A Business Journal story yesterday reveals that Time Warner Cable is adding 81 jobs in Kansas City, an increase of 9% over its present area workforce:
The company, which currently employs about 900 locally, wants to fill customer service, finance, sales and other positions.
These are the jobs that result from competition – which does not exist when the providers a limited to a complacent duopoly comprised of a single cable company and a single telephone company. This is one of the way that community networks create jobs.
Community Networks create traditional jobs to offer their own services (and a multiplier effect by using local accounting, local marketing, and other services). But they also create more revenue for local papers (advertising) and job opportunities with rival companies that suddenly need to fight for subscribers.
On a different track, Light Reading says it has a copy of Google’s franchise with the city and notes that Google is under no obligation to serve everyone in the city. However, Karl Bode rightly notes that it was the state legislature in Kansas, flush with AT&T campaign contributions, that revoked the authority of local governments to require cable providers to serve everyone.
Presently, 14 “fiberhoods” in Kansas and 49 in Missouri have met the registration goals and will be among the first served. Google will build to any fiberhood that meets the minimum threshold of interest.
One cannot blame Google then for only building where they will profit. In fact, this is what one would expect any rational profit-maximizing company to do. It is a failure of governance to require that everyone have access to an essential infrastructure. And we know what causes these failures of governance – systematic legalized bribery in our campaign finance system.
Light Reading does note that the franchise is far more generous to Google than overbuilders can typically negotiate. This is a result of Google offering such a unique product. Local leaders decided to effectively subsidize Google’s network with favorable terms in the right-of-way, including making inspections as quick and painless as possible. Someone has to pay for these costs, and we expect it will be local taxpayers. Such a cost may or may not be “fair” to taxpayers, we leave it to them to decide. However, we believe the taxpayers should have some measure of control over any infrastructure that is built with their money.
As we have said before, we watch Kansas City with interest and hope Google succeeds (anything else would be incorrectly used to justify our pathetic status quo in broadband). But we believe the communities that build their own networks will do much better in the long term.
Correction: We originally reported 91 jobs, not 81.