Thursday, November 15, 2012

Club 20 Building Toward Broadband for Colorado Conference - Colorado Telecom: Challenges and Opportunities Provider Panel

November 15th and I am spending the day at the Club 20 “Building Toward Broadband for Colorado” conference.  I will provide posts about much of the content.
The panel included:
  • Tim Kunkleman – Colorado regulatory director for CenturyLink.
  • Pete Kirchhof – Colorado Telecommunications Association.
  • Russ Elliot – Brainstorm.
  • Dan Reno – Hughes Net.
  • Melissa Shannon – Optimum Government and Public Affairs.
  • Aaron Bailey – Xiocom Wireless/CityNet.
During the panel, Pat Swonger stood to speak briefly on behalf of EAGLE-Net.
Unfortunately, many of the opinions expressed by some of the panelists got my dander up and my notes are less than effective.  To summarize, the general opinion in the room seems to be one that favors changing the regulation or the subsidization models for the status quo model of private ownership of the natural monopoly element.  The status quo model – with various regulatory regimes and subsidization schemes – will not serve to resolve the broadband problem that pervades the United States and has left rural Colorado isolated from the 21st Century economy.  Colorado does not need new regulatory schemes to force those networks that are subsidized with tax dollars to provide service.  Colorado, as well as states and municipalities across the nation, needs to recognize that telecommunications infrastructure is a natural monopoly and should be treated as such.  We should build open access infrastructure as a public utility and allow multiple service providers to offer service.  Doing so significantly reduces the need for regulation or subsidization of private companies with public money.
Interestingly, the provider panel does not include state network owners.
Mr. Kunkleman argued that municipal entry is simply overbuilding and wasting money.  He argues that we should pay CenturyLink to close the cost gap.  Unfortunately, this method has been unsatisfactorily tried with both MNT and Colorado Tele-Health network. 

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