I think it’s worth trying to break the conversation out of its current polarization.
It’s either all Title 2, Internet as a Utility, or it’s our current system with light regulation federally, but locally/state granted monopolies, no discussions about anything between.
The current system isn’t perfect, there’s flaws in that competition has largely vanished in many places in the country, but in those areas there may be better solutions than just Title 2 Fascism.
Here’s the spectrum I see..
- IaaU, Internet as a Utility. Two sub-branches.
- IaaU Public option. So many people want this, local governments setup municipal broadband. I imagine they’ll subsidize it. If they do it well, it’ll collapse the competition. If they do it poorly, it might collapse the competition and leave their city with barely working internet.
- IaaU, the Title 2 world that so many on the net keep arguing for. I think this would be a disaster of stagnation. This is what is probably better referred to Title 2 Fascism. Private ownership, government control.
- PTaaU. Packet transfer as a utility. This is kind of how DSL works. The phone company transports your packets on their private network to a data center, where you purchase an account to transit those packets to the internet. Now, most DSL customers get their line and internet from the same company, but the option is there to go with someone else. Speakeasy was one internet company that served as a pure internet transit provider for dsl customers.
- FaaU. Fiber as a Utility. This would be the slightly less terrible version of public internet. The government installs a 8-12 fiber bundle to everyone’s houses and maintains that back to vaults or exchanges. The companies then run their links out to the exchanges and link up a pair or two of the fiber lines to their services. Each house could access internet, TV, phone, or any other potential services that could come up in the future that we aren’t predicting yet. I really want everyone who is supporting municipal broadband to look into this option instead. It’s a lot of the same costs, but without as much ability for the local governments to ruin it through neglect, and it enhances competition.
- CaaU, Conduit (under-road, under sidewalk, etc) as a utility. This is the Dig Once idea that a few states have implemented. There are pathways underneath the city that are publicly owned that companies can rent out to run their cables through, eliminating a large percentage of the cost of building out internet infrastructure. This is more expensive to new entrants than FaaU, but less impacted by the (in)competence of government.
- Current System, Lightly regulated federally, heavily meddled with state/locally. All infrastructure owned by corporations, new entrants are (not) allowed by the local governments.
- Fully free system. Anyone can run cables anywhere, very light regulation. This is not what we have.