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Municipal fiber optic service

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Municipal fiber optic service

Postby daniel9 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:43 pm

Seeing as Madison was once again overlooked for Google Fiber (https://fiber.google.com/newcities/) - and after just seeing my Charter bill go from $100 to $150/mo overnight - I'm wondering why Madison has never had a debate about the merits of a city-run fiber optic data network.

The original Google Fiber proposal was estimated at $97 million. Madison has a AAA bond rating and would have no trouble raising this kind of cash, or repaying it with proceeds from monthly service fees. Grants would likely also be available for such an experiment. We have a political environment where a majority would likely support such an investment. And, businesses would flock here in droves to have such access; the economic benefit would be substantial.

So, why isn't anyone talking about this on the city level? It seems like a no-brainer.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby Mad Howler » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:24 am

daniel9,
You might want to consider legislation put in place that makes this difficult to achieve in our fair state.
Yeah, this fact seems to have evaded 99.5% of our collective attention.
So it goes.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby snoqueen » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:32 am

Back in the Cieslewicz era, Madison tried to set up its own citywide wireless network, didn't it? Parts of the infrastructure are still hanging on the electric poles on the east side. It never worked very well, and was overtaken by technological change before it ever got going. Does anyone use this any more?

The free public internet access arrangements that have turned out better include the public library's system. It was my understanding Walker tried to kill this off by privatizing it. A few Dane County towns had their own public internet for a while -- was Sun Prairie one? Whatever happened to that?

I know we have some library and tech people here who can remember and explain all this better than I can, so here's your cue.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby Huckleby » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:14 am

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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby rabble » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:15 am

snoqueen wrote:Back in the Cieslewicz era, Madison tried to set up its own citywide wireless network, didn't it? Parts of the infrastructure are still hanging on the electric poles on the east side. It never worked very well, and was overtaken by technological change before it ever got going. Does anyone use this any more?

It used to be a wireless network choice on my phone but I can't recall seeing it for a long time.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby sjresnick » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:34 am

Daniel9-

I'll share some thoughts - and I'll tell you that I am disappointed with the Google Fiber announcement.

It became clear to me sometime last summer that the City was not seriously committed to attract Google Fiber. Because of the University and our already strong fiber network (MUFN), I thought we'd still be a finalist. However, while other cities were continuing to pursue fiber expansion and work with Google, Madison stopped. Without going into too much detail, the last phone call I had with Google was in August and they ended it with: 'thanks for calling. If we're interested we'll call you back.'

Since then several alders have been exploring our own options. We've encouraged more private participants use MUFN. We created a digital technology committee to help direct city staff's priorities as they relate to fiber expansion. We also are doing experimental pilots in low income neighborhoods to provide free internet. Hopefully, we can leverage existing fiber networks and learn how to inexpensively expand in-home service. We are looking how to roll out other services like providing internet in more public places like parks and on buses, as well as lay additional fiber every year to cover schools and neighborhood centers.

The one thing Google representatives said repeatedly was that they were looking for cities who were trying to be innovative. I hope we can still move forward, but for now we'll need to do it without Google.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby sjresnick » Fri Feb 21, 2014 10:41 am

snoqueen wrote:Back in the Cieslewicz era, Madison tried to set up its own citywide wireless network, didn't it? Parts of the infrastructure are still hanging on the electric poles on the east side. It never worked very well, and was overtaken by technological change before it ever got going. Does anyone use this any more?

The free public internet access arrangements that have turned out better include the public library's system. It was my understanding Walker tried to kill this off by privatizing it. A few Dane County towns had their own public internet for a while -- was Sun Prairie one? Whatever happened to that?


Madcity Broadband was a public-private partnership under Mayor Dave. The infrastructure is still there, but the project was poorly executed by the out-of-state vendor. High maintenance costs and dated technology plagued the program.

Recently, Supranet in town bought the infrastructure and has been looking to revive some elements. Supranet is responsible for the free wifi now in the Dane County airport.

Cities have been investing in their own fiber network with significant returns (Chattanooga); however, the legislature banned Wisconsin cities from doing so in 2003. Dems and Republicans are both to blame for that one.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby daniel9 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 11:42 am

sjresnick:

Thanks for your responses.

Politically, is it possible to start talking about MUFN as the starting point for fiber to every home within the city limits... or do you not think it a good idea? It seems that the system has good coverage throughout the city, and that last-mile to every block is the core expense.

If the state bans public fiber in some manner, the only way to get that poor decision overturned is to speak loud and make a fuss. The argument can be made on purely market grounds that it's anti-competitive in the content/services market. In addition, if the city started planning a network, statewide media would bring attention to it.

As far as models for data services go, from a straight-forward reading, it is clear that it is preferable to break the link between content and access. The fact that Charter or AT&T are able to use bundling to jack up the rates of simple access to the internet is an abuse of their market control. A better model is for local governments to control the network (or perhaps a utility-style private monopoly), and for service providers to compete on a level playing field (no contractual monopoly) for phone, television, or other services over this open network.

In addition, as it's clear that no private entity is stepping up to develop fiber in Madison, it's hard to argue that the city shouldn't have the right to build its own network.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby green union terrace chair » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:23 pm

There IS a city-wide wifi network ... but it's for police only. If you ever see "MADPEO" pop up in your available wireless networks, that's where the cops are checking facebook.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby Huckleby » Fri Feb 21, 2014 12:49 pm

green union terrace chair wrote: that's where the cops are checking facebook.

also a lot of traffic to doughnut shops
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby Bwis53 » Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:04 pm

Some low income buildings have old wiring and ATT and Charter have told them they need to update their wiring. Who's going to pay for that?
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby snoqueen » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:34 pm

...as it's clear that no private entity is stepping up to develop fiber in Madison, it's hard to argue that the city shouldn't have the right to build its own network.


Just try, and listen to the free market guys squeal. This will never happen, even though the idea is totally sensible.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby Mad Howler » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:46 pm

sjresnick wrote:Cities have been investing in their own fiber network with significant returns (Chattanooga); however, the legislature banned Wisconsin cities from doing so in 2003. Dems and Republicans are both to blame for that one.


2003 was just a start & I do not care much care what political party advocates effectively for net neutrality. What I am pretty clear about is the big and biggering telecom players not giving a flying f'ck about anything other than profit and the subterfuge necessary to control it.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014 ... 20-states/

https://heartland.org/ideas/municipal-wi-fi

http://www.prwatch.org/news/2013/03/120 ... re-georgia
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby sjresnick » Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:19 pm

daniel9 wrote:sjresnick:

Thanks for your responses.

Politically, is it possible to start talking about MUFN as the starting point for fiber to every home within the city limits... or do you not think it a good idea? It seems that the system has good coverage throughout the city, and that last-mile to every block is the core expense.


Through private companies individuals can tap into MUFN, but it's expensive. ~$1,000/mon for 100 MBs up and down. That price will come down over time though.

One constituent recently wrote to me about creating a neighborhood fiber co-op. That idea might have some merit.
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Re: Municipal fiber optic service

Postby snoqueen » Sun Feb 23, 2014 5:22 pm

Is the idea to run fiber all the way to various individual living units in the neighborhood coop, or to put up a blanket of wifi to which households in the neighborhood coop could subscribe? Or what?

Might be easier to start with a small cooperative than have the city run it., both in terms of scale and politically.

Anything to get out from under this Charter-ATT duopoly we have now.
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