Once again, is a market where all restaurants are either McDonalds or Burger King an example good competition?


Only if you have Local Loop Unbundling. For most of the US the completion for the last mine is minuscule or non existent.

Same with water and sewer?

I have a neighbor that refuses to use running water. Should the infrastructure be routed around their property?

Should they be forced to use running water?


So are they on rainwater or what's the deal exactly?

They refuse to pay to ‘fix’ their pipes in their home. Claim they are all leaking.

They have the money to do it, but prefer refilling the 5 gallon jugs.


Not the point I was making.

If a city provides any service: water, sewer, broadband, from property taxes, its going to be really really hard for any company to compete with that.

So you can make the case for municipal broadband, but don't pretend that private ISPs are going to compete with it.


Not quite. The position is that government has an unfair advantage in competition (might be regulatory or being funded by taxation, or maybe free scale by being a government supplier) so they can push out suppliers who would otherwise supply a better / cheaper service.

The UK does not have any low cost healthcare providers because you can’t compete with a tax payer funded organisation.

Now, do government services tend to be better? That’s another question.


No republican in history has ever uttered those words.

Republicans argue that government run programs are filled with waste, excess, and decreased output b/c they don't have a profit motive. That was the case with Soviet manufacturing operations, Chinese farming, and the US Veterans Affairs Hospitals. The Soviets could never get the right products when they were needed b/c manufacturing decisions where made from a centralized location, not by the people that needed certain goods. China used to control farming, until one day they had the bright idea to let the farmers control farm output. Chinese farming production has increased by multiples of it's government mandate levels. The VA Hospital system is the worst healthcare system in US, in terms of quality of car and lead time for an appointment. And the US Government doesn't cover military connected injuries at non-VA Hospitals.


It's hard to see how this is a negative with something like broadband. as long as they can offer better quality service at lower cost, it's a win for every citizen


>I'd like to still have the choice to choose private companies if I feel the public option isn't meeting my needs.

It doesn't make sense to run multiple companies' fiber to each home.


It also doesn’t make sense to have multiple cellular providers building towers in the same place and duplicating spectrum needs, but here we are.

But yes, in most areas there isn’t enough demand for internet to deploy fiber multiple times.


Most carriers already share lines don't they?


I’ve never seen it in the US. It’s always been two options, buy from the company that owns the phone line (DSL)/fiber to your house, or buy from the company that owns the coaxial line to your house (cable).


That wasn’t always true at least for POTS, I think it was called “dry DSL”? The phone company owned the line but your internet was through another company.

they used to, that was part of the debate about title-2 or not and net neutrality. That's why when DSL was the fastest internet there were so many choices and options but now it feels like there are hardly any (depending on where you live).

In my state the Republican legislature passed legislation to enable both municipal broadband and require power companies to allow data services on utility poles, which power companies invariability blocked.


Wow really! That is great. Those are some enlightened Republicans. Which state is this?


If it’s Arkansas, then they might be “enlightened” on municipal broadband but are certainly missing the mark with the recent anti-trans law.

Yeah, indeed.

Probably Arkansas SB 74, which was passed unanimously by the Arkansas state legislature, which has a Republican majority.

This is an extremely biased assessment. The GOP tried to ban municipal broadband providers IF they established a state owned/run monopoly and prevented private companies from competing in the market.

That is not "blatantly corrupt". In fact, closing a market to the public companies and forcing everyone to use a city-run broadband is a lot more concerning.


How anyone thinks corporate lobbying is good for anyone other than corrupt politicians and corporate giants is a mystery I will never understand.


Actual lobbying is such a small part of the money that goes to politicians that it's a red herring.

The source of corruption is through PACs that support candidates without the candidates consent or guidance (either ostensibly or actually).

You can either give a candidate a few thousand dollars directly or you can spend an unlimited amount of money telling people how great you think the candidate is. Only the former is lobbying.


I'm not really interested in discussing semantics, but rather the root issue.

Money in Politics, especially when it's perfectly legal, is a massive, massive problem. It's literally impossible to get fair and impartial leaders who will make decisions in the interest of the common person when corporations are spending millions and millions.

Right now a judge sitting on the highest court in the entire country is hearing a case involving a company who openly and directly paid to have her elected into that position. I don't care if that person is from the right or left (or middle), there is no universe where that is a good thing, or should be allowed.

Having a Supreme Court Justice you paid preside over your court case sounds like a very perverted form of Justice under Democracy to me.


Well actually repositions glasses, lobbying is a big part of it: you are a politician for a part of your career. If and when you quit, you can just go work for the lobby that had lobbied you while you were in office. It's an amazingly well planned out safety net that all but the most disgraced politicians (see Anthony Weiner) can rely on. It means that even if you and I and our closes 1000 friends got together and each kicked in $1000 to donate to a politician to, say, vote for municipal broadband, it might not mean nearly as much as $25k from a lobby group that later will hire the politician with a very cushy salary.


I'm inclined to treat "you got a million dollar ad buy on your behalf from Municipal Broadband Sucks PAC" as a form of lobbying, personally.


To our misfortune the Supreme Court does not agree, and where they are the opinion that counts. (As you know no doubt already.)


Lobbying and campaigning are tightly coupled. Splitting hairs is moot.

Plus threats to pull or create jobs, fights for tax incentives or other 'free' stuff like special infrastructure or zoning changes. Messaging attacks & earned media are near free, healthcare industry is culpable here. Military seems to be the worst in all of this.

Politicians care about getting re-elected. That's the power fulcrum or pressure point.


A lot of people immediately think this type of thing is corruption, but consider that these people might actually believe in this stuff and that it's easier for companies to find and support like minded politicians than it is to convince someone who holds an opposite view.


Politicians around the world regularly flip flop on issues in lockstep with their party. That’s not the behavior of someone that actually holds personal views on the subject, suggesting that something else is influencing decision making.

Which shouldn’t be surprising as politics covers such a wide range of issues it would be strange for most of them to have strong views on every issue. Frankly it’s people who don’t care one way or the other are who you try and influence.


You're making a distinction where one doesn't exist.

Lobbying includes all attempts to influence legislators.

PACs are just a legal fiction to circumvent a law, the effect is the same: support those who's policies you prefer.


I see no difference between "We'll give you $X to vote for this bill" and "We'll spend $X on advertising for your campaign if you vote for this bill".


> "We'll spend $X on advertising for your campaign if you vote for this bill"

That's illegal.

The advertising is given no strings attached. The only incentive that you (the politician) have to vote for things that favor the company is that, if you don't, they may not advertise for you next time.

The "fun" part of this whole thing is that the money those companies spend isn't really the issue, it's the fact that the money is helpful to influence people. Comparatively, if a person of non-political celebrity tweets that they like a candidate, they might muster much more influence than say, Exxon could for the same candidate. Now that candidate is just as beholden to the interests of that celebrity as one might be to a corporation.

In effect, the PAC money really is just taking money away from influential individuals and commoditizing it.

I, personally, don't really see a difference. It's not like pre-Citizens United America was some sort of paradise. Most people perceive it as worse but I just see it as different. I, personally, still have a similar amount of political power and influence.


> The only incentive that you (the politician) have to vote for things that favor the company is that, if you don't, they may not advertise for you next time.

And also that if you do, you may be able to go and work for them for good compensation when your political career is over.


Or your spouse/sibling/kid/niece/nephew get a nice internship or other position.


> The advertising is given no strings attached. The only incentive that you (the politician) have to vote for things that favor the company is that, if you don't, they may not advertise for you next time.

When an oil company buys advertising to a candidate, both parties know it's going to be in exchange for votes that favor the oil company. To claim anything else is bad faith. I THINK we're in agreement here?

If so, I don't think it's correct to call it "no strings attached". The politician might not be contractually bound to votes in favor of oil, but if they want to still have a job at the end of their term, they're somewhat forced to.


While lobbyists write actual laws and work for the same companies + industry groups that fund the PACs, I find it difficult to agree with you.


Being for a free market is great, if it's better than the government run internet won't it win out in the end anyway? I've yet to see anyone prove it's a better idea to not allow the extra competition. Seems like other countries have a mix and it's fine, what is so unique about the USA that we can't try what has worked in other countries? I'll never understand the Republican reptile brain feature that is so opposed to change.


