Marion County cities call for broadband extension | Times Free Press: Telecommunications providers such as Comcast and AT&T have lined up solidly against allowing municipal providers to expand. They say it's unfair for government-owned services to compete against private industry.Comcast and AT&T would have a valid complaint if telecommunications infrastructure was a competitive market. Their problem is it's not. It functions as a natural monopoly due to high cost barriers to entry that keep private competitors out. Natural monopolies lend themselves to direct government provision of services (such as as highways) or government granted franchises such as the old Bell Telephone system and local cable franchises. If AT&T and Comcast want to compete, they should get into the grocery, airline or automobile industries.