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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Utopia: Appropriately named
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utopia: [yoo-toh-pee-uh]
"an impractical, idealistic scheme."
"an imaginary place."

The fate of the project seemed preordained, no?

I agree with Adam's analysis. One sympathizes just a bit with the officials behind this well-intended public project, especially in a sparsely populated geography. Broadband bridges in Utah seem more useful, at least superficially, than Alaskan bridges to nowhere. But in the fast-moving world of broadband technology and digital media, the hardware and software -- and especially the content business plans -- change so fast and are so experimental that tax-funded public works projects are unlikely to succeed. The large capital and operating expenses of these networks require long-term commitments from well-capitalized companies -- companies large enough to make mistakes and still recover. Beyond Utopia's big network investments, it had a particular "open content" business model that may someday arrive but hasn't so far. This isn't to say there aren't entrepreneurial entrants in niche markets, especially small-town wireless providers. But before we throw our hands up and turn over bleeding edge technology projects to a state or city bureaucracy, shouldn't we first remove federal and state barriers to private network investment and see how that works first? In the states that have deregulated telecom in the last few years, broadband investment -- both cable and telecom -- is booming.

posted by Bret Swanson @ 2:15 PM | Municipal Ownership

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