Free market / small government party, lol


> Remember that Republicans tried to ban municipal broadband federally only two months ago! Just an absurdly, transparently corrupt move.

The article you posted said something else, that the bill was to ban government-run broadband in an area that has private competition.

From your link:

  The bill "would promote competition by limiting government-run broadband networks throughout the country"
  and
  States or municipalities that already offer Internet service may continue to do so if "there is no more
  than one other commercial provider of broadband Internet access that provides competition for that service in a particular area."


> The article you posted said something else, that the bill was to ban government-run broadband in an area that has private competition.

Not quite. It bans new government-run broadband everywhere regardless of whether or not there would be private competition in the area. In areas that already have government-run broadband, it allows that to continue as long as that area does not have more than one private provider.


BTW, my source for the above is the text of the bill itself, which the Ars Technica article links to.

It says in 2(a):

> Except as provided in subsections 3(b)(1) and (c), a State or political subdivision thereof may not provide or offer for sale to the public, a telecommunications provider, or to a commercial provider of broadband internet access service, retail or wholesale broadband internet access service.

Subsection 3(b) starts thusly:

> Any State or political 9subdivision thereof providing or offering for sale, either to the public, a telecommunications provider, or to a provider of broadband internet access service, retail or wholesale broadband internet access service, before the date of the enactment of this section

and continues in 3(b)(1) (the first exception mentioned earlier):

> notwithstanding subsection (a), may continue to provide or offer for sale such service if the Commission finds there is no more than one other commercial provider of broadband internet access that provides competition for that service in a particular area

and on 3(c) contains the second exception:

> Notwithstanding subsection (a), this section does not apply to the Tennessee Valley Authority


If you are a software engineer, working on municipal broadband or starting a local ISP is a really intense way to expand your skills.

For the past year, I've been volunteering at NYC Mesh (nycmesh.net), which is a non-profit that provides fixed wireless broadband in New York. I thought I knew a thing or two about networking — hell, I've even given a talk in the network track at LinuxCon in the past — but working on NYC Mesh really showed me the limits of that knowledge and has helped me learn a ton more.


For those interested, there are other volunteer-run mesh ISPs in other cities in the US and in the world: https://jointhemesh.net/#!/list

(There might be a better list somewhere else as well)


We're trying to do this in Milwaukee right now and talked to Brian from nycmesh who got us in the right direction. It's going to be difficult to get things started but there's so many great resources. Thanks for adding so much documentation! It really helps a lot.

If anyone's interested in helping in Milwaukee please reach out! We're looking for any technical talent we can get, especially in the networking space.


I've always wanted to expand my networking skills and understanding. Any suggestions on how to get involved in something like this?


Sure, here's some ideas:

1. Join the NYC Mesh Slack (slack.nycmesh.net) even if you're not in NYC, just to see how it's run.

2. Read Brian Hall's post, "How to start a community network": https://www.nycmesh.net/blog/how/

3. Read Graham Castleton's "Start Your Own WISP" guide: https://startyourownisp.com/

4. Look around and find folks in your area with a similar interest. If you're in or near a city of any size, I bet there's somebody who's already started or is trying to start something.


how do you volunteer specifically at nycmesh?


I help out with planning and designing hubs, upgrading & installing equipment, troubleshooting network issues, and with anything else I can related to network architecture.



Wow, that was straight and to the point breakdown of costs: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jjUYOQMuZ4cRyTv1M5X8...

Honestly, this doesn't sound like a bad idea in my area. I can likely put the tower right on my own land and immediately cover a decently sized neighborhood.


It even has things like zip-ties and other miscellaneous items priced out. It's still a rough estimate for a minimal install, but I've undertaken DIY home improvement projects that were in this price range and my estimates weren't quite this detailed.


Municipal broadband really isn't the solution here. Sure, it's miles better than private infra, but we down here in NZ have a much better solution. (Not claiming we invented it, of course.)

In 2011, Central government started a big infrastructure project to roll fibre out to ~80% of the population. (Called UFB - ultra fast broadband.) However instead of making this just be state owned, the money was paid as cheap loans with a competitive bid system. Companies bidding had to agree to a significant number of regulations, including a requirement to not act as an ISP and to offer wholesale access to the network for a set fee. They could also offer their own services above and beyond the regulated maximum.

So to start an ISP in NZ, all you need is some national and international transit, and at least one server to do billing and core routing. As a result, we have dozens of major, actually good ISPs and many more niche ones. Most of them service the whole country - at least the UFB service area.

I actually like my ISP. I have IPv6 and a static public IPv4. Peering is excellent and international bandwidth plentiful. Gigabit bandwidth with no usage call and no fair use policy (at least no policy regarding days usage).

Municipal internet is great until you realize you just turned a monopoly into a duopoly. Without competition, what drive your new ISP to do better? If you're super lucky, the goodness of their hearts, I guess. Because you know the old incumbent will just match the new ISP and do not better.

EDIT: Folks in other threads have pointed out how bad US government bodies have historically been at investing in infrastructure maintenance. I'd like to note that the NZ model neatly deals with those concerns too. The companies which build out the networks are made the owners presumably when the loans are paid off. These companies become very profitable even though they can't become ISPs themselves, and are thus heavily incentivized to invest their profits back into their networks to keep them working well and to come up with new products to sell. Already a NZ fibre company has deployed 10gbit fibre commercially, with no extra government support.


The UFB program was a gift to the incumbent Telecom NZ. Their design was expensive and overwrought as you’d expect from a legacy telco. While it is nice that NZ has semi-decent fiber it’s still worse than my experience of FTTH overseas.

Note that there is nothing inherent about muni fiber that prevents it providing the same unbundled layer 2 and dark fiber services. But in your example of Chorus they backhaul customers over layer 2 to your location for you. That’s how your example of one guy with a router works. He puts it in Auckland and everything is backhauled hundreds of miles to it. Munis do not operate backhaul networks, these aren’t state wide networks where a guy with his router can drop it in one pop in the biggest city and serve customers from across the state. This kind of design also becomes incredibly inefficient. The provider Chorus here is really doing most of the heavy lifting and doing it in the least efficient way possible. (Back hauling layer two to POPs hundreds of miles away.)

Today all services live at layer 3 and are provided over the top. There’s a good case for just simplifying this and munis just providing the layer 3.


You wrote: "it’s still worse than my experience of FTTH overseas". Can you be more specific?

I assume the grandparents refers to the tromboning inherent in the NZ design.

lol...Nothing drives competition here and the upstarts are squashed by large telcoms who have historically gobbled up government funding and then did very little with it.

In the heart of Silicon Valley there are only a couple real options for high speed, reliable internet.


I wish my city offered it. I just signed up with Frontier's fiber which like yay for that (though it was a process to get them to realize they have a connection on my street as their internal map was apparently out of date). But...

1. I wanted to use my own router instead of theirs. Turns out they send DHCP responses with VLAN 0 ethernet tags (which I guess is for 802.1p) which apparently a lot of DHCP clients don't understand at all. I tried OPNSense and Mikrotik ones and ended up having to apply a patch manually to dhclient that comes with OPNSense and recompiling it just to get an IPv4 address (https://github.com/opnsense/src/issues/114).

2. They don't provide native IPv6, they don't plan to provide native IPv6, they have a 6rd setup that is inaccessible by new customers, and to top it all off, from what I can tell they actively block 6in4/protocol 41 so I can't even use a third party tunnel.

3. Their tier 1 tech support at least knows what IPv6 is (the thing they tell people they don't support; they don't understand it beyond that). Their tier 2 support guy called me once but he clearly was simply relaying messages from an actual network engineer he was getting via text chat, so I got nowhere. Their tier 3 is their network engineers who have no time to talk to people like me since I never got a call I was promised from them and have no way to follow up except starting with the 800 number again (a literal multi-day process).

At least with city broadband I know exactly who works on the project and can go talk to the network engineer who can unblock protocol 41/unfuck the DHCPv4. /rant


I don’t think the city network engineer would want to deal with your problem to be honest. They have bigger things to worry about.

