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Susan Crawford Solves America’s Universal Broadband Problems With Policy Changes

Susan Crawford, President Barack Obama’s former Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy has the solution for America’s lack of universal broadband, and she solves it in just four Tweets:

  • Step 1 gives private companies the push they need to get rural broadband financing within their existing Return on Investment formulas by reducing capital costs for unserved areas;
  • Step 2 stops the corporate welfare legislation that protects the incumbent duopoly from publicly-owned competition that can ignore Wall Street’s insistence that more competition = fat profit erosion;
  • Step 3 gives the ISPs access to public land and infrastructure either at no or low cost in return for recognizing they are benefiting from that taxpayer-owned infrastructure, so they better not abuse the privilege;
  • Step 4 makes ISPs common carriers that have no financial interest in the content transported down broadband lines, thus no incentive to favor their own services while discriminating against others.

Whether such policies can withstand court challenges claiming violation of corporation free speech rights is, of course, another matter. But Crawford’s ideas create incentives for broadband providers to aggressively wire their respective service areas while avoiding monopolizing what travels down those broadband pipelines.

Currently there are 2 comments on this Article:

  1. txpatriot says:

    I guess we can quibble over the details but I think #4 should come first.

    If the FCC would simply reclassify the transport layer as a Title II service, I think the rest would follow. The key is applying that definition to both cable modem service as well as to telco copper & fiber loops.

    RUS is already doing #1; the problem is new FCC rules threaten the ability of rural telcos to repay those loans.

    I absolutely agree with #2 and #3. Unfortunately, many states (with heavy telco & cable lobbying) have already passed laws banning muni broadband networks. I say let the cities build their networks, but make them open to third-party ISPs (see #3). Then we’ll see if the telco & cable argument is correct that they can’t make money investing in high-capacity pipes if they don’t control the Internet service itself.

    I don’t know if most muni networks lock the customer in to a single ISP, but if they do, that lends credence to the telco/cable argument. If muni networks are open to third-party providers, that knocks the legs out from under the telco-cableco argument. We may learn that from the google KC experiment. Does anyone know if google’s fiber will be open? Or will google lock customers in to a single ISP?

    I usually disagree with everything Susan Crawford says but I find myself largely in agreement with this.

  2. Scott says:

    Step 5. AT&T, Verizon, and the Cable Co’s donate large sacks of campaign funds to Obama to make sure steps 1-4 never happen.

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