Ken's Korner Newsletter Logo May 2021
Broadband As Infrastructure

Why we do NOT need broadband to be part of government infrastructure spending!

The idea of including broadband as part of the infrastructure spending currently being debated in congress. It is a bad idea on several levels.

Government Spending For one
the core networks are privately owned. Broadband providers like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and others own the cable, copper and fiber transmission systems. These companies are investing their money in their equipment. They are going to make a lot of money for years to come from this investment. Why should taxpayer dollars be used to provide a gift to these companies. Let them fund their own equipment. Its not like they don’t have the money.

Another problem
is that the fiber optic broadband is being built right now without the help of congress. Assuming the legislation passes by the time the funds are actually dispersed the system will have been completed.

Not all the broadband buildout is being done by the mega corporations. Some local governments and small ISPs are building small fiber optic system in their towns and cities. That’s great but they will eventually be owned by the large providers. Many of these local governments have made crucial mistakes trying to compete with the big boys. In most cases they are barely able to run a local government and now they have entered a business in which they have no experience.

Some of the common missteps they have made are:

  1. Way under estimated the revenue from customers
  2. Way over estimated how long the equipment will last. (State-of-the-Art telecommunication equipment often has a shelf-life shorter than dairy products.)
  3. Way under estimated how much it will cost to upgrade their equipment.

Frequently these small ISP’s have a checkered service history with connection issues and extensive down time. Meanwhile the large companies are just fine with this. If they were doing the work, they would be dealing with access and permitting issues. This is not such a problem when the local government is doing the work.

The big service providers are the nine-hundred-pound gorilla in the room. They can afford to offer lower prices, more features, in short, a better deal. If they lose money in the short term that is just a cost of doing business and they can continue that for many years if necessary. Local governments and small service providers cannot afford to lose money, even for a short time. The larger companies will eventually own the transmission lines as the smaller operations are absorbed or squeezed out.

In spite of this I usually tell my customer if the high-speed broadband is available in your area get it. The Internet access provided is much better than an old DSL line. True, the price is likely to go up in the future but the price of everything is likely to go up in the future. In the mean time you have had the service all along.

Government Spending Then there is the rural dilemma.
No one in their right mind is going to lay down thousands of miles of cable just to reach a handful of customers living in rural or remote locations. Only a government operation would engage in such a money losing venture.

But there is no need to expend the resources to lay out cable for rural broadband. We have other options for service out in the hinterlands. There are a number of companies that provide satellite Internet access. If you live south of the Canadian border, (maybe even a little north) and have a clear view of the southern sky you can probably get HughesNet, Viasat, Dish or one of the other Satellite providers.

If none of those will work for you there is Starlink. Elon Musk’s new company is now available and they continue to launch more satellites into low orbit. Unlike the other providers using platforms in geo-sync orbit, you do not need line of site to connect. With Skylink you can connect to the Internet from almost anyplace on the planet. Currently Skylink is in Beta development but I wouldn’t bet against Elon and his team at Skylink.

These satellite options are more expensive, have slower speeds and lower data caps than what you could get in a major metropolitan setting. As more and better satellites are deployed that will change. Living in a major metropolitan area does have some advantages. But those of us who live in rural America are not without a few benefits of our own.

So, what can be done about this government largess to big corporations?

  1. Call your congress critter and tell them not to include broadband in the infrastructure spending.
  2. Write your congress critter and tell them not to include broadband in the infrastructure spending.


And remember — always back it up!



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