Buhler? Buhler?

Fiber OpticsIn 2004, I spent a considerable amount of time lobbying in favor of municipal fiber, known as UTOPIA. Part of my effort was in front of the Salt Lake City council, including a speech that is archived here.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I find that Councilman Dave Buhler, on Comcast’s dime, has been testifying in front of officials in Nashville, telling a story that completely contradicts my testimony from 2004.

So I submitted the following to the Nashville City Paper:

It’s nice to know that Dave Buhler, a councilman from my city of Salt Lake is able to find work moonlighting for Comcast in Nashville. I only wish he would have listened closer to my testimony on municipal fiber in his other job.

In fact, businesses and individuals in Salt Lake City did and continue to demand municipal fiber. As founder and president of Utah’s first Internet Service Provider, XMission, I hear this from them continually. The current options of Qwest DSL and Comcast cable do not have anywhere near 100% coverage after nearly a decade of deployment and broken promises. Even more baffling about Mr. Buhler’s statements is that my business is across the street from city offices and we’ve repeatedly “clamored” for better data infrastructure because it is what our customers are not able to get.

Last, the assertion that dial-up meets everyones’ needs is simply flat out wrong. XMission’s dial-up subscribers have plummeted over the past five years along with our customer base due to the fact that we are only allowed to serve their broadband needs on Qwest DSL. Where Qwest does not deploy DSL, the customer will use Comcast and reluctantly stop using our service because they demand broadband facilities. Mr. Buhler’s vision of dial-up is more suited for 1995.

Councilman Buhler, the free market for broadband is failing Salt Lake City and it’s failing America. Countries like South Korea and Sweden recognize the economic force that is fiber-based infrastructure. Their government involvement has knocked the USA to 16th on broadband deployment worldwide. We need leadership and representation that not only has vision for the future, but also listens to what their constituents are saying right now.

11 thoughts on “Buhler? Buhler?

  1. I cannot believe he said that! There’s no way there are more dial-up subscribers in SLC. Maybe in areas where broadband isn’t available, but to try to use that to say dial-up is the preferred method of connecting to the internet is simply a case of twisting statistics, though I don’t believe he used any real numbers to back up his statement. The things he said were outright lies! I guess that if Bush can do it and get away with it, why can’t Councilman Buhler? It makes me sick that the people making laws and decisions about technology don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, or else lie to help a company like Comcast. I just wish people were smarter, and would open their eyes – the average Utahn doesn’t need to understand technology to understand that a person like you should be involved in techoology decision-making for them. I truly hope Utah sees that this November.

  2. I can easily believe he said that, but that’s more a matter of me being cynical than anything else.

    I’m one of those former XMission dial-up customers who, after seven years of outstanding service, reluctantly left XMission for Comcast because it was the only available quasi-broadband service where I live. I’ve since, and very happily, left Comcast for iProvo. My only complaint at this point is that iProvo still only allows a choice between two providers, neither of which is remotely comparable to the quality of technical service and customer service I enjoyed as an XMission customer. The very day that XMission becomes available on iProvo, I’m coming back. Meanwhile, you’ve certainly got my vote in November!

  3. Pete,
    I really do hope that UTOPIA covers my sub-division because I would LOVE to switch to XMission. Comcast drives me up a wall! I agree that the broadband needs of Utah just aren’t being met currently. Thank you for working so hard to help the users of Utah. Keep up the good work and good luck in November!

  4. First, does Dave Buhler use the Internet at speeds faster than dial-up — at work or home — or is he perfectly content with dial-up service himself? I find it hard to believe that he would be okay with dial-up for work and home use.

    Second, I LOVE Xmission and am extremely thankful that I can use their services in Herriman. I was a little nervous going from dial-up to DSL, having to incorporate Qwest into the mix, but it’s worked okay. (I also point out that in the beginning, I had some trouble with Qwest, but the service people at Xmission were more than happy to help me get it resolved.

  5. I followed a link that was published with a report about the Nashville muni-project.
    Here in Michigan we have had Comcast hanging over us like the angel of death for 25 years. At one point they were the ONLY cable provider in the Metro-Detroit area; getting laws passed on a municipal level to make them the “preferred city provider” of cable and then high-speed Internet.
    Some municipalities have loosened the reigns and allowed others in. As soon as I moved 8 WHOLE miles where Comcast was the “preferred provider” I switched immediately to Wide Open West.
    One other city, a little smaller than Detroit, has rolled out LIMITED wireless muni-broadband; Pontiac. The problem is that Pontiac has about half of their residents living at or below the poverty level. I am not sure if Comcast has a presence in Pontiac or not. I do know the Verizon pushed it. I have heard that there are three or four providers on the muni-network in Pontiac now.
    The ONLY way these politicians are going to understand is when we make them jobless when they come up for election. The only right we really have is the right to vote. Make yourself heard in SLC by voting in your next municipal elections. Good luck and God bless SLC!

