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.