A response to Dan Carson's op-ed opposing a city-owned broadband network
Pacifico's Naked Impacts on Neighbors

City Council needs forward thinking on broadband internet

My understanding is that the major question in front of the Council is whether to continue to pursue a municipally-owned broadband network.  The Broadband Advisory Task Force (BATF) says yes; staff says no.  I am here to support the BATF recommendation.

I was astonished to see Dan Carson's editorial in the Davis Enterprise. It would seem that he has already decided, in advance of today's staff presentation and  without hearing comment from the community and fellow Councilmembers that Davis should not control its own broadband network. I hope that he and other Councilmembers have an open mind on this. 

Everyone seems to agree that having municipally owned broadband would bring great benefits to the City, spurring economic development and small business, bringing in needed revenue, and provide fast internet to schools and low income households. Given that, you would think that this would be a no brainer. 

Yet Carson, following the staff report, worries about the costs. This seems to miss the point in multiple ways. To quote a recent article on the topic: 

“Cities invest in many facilities that are not designed to make a profit, from sports stadiums and convention centers to airports and museums. Cities are not indifferent to the economics of such projects, but the bottom line is not strictly enterprise solvency. Especially for infrastructure like broadband, the network effects and spillovers should contribute to the economic and social life of the community.” https://www.vice.com/amp/en_us/article/a3np4a/new-municipal-broadband-map

Furthermore, as things stand now we are at the mercy of a monopoly. As coincidence would have it, Comcast raised its prices just this month. My household is now paying almost $80 for high speed internet. Our only “alternative” is to “pay less by paying more,” that is, by getting our internet bundled with other services we don’t want and wouldn’t use. We live in Central Davis, yet AT&T cannot provide high speed bandwidth to our household. We are at Comcast's mercy. This is not forward thinking. 

Carson compared City owned broadband to the bullet train. A more accurate comparison would be SMUD, a lost opportunity for Davis to control its own electricity. 

Let’s not make that same mistake again. Let’s do what over 750 communities have done <https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2017/06/29/new-report-swings-and-misses-on-communities-and-next-generation-broadband/amp/> and control our own broadband network.  

Let’s be bold and act for the greater good of the community. 

Davisites, please come to City Council this evening and let the Council know that this issue is important to you. 

 

Comments

John Troidl

Love this segment of your article, Roberta: "Carson compared City owned broadband to the bullet train. A more accurate comparison would be SMUD, a lost opportunity for Davis to control its own electricity. "

Oh, sigh.... if we had SMUD......

Nancy Price

Thanks, Roberta. I just don’t understand Dan’s or the City’s position on this matter. Public/community ownership means democratic oversight, accountability, transparency, lower cost, and so much more.

Let ‘s be clear: The argument for local ownership and control goes beyond just the need for up-to-date highspeed band width for economic development.


Roberta L. Millstein

Good point, Nancy, thanks. I hope that comes out in the discussion tonight.

Matt Williams

I hope so many people show up tonight that we have a parking problem at City Hall! 8>)

Democracy in action.

Jim Frame

I appreciate Dan's concern about avoiding a fiscal sinkhole, but I believe there may be ways to accomplish the municipal broadband goal without unduly burdening City Hall or Davis taxpayers. Until we have thoroughly explored those possibilities, it's simply to soon to close the book on the project. Dan's exhortation to walk away from the concept is premature, and I hope his fellow Council members will take a different course of action.

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