Wednesday Roundup: Cable Right of Way

Right-of-way access is the key to broadband deployment • Wisconsin iron-ore mine “discussion” turns ugly • Want to fulfill your human pontential? Move to the city, says China consultant • Farm bill conference must await separate House bill on nutrition program.

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It’s the Right of Way, Stupid. The expansion of broadband in the United States comes down to a low-tech problem: access to rights of way for running cable to transmit data. That’s the conclusion of Berin Szoka, Matthew Starr and Jon Henke writing in a Wired opinion piece.

Private companies aren’t getting broadband networks built out quickly enough because local governments and utilities are gouging them with fees for using rights of way for hanging and burying cable.

Make it easier for companies to install their cables and equipment, their argument goes, and you’ll see more competition among broadband providers. And that will help consumers in the long run.

The writers point to Google Fiber efforts in cities like St. Louis and Austin. There, Google had enough leverage to get cooperation from local government for running fiber and didn’t have to haggle with utilities and local government to get access to rights of way.

But the market in rural areas works differently. We’d sure like to see Google try a broadband project in a nonmetropolitan area, perhaps with emerging wireless technologies. Because if there’s one thing rural areas have, it’s plenty of space for running cable and lots of open spectrum for sending data over the airwaves.

Wisconsin Iron-Ore Mining. The disagreement about a proposed iron-ore mine near tribal lands in northern Wisconsin is heating up, reports, Mary Annette Pember in Indian Country Today. Pember says Facebook posts on a page called “Wisconsinites for Safe Mining” have included racial stereotypes about Native Americans and threats of violence against mining opponents. The administrators of the page, who didn’t identify themselves to a local television reporter, said the threats were satirical. They pulled down a photograph of an American Indian, which had the caption “Tries to Explain How Natives Are a Proud People, Too Drunk to Form Words.” They blamed that post on hackers.

Quote of the Day. “I think of urbanization as the process of liberating human potential. You build a road in order for people to drive down it. You build a building in order for people to fill it up with refrigerators and appliances. The activity that we actually use our production for, that’s consumption. And that’s an urban phenomenon.” Jonathan Woetzel, McKinsey and Company, a consultant for China’s urbanization program

This quote is from a video that is part of the New York Times’ series on China’s effort to relocate the bulk of its rural population into cities. The story by the Times’ Ian Johnson reveals that some of those relocated Chinese don’t feel at all “liberated” by moving to the city.

Farm Bill. A conference committee on a new farm bill will have to wait until the House of Representatives comes up with a bill on nutrition programs, says Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma), chairman of the House Ag Committee. Drafting such a bill will take at least a week or two, The Hill reports.

The Senate is pushing for quick action on a conference committee to hash out a compromise between the chambers’ two versions of the farm bill. The current extension of the farm bill expires at the end of September. 

 

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