A presentation by ILSR Senior Researcher John Farrell to a Disaster Law class at William Mitchell Law School on 9/17/12. It examines the five major barriers to the expansion of community-based and conventional distributed renewable energy, including the tradition of utility control, raising capital, cash flow, legal, and utilities themselves.
ILSR just released a report, Chanute’s GIG, that describes how a rural Kansas town of 9,000 has built a gigabit broadband network over a 26 year period with a pay-as-you-go strategy. Here are a few excerpts from the report.
Chanute’s plan is to balance the cost of connecting homes with efficiency savings from electric, gas, and water smart meters as well as a slice of revenues from telecommunications services.
Gates describes Chanute’s publicly-owned infrastructure investment as “the future of the Internet in the United States.” This model allows a single network to support many competing service providers. However, it has been difficult for other communities to finance it solely with revenues from the network. Chanute’s incremental approach may solve that problem.
When considering a community-owned network, some communities have become mired in a “public vs. private” debate over whether it is appropriate for local governments to provide telecommunications services. But in Chanute, public investments in its network have tremendously benefited private companies, showing that the “public vs. private” debate misses a key point. When a community is stuck with slow, unreliable, or high priced service from one or two monopolistic firms, both public and private suffer. When everyone has access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband, the whole community thrives.