On first glance, the group seems great. They're all about getting
the laws up to date so that telecommunications companies can compete
on a level playing field, and bring the future here now. All they
need is your grass roots support....etc...
So we did some research on TFF because we kept hearing about them.
What we found is ugly.
TTF is a front for the United States Telecom Association or USTA
. The USTA is anything but friendly with regard to anything to do
with Municipal Broadband.
The following is from page 7 of the USTA
Annual Report on the USTA Website:
(This is a big PDF file, so be patient while it downloads, and keep
it open... we refer to several different pages in it)
Resisting Government-Owned Networks
- The broadband debate includes proposals that the government spend
millions of tax dollars to support government-backed competitors
to our businesses, who have access to subsidies and tax breaks our
companies can only dream of. USTA's staunch resistance has been
very effective in ensuring these misguided and expensive proposals
See page 9
Resisting Government-Controlled Networks
USF Access - USTA was the only national telecom association
to engage a critical battle emanating out of Iowa that has national
implications for the Universal Service Fund. USTA presented oral
arguments before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that
state run Iowa Communications Network is not a common carrier and
therefore is not entitled to receive universal service. Although
the appeal of an FCC decision authorizing subsidy payments to ICN
was not successful, USTA is committed to continuing the fight against
government-owned networks on all fronts.
See page 12
Members and Committees
Notice how many seats SBC has on the USTA Committees.
Remember all the SBC ads fighting TriCity Broadband Referendum this
SBC not only dumped a ton of cash on four color mailers and print
ads, but also employed push polls and call centers to fight this.
Why? Because they knew they couldn’t run on their merits,
so they resorted to a smear campaign instead.
We’re not attempting to cry “boo-hoo” here, but
SBC lied directly to the TriCity voters. Had we been in their shoes,
we would have done the exact same thing. They told the voters through
their media barrage that this was a tax increase, when in fact,
it was nothing of the sort. The business model showed returns in
the black within year three, entirely paid by user fees of those
who used the service. Not one dime of tax money. They
won by buying the election, plain and simple.
The Future Faster, we would assume, follow the auspices of the
USTA. As evidenced above, the USTA wants to block any/all government
competition. The important point here is to understand why most
Munis go into this arena to start with.
Most municipal broadband systems are found in locales with a municipally
owned electric utility (like Batavia, Geneva, & St. Charles).
A Muni with an existing electric plant has a huge leg up on a Muni
without an electric plant – they usually own all the poles
and have electric crews in place to maintain the infrastructure.
Many of these Munis got into electric for the same reason they
are now looking to broadband – a lack of quality service or
no one was providing service at all. Look at the view for a minute….why
would any city want to take on the unlimited marketing wrath of
someone like Comcast or SBC? Because the service was
lousy or unavailable. If people weren’t complaining,
the cities wouldn’t even think about going down this path.
But what really scares companies like SBC and Comcast, is the fact
that the local governments can provide better services using far
superior technology at much lower prices. Why? Less existing antiquated
equipment minus the golden parachutes of big shots all followed
up with local accountability. Don’t like how things are being
run, vote the bums out of office. Can't do that with a monopoly.
That's all been pretty much on a city level. Now comes the County
Kane County leases a portion of the Geneva municipal fiber backbone
(which by the way, also reaches all City of Geneva sites and all
Geneva School District #304 sites). It connects all County sites
within Geneva, including the Judicial Center and the Jail. The County
is also in discussions with St. Charles to get to the Circuit Clerk's
Office on Randall Road. The County has also talked to Batavia about
similar projects. These backbones save the local governments large
amounts of money. The Future Faster would block this
type of project.
Kane County D.O.T. also owns large stretches of fiber to control
traffic lights. In most cases when fiber is laid in the ground or
strung on utility poles, excess fiber is placed for future use either
by KDOT or for lease to the private sector. Under The Future Faster’s
plan, KDOT would not be able to lease its excess.
On a state level, SBC is even worse.
Click here to read an article that
goes into the anticompetitive stances SBC has taken in Illinois
and around the country. Rather than rehashing here, you can read
it for yourself. The point of the article is that the Bells make
it a point to lobby for anticompetitive legislation everywhere they
If nothing else, please read
the interview with Jim Baller, Telco Lawyer Extraordinaire.
Jim, better than anybody else, can truly speak to why municipal
broadband (and the right to build municipal broadband utilities)
With Central Kane County having the ability to truly become a technology
hotbed (TriCity Fiber plants, Kane County Fiber, Fermi Lab, and
Denny Hastert’s DuPage High Tech Park on our Eastern borders),
we hope to keep the area as technology friendly as possible. Legislation
that works against us affects the whole area.