Municipal nets, municipal electric power, and learning from history

David Weinberger, Learning Circuits, Jul 26, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Weinberger writes, "The debate over whether municipalities should be allowed to provide Internet access has been heating up. Twenty states ban it. Tom Wheeler, the chair of the FCC, has said he wants to “preempt” those laws. Congress is maneuvering to extend the ban nationwide." This is not just a U.S. issue because similar pressures exist worldwide. There`s a good list of four lessons from the deployment of electricity: private firms won't provide universal service (or even close to it); unregulated growth leads to the emergence of huge monopolies; these monopolists will use their wealth to influence policy; and the best way to keep process low and service high is to ensure competition from the public sector. All these are also true of learning and learning resources.

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