Community fiber needs owners

Fred Pilot makes an excellent observation in his excellent blog: he says that getting fiber to homes and businesses requires a change in attitude on the part of those homeowners and businesses--a shift away from passively accepting whatever an incumbent monopoly provider offers and moving to an ownership attitude. Fred talks specifically about using a coop structure, but the point is appropriate for any community-owned network governance structure, as ultimately, the residents and businesses of the community end up taking control of their own economic destiny by building a community-owned network business.

Taking control of a community's economic future requires work--more work than just quietly paying the cable or DSL bill every month and fuming over the high cost and the poor service. It means some community leaders have to learn new skills and take on the work of managing a new kind of community infrastructure. But most communities can do this; the world's best fiber network can be built in any community for far less than the cost of putting in a public water and sewer system. Communities routinely borrow tens of millions for water and sewer and successfully manage those complex systems and pay back the debt. This is still America, and we still have the ability and know how to have the world's best infrastructure. The real question is why are so many communities willing to accept third world telecom services?

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