Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Obama administration seeks public option for Internet infrastructure - The Washington Post

Obama wants to help make your Internet faster and cheaper. This is his plan. - The Washington Post: Frustrated over the number of Internet providers that are available to you? If so, you're like many who are limited to just a handful of broadband companies. But now President Obama wants to change that, arguing that choice and competition are lacking in the U.S. broadband market. On Wednesday, Obama will unveil a series of measures aimed at making high-speed Web connections cheaper and more widely available to millions of Americans. The announcement will focus chiefly on efforts by cities to build their own alternatives to major Internet providers such as Comcast, Verizon or AT&T — a public option for Internet access, you could say.

The public option is certainly needed given Internet telecommunications infrastructure is to the 21st century what roads and highways were to the 20th. Relying totally on commercial, investor-owned providers won't build that needed infrastructure. There simply isn't enough investment capital to get it done. And to get the choice and competition for Internet services the administration seeks, that infrastructure must be open access fiber to the premise, selling access on a wholesale basis to service providers who compete to offer services to businesses and consumers.

Like building the highways of the 20th century, that infrastructure won't come cheap. For the public option to become a reality rather than aspirational rhetoric, it will have to be backed with billions of dollars in funding to help regions of the United States build fiber to the premise Internet infrastructure on a par with telephone lines in the last century that served all Americans no matter where they made their homes or operated a business.

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