News From the Tri-Cities

The Daily Herald, a Tri-Cities region newspaper carries an interesting and useful report that goes a long way to undercut the claims about municipal telecommunications networks that the incumbents everywhere use to try and frighten communities.

Most usefully the article notices that municipal utilities have a very different understanding of what constitutes success than do their corporate rivals:

“But when it comes to defining success, it’s clear there’s a much different point-of-view between towns such as Glasgow and telecom giants such as SBC and Comcast.

Some of the towns seem far more concerned with building a better community than paying off their debt. They view telecom services as public utilities that can be funded by proceeds from other utilities. And, they believe, without their efforts, residents and local economies would have lost millions of dollars as they sat on the sidelines of the digital revolution.”

While the story also repeats the canards of the Freedom and Progress Foundation studies without directly contradicting them (canards we attacked in reference to the fiber forum and Bristol, Virginia’s system) it does provide a good view into the the way that communities and municipal providers see the story and will allow readers to form a bette

The lead case in the series of case studies in this report was Billy Ray of Glasgow, Kentucky. Billy Ray, readers will recall, was our second interviewee, after Annie Collins of the Tri-Cities. He hits home runs with some of his facts: the Glasgow cable TV utility hasn’t raised rates since 1989, with prices remaining at $14.95 for a full complement of digital channels, it now offers 4 megabit-per-second Internet access for about $25 per month, and the difference between average cable rates nationwide and what Glasgow’s customers pay for it means that more than $30 million has stayed in the local economy. The Progress and Freedom Foundation may not think that is success but I’d bet that most of the citizen/consumers of Glasgow do.

It’s good to see reporters starting to look beyond incumbent propaganda, however dressed up in academic garb, and dig into real cases to uncover some sense of the truth about these issues.

Now if we could just convince the Advertiser to show the same sense of responsibility toward the educational functions of reporting….