Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Multiple fiber connections in some regions while others stuck in 1990s highlights U.S. telecom infrastructure disparities

Google Fiber franchise coming up for vote

This story linked above illustrates the extreme degree of disparate access to modern fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure that is developing in the United States. As the story reports, Louisville Kentucky and environs could end up with as many as four companies building fiber to the premise telecommunications infrastructure (Google Fiber, AT&T, and two other smaller providers). This at the same time millions of American homes and small businesses are offered only dialup or first generation DSL while others make do with satellite, mobile and fixed wireless services not capable of meeting the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's Internet service standard for supporting high-quality voice, data, graphics and video.

The driver of this perverse situation is the winner take all ethic that's part and parcel of the predominant vertically integrated business model in which service providers own both the fiber connection to premises and the services delivered over it. Publicly-owned open access fiber infrastructure serving every premise offers a far more efficient model and isn't prone to customer churn and market failure. Only one fiber connection is necessary to deliver telecommunications services given the substantial carrying capacity of fiber.

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