Is an Executive Order Necessary to Enable City and Municipal Fiber?

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • President Obama has threatened an executive order to ensure that U.S. cities and municipalities are NOT prohibited from building their own broadband networks; he needs to follow through, if necessary.
  • Incumbent operators need to view city and/or municipal networks as opportunities instead of threats. For example, they can partner to deliver service bundles over these networks, without having to invest in FTTH network builds themselves.

When I first became aware that legislatures in 20 U.S. states have passed laws banning cities/municipalities from building their own fiber/ultra-broadband networks – in many cases, spurred by lobbying efforts funded by incumbent operators – I was stunned, and then appalled. How un-American. I had a similar reaction when several state legislatures either passed laws or ensured the continuing enforcement of outdated code preventing Tesla Motors from selling directly to customers (with Michigan, unsurprisingly, being the most blatant about it).

However, there is a massive difference between buying an automobile and “buying” a fiber network. With the Tesla, the buyer/consumer can still buy the car from dealers in Tesla-friendly states, adjacent or not. But, unlike a car, one cannot just buy a fiber network infrastructure and take it home. Continue reading “Is an Executive Order Necessary to Enable City and Municipal Fiber?”