Comic about upcoming referendum on muni broadband in Longmont, CO

Chris from Telecommunications as Commons Initiative sez, "There's an upcoming referendum in Longmont Colorado on providing municipal Internet service over existing fiber. We know that the incumbents (mostly Comcast) will spend a lot to derail it, so I'm hoping this comic can make the rounds and 'prime' people so the anti-government mailers and robo-calls will be less effective."

I think it's a pretty good freshman effort; I like the GYWO style!


  1. They should take up a collection, perhaps a Kickstarter campaign, to mail this to everyone who would receive a “glossy mailer” from the incumbents.

  2. Pathetic that this likely isn’t all that big of a stretching of how things are shaking out at the telecos.

    Edit: I second the Kickstarter campaign idea.

  3. We need to start air-dropping flyers like these on stupid people who still eat up glossy corporatist talking points.  For that matter, on all kinds of issues of where they vote against their own interests.

    Hey, we airdropped leaflets over Iraq and now they have a single payer system for healthcare.  ;D

  4. despite the issue, Century Link is a pleasure to work with, and they’re so slow on their billing you can go months and months without paying :) I almost wish though they’d get tighter on their billing practices and dump that money into bringing us backwoods people something better than 1.6 mip dsl for $45 a month :/

  5. This reminds me of the “Tom the Dancing Bug” a few posts back:

    “Capitalism is a tricky devil … you gotta know which kinds of free market to agree with, and which kinds to yell at!”

  6. You’ve got to be kidding me. Municipalities extort millions from Telecommunications providers just to do business in the city. So, of course there are only one or two providers – no other providers can pony up. And the cities offer exclusive deals as well. It is government that creates the monopolies, then people are crazy enough to look for government to provide the solution? Sheesh! If you leave the greedy bureaucrats and councilmen out of the equation, you ‘d have lots of competition driving the prices down and improving services. Look how computing power is constantly getting cheaper and faster in a largely consumer-only-regulated market.

    1. Exactly – a free market in internet service is seen as a Good Idea by Boing Boing (rightly), but a free market in many other things (healthcare, perhaps) is booed as a Bad Idea.

      1. Because some things are not, nor they should be run like, businesses. Profitable, maybe. But not with the current abhorrent obsession in ROI (mostly by using people as just another fungible input). Plus, there is a difference between ambition and greed. 

    2. Extortion??  Not hardly – though it varies from state to state, the big incumbents pay a pittance compared to the value they receive from being in the Right-of-way.  They often make extravagant claims about extortion but on closer examination, those instances are either fabrications or extremely rare circumstances.

      As for computing power and regulation, there are vast differences between telecom markets, which are natural monopolies with massive barriers to entry for additional competitors and the industries involving in your “computer power” example.

  7. So here’s my question: Who can help me plan a neighborhood fiber loop like these? We have an old HOA with right of way and conduit underground, so in theory it’d be very easy to get the fiber laid. I can’t seem to find much other than ‘this is what we’re doing’ instead of ‘this is how we went about it.’

    1. I should also say that we’re stuck with Comcast right now; Verizon’s CO is too far for DSL, and they’re never giving the neighborhood FIOS, so my thought is do it ourselves, and/or also force VZ into bringing fiber to us.

    2. It is a hard question.  Only recently is it feasible to do a “dumb pipe” Internet service due to new streaming services.  Previously, small scale approaches suffered when it came to getting television channel contracts, making those networks uneconomical.  Now you could do a dumb pipe, but not many have tried so there are not a lot of good examples.

      If I were you, I would try to work with a local ISP (if there is one) to figure out how you would connect your HOA to the Internet.  Or you can try to find a contractor that will connect your HOA to a meetup point.  

  8. People are getting confused about what free market is.  Is the free market why drugs cost 10 to 20 times as much in the USA as anywhere else?  The answer is no, patents (the opposite of free market) without any drug price ceilings are.

    Anyway, I just moved to Longmont, now I need to figure out how to register in this state.  CO seems to be super anal about registering, we’d rather turn away a millions valid voters than risk a single fraudulent vote.  

  9. Hopefully when you say “incumbents” you aren’t referring to the elected officials in Longmont, because all of Longmont’s are in agreement that this needs to be passed:

    There also is a lot of support from voters from both sides of the political aisle.

    A note to thunderhammer above, methinks you missed the boat. Deadline to register to vote or change your registration for this election was this past Monday, October 3rd. But, make sure you get that address updated:

  10. I live in Colorado Springs, a short drive from Longmont, and we have pretty much the same problem. When I lived in California, I could get broadband for $20 a month, out here not less than $50. It’s robbery.

  11. Good point. It does raise the issue that sometimes de-regulation works well and sometimes its a disaster. Getting a faster internet speed at a competitive price is fine cos no-one dies in the process. A free market is not a panacea which is why for internet service its good and for healthcare its bad.

  12. Christopher: It’s extortion, plain and simple. it excludes competition. You also did not address the exclusive deals handed out by municipalities. This article applies to cable TV but it is relevant to telecommunications in general:

    “The Denver franchise, awarded in 1982, provides an example of this process. Of 53 companies expressing an interest in serving Denver’s citizens, only 3 submitted proposals. Each of the bidders spent approximately $1 million in the political contest to win the franchise.[6] The massive regulatory scheme imposed on the winner is embodied in a permit and contract of over 100 pages that incorporates by reference a four-volume proposal. Among other requirements, the franchisee must
    – pay 5 percent of its annual gross revenues as a franchise fee, plus an additional 2 percent for community programming;
    – defray the city’s expenses for the RFP process ($80,000);
    – provide a $1 million construction bond and a $100,000 letter of credit;
    – grant $1.5 million in loans and capital to small businesses and minority groups;
    – wire the entire city according to a fixed construction schedule based on political rather than practical considerations;
    – agree to pay $1,000 penalty per day for franchise violations;
    – submit to rate regulation;
    – allow the city to veto programming changes;
    – set aside all or part of 22 channels for programming access, and cede editorial control over them !
    – build studios and other facilities for access to selected special-interest groups at a cost of $7.34 million; and – provide an emergency override system that enables city officials to turn on subscribers’ sets, adjust the volume, and broadcast “emergency” messages into their homes at any hour of the day or night.In exchange, the franchisee receives a de facto exclusive 15- year franchise and is insulated from some of the effects of competition through a guaranteed rate of return.”

    High start up costs indeed. No wonder competition is scarce. Exclusive deals. GOVERNMENT CREATES THE PROBLEM in the first place.

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