March 27, 2005

Dark horse amendment bans open competition

In the flurry of amendment proposals on Wednesday's debate, an amendment by Rep Crownover passed quickly without debate. The amendment phases out the sale of "dark fiber" by municipalities.

This poisonous provision bans one of the best ways to stimulate a competitive, free market in very high speed internet service. Today, public utilities, universities, and cities have access to a lot of fiber optic capacity that has already been paid for by the state or city, and is not being used.

As Esme Vos of explains

This fiber could be wholesaled cheaply to one or more private ISPs so that those ISPs can deliver true broadband. Not the pokey slow 1 Mbps that today's incumbents are so proud of, but 10 to 100 Mbps. If the owner of the dark fiber sells capacity at low prices, the ISP can turn around and offer very cheap broadband. This is what SBC, Verizon and the cable companies are really afraid of.
When the day comes that all owners of dark fiber start wholesaling their excess capacity to small, independent ISPs, you'll see broadband prices in the US drop dramatically and bandwidth increase significantly.

The Crownover "anti-dark-fiber" amendment prevents cities from selling access to this unused fiber at wholesale prices to internet service providers, creating a competitive, free market for cheap, high speed internet access.

The Crownover amendment has one purpose -- to prevent the development of a competitive market in high-speed internet service, and to permanently extend the incumbent monopolies on phone and cable service into the internet age.

Posted by alevin at March 27, 2005 11:04 AM