The problem is that this isn’t just my problem: being able to use your own router is required by FCC rules and IPv6 access is something that should be standard at this point especially for new build outs. I am happy to help them solve both problems. The point is that a municipal broadband would have it be accountable, while a private corporation has fewer restrictions.

Am I paying you money?

Then it's your problem.


Sorry, but a 50$ a month subscription does not entitle you to speak with network engineers.

After reading many comments, I wonder why more people aren't looking into Space X's Starlink. Broadband speeds, no wired infrastructure, portable, no caps and $100/mo. It seems to be about $30 more/mo than most here are paying, but their broadband is tied to a physical location and not easily movable. Soon it will be mobile, as in dish corrects itself in realtime while driving a motorhome [1], etc. You can take them out in the middle of nowhere, as long as you don't leave your region, like I did 2 weeks ago as a test in the Willamette National Forest in Oregon, 20 miles out on a logging road. Didn't even get 1 bar of cell service, but was watching movies on Netflix in 4k and even played a bit of COD. You can change your region with Starlink, but it takes a day or two as you have to call and tell them the "new address." It's all manual. They are working on a way to automate those requests via the web so they take minutes to change instead of hours or days, and when mobile comes out you probably won't need to do that either.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2021/04/dishy...

Laying fiber is expensive, and the more rural you go the more expensive it gets.


Part of the reason people are very excited by municipal broadband is the ownership part. No giant corporate entity standing between you and your internet connection.

The connection being mobile is nice but it's not something I require from my broadband connection, I already have a cellphone. And I live in an apartment building where installing a dish will be all but impossible.

Don't get me wrong, Starlink is amazing tech and in rural areas it'll be a huge deal. But in reasonably sized towns and cities a wired, locally owned internet connection is also huge.


You just have extremely slow ass local government/regulation to deal with instead...


I’d argue that’s one of the reasons municipal governments are the best place to do this. If you tried at the state or federal level it would be slow as molasses but cities can move quicker.

Of course it’s all relative. Verizon has supposed to have been rolling out FIOS to my neighborhood for a decade or more now.


I get it. I have municipal broadband and it's obviously the better choice in my area right now. In the future it may not be though and if you run all the competition out of town by undercutting it with subsidized tax payer dollars then you might not like what's left when it comes time to upgrade that network. More choices, alternatives are always going to be better.

Which is better than an actively malicious oligopoly.


Yes but at what cost? If you undercut any private business to the point where they all leave the area and there's no competition or alternatives I don't think that's going to be a good thing in the future.

Starlink is only an option for a very, very small portion of the population.

The Starlink constellation has less total bandwidth than a single strand of fiber. It simply does not scale.

Starlink only has permits for about a million terminals or so and they must be very careful in where and how many customers they sign up so as to not overwhelm the system.

Elon himself has said that Starlink is only an option when you have no other options.


It's fiber, so... lay a lot of it once and you're good for a decade. Probably more.

The city I live in voted for municipal broadband in 2017. Our local private internet provider Comcast fought it at every turn, Comcast spent millions fighting municipal broadband in a city with about 150,000 residents. We started rolling out our own broadband to residents in 2020. It took a couple of years for the city to hire and build up a department and lay the infrastructure to support it city wide and I finally got the service at the beginning of this year, and it has been awesome. We have gigabit internet up AND DOWN for $59.95/month. What really burns me is the private providers we have, Comcast and CenturyLink, have been here for decades and could have done exactly what our city has done: run fiber to every neighborhood and house. It would have been cheaper for them too, they already had the infrastructure in place. They chose not to make the investment and instead spent millions trying to prevent us from providing better service for ourselves. I hope everyone has the chance to get better/cheaper internet service for themselves and their community, so far it has worked out great for us.


Just to note: Sanders 2020 "Internet for All" plan would have given municipalities the blueprints to a) fight Comcast and entrenched providers and b) funding to do so, thereby enabling more freedom. Unfortunately he did not prevail in the primary.

More municipal and small internet providers could act as a bulwark against centralization and corporate dominance of the backbone of our communication infrastructure.


Biden's infrastructure plan includes similar verbiage.[1]

> support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives

Anyone know if it would work? Note that this is the bill getting criticized as not being about "real infrastructure" due to daring to have non-transportation infrastructure, like this.

[1] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases...


The reasonable scale for a municipal fiber deployment is, as the name says, at the municipal level. There is already a reasonably competitive Tier 1 provider market, because it isn't a natural monopoly, and there is no need for the government to enter a market segment which is already working.

Which means the biggest thing you need from the feds (and for that matter the state governments) is to get out of the way and stop actively interfering with cities that want to do this. Which doesn't seem like much to ask, but the incumbents have spent the last hundred years capturing every level of government in the US, and then we got the likes of Ajit Pai running the FCC, which was an impediment.

The other thing to watch out for is the classic regulatory capture move where the government is about to spend money on municipal infrastructure to compete with the incumbents and the incumbents lobby instead to give the money to them. In this context here you're looking for money that goes to "5G" instead of fiber. Because "5G" means incumbents who own wireless spectrum and/or want to "buy" it from the taxpayer using tax money and then sit on it to exclude any other competitors from having it. Or have the taxpayer pay for their privately-owned infrastructure, providing a permanent cost advantage so that no one else can ever competitively enter the market in the future.

First rule of the game is never give tax money to the incumbents. History has shown that it's a black hole that produces no results, and anybody who doesn't understand this is either captured or not paying attention.


If most of society can work from home and conduct business via the internet, I'd argue the internet is clearly infrastructure. There weren't traffic jams and cars all over the highways last year, we were cruising the internet superhighway.

Would love it for dinosaurs in politics to get with it and understand the implications of technological investment (or lack thereof).


Government intervention is what gave providers local monopolies in the first place.

More legislation from the federal and state level is not needed, unless it's literally "All local agreements are now null and void" which isn't even legal.


Actually government intervention is the only way to solve it.

The problem is that in a city there's limited space to run the wires to each home.

Also if you want to have 10 competitors is really silly to expect having 10 fiber optic cables going to every home when majority of people wouldn't use more than one ISP at the time. Then 9 fibers will be then unused and degrading.

When Internet was reclassified to Title II, Wheeler specifically excluded Title II's provision that required existing ISPs to lease their infrastructure to competitors. Back in late 90s, early 2000s we had tons of ISPs to chose from, exactly because of that provision.

This needs to change if we want to get competition back.

Or we would need cities to build such infrastructure which is even harder and more expensive thing to do.

Either way it requires government intervention.


In Canada the network owners are also required to lease the infrastructure to other operators but the situation is similar (although IIUC not quite as bad).

It seems to me that city-owned is actually the best option in this case. If it is optimal to have one set of infrastructure than it makes sense to have that infrastructure owned by the city which operates for the common good. As much as I am hesitant to trust the government to run the network I have no issues with my water or electricity utilities and the prices seem quite fair.


Owning 'infrastructure' is a different than being service provider.

I actually would strongly support municipalities owning the last mile as part of their services, but I'm less interested in them actually providing service.

The problem is the monopoly still exists. My father lives in a small town ironically with a tiny little ISP not owned by one of the majors. But the water - they pay $200 a month for water (!), because they are making major expansions to the water stations to support new building. The town council was pushed to do this by the builders with a lot of wining and dining. So the local, fairly poor townspeople are paying ridiculous rates. Since amalgamation, the town does not have it's own mayor, they do 'regional' groupings, so the individual town can't punt the program.

Due to monopoly situation in the town, the townspoeple are stuck paying massive rates to subsidize a rich builders exploits.

These things are common and guaranteed to happen.

The idea is to have some degree of socialization where absolutely necessary, and then to try to provide real competition on that infrastructure. If the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure can be competitive (like roads) then great. For electricity transport, it can become a problem, as the semi-private agencies that manage the electrical grid are often very inefficient.

Every town should take control of the 'last mile gear' but I suggest your ISP actually should be one of many private players. Definitely more than the physically limited Choice of Comcast + 1 other.


> I actually would strongly support municipalities owning the last mile as part of their services, but I'm less interested in them actually providing service.

Exactly. Municipalities should run fiber to the nearest meet-me room, and license at a defined rate to anyone who wants to light up that fiber.


Limited space? For wires? You know how small wires are right?


