Town Rejects Comcast and Chooses to Build Its Own Broadband Network

cageymaru

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At a recent special town meeting, voters in Charlemont, Massachusetts rejected a proposal from the Comcast Cable Co. for cable internet. Instead the town decided to build their own municipal fiber network. The cost of the Comcast proposal would have been $462,123 and would have only covered 96% of the households in the area. Choosing to build their own network will cost the town an extra $1 million over 20 years, but the cost to taxpayers could be the same, as the town would not seek to make a profit on its citizens. Plus the town will be able to sell its internet service to other areas for a profit.

Proponents of the town building their own network noted that since the town would own the network, everyone would be treated the same. They were very wary of Comcast's data caps, extra fees, older HFC [hybrid fiber-coaxial] technology, future pricing, limited control over future network build-outs, slowdowns for competing streaming services and customer service horror stories. Westfield Gas & Electric has already completed the design of the fiber distribution network, utility poles, preliminary designs and cost estimates. If the town gets 72% of the residents to sign up for the service, no extra property tax will be needed.

The town plans to charge $79 a month for standalone Internet service with gigabit download and upload speeds and no data caps, though the price could rise to $99 a month if fewer than 40 percent of households buy the service. The town also plans to offer phone and TV service at rates cheaper than Comcast's If only 40 percent of households subscribe to the town broadband service, the effect on the tax rate would be about 66 cents per $1,000 valuation. With 59 percent of households taking broadband service, the tax hike would be 29 cents, similar to that for Comcast. But if 72 percent or more of households subscribe to the municipal-owned network, there is no tax impact, because subscriber fees would pay for it.
 

Spidey329

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Good for them. More towns should do it.

I'm sure Comcast's proposal was for them to be paid to build out the network, do it over a long period of time, and then have the ability to charge whatever they wanted without any limitations.
 

c3k

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Good on them!

Competition is key. I have no idea how the mega-carriers have ended up with monopolies wherever they sign up...but I suspect a bit of money and weak-willed (or greedy) politicians.
 
D

Deleted member 184142

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Which always sounds great, just like every government project.

However history has shown with other municipal networks, it never cost what they city predicts, and upkeep on the network is far more than expected, most municipal networks operate at a loss, not including the initial debt to build the network. The few that are not negative cash flow would take 60 years to just break even on the debt, which is already outside of the typical network expected life span of 40 years. What this means is more tax money to subsidize other peoples internet access. As such, most municipal networks income and losses are not reported and bundled in with their electric power operations. Keeping in mind most of these networks are going to cost more as time goes on, as even when they are newer, they are bleeding cash from maintaining the network, and as networks age, that will go up. So rather than paying off the debt to build the network, they are padding on more to keep it going.

But like most cases when government tries to get into business, the idea of being financially solvent never really comes into the picture.
 

umeng2002

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Which always sounds great, just like every government project.

However history has shown with other municipal networks, it never cost what they city predicts, and upkeep on the network is far more than expected, most municipal networks operate at a loss, not including the initial debt to build the network. The few that are not negative cash flow would take 60 years to just break even on the debt, which is already outside of the typical network expected life span of 40 years. What this means is more tax money to subsidize other peoples internet access. As such, most municipal networks income and losses are not reported and bundled in with their electric power operations. Keeping in mind most of these networks are going to cost more as time goes on, as even when they are newer, they are bleeding cash from maintaining the network, and as networks age, that will go up. So rather than paying off the debt to build the network, they are padding on more to keep it going.

But like most cases when government tries to get into business, the idea of being financially solvent never really comes into the picture.

I don't know, it seems to work with water.
 
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There's a county cooperative here that grew out of an old ISP. Its charter was to get broadband out to the county. Then it became fiber. Rural was still priority #1, but at the end it came back and laid fiber in town. I've had gigabit service for not quite a year at this point, but I'm paying $85 a month ($75 service, $5 equipment, $5 static IP).

The fee will never go up, as I signed up before they laid the cable (which was encouraged by them). No TV service, thought they offer that as well.

Fuck Comcast. My parents have them, and they just got a sweet deal of doubling their speed....to 1/10th of what I have, for more than I pay. And that price will likely go up in a year.
 

DejaWiz

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Are they going to severely throttle every site except their sites to pay the ISP and income taxes bills?
 

sfsuphysics

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They won't try to make a profit... riiiiiiiight, number 1 rule of government money is that money made for one thing belongs everything, hence you'll never make a profit, you'll just have revenue from the internet go towards street maintenance.

That said, extremely tiny north eastern town? Yeah I fully expect less than 40% to sign up for internet.
 

trick0502

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We use Westfield Gas and electric at one my works remote sites. The few times I’ve had to contact support it was a much better experience than contacting Comcast. Whip City Fiber FTW!
 

Spaceninja

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We use to have a great municipal cable system. The city sold it to a company who provided good service as well. Then that company sold to another provider and they suck ass. I'm sure someone else will buy it in the next 4-5 years.
 

J3RK

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This just in:

The mayor and several city council members of Charlemont found dead this evening. It is speculated that the hits were ordered by a top level Comcast executive after their proposal was recently rejected to supply internet service to the town. More as it develops.
 

silentsod

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Good for them, I live in a city where they built out their own fiber network and, though I live in an apartment complex where they decided to stick with the Comcast/CenturyLink duopoly, all the people I know who have it love the municipal fiber service.
 

haste.

[H]ard|Gawd
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Wonder if they'll restrict sites like pron or other types of usage.....?
Why? On every article even whispering government?

