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By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2005-01-07 Print this article Print

: Opening Market"> Kutztown is a triumph of free enterprise inspired by municipal involvement. Lets take a look at the outcomes of Kutztowns program:
  • It delivered services to a community that private providers neglected.
  • It created opportunities for local and regional providers that could not have competed there if they had not been spared the cost of building the infrastructure.
  • By introducing a municipal service to the competitive mix, the borough expanded the number of choices available to consumers, held their costs and provided an incentive to private carriers to enhance their offerings to better compete for customers.
    In the debate over municipal broadband, its a model that defies the extremes on both sides of the debate. It just works and works well. Now, HB 30 has effectively given veto power on municipal efforts to the very carriers that neglected Kutztown all along. Click here to read about Verizon Wireless extending its 3G network. The last chapter of the municipal broadband story, of which municipal wireless is but a chapter, wont be written across the country for quite some time. But the book in Pennsylvania closes in 2006, when munis that havent implemented a plan will relinquish the right to do so to Verizon, the incumbent carrier. To its credit, Verizon is now pursuing an aggressive broadband build-out thats finally begun to reach out to smaller communities, and its heavily touting that effort in news releases that announce DSL services coming online in some small community or another. But there is a limit to how quickly one provider can move and how much of its budget one provider is willing to allocate toward the effort. And the operative phrase here, of course, is "one provider." With legislation such as HB30, thats all we get. For his part, Caruso said he thinks ownership of local broadband services is not the issue at all. "Its all about owning the customer," he told me. Those who wrote to disagree said it was all about open markets and competition. But I must say, Im still looking hard for anything that resembles competition in Pennsylvanias new law. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.

    Carol Ellison is editor of's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

    Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

    Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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