A deal for NH’s cities
By Jody Reese
Small cities all over the country are vying to be part of Google’s mega-fast Internet experiment. Google is offering to bring Internet speeds 100 times faster than current speeds to about 20 small U.S. cities.
Interestingly, Manchester, Nashua and Concord have not expressed any interest in this experiment.
That’s too bad.
Google is offering an incredible deal. Cheap, extremely fast Internet for the entire city at no cost to the city. Details are still coming out, but the gist of it is that you’d get speeds of 100 times current cable broadband speeds for about $40. A commercial service like this would cost a business somewhere in the range of $700 to $1,000 per month in this area now. America has lagged behind Europe and the developed parts of Asia in offering fast and inexpensive Internet. In London or Paris people get Internet speeds twice as fast as we get for less than half the price.
The culprit is our outdated and cumbersome cable system where companies are given monopolies in communities in exchange for kicking back a few bucks to the local governments. In other words we have a government-created monopoly that is costing consumers billions of dollars a year.
It’s a pretty awesome system for Comcast and Time Warner. They control the television content and the access to content through their networks. These cable giants actually have a disincentive to offer faster connection speeds for fear you might by-pass their cable television offerings and find your own television offerings on the Web.
Cities all over the country are setting up Web sites, putting up videos on YouTube and offering fast-track approvals if Google picks them. But we haven’t heard a peep from any of New Hampshire’s largest cities — and we’re one of the most wired states in the country.
This would be a huge boon to the local economy. Think about all the businesses that could be opened locally, from Web hosting to graphics; southern New Hampshire could become a mini Silicon Valley of the East. Broadband 100 times faster than is currently available would be a huge advantage for our local economy. Imagine telling potential relocating business that we’re one of the Google towns with superfast Internet connections for every business and home in the area.
The big “but” here — and it’s a big one for Manchester, Nashua and Concord — is the requirement that our cities make the process of installing the high-speed cable bureaucracy-free. Is that even possible for us?
Frankly I would hope that an opportunity like this would be an excuse to revamp our cumbersome business permitting processes. Manchester recently took a step in that direction by looking at changing building codes to allow for historical features.
Our area is small enough that we can be nimble and prepare for the future as opposed to a huge unwieldy bureaucracy like New York City, yet it’s New York City that has taken dramatic steps to make its government more efficient, not us.
Where is our spirit of innovation?