Take away the government intervention and you take away the property easements that allow utilities to put up poles and run wires through yards, etc, to get to all the houses.

Good luck with your "let everyone run their tiny wires wherever without the government being involved" plan. You've heard of NIMBYism, right? How many times do you think you'll be allowed to rip up the street?


In countries that are very light on regulation there (I think I recall Brazil having this) you'll see messes of Ethernet hanging around, with dead cables still present. Unsurprisingly, they do provide a lot of bandwidth for a small price, comparitively.


That's also how Romania is (or at least was) one of countries with fast and cheap internet.

It started with the government telco not being interested in Internet. So people started running Ethernet cables, first to neighbors, then to other buildings. It started as having local networks to share files. Eventually those network got connected to Internet. If the price or quality of service provided is not satisfactory they can switch to another ISP. The bad part as you said is the huge number of ugly looking wires[1]

[1] https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-many-internet-cables-on-la...


I've been surprised there's been nobody acquiring legacy telcos just for their easements.

The existing POTS and similar infrastructure are probably worth less now as a going business than if you were to just rip out all the copper and sell it for scrap.

On the other hand, they still have pre-negotiated entry into every house and business in town, and the conduit already sunk. It would probably be cheaper, and certainly faster, to buy a firm like Frontier than to negotiate a comparable footprint from scratch.

I suspect there's some significant legal continuity-of-service obligations that poison the proposal.


They probably won't share conduits, and probably just in case want more than one pair... So it does add up.


Individually? Sure.

They add up, though. https://www.ecmweb.com/safety/media-gallery/20902083/crazy-w...


For wires that need too run out in the elements around a quarter inch or higher, plus you need conduit, and backup wires. So about an inch or more with just naive napkin estimation. I'm probably underestimating it actually.


Government intervention is constantly needed to keep a free market in balance - there certainly is poor spirited legislation that's designed to assist in market capture but there is a lot more legislation out there that's protecting small markets.

Anarcho-libretarianism isn't the solution here and neither is rejecting balanced legislation out of a force of habit.


I’m not shitting on your comment, but are you saying “we need government involvement (regulatory oversight) to solve problems made from previous government involvement (poor spirited legislation)?”

I don’t think anyone is suggesting no laws at all, but perhaps we can have some foresight and not legislate ourselves into oversight which will only make more legislation which will only make more...

I’m happy to see municipal internet IF the service quality and price is competitive. While we’re dealing with the Verizon’s and Comcast’s of the world, this is usually working, what do we do when we’ve destroyed the market and the local service sucks?


> Government intervention is constantly needed to keep a free market in balance

"Constant government intervention" is incompatible with the definition (literally) of a free market.


Anarchical, intervention-less markets are where cartels and monopolies form and destroy competition, and then there stops being anything free about it. By that strict definition of free markets, they are ephemeral, self-defeating things.


Only the kind of free market that has no rules against fraud and robbery.


This is just daft, is your idea of free markets the drug cartels of columbia? Because thats what you get wuthoit government intervention


Hey, if you don't like free markets, that's fine, I'll respect your opinion.

I'm just saying that:

Oxford defines a free market as: "an economic system in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses."

Wikipedia defines it as: "a system in which the prices for goods and services are self-regulated by buyers and sellers negotiating in an open market. In a free market, the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government or other authority, and from all forms of economic privilege, monopolies and artificial scarcities."

Investopedia defines it as: "an economic system based on supply and demand with little or no government control."

Words have meaning, god damn it.


Words do have a meaning, so tell me what is "unrestricted competition"? Because columbian cartels think it means murdering your competitor along with his family. Is that too unrestricted for you? Okay, let's leave out murder.

How about paying random people to leave bad reviews for your competitors. Or paying shops so they don't stock competitors products. Or agreeing with banks that your competitor should not get a loan. Or making a deal with railroads where they will only transport your product, and not your competitors? Because all of the above have happened. Is that "unrestricted"?


But that's just folks giving the benefit of the doubt to your earlier statement - the technical definition of a free market is incompatible with our modern society.


Government intervention is only needed to settle disputes. Governments are already constantly intervening by barring isps other than eg Comcast from building. That government intervention has to stop. Government enacted monopolies are what caused the problem in the first place. Yes government has to act to stop it, but probably at the state level.


That's a fun idea, but we're well past that now. In reality, monopolies do exist, and the government needs to step in to resolve the dispute the people in a given area now have with the monopoly for its anticompetitive practices.

Also, infrastructure isn't easy to build and is oftentimes not even profitable. Are you suggesting only places where an ISP can make money should have Internet access?


ISPs are government-granted monopolies. It's so disappointing how many people here don't seem to understand that. Look up regulatory capture and then down vote me...


The ISPs got into a monopoly position due to government intervention, yes. That was a mistake. Unfortunately, now that we're in this position, it's too late, we're stuck, and we need the government to get us back out - "activation energy", so to speak, to get us over the energy barrier from our current high-energy position (ISP monopolies) to a low-energy position (competitive market).

Ideally, at that point, the government would then step back and merely enact rules to keep the market fair and competitive.

Whether that actually happens is another matter. My prediction is that the past trend of the government never letting go of power that it has acquired will continue.


I'm not sure it is too late. I believe we should strive to find a path to the best state of being, and maybe (probably) we have to do dinner less than ideal things on the way, but we should still try to do the most effective things at some point. So in short, in the long term Theres no need to settle for something less than ideal

Yes, but the granting of monopoly status already happened, that part is over. You can't unring that bell, is my point.


You absolutely can "unring that bell". You outlaw government granted monopolies

Sure, and you could murder all of the executives of ISPs to send a message to other ISPs about anti-competitive behavior. Anything is obviously possible, but no, you can't actually "unring" this bell.

You need to tear up roads to lay cable, meaning you likely want to limit it down to preferably one per neighborhood, as all other infrastructure is.

Not doing that would give you this: https://media.istockphoto.com/photos/cables-above-street-kat...

So sure, ISPs per one phrasing is "government-granted monopolies", but the only problem was giving it to one private actor, not that government was involved.

It's not that you're technically wrong, but that it's an incomplete and unfair portrayal.


Wouldn't it be better to set a cost to tearing up the road rather than limit it to one road tearer upper?

No, it would mean any entrant into the ISP market has a cost moat for each neighborhood that inevitably has to be paid by the end user, for no gain other than ISPs owning their own connection, which has no user benefit, and thus, only benefits ISPs in a consumer-hostile way.

Instead of just treating infrastructure like infrastructure.


Comcast makes me sick. I spent months getting off of them and it was worth every bit of it by switching to Ziply fiber in the Seattle area. I went from this to this:

* Comcast 1000/35 Down/up to Ziply 1000/1000 down/up

* Monthly bill cut in half

* Comcast monthly data caps, to no data caps with Ziply

And that's right, Comcast gives 35 Mbps upload, if you are lucky! And data caps.


In NYC, I have exactly one broadband provider. Spectrum (formerly Time Warner). Their highest end package is 500 down / 20 up. I can't get FiOS because, even though Verizon contractually agreed to wire all of NYC up for fiber, they lied and didn't. So, my only other option is Verizon DSL with offers 'up to 7Mbps' down.

T-Mobile is rolling out their home 5g internet now. It doesn't support streaming yet, but it hits around 200+ down and 25 up on my phone, so it may get there.


If anyone is considering T-Mobile Home 5G Internet, you can dramatically improve your connection speeds by getting the devices to connect on the 5G n41 band, where T-Mobile has much more spectrum. Unfortunately n41 is 2500 MHz, which means it's readily absorbed by building materials. Hooking up external antennas to the hotspot requires a bit of playing with the device [1], but can be a big help.

https://www.waveform.com/a/b/guides/hotspots/t-mobile-5g-gat...


nyc has sued verizon multiple (?) times for failing to roll out fiber into the city and just keeping the money. Each time verizon does some update, or rolls out a little bit more, and the story repeats. Telecom is a utility, end of story.


NYC needs to get serious

Tell Verizon and the others that if they fail to fulfill their contract, the will get their license pulled, or, at the very least, they will operate their own local municipal broadband.

Of course the incentives are probably for each individual politician such that with enough graft, campaign donations, etc., that they just stick with the status quo, but I'm not familiar with the local situation.

