December 9, 2022

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U.S. Utilities Are Poised To Disrupt Telecom Monopolies Thanks To Biden COVID Relief & Infrastructure Bills

U.S. Utilities Are Poised To Disrupt Telecom Monopolies Thanks To Biden COVID Relief & Infrastructure Bills

from the a-small-one thing-identified as-real-opposition dept

As mentioned previously, I have acquired some blended feelings on the Biden COVID relief and infrastructure bills’ program to throw far more than $50 billion pounds at U.S. broadband. Mostly mainly because we nevertheless have not mapped U.S. broadband correctly (this means we really don’t know the place funds should be prioritized), and the U.S. has a abundant heritage of failing to law enforcement subsidy fraud by the nation’s most important telecom monopolies.

U.S. regulators and lawmakers generally never spend ample time attacking (or, frequently, even acknowledging) the real bring about of shitty U.S. broadband: monopolization and the rampant condition and federal corruption that guards it. In component mainly because all those monopolies are bone-grafted to our initial responder networks and intelligence accumulating, generating them technically part of the govt.

At the exact time, I have spent considerably of 2022 specifically speaking to dozens of cities, utilities, cooperatives, and modest ISPs that are heading to immensely reward from what they are contacting a when-in-a-life time infusion of broadband funding.

In Tennessee, for example, the state just acquired finished doling out $446 million in grants thanks to the Tennessee Unexpected emergency Broadband Fund, alone only built feasible owing to the American Rescue Approach Act. And even with this remaining Tennessee, a point out that’s no stranger to kissing AT&T’s ass, additional than half of the funds doled out went to cooperatives and local metropolis-owned utilities keen on growing broadband accessibility:

The Tennessee Section of Financial and Community Advancement (TNECD) awarded $446.8 million to 36 candidates, who are now tasked with deploying enhanced broadband service to 150,000 unserved households and corporations throughout 58 Tennessee counties. All informed, TNECD mentioned that 218 applicants used for a overall of $1.2 billion in broadband funding.

Many utilities are previously paying out big bucks to enhance their internal smart metering and infrastructure making use of fiber. It’s just a skip and a soar to grow accessibility to these fiber networks to the typical public, and the massive infusion of grant funds is encouraging to make the final decision considerably less difficult.

Which is not wonderful news if you are a regional telecom big like AT&T and Comcast, keen on safeguarding your longstanding regional monopoly. Both equally providers even went so significantly as to obtain a Tennessee condition legislation that prohibits utilities from increasing broadband over and above their present utility footprints, lest providers like AT&T experience one thing vaguely resembling broadband competitiveness.

Even that did not quit the results of city-backed utilities like Chattanooga’s EPB, which routinely wins awards for providing fiber broadband which is a great deal quicker and a great deal less costly than everything provided by regional incumbent telecom monopolies. Numerous utilities that acquired this hottest round of funding were motivated by EPB’s achievements, and the nationwide accolades the service has acquired.

All over again, this is occurring in Tennessee, a state in which giants like AT&T have extended enjoyed a sound political stranglehold in excess of the condition legislature and what passes for point out shopper safety regulators. And it is going on regardless of the GOP’s venomous opposition to any municipal-based mostly broadband options, and popular opposition to both equally the infrastructure and COVID relief expenses.

Once again, the trouble arrives in creating guaranteed this money is basically getting expended on what these corporations, utilities, and cooperatives are promising they’ll invest it on. And which is hard when broadband maps suck, what stays of your point out regulatory apparatus has been hijacked by telecom giants keen on ripping off taxpayers, and the FCC’s voting majority has been hijacked by telecom lobbyists.

However, if these utility-backed attempts can have any where shut to the impression we’ve presently noticed from utilities like EPB, it’s challenging to not see the potential disruption as predominantly favourable. Primarily because this isn’t just going on in Tennessee — it is happening in most of the states in the nation.

Make guaranteed to browse our recent Techdirt and Copia report on how cooperatives, utilities, and municipally run open entry fiber networks are a crucial path towards eventually breaking the longstanding telecom monopoly dominance which is remaining U.S. broadband an high-priced, mediocre mess for the improved component of the last 30 yrs.

Filed Underneath: broadband, broadband policy, level of competition, cooperatives, electronic divide, high velocity web, regulation, telecom, utilities