Monopoly Municipal Internet

fiberoptic.jpg Monopolies sometimes come in small sizes:
Seven years ago, the neighborhood’s homeowners association, set up by the developer Van Metre Homes, inked an exclusive deal with OpenBand, a small Dulles firm, to provide Internet, cable and phone service to all 1,100 homes. Residents say they are now locked into an expensive, decades-long contract for second-rate services.

Erika Hodell-Cotti, who lives on Sunstone Court, says she cannot work from home because her Internet connection frequently fizzles out. The teenagers who live next door play online Xbox games at friends’ houses where speeds are faster. Dozens of neighbors have installed satellite dishes on their roofs and backyard decks, fed up with cable channels that sometimes dissolve into snowy static.

In Suburbs, Locked Into a High-Tech Lure, Fiber-Optic Service Disappoints Many, but Contracts Span Decades, By Kim Hart, Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, May 21, 2007; Page A01

The problem appears to be that the provider used a single technology and now has no incentive to upgrade. I suppose this is another example of how what Internet participants actually want is the Internet, not a specific delivery technology. A better contract, requiring the provider to at least keep up with prevailing standards, would have helped a lot.