[edit: typo "fulled" => "pulled"]


It sounds like that is what they have been doing.

What they need to do now is tell Verizon that they failed to fulfill their contract, pull their license, and operate their own municipal broadband.


Yup. Although, while I'm no longer familiar with the local situation, it seems that the action has more been to sue Verizon and pocket the proceeds from the lawsuits into the general fund, while keeping their actual regulatory big gun in the holster.

Managing lawsuits and paying fines is apparently still cheaper for Verizon than actually installing the fiber.

What I want to know is WHY no regulator or judge has seen fit to actually enforce the requirement sufficiently to change Verizon's behavior.

(Or why they just don't use your suggestion, say they failed, repeatedly, pull the plug, and make their own system. They could pay for a LOT with the profits, even providing better and cheaper service)


New York City government has been all talk and no walk because they also do not want to pony up the sufficient funds to make it happen.


> It doesn't support streaming yet, but it hits around 200+ down and 25 up on my phone, so it may get there.

Does that mean the 5g internet is really slow(DSL speed?) or do they actively block streaming? Is there another reason streaming wouldn't be supported even at a decent speed?


I misread the announcement. They don't support a couple specific services (Hulu Live TV) but everything else streams just great from reviews I've read (Netflix, YouTube, regular Hulu, etc).


Depending on where you live, check and see if you have Natural Wireless[0] available in your building/residence. Recently moved into an apartment that is lucky enough to get their service, and we get gigabit for ~$70 a month.

Have had almost zero issues, and their support has been tremendous.

[0]: https://naturalwireless.com/


I'm in upstate NY. I've lost track of the number of times I've heard folks complain that there is Verizon fiber a few hundred feet away but when you inquire about getting it to your home, Verizon is just like, "mmm, nah." This is where municipal intervention is most necessary - last mile, nay, last quarter mile.

Spectrum (TWC) also likes to get exclusive rights to certain buildings too. Making the problem worse.

On the topic of T-Mobile home internet, it does support streaming. Availability is determined by the network in your local area though.


I misread the announcement. They don't support a couple specific services (Hulu Live TV) but everything else streams just great from reviews I've read (Netflix, YouTube, regular Hulu, etc).


I've found that I almost never get the rates I pay for with Comcast. I'm currently on their 600/35 plan, and I'm lucky to get 200 down and 15 up. So even if Comcast were to roll out "gigabit" everywhere, it would likely be very inferior to municipal fiber.


Have you considered switching to a lower speed plan?

If you are only actually getting 200, you might as well switch to the 200 plan and save $20/month.


My best option currently is Wave Broadband, with 940/20 costing 100$/mo. I pay an extra 8$/mo for 940/25. The tech installing my line checked my signal and said that they could support 940/940, but they wont offer it in my area. I am pricing the cost of a fiber run that after install will be 1000/1000 for 60$/mo. I would gladly pay $3k to hook-up.


With comcast in my area the unofficial strategy is to require you to sign up for a new plan every year to slowing tick down your speed and increase costs. If you stick with your old plan the monthly doubles. Right now I'm paying $60 for 60/3.5 with comcast. A few years ago it was $30 for 100/3.5 I have no other real options, it's gross.


I heard threw the grapevine Xfinity (comcast) has given up on trying to compete with streaming services.

Their strategy is just charge more for everything, and make ordering services compliced.

Going on their website to just get basic cable, and low speed internet is very hard.

They push packages--hoping you will never realize when the deal ends.

They rely on senior citizens who just pay the bill, and are not technical enough to even shop around--if they have a choice? Most households don't.

Comcast should be required to have have simple billing, and simple ording of service

That could be taken care of the next time your local government ok's their next franchise agreement. It's not a franchise. It's some agreement government has with them.

Be careful calling Xfinity (comcast) for anything. The calls are routed overseas, and those employees main function is pushing package deals. Don't fall for it. They try to get the customer to agree on voice, so they have evidence.

1. I'm ok with their internet service, except for the price, and lack of competition.

2. The cable tv service is subpar. I have had checkering for ever. I gave up on getting it corrected. After three visits from third party vendors it's still not right. (This third party vendor was working 6 days a week, and was required to lease his service truck for $250/week.).

3. If you do have a lousy connection, it might be partially related to a filter Comcast put on years ago, but never took off. (The new filters are fine, but a certain brand of an older one is bad. I just threw it out so I can't give the part number. If you have voice remote, make sure it's on the right three splitter. I vagly remember it on the outlet with the lowest resistance?

4. I believe Comcast knows they are pushing too much through that coaxial. I believe they preparing for a class action lawsuit, but might not care?

5. I only put up with Comcast because there's no real competition where I reside. Xfinity's agreements with local municipalities needs to be nixed.

6. Comcast promised to not cut off service during the pandemic, but lied.

7. Comcast offers Hotspots. Your router could be the hotspot, and they don't have to tell you. (I don't believe their is any danger to this practice though.)

I would love it that infrastructure bill did away with Xfinity. They provide very few good paying jobs. I would like to see free internet provided to every American, even the wealthy.


My comcast bill is $70 a month for 1000Mbps down / 36Mbps up. Pretty happy actually... and my area has no municipal ISP, and the only other option is AT&T's DSL variant.


Your area has no Broadband Internet competition. You have extremely poor upload and presumably a cap that you can go over by accidentally leaving a video streaming service tab open on.

How are you happy again? It sounds like you're happy to be in an abusive relationship rather than none at all.


I'm happy because it satisfies my needs for a reasonable price. I don't have a use for 1Gbps uploads... mostly nobody does actually... and I stream a lot of 1080p content, which comes nowhere near the "data cap" any month of the year.

Perhaps things would be different if I were streaming 4k, but I'm not - and that would only be an issue with a data cap (I agree, data caps are absurd).

BTW, the limit on the upload is a physical issue with cable lines and the DOCSIS protocol... I don't feel it's realistic to demand fiber to everyone's home when nearly nobody has an actual use-case for symmetrical home connections...

Lastly, getting the government involved in maintaining lines to everyone's homes is a disaster waiting to happen. What infrastructure is the government doing an excellent job maintaining as it is? With salary caps on staffers, and the inability to terminate underperforming employees - municipal-owned lines and/or ISP's will start out great, and over time suffer the same bureaucratic disease the rest of the government already has.


>BTW, the limit on the upload is a physical issue with cable lines and the DOCSIS protocol... I don't feel it's realistic to demand fiber to everyone's home when nearly nobody has an actual use-case for symmetrical home connections...

Nobody had a use case until a family of 4 needs to work and school from home simultaneously or upload video. Somehow, we had a use case for delivering people ad laden garbage tv shows via cable, but something like fiber internet which might actually be used for productivity and creativity is not worthy of public support?


Are you so sure the government can run a high tech ISP better than the private sector? That they will employ the best and brightest and pay them market rates or better?

Or will it just turn into yet another jobs program, filled with sub-par employees that can never be fired for poor performance... While the infrastructure rots away?

Say what you want about Comcast... But my internet never goes down, is always fast, is a reasonable price, and support is readily available within a couple minutes if needed.

Can you say the same for any government run program or infrastructure project?


> Say what you want about Comcast... But my internet never goes down, is always fast, is a reasonable price, and support is readily available within a couple minutes if needed.

I’ve dealt with Comcast in 3 states on both coasts, and I can’t share any of those sentiments. The upload is always garbage.

> Can you say the same for any government run program or infrastructure project?

Yes, I’ve never had to call anyone about my electric, gas, sewage, water, roads, parks, or air. Also, FYI, a government org came up with the internet in the first place.

This trope of “all things government bad” is so lazy. We are lucky in the US to live in a relatively trustworthy society, where the FAA/FDA/CDC/etc have done quite a few things to make our lives pleasant. Obviously they’re not perfect, but by and large the civilian agencies have undoubtedly pushed our quality of life up.


Electric - burned down several towns in California 2 years back due to failure to maintain the lines over the last 30 years.

Gas and Sewage rarely require infrastructure upgrades... ie. there's no new home appliance that requires "more" gas than the lines can currently provide (or provided 30 years ago).

Water? What about all the lead in the water issues that were exposed a few years back? Do you think they would have just fixed that if nobody made a big stink about it?