  6. I am another very satisfied Xmission DSL customer & Ashdown supporter. Dave Buhler is MY city councilman. You can be sure he will hear from me about this, and my voting precinct will also hear about it.

    Duh, Dave Buhler – never knew your brain was for hire for so little…
    June Taylor

  7. To quote ‘“So if most of our residents continue to use dial-up over faster, readily available technologies, and business is not clamoring for our involvement, exactly who was this going to be built for?”’

    It seems there have been similar arguments made over many other technological advances too. If you transported Mr. B back a hundred years city gas, kerosene lamps, and lanterns would have been meeting the lighting needs of people so we would never have to electrify. I know the argument is “let the market take care of it” but time has shown that the market isn’t very interested in providing services to those where they won’t make a lot of profit. Again to go back to electricity–it wasn’t until after WWII that this coutry was hooked up to the electrical grid and that wasn’t because of the generosity of private companies. The federal government took on a massive electrification project that offered money to get people in rural areas electrified.

    Now ultimatley some peopole wouldn’t see broadband access as “essential.” Keep in mind that folks in the early days of electricity didn’t think it was essential either.

  8. Since I’m not a regular visitor to Pete’s site, I appreciated a friend forwarding this to me. What I said was: “Most Salt Lake City residents already have access to high speed Internet—DSL, cable broadband, or wireless. According to UTOPIA’s own market-study, by more than two-to-one, SLC internet users choose dial-up. Why? One can only assume because it adequately meets their needs or because they are not willing to pay for faster connectivity.” This is an astounding fact from THEIR study–even more astounding since they were estimating take-rates of over 50%. I went on to say that of course, these “high speed connections” are not comparable to fiber, however, considerably faster than dial-up.

    I actually did mention that Pete spoke up in favor of UTOPIA (didn’t mention him by name, but referred to him as the owner of a local ISP.) However, it is true that we did not hear from the business community at large or any business that I can recall, that they could not obtain the connectivity they need in SLC. (As I pointed out, there were complaints about providers and about cost.)

    I was not paid for my comments, am not a “consultant” for Comcast. In fact, the most recent vote of the City Council in which they had an interest–whether or not to allow th Qwest franchise agreement to provide video services in SLC in direct competition with Comcast–was opposed by Comcast and I supported it.

    Clearly Pete has an interest in UTOPIA succeeding. I hope it does for the sake of the cities who put taxpayer dollars at risk to support it. As I also told the Nashville City Council, the jury is out on whether or not that will be the case.

    Pete, if you’d like my full statement so you can post it on your sight, I’d be pleased to send it to you.

  9. Dave, thank you for your comments. As a business owner, I testified before you in regards to the need. I do recall a number of others. I’m not sure if that is considered “at large”, but it was more than zero. It should also be noted that the broadband studies are from 2002 and earlier. This is like stating there is no demand for Internet, but taking it from a study in 1993.

    I apologize if I misconstrued you receiving reimbursement from Comcast. Who paid for your trip?

    I would be happy to post your statement if you want to email it to me. You are also free to put it in the comments here.

  10. Thanks Pete for your willingness to share my statement. Looks like I can’t attach here (it’s a little long to paste), so send me email address and I will send it.

    In response to your response– The reason I quoted their now three-year old market study is because I was explaining why a majority of the SLC Council decided in 2004 to pull out of UTOPIA. I never suggested that these are the numbers relying on dial-up now. In fact, I stated in answer to questions that more cable and DSL has been deployed since we pulled out of UTOPIA. The context is important (something the Nashville newspaper didn’t do a very good job providing.)

    My statement says (paraphrasing) no SLC business owner told us they needed UTOPIA in order to have access to the telecommunications they need. That isn’t the same as saying that no business people spoke in favor of UTOPIA.

    The Nashville task force had previously heard from Paul Morris of UTOPIA. I was invited by the Tennessee Cable Association to give my perspective (apparently they had read my statement on why I voted to pull out of UTOPIA on the internet.) They paid my travel costs (airfare and one night hotel)and I went on my own time without any compensation because I felt it was important that they hear both sides rather than the sales-pitch only.

  11. nobody cares about you or your opinions, Ashdown. You’re a hack. Don’t waste your time running for office again.

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