Lawsuits of the week: Comcast appeals FCC ruling, telco sues town for installing fiber

You didn’t really think Comcast would roll over and obey the FCC’s ruling forbidding them from blocking P2P applications, did you? Comcast rallied its legal troops and filed an appeal, which landed in the D.C. Circuit (whose reputation is pro-industry, anti-regulation). The Media Access Project has filed a petition asking the federal court to get the FCC to order Comcast to stop blocking P2P applications immediately. Let’s see what happens next.

In the meantime, the forces against municipal broadband are at it again. TDS Telecom has sued Monticello, Minnesota (pop. 8000) to stop the town from deploying its own fiber network, which the town wants to open to ISPs. TDS claims it is trying to “save” the residents of Monticello from wasting taxpayer money (how thoughtful), but really, like all telecom operators, they are doing what is in their own best interest: preventing competition. Indeed, the Monticello fiber network is good for ISPs. They don’t need to spend millions of dollars on fiber infrastructure. They can simply buy wholesale access from the town and deliver service to their customers. Of course, that would mean they need to compete on price and service quality. In the end, Internet service becomes a commodity especially in a market where there’s very little to distinguish one provider from another.

As for the argument that municipalities can’t build or run fiber networks: actually they don’t. They hire private companies to lay down the fiber and to operate the networks. The city of Amsterdam is one of the partners in a FTTH project called Citynet designed to bring high-speed broadband (real high-speed broadband). The consortium has hired private companies to build and operate the network, which is open to all ISPs. Of course, the telecom and cable incumbents in the Netherlands complained about the network and tried to stop it. But they did not succeed. Last week, Citynet conducted a trial of 1 Gigabit per second residential broadband service. This is progress.


  1. 1Gbps sounds nice, but currently nobody offers content that would demand that performance, except downloads. even HD-VOD works well with 20Mbps!
    what are the upload speeds though?

  2. They are planning symmetrical upload speeds. Usually with FTTH offerings, it’s symmetrical.

  3. verizon offers “FiOS” in our neighborhood (90401) as 10/2, 20/5, 20/20, 50/20 … not really symmetrical but sufficient … but too costly:
    the 50/20 costs $140 a month

  4. The need for bandwidth to my way of thinking is an ‘eye of the beholder’ thing. For my tastes, I find that I need as much as I can get. Let me give two examples of what I see happening soon. One that I’m dealing with now and the other, hopefully coming soon.

    I’m a DirecTV customer. They’ve taken a somewhat unique approach to offering VOD. They have their customers provide an Internet connection and all of the VOD content comes to the customer from DirecTV over that pipe. DirecTV doesn’t use their satellite infrastructure to deliver the content. So this means that the faster your Net connection, the sooner you get your VOD content. Most people don’t like to wait, so just maybe that will spur them to pay the price for faster Net connections.

    I’m part the DirecTV beta testing group and we get new firmware loads for our DVRs just about every week. We currently are testing out downloading HD content encoded as 1080p. These are large files that take a long time to download, again this being dependent upon the speed of your pipe. When DirecTV rolls this out nationwide and makes more 1080p content available via VOD, you can see where this is all going to go. The bandwidth demands on the telco and cableco Net infrastructures is going to go thru the roof!

    Now Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of Dreamworks is talking about the rollout of 3D HD to theaters: , coupled with the possibility that the gaming industry will be the first to bring that technology into the home. Its not hard to project what the bandwidth requirements will be for such content. So it seems to me that the need for 1 Gbps to the home, kinda soon now, is not that farfetched.