Arstechnica had a nice article yesterday by Timothy Lee entitled The Long Tail following up on Derek Slater's article last week on the Google Public Policy Blog entitled What if you could own your Internet connection? Both articles are about a pilot project in Ottawa.
The "tail" in Timothy's article is the "last mile" (or as I prefer, "first mile") fiber connection from individual homes to a network peering point or other aggregation point where individuals can then choose from among multiple competing ISPs. The importance is, as Timothy Lee puts it,
Without the expense of rolling out last mile infrastructure to every home, many more ISPs could afford to serve a given neighborhood by running wiring to the peering point, leading to more competition and lower prices. Perhaps best of all, the growth of customer-owned fiber could make debates over "open access" and network neutrality moot, as robust telecom competition should prevent the worst of the monopolistic behavior exhibited by telco and cable incumbents.
Typical costs run below $3000 per household depending on density and the number of households that agree to participate. Considering the cost of a home, this is one investment that should easily increase the value of the home, most likely by much more than the cost!
Bill is driving the Ottawa trial and is the leading proponent of condominium fiber as described in his presentations here. His work has also had a major impact on my thinking about "layer zero" competition.
Either way, articles on the Google blog and at Arstechnica will help promote this excellent concept and, hopefully, improve the quality of discussion in policy circles.