Socalize That

I’m not sure where to put the blame for the Gigabit Squared deal falling apart. Murray says it was trouble when he came into office, but I suspect he’ll say that about a lot of things McGinn started did that he doesn’t want to do.

Mayor Ed Murray has declared the city’s deal with startup broadband company Gigabit Squared dead. In fact, the city’s deal with the company may have been doomed before Murray was even elected.

“We understand the Gigabit problems had developed before the election,” Murray told PSBJ reporter Marc Stiles in an interview last week.

Whatever the reason, it’s too bad. I’m a few blocks outside of the coverage area, so it doesn’t hit me personally, at least in the beginning. But regardless, if they can’t provide the service, the need for that high speed relatively cheap Internet is still there. Tech companies and other businesses will have a choice of where to locate, and that will certainly be in the calculus. People will decide where to live, and that will be part of the decision. For people who want to live in the city, it’s a quality of life issue.

Fortunately, Seattle is blessed with a utility in Seattle City Light that is already good at delivering a vital service city wide relatively inexpensively. So it should be easier for us to do this than most places. As such, I was glad to see Mayor Murray say this:

“It’s a utility, in my mind,” Murray said. “The city has done a very good job of providing affordable electric rates because we have a public utility. So I think there are a variety of models, including a hybrid model that might get that affordability.”

When something can and should be done but the private sector can’t or won’t do it, it’s time to consider how else to provide that service. It seems like something Seattle can do as a city.

Comments

  1. 1

    Deathfrogg spews:

    That is the purpose of public ownership of anything. The private sector cannot or will not do something that is critical to maintaining parity with other States or Nations in terms of modern utility. Thats why we don’t have private ownership of the sewer and water systems. Thats why electricity should be the sole purview of the government and not private corporations who strip the system of all available wealth, and then invariably end up going to the government anyway to finance upgrades and repairs that they should have dealt with themselves. They then strip every available penny out of that government support and do absolutely minimal work. When this become untenable, and starts interfering with commerce or disrupting people’s lives its time to socialize it. This goes for medical care as well. We are not being adequately served in this regard by private business. They exclude far too many people and extract far too much wealth out of the system for it to remain tenable.

    That was what the entire rural electrification project was all about. Companies either had to be forced by congressional action to provide electricity to as many people as possible, or they would lose their access to the market entirely. The latter resulted in the Bonneville Power Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority Projects being formed. If private business wasn’t going to provide a critical service to enhance modernization of our Republic, the government stepped in.

    To me, such things as internet access should also be included, at least at the mainline level. The private companies have shown incredible reticence in upgrading the system to parity with other nations. Japan for example, everyone with internet access and that is everyone in the country with a computer, has 100Gb access right into their homes and no bandwidth restrictions. Japan is moving to the IPv6 standard by 2020, and every node will get a private, dedicated address subnetted from the household server. One could build a private server in one’s garage to serve the entire household, and have a private email address as well as a private web page for each person.

    This is provided at the Government level, with Government money, and the companies involved are merely contractors serving the Government as the customer to Government standards of conduct and service. This is how it should be. The United States has done the total opposite of this, especially where military supply contracts are concerned.

    Corporations exist to make money, not provide a service. They say it all the time. When a service is critical to maintaining modernity, that service must be socialized.

  2. 2

    tensor spews:

    “Murray says it was trouble when he came into office, but I suspect he’ll say that about a lot of things McGinn started did that he doesn’t want to do.”

    Would you like some cheese with that whine? And someone who doesn’t want to do something rarely talks about the reasons to do it:

    “It’s a utility, in my mind,” Murray said. “The city has done a very good job of providing affordable electric rates because we have a public utility. So I think there are a variety of models, including a hybrid model that might get that affordability.”

    In addition to the good points Carl and Deathfrogg made about government, competitiveness, and modernity, it’s good to recall the US Government created the Internet, originally as the Darpanet. It’s the modern version of “post-offices and post-roads,” and it’s entirely appropriate for us to use government to provide this utility.