This article is very sad to me:
Because they are a combination of right and wrong. Background: my home town of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, has a city-owned Internet/TV/Phone company called Thunder Bay Telephone. This is a rarity in Canada, so it's easy to compare them to other cities, and the difference is striking. Thunder Bay Telephone is independently profitable (ie. by existing they reduce your city property tax), and they charge lower rates for Internet, TV, and Phone than the national alternatives, who are basically shut out of the market because their prices are higher. We know their prices are higher because they are higher in every other city in Ontario, where they are essentially the only option. So that's a resounding example of a noname city taking responsibility for their communication infrastructure the same way they take responsibility for their power, electrical, road, and garbage collection infrastructure. It worked.
But anecdotes are not statistics. There are also lots of government attempts to run Internet stuff that have failed financially, and iProvo is apparently one of them.
The underlying truths of the matter is that everything requiring a wire/cable/connector/road into each house in a city is expensive, and inherently monopolistic because once someone has run a wire, the cost of competing with them - running a second and totally redundant wire into the same house - is punishingly high. In my opinion as a hippie-commie Canadian, inherent monopolistic structures like this ought to be regulated rather than just handing it over to a monopoly.
The flip side to the "we should have known better" in this iProvo article is that everyone else in America should have known better than to hand over a monopoly/duopoly on their Internet service to one or two private companies in each city. What happens? Slow/crappy Internet at high prices with terrible customer service. Shocking, right? But at least you're not wasting your tax dollars on it. Although it's hard to see how wasting your tax dollars is much worse than just paying exorbitant monthly fees.
Ironically of course, I'm working on GFiber, which is another private company trying to do that thing I just set is punishingly expensive, that is, running redundant new Internet wires into everyone's house. If we succeed where iProvo (and all of Canada) failed, then I guess I was wrong, and private industry beats government on this one, at least for now.
So I guess that means I get to either be right or be successful. When in doubt I tend to aim for the latter. :)
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