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Municipal Internet Services and the Curse of Technological Promises

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From 2005 onward, many communities across the western world talked of Municipal Broadband or WIFI and drew up plans, usually with the assistance of a willing communications consultant to provide a technological hub or backbone for the community. As an egalitarian ideal, it sounded great, but the promise lacked substance and in most communities has failed.

Five years ago, Sherwood leaders ambitiously set out to build and operate a fiber-optic network creating Internet connections to every home and business. They promised that the enterprise would pay for itself — and then some, creating excess revenue for other city projects.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

Plagued by loose planning and oversight, Sherwood’s experience exemplifies the risks and challenges of government-funded Internet projects now running in a handful of Oregon communities.

Source: Sherwood rethinks fiber-optic access for all –

This is another example of a technological promise that has not lived up to expectations. Years ago, we were promised large scale solar power, nuclear power that would be too cheap to meter, electric vehicles, machines that would make our lives one continuous holiday. It would have been reasonable to assume that these technological advances would be egalitarian, across the board, reducing poverty and hunger, giving wealth to all – but projects that are clearly intended to uphold this ideal are some of the first to falter, without a strong profit model, no corporation is going to show more than verbal support for such an initiative.

Where is Castlegar up to with the grand internet plan of 2005?

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.