ARPAnet has literally nothing to do with how commercial (or municipal) ISP's operate today... not sure what point you're trying to make.

FAA has been attempting to upgrade ATC services nation-wide for years and years... still hasn't happened. Plus they've outsourced certifications of new aircraft to the manufacturer (because they don't have the staff to do it themselves, because they don't pay as well as private companies) which led to the Boeing 737-MAX thing...

CDC is now a political organization spouting whatever the current president wants (at least under Trump and Biden)

FDA - shills for the beef and corn industries...

None of your examples are good.


> Electric - burned down several towns in California 2 years back due to failure to maintain the lines.

That was a private entity. (The same one that also was on proabtion for felonies for killing people and causing widespread damage with its gas operations not long before.)


Is it though? They can't do so much as paint their trucks without government approval.

I'll admit, utilities are a bizarre hybrid at best - however it was the government's state level utility commission that approved the non-maintenance plans for decades.


I consider utilities as part of government. They private part is just so government officials can use them as a scapegoat. For example, not letting PGE raise prices to do proper maintenance, but then also blaming them when it caused wildfires. Of course, voters will vote for the politician that promises to keep costs down and keeps more money in their pockets.


I do not understand what the purpose of pointing out specific deficiencies is after I already pointed out that there were deficiencies.

I know myself and many other people feel safe traveling via air, buying food at the grocery store, drinking tap water, are not worried about our houses burning down, and trust the vaccines will help protect us.


Wave Broadband literally doubled my bill out of the blue last November-- not because a trial pricing period ended or anything, but just because they could: I was in an apartment building where they were the only option. It's irrelevant now because shortly after that I moved to a different location, but they're just as bad as Comcast. Private ISPs delenda est.


> And that's right, Comcast gives 35 Mbps upload, if you are lucky! And data caps.

Before I switched last year, I only got 10Mbps up from Comcast.


Similar situation in Fort Collins, Colorado. Connexion (the city's brand for municipal ISP) is 60/mo for symmetric gigabit fiber, and for 300/mo can get 10Gb/s and near zero outages. Comcast and Century Link keep sending "deals" in the mail that are laughable. I am very happy with municipal ISP.

https://www.fcgov.com/connexion/residential-internet


Yeah, I'm actually in Fort Collins, I was trying to be a little vague for anonymity but ya know. With Longmont Colorado having municipal broadband I think Comcast saw Fort Collins as a hill worth dying on. I've heard that Boulder and Denver are looking at putting municipal broadband on a ballot in the future. Certainly how things turn out in Fort Collins will be considered in other communities around the state. After 4 months on our community broadband I'm still fighting with Comcast over bills and charges.


Yeah I am in FC and I wish Boulder and Denver well, but it will be a hard fight Comcast owns the city of Denver and most of its metro. Through influence and legislature that is all in their favor. As well as being a HUGE employer in the state.

My only gripe is I really wish they would roll the FC Connexion to my neighborhood in midtown now lol


Can help a lot with the tax bases too. I know my municipal ISP just dumped $17 million into the municipal tax base of a city of just over a 100 thousand. They also pay well. So that's money that is not being taxed.


What your city did sounds great, and I hope it will be similarly done in other places as well.

I think ideally the city should allow for other ISPs to lease these lines (of course at price that would cover the cost of maintaining them) and still providing option to be one of those ISPs. This would lower the barrier to enter for other ISPs and perhaps further lower the price.

I only hope that your city won't end up selling the infrastructure to someone in the future, because that will of course kill the whole effort.

I believe the key to solve our ISP problems is unbundling the local loop. The bill that congress wants to pass to fix Internet will be a failure, unless the money is meant for local governments to do the same your city did.


If providers would take the money they'd normally fight municipal broadband with and instead fight for access to the "last mile" they'd come out way ahead - offload a cost center to the municipality, get better access and speed, and be able to differentiate on services.


They would, but so would their competitors. Comcast and Spectrum have currently a great position, because cost to enter the market for anyone else is so high. Not even Google with their "unlimited" amount of money was able to get through it. It's crazy that currently the only way to enter the market is to deploy thousands of satellites (like Starlink) and once Starlink becomes a competitor to current ISPs other competitors won't be able to follow them.

This situation can't be solved without changing laws and local governments.


Counterpoint: a nearby city wanted to provide municipal broadband. Mayor, city council, majority of the public seemed on-board. The city realized they knew nothing about running an ISP, so they hired some consultants, who hooked them up with another contractor to build out and run it. Some time passed, nothing happened, the contractor went bankrupt. Every cent of tax money spent amounted to nothing. The big ISPs (Comcast and ATT) continued to operate and expand their services, which are better than they've ever been (which is not to claim it couldn't be better, but more people have broadband now than they did before).


Gather around, this is good.

How I sued Spectrum California for $1800...

So my internet had rolling outages for weeks and Spectrum wouldnt do anything. So they sent a technician to my house. Three consecutive days, scheduled appointment, no one showed, or called (other than the automated attendant. This is important later). I was furious. I was talking to my father who did a bit of law school and he shared that California has a $600 a day no show penalty for companies with 25 or more employees.

https://legalbeagle.com/7272842-service-noshow-penalty-calif...

So I file small claims for the full 1800. I show up and theyve sent a person who professionally goes to court to fight these things. It also became clear the they use the auto dialer follow up to negate the "no call" portion of the "No show/now call" law. They've got it down to a science.

So dejected by their treachery, I try a last second hail mary by asking the judge if I can speak to the court. I tell him "I am you, you, you (pointing at him and the people sitting in court), this company dosent care about providing the service they promised, theyd rather spend that money hiring henchmen to beat the consumer laws on a technicality. Their largest investment is in extraction, not service. Im just a guy who wanted his internet and to go back to work. If my experience hits home at all please, hold them accountable."

Lonnnnng silence and the little Spectrum rat is visibly smiling. The judge starts to speak "Mr Cereal, I personally empathize with companies not respecting my time. Its so frusteratinfg" The whole court audibly gasps, this judge is gonna stick them. Judge flustered "Wellll, I dont mean Specturm specifically. That said, I find fully in favor of Mr Cereal and order a full judgement."

Ive sold two companies for 9 figures in my life. I have never ever ever seen my jewish father as proud of me as when I called him and told him what happened. I got a check two weeks later.

tldr: ISPs are evil, but you can get them if they dont show. Also, your dad will be proud.


It sounds like a story but I'll give the benefit of the doubt if only because I so want to believe.


What part? Its a law on the books and it all went down at the Stanley Mosk courthouse on the third floor. I was also late to roll call and I had to take a Bird scooter a quarter-mile from Chinatown because parking at the court is like $40/day.


If you sold two companies for 9 figures why are you concerned about paying $40 for parking?


As bizarre as it may seem, there is an overlap between these two sets of people that is non-trivial.


I think the better question is closer to why did I choose to endure building two companies. The answer is closer to having unreasonable principals about random stuff )and being abnormally competitive), which directly answers your question.

You're my hero. I'm not your jewish father, but I'm still proud of you.


This made my day. I don't even care if it's made up, I choose to believe this happened.


I was half expecting the lawyer to no-show as well, but of course they finally show up when it's their money on the line.


It's nuts. I used to live in a major city, 10 minutes from downtown, and the only high speed internet I could get was Spectrum cable internet. I recently moved to a rural, mountain area in the same state and there is a small ISP that provides fiber to the entire county. They even have good pricing.


> It would have been cheaper for them too....

Can some enlighten me, why did they not do it? For those of us outside US, we never quite grasp why US mobile network and ISP are so bad. All while refusing to do any improvement.

Not only are they bad, they are ridiculously expensive. ( and healthcare... but we wont go into that. )


It's more profitable to collect $70 a month and not do upgrades than to do $500 per household Capex expenditures and then collect $70 a month.


And if they do it in city A, then city B down the road is going to start demanding the same treatment.


Well yes. But I assume they would react once or even before competition like municipal broadband is available . Except from reading this doesn't seems to be the case at all.


Aside from not wanting to have to upgrade everyone, Comcast has a vested interest in keeping television relevant, which means keeping internet worse.

