…If the sale to Broadweave goes through.
I attended the open house for the iProvo / Broadweave “unveiling”. I ended up speaking with many of the decision makers including the Mayor. I walked away with three basic conclusions.
1) Municipal open broadband is dead to the politicians of Provo. They made it clear, while they liked the idea, the felt it would take too long to become a profitable. Who cares, they are the government, since when were they worried about profitability, they aren’t a corporation. There was a lot of talk about it costing the city $1-2 million a year. Again, so what! How much do other infrastructures and services cost? Like roads and sewer lines and power and schools and police and fire, and so on. Those cost ALOT, but we pay taxes because we recognize they are valuable and important to a vibrant community.
I think Provo should have made the case from the beginning that this was an important asset to build and maintain so that current and future generations could benefit, and that it would cost money. Instead they started off by telling everybody it would pay for itself. And, it probably would have, given time, but in the mean time, it was worth the slight increase in taxes to be one of the most forward thinking, high-tech cities in the nation. (Again, this coming from a libertarian).
Instead they sold us the dream, built an open network, then chickened out and are trying to sell it to a private company that will treat it like just another commercial privately owned endeavor.
2) The iProvo folks, including the Mayor really think this is the best deal they could do. I did get the impression they have studied this issue for a long time and concluded that this was the best they could do under the current political climate. I still disagree with their decision and I hope they change their minds, but I do think they care about the network they’ve built and want to do the best they can for it. That being said…
3) I think iProvo via Broadweave will be a shell of the network we’ve all grown to love. Broadweave stated that they will be price competitive with alternative services. Oh so great, you are going to give me something at least as crappy as Comcast, and maybe slightly better. Gee thanks for the massive downgrade! I have FIBER IN MY HOME, that means I want wicked fast speeds. I don’t want an internet connection that’s price competitive, I want a network that’s an order of magnitude better that the competition for a similar price. Gee, kind of like what I have now! I showed both the iProvo and Broadweave folks that I’m getting almost 50Mb down and 15Mb up, and none of them couldn’t believe it, but that is what I’m now accustomed to and anything less will be a let down.
Broadweave is currently advertising 10 down and 1 up. That’s beyond a letdown, I told them that was completely unacceptable! Especially on the upload side. One of their employees told me they have to restrict the upload speeds, otherwise people will put up WAREZ servers and do Peer-to-Peer sharing…. Oh no! Heaven forbid! Paaalleez… This isn’t 1999, “hackers” don’t run WAREZ servers on home machines anymore, most “WAREZ” are exchanged on services like Rapidshare. Besides, I’m pretty sure most ISP contracts restrict that kind of activity, if somebody’s breaking the law then shut them down, but don’t punish legal, paying customers for the crimes of a few by giving us crap just to slow the bad guys down! And as far as Peer-to-peer sharing, that’s kind of what the internet was built for, and Broadweave needs to learn to live with it, if Verizon can figure out how to deal with P2P by optimizing their network, then so can Broadweave.
My business requires me to upload large files to clients from time to time and fast uploads have become a critical to my success. I will not accept 1Mb/sec. Period.
All in all, it was disappointing. Like I said, the iProvo folks seemed very genuine and wanted to make it work, but I completely disagree that privatizing the whole network is the correct solution.
I won’t get into the fact that I agree with Jesse that I think Broadweave is overextending themselves. But I will say they are showing all the signs I’ve seen before. I remember Airswitch and Homenet, and I was always struck by the fancy brand new gas guzzling trucks and vans driving around with their logos on them. Seemed like a poor use of seed money then. And sure enough there was a nice brand new 2008ish expensive truck with a Broadweave logo on it parked in front of the Provo city building… not a good sign.