Is Iowa the telecom battleground?

Iowa may be the new battleground for broadband. Successful projects like the Cedar Falls fiber system and the statewide Opportunity Iowa project has shifted the battle from Louisiana, where the phone and cable companies lost a battle against the city of Lafayette.

The most interesting thing in the article is the arrogant attitude of the president of Quest:

Max Phillips, Iowa president of Qwest Communications International Inc., said the interests pushing the community fiber programs are misguided because people should focus on the speed and quality of service, not the medium that carries it.

"They propose building a four-lane highway to every home in town," Phillips said, "when what they really need is a sidewalk."

Actually, towns and cities should be focused on the medium, and let the private sector offer a variety of services with varying levels of quality and service. By providing a communitywide transport medium, Qwest's monopoly status is broken, and that's what Qwest really hates.

Even more telling is the remark that citizens deserve nothing more than sidewalks. That's a nice sound bite, but the communities of Iowa are in an economic development battle with whole countries that are building "four lane highways" to homes and businesses.

What Qwest has decided is that the communities of Iowa should have sub-standard, noncompetitive broadband services so that Qwest can preserve its monopoly status. Let's hope the citizens of Iowa educate their lawmakers about the wrongheadedness of this approach.

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