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Friday, June 24, 2005

Opposition to Burlington Telecom

Did everybody see former state legislator Frank Mazur's letter in this week's 7D, opposing Burlington Telecom? Mazur says the city shouldn't compete with the private sector because "nearly everyone in Burlington who wants broadband can have it through cable, phone, wireless and even satellite." Hmm. That may be true, but what about all those people who are complaining about their service?

He also says: "Burlington and Vermont's economic competitiveness is also at stake. The speed at which technology is changing means Burlington risks having obsolete equipment very quickly."

Interesting. From what I understand, the folks at Burlington Telecom aren't investing in a bunch of hardware — they're laying fiber optic cable that will surpass the capacity of anything that's available through the commercial carriers, or anything that will be available in the forseeable future. When I interviewed him for the 7D cover story a few weeks back, Project Director Tim Nulty told me they're building "the network for the next 100 years."

But Mazur has at least one valid concern: "Finally, because Burlington is Vermont's largest city, the city's venture has the potential to "cherry pick" a readily available and profitable market, leaving the more costly and underserved rural areas to the private competitors."

Sharon Gillett of MIT told me that we should expect Adelphia and Verizon et. al. to lower their prices for Burlington residents, to compete with the city's system, and that they'd pass the costs off to other parts of the state. And it's true, Adelphia has started an aggressive pricing campaign to lure Burlington customers before Burlington Telecom gets going. So this could happen. But should that keep Burlington from buildling their network?

Incidentally, does anyone remember the press conference at the statehouse in March, when Frank Mazur introduced the Vermont chapter of FreedomWorks? It's a conservative anti-tax group backed by Dick Armey and other prominent right-wing politicians. fyi.

June 24, 2005 at 09:21 AM in Wi-fi/Broadband in VT | Permalink


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» Right In The Backyard from techNtalk
So it seems there's some definite controversy over the city of Burlington, Vermont developing their own Telecommunications company. Apparently a lot of time has been spent on both sides of the spectrum. The private companies that provide high-speed int... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 24, 2005 6:31:12 PM


The other glaring omission in the letter to the editor is the fact that there is nothing stoping a private company from offering their services over BT's fiber. Sounds like healthy competition to me.

In other states large telecommunications companies are attempting to get legislation passed to make municipal systems like BT illegal. Networks like these are our only hope for telecommunications independence in a world dominated by corporation concerns. You think Adelphia is bad, wait 'till Comcast comes to town. FYI, they filled with the Public Service Board (as a new company called "Cable Hold Co.")last week.

Posted by: jw | Jun 27, 2005 11:55:22 AM

Dear Cathy-- Sharon Gillet's comment that reduced costs for Burlington will be passed on to rural areas is only too grimly true. Back in the days of my youth such amenities as postal service and telephone were regarded as part of community infra-structure and were regulated so that costs were shared equally by rural and urban areas despite the fact that maintaining rural services was obviously more expensive. We need to rethink what should be community infra-structure and regulate private business accordingly....

Posted by: Pat Hejny | Jun 28, 2005 9:38:50 PM

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