Once again reality defies the doomsayers as broadband and cable TV competition has reached the rural town of Lufkin, Tex. Consolidated Communications, the local telephone company serving the city of 32,709 people and 12,247 households, inaugurated digital IPTV this week, offering some 200 local and premium TV channels as well as video on demand (also demonstrating that broadband is not the sole purview of the big cable companies and the former Bells). Personally, I’ve driven through Lufkin on several occasions. Probably its principal commercial advantage is that it is located at the intersection of two major highways, U.S. 59 and 69, that cut through east Texas. If we listen to the voices who rail against video franchise reform (which passed in Texas) and in favor of costly municipal broadband projects, this is the sort of thing that wasn’t supposed to happen. Rural markets are undesirable, goes the conventional wisdom. No one wants to serve them. Market mechanisms, we have been told, have failed. Still, Lufkin residents now have three choices for broadbandÃ¢â?¬â??phone, cable and satellite.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.