Derek Slater has a good-read post on the Google Public Policy blog today, asking “What if you could own your own Internet connection?” The idea, simply, is that homeowners (or business owners, colleges, etc.) could improve their broadband reliability and choice by financing the installation and upkeep of their own “last mile” link to the Internets.
In the case Slater cites as an example, the home-owned fiber connects to a “neutral” co-location center, where any ISP who wants to can interconnect and offer services. Again, none of this is a new idea — we remember Internet co-inventor Bob Kahn voicing a similar opinion a couple years ago — but we’re guessing such plans could gain more traction especially in rural or underserved areas that will be ignored by the fiber rollouts of big telcos and the cablecos. In Kahn’s example the goverment would buy the local loop lines from the incumbents, but that’s a minor tweak from the basic idea, which is to remove the gatekeeping possibilities the current telco- or cable-controlled situation provides.
Since the Kahn link is perhaps unreliable, here’s the money quote from my old blog at Pulvermedia:
Actually, Bob Kahn (winner of the show’s Big Brain award, hands down) trumped the whole panel and maybe the whole event with a query during the open Q&A, about whether or not it makes sense for the government to purchase the local loop infrastructure from the current owners, and then set up some kind of “open central offices,” where anyone could come in, locate servers, offer services, etc. etc.
“Call it a digital extension cord,” Kahn posited. An incredible idea — one that would pre-empt all the RBOC and cable complaints about the cost of building networks. Fine, let’s pay them for their infrastructure, and open it up for business, all open protocols and interconnects.
“If someone wanted a 10 to the Nth megabit service and someone else was willing to provide it, there could be a business,” Kahn said later when I asked him to expound.
If folks are willing to drop 3 large on a swanky cookspace, why not a few more grand for FTME, or Fiber to Me?