At the moment I'm usually fine with my 200Mbps download speeds from Spectrum, but man am I jealous of those upload speeds and that price. I'm looking to move soon, and municipal fiber is definitely on the list of things that could get me to pick one area over another. It's not only a great deal on an essential service, but gives me a bit more confidence in the local government and the citizens that voted for it.


Capitalism is wildly inefficient for infrastructure, and it’s really frustrating how often we have to relearn this as a society. There’s a damn good reason why the city owns the pipes that bring water to and sewage from your house, and why the power lines are owned by a heavily regulated monopoly. The physical infrastructure to run internet to everyone’s homes should be owned by the state and responsive to the citizens it serves and not the shareholders who profit.


What makes cable companies different from, say, a duopoly in mobile phone operating systems?


The whole concept of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_market requires being able to purchase interchangeable goods on the global market.

Yet, you cannot buy a service like broadband or sewage, put it in a box and sell it to someone living in another continent.

Location-bound services usually become quasi-monopolies, where free market does not apply. The quasi-monopolist is able (and happy) to charge the maximum price that people can pay.


Land usage, mostly.

Cell companies need space for towers and fiber to those antennas. It turns out that these don’t take up all that much space, so it’s trivially possible for multiple cell phone companies to setup towers covering the same customers.

Cable companies however have to deal with the “last mile” problem, which is both massively more expensive than installing more centralized infrastructure, but also involves installing infrastructure on much more restricted areas.


@amelius asked about phone operating systems. But your comment is a very good point about mobile phones vs home internet.


Isn’t there a spectrum license/conflict issue for mobile network operators?


Absolutely, that’s part of why T-Mobile and Sprint joined together. But there’s enough spectrum available to run a few different cell phone companies, while last mile issues are pretty much permanent for cable companies.


There may be a duopoly, but I can still get what I want with jailbreaking or rooting (although that is getting harder over time). With ISPs, if they both suck, I’m SOL.


This is like saying that you can get away from your ISP monopoly by using your neighbors' WiFi.


The general response would be that, because of barriers to entry and economies of scale, the optimal number of firms in some industries is 1, and thus that firm should be regulated or run by the government in order to prevent it from exploiting its immense market power.


Even famous libertarians like Hayek agree that infrastructure is a necessary duty of the government. To me, it's the plate on which the free market rests and operates. It is the wiring of the market itself.


This is just competition. Nothing anti-market about that


I think regulatory capture is one of the most profitable loopholes in capitalism and I don't think there are adequate checks and balances.

I wish there was a better way to regulate internet service that wasn't subject to these kinds of shenanigans.

I suspect long-term it is competition that ends up fixing this, but think of the drag on the economy when good communication is fouled up like this.


Capitalism isn't at fault here; spineless municipal governments are. Since the federal government is also spineless, it's refreshing to see some starting to wake up to the hellscape that is our Internet infrastructure.


It's not even capitalism to begin with. It's corporate socialism. Where you have companies actively using the government to secure their own payday. If a company has millions and utter millions to throw at not having to compete..

That being said, I agree that natural monopolies should be considered an issue for the state.


Is it cheaper to run fiber to houses than to hang WiFi off telephone poles? I know WiFi isn't as good as a hard connection, but running cables sounds really expensive and cumbersome.


The parent is talking about Fort Collins, which decades ago went to almost entirely underground utilities. Partly for aesthetics, partly because of all of the lovely old trees in the downtown area which kept taking utilities out.

There are some poles around, but most of the city is underground. So in this instance, yes, it was cheaper to run the fiber than to run the fiber AND set up poles. :-)


WiFi is really poor as a last mile technology.


What about as a last 100 meter technology? (I'm sorry, I'm not being glib. I don't know much about networking at that level.)


WiFi is really bad at anything but in home connectivity.


Is this Fort Collins, CO? :)


A little anecdote about municipal broadband in Sweden. Normally it's great and I love it. The ones I've seen have been run by the municipal real estate owner. They're the ones who build apartment buildings in a certain municipality but they're sometimes half privately owned.

In my current hometown they branched off a separate private company to manage the broadband.

Anyways, in a little town where I lived, a street of about 6-7 apartment buildings banded together and contacted Telia first about digging fiber to their buildings.

Telia gave them a disgusting deal which would have restricted all the tenants to the Telia ISP. They've done this before even in bigger cities where they sign a deal with one real estate company so all their buildings only have Telia.

My SO at the time actually worked for Telia but she was a clever girl because she realized you could go directly to the municipal broadband and have them dig the fiber. That way all the tenants could choose from any ISP in the country and not be restricted to just Telia.

This even raises the desirability of the building for young people who favour Bahnhof as ISP for example.


A lot of the apartment complexes here on the U.S. have started doing these exclusivity deals with an ISP so you can only buy from one, even if more options exist in your market. The real estate owners make money off it.


At least in my experience being close to the multifamily industry, Google Fiber offers installing 1gig for free in the apartments but explicitly lays out that there are no provisions against installing another internet provider (besides something along the lines of 'you cant allow another ISP to install if they have an exclusivity agreement themselves'). Spectrum is the big culprit in this; while the one I was involved in didn't have an actual exclusivity agreement, they did have an exclusive advertising agreement where you couldn't mention competing ISPs to prospects or in marketing material.

I just want to add some more information about this.

First of all, even if municipal broadband in different forms are very common here in Sweden, its not the only option. There are some areas of cities or certain estate owners that have deals with ISPs where they install the fiber and have exclusive right to sell broadband services. This can happen in cities with municipal broadband, so different areas of a city can have different providers.

The most common form of municipal broadband here is that the company that manages the water and electricity in the city (a company owned by the city but are run to make a profit) also installs fiber cables (is a network operator). They are going to dig up streets anyway, right? I have never seen a fiber cable above ground in my life here. They manage the cables and install switches etc to get the signal from the customers home to a central location in the city where it can be handed over to the ISPs. The company is not an ISP and does not sell any services in the network, but they allow any ISP that want to sell services with their infrastructure to do so. More and more this is done by standardized APIs (since one ISP can sell services within many different fiber networks), but also more manually with web portals for smaller companies or for troubleshooting etc. The ISP usually pays the network operator for number of subscriptions and/or changes done (connections/disconnections etc). The ISP can then sell services to customers and compete with the others both on price but also on how good their support, bundles etc are. That means that in a medium sized city (for Sweden at least... ~150k residents in my hometowns municipality) there can be up to 20 different ISPs that you can choose between and compare in a portal. All with the same cables and one ethernet jack in the apartments (or a fiber box in houses). Any ISP can deliver the service within a few minutes. So while the municipality has a hand in the fiber market they are not a competitor to the private companies, they simply enable the ISPs to compete in an open market to the benefit to the customers. The same model is used for electricity aswell. One fee goes to the municipal company that manages the physical infrastrcuture and the electricity meters while the cost of the actual electricity used go to the private company you have a contract with. This is the Open Acces Network model and is very common here in Sweden. There are also open networks operated by private companies. For example both Telia (which is both a network operator and a big ISP, previously state owned now privateized) and Telenor (the same deal but from Norway) operate both open networks and "closed" networks (where they have a monopoly).

There is also another, less common, model where the municipality has created a separate company that places physical fiber cables under the streets but does not offer an active network (dark fiber). This model is used by Stokab in Stockholm and was in part created to prevent too many distruptions by private companies constantly digging up the streets. Then all ISPs can rent fiber on equal terms.

tl;dr: Fiber cables are in many places in Sweden handled like a utility and private ISPs can all use them to sell their services to customers on equal terms which create competition that is great for the end user.


In Germany, there is a clear pattern:

- a community (often, but not always, rural) pleads one of our big ISPs (almost always deutsche Telekom, since we gifted our tax-funded telephone network to them) to provide better service (or service at all)

- dt. Telekom laughs in their faces and tells them to screw off

- the community gets together and finances building a network of their own, sometimes even involving locals to dig the trenches for the fibers. They calculate with a sharp pencil and need customers to break even.

- dt. Telekom notices this and quickly deploys their own network, steamrolling the new local ISP with their big marketing budget and brand name

- the small local ISP goes bankrupt, city initiatives stop etc.

And to add insult to injury, dt. Telekom then uses it's customers as leverage to bully content providers into crappy peering deals. They're also guzzling tax money by the millions in public-private partnerships all while screwing the public over.


