October 16, 2004

The Politics of a San Francisco City Wide Broadband Study

Matt Smith:

As San Francisco boondoggles go, this $300,000 study -- and
who-knows-how-many-million-dollar fiber-laying project -- is a mere whisper in the wind. Yet it becomes more of a screaming fit in the library when one considers that Ammiano and his fellow supervisors are proposing we throw a tax fortune at the idea of providing better local telecom
options for consumers, when for the past six years they've advocated policies that ensure the grip of local monopolists SBC and Comcast on our digital information systems.

For reasons I'll explain, Ammiano's advocacy on behalf of small groups of neighborhood activists who believe, without evidence, that new cell-phone antennae harm their children's brains may have helped preserve SBC and Comcast control over San Francisco data and voice networks. Widespread
substitution of cell phones for local home lines represents one of the greatest threats to SBC's monopoly. New wireless broadband technology being implemented this year could threaten the dominance of Comcast and SBC over fast Internet access.

Yet Ammiano's anti-antenna campaign has made San Francisco cell service some of the worst in the world.

"If they would spend the same energy on encouraging new entrants into the local telecom market" as they have on city fiber optics, notes Daluvoy, the city Telecommunications Commission VP, "the economic benefit to the city would be tenfold."

Smith's article highlights the politics of true broadband. SBC is similarily entrenched in Wisconsin, both physically and politically. Our politicians need to move on from this legacy telco thinking and open up the publicly financed networks to true competition AND encourage FTTP (fiber to the premise or home).

Posted by James Zellmer at October 16, 2004 1:03 PM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Broadband