I've followed with interest the story of this guy when he started about a year ago. And I'm impressed by how much progress he has made. This is a good example of "own your own tech" taken to the next level.
When the pandemic started, Jared Maunch, just like everyone else, needed more broadband internet in order to move his activities online.
There was one problem though: Maunch lives in a rural community in Michigan with no broadband internet. After a lot of insistence, Comcast proposed that Maunch should pay them $50k in order to cover the cost of a cable laid from their nearest station to his house, while AT&T could only guarantee a 1.5 Mbps connection.
So he took things into his hands, he negotiated contracts with companies providing optical fiber and wires at scale, he laid off the cables himself, and he started his own ISP.
He's now selling 100 Mbps connections to his rural neighbours for $55 a month, and he's got hundreds of households already connected. Hundreds of people who, without him, would have never had access to broadband connections.
Of course not all the rural and under-serviced area are lucky enough to have an all-resourceful engineer who takes initiative to start his own ISP after the major connectivity gatekeepers dismissed the project as too expensive for them. But his success story should inspire other people to do the same. Starting an ISP, after all, is a matter of connecting network devices that in most of the cases already exist, and there's no reason why the industry should be a walled garden only inhabited by a couple of players.
To the hardcore capitalists out there: this is the kind of capitalism that I'd like to see more.
Our capitalism is sick because it degenerated into a few isolated monopolies and oligopolies with little to no incentive to further innovate.
Innovation in a saturated market where all the quick wins have been exploited is either risky or expensive, and if you have no mechanisms of natural selection (i.e. competition from smaller players) then the only interest of those monopolies will be to defend their revenue.
Why on earth would I care to bring broadband internet to a small rural community if the ROI is likely to be negative, when I can simply squeeze more revenue from the low hanging fruits that I have by providing more services to a mostly urban, wealthier and already well-serviced marker?
And here is where we have a problem. We have defined some things (like access to drinkable water, electricity or broadband internet) as inalienable human rights, at least in the West. But then we have delegated the implementation of those tasks to private companies whose interest is to maximize their profit margins, not to provide the service to everyone.
If we define something as a basic need, then we need to make sure that that need is fulfilled even when its implementation is not profitable. And if large monopolies weigh their ROI more that their ability to provide more people with a better service (another capitalist myth that is broken more often than it is confirmed), then the government should do everything in its powers to reward the small players and make sure that they get large enough to challenge the large monopolies - at least on a local scale.
@ComradeFenix China's system is also far from perfect. Their infamous 996 working culture is quite far from the idea of a workers' democracy - in Soviet Russia they used to call it with a different name, Stakanovism, but it meant the same thing: over-working and under-rewarding.
Long-term central planning is definitely something that we can learn from, as it incentivizes governments to take more risk, as well as the responsibility for providing things that are required but too unprofitable for the market to take care of. But the way they do it comes with too many trade-offs.
The planning is as good as the people who do it, and if all the major planning is in the hands of a very centralized one-party system then the chances to screw up increase a lot - see the Great Famine caused by Mao's centralized agriculture policies, or the large number of empty houses and unused infrastructure projects.
Plus, keeping a single party in charge of planning for the long-term clashes with the idea of democracy itself. A plan for the next 10 years can only work if you're planning to be there for the next 10 years.
I believe that there should still be space for private entrepreneurship and a healthy and open market. But that space needs to be much more constrained that what it is today. The market can be a playground, competition among private actors fosters innovation just like a bit of pepper gives a boring plate a boost, or a little inflation keeps an economy running.
But, just like too much pepper spoils a plate and too much inflation causes an economy to crash, the boundaries and rules of the market must be clearly defined in order to avoid that one or two bullies come to dominate the playground and don't let anybody else play. Or that some reckless actors destroy the playground and ask others to pay for their mistakes. And, most of all, we need to make it very clear that the State *must* have an active role in managing those things (like water, electricity, railways, roads, monuments, broadband connectivity...) that are essential but not necessarily profitable.
If a rural community needs broadband connectivity, and it doesn't get it because Comcast and AT&T have no financial incentive, they should still get it, and the State should intervene to make sure that they do.
A platform about automation, open-source, software development, data science, science and tech.