At least your monopoly responds to threats by providing the service they monopolize.

In the US, step 4 becomes "pass a law banning muni efforts and lie about existing coverage", and local communities keep the same crappy, expensive service.


It's been that way in WA State for like 20 years... and will hopefully soon end once the Governor signs into law one of the two passed bills recently discussed.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26803426

(The better but not perfect 1336) https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1336&Initiativ...

(The grand standing and barely a bone to the consumer 5383) https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5383&Year=2021...


>At least your monopoly responds to threats by providing the service they monopolize.

True but the grass isn't really greener, Germany lags behind the US in average broadband speeds, mean and median for both directions.


Telekom is utilizing the German law system and companies in the USA are doing the same.


There's a municipal ISP in Chattanooga, TN that offers their residents gigabit internet at ~$68 per month. They even offer 10 gigabit internet (symmetrical) to the home. These offerings blow the major ISPs out of the water, and even in some cases are on par with Google Fiber (at a cheaper price).

The way the system is now, most areas/communities are only served by a single ISP. In the past 5 years of moving in the city, I have only had the choice of selecting Spectrum.


What are the financials behind this? I only ask because it’s pretty damned expensive to build a network and then do the O&M. $68/mo sounds like very old broadband prices that were subsidized by revenue from other channels (bundling). Does $68 get the city to a break even or is this running at a loss? Not criticizing, just curious how that pencils out - what true cost is.


IIRC they ran fiber with the power lines in order to enable a smart grid. They realized they had so much spare bandwidth that they could sell internet service. Basically everyone with a power connection to EPB can get fiber internet?

Brilliant move. I'm considering Chattanooga as a retirement location. Lots of outdoor recreation, no state taxes and I can supposedly get fiber internet anywhere I can get connected to the power grid? Sign me up!


Wouldn't it make more sense to retire in a place with higher taxes and more services, since your income will probably decline as you stop working and begin living off your savings?

You could be right. I've never seen a good comparison of services offered in one place or another. One other consideration is that I'd probably be doing a roth conversion ladder of my 401k so I'd owe state taxes there, but yes, it would be a fraction of my current income.

Sonic sells gigabit for $40/month if you're lucky enough to live somewhere they're allowed to get pole access.

My city provides me clean water, treats my sewage, and picks up my trash. They seem to do a pretty good job at it, I would be fine if they provided Internet service too.


My city does that too - for $120/month. At that rate well and septic would be paid off in 10 years, and they typically last much longer with minimal maintenance. (the bill is itemized, so trash is about $12/month - same as what is was at my old rural house even though the trash pickup has a lot more density)


just a reminder that the supreme court sided with Verizon, overturning the requirements that incumbent local exchange carriers (ilecs) offer unbundled loop elements for fiber. the fcc updated their rules in 2003. up till then, the 1996 telecommunications act was in effect, and fiber & telephony lines, even if owned by one company, could be leased at wholesale rates by competitors. so now, if someone wants to compete, they have to dig their own lines, or ongoingly & unregulatedly find a way to lease lines.

verizon made this problem. they told the court, we need a monopoly on our infrastructure or we will not do this. 20 years latter & there has been a massive slow down in roll out, rates have been stagnant & high, & municipalities are left doing what the supreme court dismantled: creating competitve offerings.

i feel like at some point this may need to be revisited. alas, the most likely way it'll get revisited is municipal isps disaggregating, becoming local providers, but allowing competitor exchanges to lease their local loop elements. muni fiber, but a number of different isps. which is what we ought to have had, but with less rules of the road & more string things together.


I remember some other HN user who started their own Fiber ISP and did a "show HN" a couple of years back. It was super insightful how they started as a moonshot project for their own benefit and the one of their community. Forgot your username (and even searching I couldn't find the specific thread) but if for some reason you read this I hope you're still successful!



Cynical me: oh, so now there are 4 municipal broadband ISPs?

I'm sure it's more than that, of course. I am glad to see the numbers growing. I, for one, am damn tired of the "options" I have around me. >$50/mo for 50/5 Comcast or ~$40/mo for 1.5/0.5 with centrylink DSL. Its all garbage and we gave them billions to not do this...


Is there a link anywhere to the actual study this post references?

I was surprised to read that there were over 100 cities in the U.S. offering municipal broadband as of 3 years ago and even more surprised to read there now would be 560 cities offering municipal broadband. I know there are at least 18 states that restrict cities from creating municipal broadband networks[1]. Does anyone know if there's a comprehensive list of municipal broadband offerings? This lists a lot of municipal broadband providers but it's nowhere near even the 100 quotes from 3 years ago:

https://www.allconnect.com/blog/cities-with-cheap-high-speed...

[1] https://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadbloc...


This is a little OT since the article is about the US, but I'd really like to see how feasible it would be to build a community ISP for the town I live in in the UK (Scotland).

FTTC has only recently reached my town, and availability is still patchy. Knowing BT, it will be another decade before the whole town has the option.

And upload speeds are still rubbish, and it's expensive too - the fastest deal BT will provide is 900/100 (although they only guarantee 450 down), and it's £60/m (~$83), and you have to take a 2 year contract, and the price rises by 3.9% a year during the contract!

There have been smaller, full-fibre ISPs popping up all over England, offering much better packages than BT as half the price.

Anyone have any information about getting started with something like this? If it makes a difference, it's for a small, rural town, population 10-15k.


Do you mean FTTP not FTTC? 900/100 isn't bad for £60/month imo. Do you actually need 900 down? I used to have 1000/1000 from hyperoptic in London but switched down to 150/150 as virtually nothing on the internet supports or needs higher speeds once you get bored of running speedtests for the fun of it. The only thing that can use it is large xbox game downloads, but even at 150 most are done in 10-20 minutes, and over wifi you struggle to push more than that throw a couple walls anyway.

Other providers offer Openreach FTTH btw - not just BT.


> Do you actually need 900 down? I used to have 1000/1000 from hyperoptic in London but switched down to 150/150 as virtually nothing on the internet supports or needs higher speeds once you get bored of running speedtests for the fun of it.

I'd argue that symmetric links at 1000/1000 are actually incredibly important.

The lack of decent upload speeds has created the enormous centralization of services that we see today.

If most folks had gigabit (or more) upload capacity, decentralization would become a viable solution to the enormous centralization of content, data and services.

There are a variety of tools that allow folks to self-host their content and many more would appear if there was widespread implementation of symmetric (multi-)gigabit ISP connections.

If there were the ability to stream your puppy videos from your home internet connection to dozens of friends/family, what do you need Facebook, Instagram, etc. for?

That's why high-speed symmetric connections are important.


I meant FTTP; I've been on FTTC for several years, 80/20, for £26/m. I realise there are others selling Openreach products, but prices are similar or higher, and still I don't see any products with a high upload speed.

I don't really need 900 down, but I've really like higher upload speeds. Regardless, I'd like me and others to have the option. Really, I'm just so sick of how slowly the UK's fibre rollout has been - glacial! It's really encouraging to see the various smaller English ISPs (like HyperOptic) building their own network and offering symmetric products at half the price of OpenReach, but I realise the economics are unlikely to make sense for small towns. I also realise that burying fibre without any existing ducting is going to be very expensive. Still, I'm interested to find out what would be involved, or if there are non-fibre options - not with the aim of profit, just providing more options for local people and businesses.


Well, the UKs priority has been getting FTTC to as many people as possible. Which has worked IMO. I would much prefer 99% FTTC coverage like the UK has with 20% FTTP in 2021, vs many other countries which have higher FTTP with ADSL everywhere else (I'm aware there are exceptions to that rule). 80/20 is more than usable these days, 10/1 ADSL isn't. You've got to remember that nearly 60% of people have VM so can get gigabit down (but pretty poor upload as you said).

The best alternative is 4G/5G btw. Can easily get 500mbit/sec up on 5G on vodafones £60 plan if you can get 5G from them.


You can start your own community ISP if you can sign up enough neighbors.

However, it’ll take years to build out and they payback will be far longer than two years.

There’s even funding to be had, but it’s no small undertaking.

Hit me up by email if you want more information. Contact in profile.


Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: