Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Does your city offer Internet service? Why not?


The community broadband map on the left shows the 133 US cities that offer residents Internet service. Is your city one of them?

It is common for local government to offer services like gas, electricity, water and sewage disposal to residents. Why do only 133 cities offer Internet service?

The reasons are different in each case, but one factor that is common to every case is that the telephone and cable companies do not want competition from cities. They fight to block municipal Internet services in many ways. In some states they have even gotten laws passed to prohibit cities from offering Internet service. The broadband preemption map on the right shows states with legislation prohibiting or making it difficult for cities to offer Internet service to residents.

(Both maps are interactive -- you can get further detail on the services offered and the restrictions placed on them by visiting the map pages and clicking on them).

The maps are taken from a report called Publicly Owned Broadband Networks: Averting the Looming Broadband Monopoly that was written by Christopher Mitchell and published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on March 23, 2011. You should also read Bob Frankston's comment on the report.

You may also be interested in Breaking the Broadband Monopoly, a report Mitchell wrote last May. It covers similar ground and includes many examples of municipal networks.

(We have also covered related topics on this blog in the past).

AT&T, the nations second largest wireless Internet service provider is trying to acquire T-Mobile, the fourth largest provider. If the acquisition is approved, how will that affect wireless Internet competition, service, and prices?

What are the arguments for and against municipal Internet service?

Friday, March 04, 2011

Wall Street Journal -- MBA writing is important and needs to improve

The Wall Street Journal just published an article on the decline in writing and presentation skills of MBAs. The article reports that GMAT (admission test) writing scores are down. They also interviewed employers at General Mills, Booz Allen Hamilton and Morgan Stanley, who are dissatisfied with the writing ability of newly hired MBAs. In response, business schools at The University of Pennsylvania, The University of Rochester, Northeastern University and Cornell University have increased the emphasis on writing in their MBA programs.

The article speculates that some of the decline may be due to increased numbers of foreign students and poor habits picked up on the Internet. My own belief is that writing and careful reading are more important in the Internet era than they were before. Internet writing is also different than writing for print -- it is more likely to be conversational, collaborative and concise.

I consider Internet reading and writing skills to be part of basic IT literacy, and have created several teaching modules on the topic. I am also working on a teaching module on presentations, which are also discussed in the article.