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Yeah. I think markets are amazing when you have the right conditions such that you get plenty of sellers, plenty of buyers, and switching vendors is easy.

But the US market mostly doesn't have plenty of sellers. You really want at least 3 to get good competition, and that's very rare:


My first choice is strong competition, and I live in one of the few US areas that have that. It's great! I have a gigabit both ways for less than my mobile bill. But my clear second choice is locally owned municipal broadband that can be held accountable by the people.

My very last choice is a local monopoly owned by a giant national corporation, because then we get the the worst features of communism (incompetence, poor service, abysmal customer support) and the worst features of capitalism (high prices, exploitative behavior, use of profits to buy legislation).

The question is not what is best, but how much competition do you need to beat a government-run service? Here in D.C., with Uber/Lyft versus Metro, that number is just two. Indeed, even a giant national monopoly is probably better than your typical government service. Even Windows 95 was better than most of the public services in D.C.

Depends on the government, I suppose. And your criteria for comparison.

Broadband in particular is very infrastructure-ish. It's much more like a water utility or traffic lights than a service business like on-demand personal drivers. Many governments run infrastructure quite well.

What infrastructure is broadband most like? The water utility that's poisoning people with lead: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dcs-decade-old-problem-.... The sewer utility that's dumping raw sewage into the local river: https://wtop.com/dc/2017/07/heavy-rain-raw-sewage-potomac-an.... Or the subway infrastructure that constantly catches fire? https://www.arlnow.com/2018/01/22/developing-track-fire-at-p....

I've lived in several major cities: Baltimore, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago. Out of those, I might trust Chicago to run municipal broadband. For the others, I'd pick Comcast any day of the week.

Ok. I've lived in Grand Rapids, Chicago, Sydney, London, and San Francisco. I'd trust all of them except maybe Chicago. People have different opinions and different experiences.

Turning toward actual data, in general, the US's water quality is good: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_water_quality_in_the_...

In the US most water systems are run by local governments, and generally it works out fine.

You’d trust the people who run BART and CalTrain with your broadband? BART’s on time performance is 87% arriving within 5 minutes of schedule for all trains. In a place that basically has no weather. In Chicago, 83% of trains arrive within a minute of schedule during rush periods.

Neither BART nor Caltrain is run by the city of San Francisco. And I think broadband is much easier to run than an overloaded, underfunded transport system.

If you're going to keep setting up straw men, could you make them more relevant? Thanks.

Not that I disagree with your premise, but as someone who's never livd in America's most corrupt city, what is it about Chicago that inspires so much confidence with regard to municipal broadband?

Midwestern sensibility? DC Metro defines “on time” during the am rush as headway + 2 minutes, so a train can be 10 minutes late and still “on time.” Even then it hits only 87%. In Chicago, 83% of L trains arrive within a minute of schedule. And Chicago is dealing with a hundred year old system and tons of snow, while DC’s system dates to the 1970s and the climate is mild.

Thanks for the explanation.

Like I said, I know very little about the region. While I certainly laud WMATA for upgrading the cars, I definitely agree that service quality is declining enough that if I need to be in DC for something promptly, I'll usually leave 30 minutes early, and then wonder why I didn't just drive in the first place.

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