How much tinfoil do you own? You could pay your comcast bill on a monthly basis if you didnt wear as much. Not everything is conspiracy. This is good. Shows there is an alternative to corporate greed.
 

filip

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Lucky sobs. I'm pretty sure my city paid for the infrastructure then the service providers were given ownership over it, then they were given money to upgrade the network and nothing happened for about 5-10 years. That is all taxpayer funded and the prices are not even that great.
 

haste.

[H]ard|Gawd
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There's a county cooperative here that grew out of an old ISP. Its charter was to get broadband out to the county. Then it became fiber. Rural was still priority #1, but at the end it came back and laid fiber in town. I've had gigabit service for not quite a year at this point, but I'm paying $85 a month ($75 service, $5 equipment, $5 static IP).

The fee will never go up, as I signed up before they laid the cable (which was encouraged by them). No TV service, thought they offer that as well.

Fuck Comcast. My parents have them, and they just got a sweet deal of doubling their speed....to 1/10th of what I have, for more than I pay. And that price will likely go up in a year.
We have a small ISP that I used for voip at my last org that laid fiber in Minneapolis and grandfathered all current subscribers at what they were paying. My brother went from 5/1mb dsl to gig both ways for just over $40. Some companies do it right. Comcast has been good to me but definately know a lot of people have problems.

One day a streaming service will offer live tv with more than stereo and I will ditch comcast completely, but until then those of us with home theater equipment are stuck unfortunately.
 

travisty

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Which always sounds great, just like every government project.

However history has shown with other municipal networks, it never cost what they city predicts, and upkeep on the network is far more than expected, most municipal networks operate at a loss, not including the initial debt to build the network. The few that are not negative cash flow would take 60 years to just break even on the debt, which is already outside of the typical network expected life span of 40 years. What this means is more tax money to subsidize other peoples internet access. As such, most municipal networks income and losses are not reported and bundled in with their electric power operations. Keeping in mind most of these networks are going to cost more as time goes on, as even when they are newer, they are bleeding cash from maintaining the network, and as networks age, that will go up. So rather than paying off the debt to build the network, they are padding on more to keep it going.

But like most cases when government tries to get into business, the idea of being financially solvent never really comes into the picture.

Works fine here in Longmont Colorado for electricity, water and fiber.
Electricity is 4 cents cheaper than national average (8 cents vs 12 cents) and $50 a month for 1 gig up/down no caps fiber internet

Government is awesome if allowed to be
 
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Nenu

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I wouldnt pay that much for broadband and houseline together.
Nearer 2/3 maybe, for both.
They had better sell cheaper packages or it will be a bust. But then they need to put prices up.
I'm not so sure this is viable for them.
 

The Mad Atheist

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Why? On every article even whispering government?

How much tinfoil do you own? You could pay your comcast bill on a monthly basis if you didnt wear as much. Not everything is conspiracy. This is good. Shows there is an alternative to corporate greed.
Don't know why you think I believe it's a conspiracy.
 

Chunder

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Darn those communist getting faster and way cheaper internet that the people exclusively control... When will the commies stop attacking corporations freedom to bend hard working citizens over and have their way with them with BS contracts that raise in price every few months?

In all seriousness though, I'd love for America to build a nationalized fiber optic network, and 5G network, where citizens pay at cost to build, maintain and upgrade it when technology is mature enough. Just like education and healthcare, there's no need to privatize these services.
 

[Spectre]

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Darn those communist getting faster and way cheaper internet that the people exclusively control... When will the commies stop attacking corporations freedom to bend hard working citizens over and have their way with them with BS contracts that raise in price every few months?

In all seriousness though, I'd love for America to build a nationalized fiber optic network, and 5G network, where citizens pay at cost to build, maintain and upgrade it when technology is mature enough. Just like education and healthcare, there's no need to privatize these services.

Can we fix the infrastructure we have already built but not "maintain(ed) and upgrade(ed) it when technology is mature enough" first?
 

OpenSource

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This can work at local levels pretty well, we have seen plenty of municipals that have made it work. I'm sure pockets may get lined in the process, but it's way easier to catch waste at this level.

The Feds doing something like this? No thanks. They'll just hire Lockheed to build it out over 500 years at a cost of 25 trillion.
 

TordanGow

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Can we fix the infrastructure we have already built but not "maintain(ed) and upgrade(ed) it when technology is mature enough" first?

Uh... Water costs fractions of a cent per gallon delivered direct to my home and comes conveniently out of a tap. Can I please buy gallons of water from corporations like Pepsi and coke for less than a penny a gallon and have it come right to my home.

The regular tax funded roads are maintained well, and plowed/salted this time of year. Private roads I've driven on in EVERY case in my entire life have been less maintained.

Comcast and their ilk suck. Publically owned corporations are basically the same. I'd call them vampires, but I wouldn't want to insult vampires that way.
 

[Spectre]

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Uh... Water costs fractions of a cent per gallon delivered direct to my home and comes conveniently out of a tap. Can I please buy gallons of water from corporations like Pepsi and coke for less than a penny a gallon and have it come right to my home.

The regular tax funded roads are maintained well, and plowed/salted this time of year. Private roads I've driven on in EVERY case in my entire life have been less maintained.

Comcast and their ilk suck. Publically owned corporations are basically the same. I'd call them vampires, but I wouldn't want to insult vampires that way.

The point, you missed it. I'll give you a chance to click the link, read it, and come back and try again.
 

joobjoob

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If comcast crushes them with lawsuits like they have other small rural municipalities then I support any course of action against comcast. Some ideas: At&t breakup, Microsoft anti trust, nationalize and turn its network into a local utility, or something new. Any f these would be an improvement amd well deserved. I'd actually like to see the same action taken against amazon.
 
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