Comcastic Sticker Mockup C1

Muni-FTTX: Policy Engineering

At heart, I am an engineer and engineer’s job is to connect research with implementation. Below is a hypothetical iterative workflow* for Internet policy in Seattle that could be generalized to other issues.


  1. Analyze mental models of the Internet.

    • See this (alpha quality) policy brief
  2. Test efficacy of potential mental models which support Internet growth.

    • Internet-as-Public-Land mental model: Internet is vital to society
    • Internet-as-tool: Internet speed and usage drive innovation
  3. For each activist silo, iterate over secondary mental models which make primary mental model more acceptable.

    • Consumer rights: ISP’s lie about performance (more of a frame)
      • Sue over Megabit/second vs Megabytes/second
      • Engage with justice department over monopoly investigations
    • Tech companies: Seattle’s Internet sucks (more of a mental model)
      • Business needs access to cheap, fast internet to stay competitive
      • Muninciple Fiber/internet as utility service which primarily reduces end-cost
      • “Fringe” benefit to attractive high-tech workers
    • Public interest
      • Access to first-rate internet for all income levels
      • Attraction for educators and students
      • Start ballot initiatives
      • Broadband jobs/new deal framing
    • Telecoms
      • Access to more customers
      • Public subsidies
  4. Create and A/B test of messaging based on correct framing.

    • Comcastic floppy disks: Seattle’s Internet sucks, Seattle needs muni-wifi, etc

      Diagram showing Comcastic internet speed sticker on a 5.5" Floppy Disk

  5. Develop issue/marketing packages for each group: figure out what activists and key players will use, make usage of issue packages cheap and easy.

    • Open-source all advertising material, use trademarks to restrict usage
    • 1,000 stickers = $30, $1,000 floppies = $0-200
    • Resell merchandise online, use cut of sales to support operations

Raising doubt about the Comcast’s credibility and the quality of Seattle’s Internet connections while the politicians and voters argue about the Internet’s impact on the future of Seattle  supports FTTH-as-Investment mental model and thus the pro-FTTX legislation.  Even if the secondary fights are futile, their headlines promote the acceptance of the primary mental model which supports the overall strategic goal.

* Of course, continual improvement processes turn this into a series of loops, not a single step-by-step process.

Internet connection speeds are advertised in Megabits per second (Mbps), but the public perceives that as Megabytes (MBps) per second -the standard for computer file storage.  Thus, an average consumer would reason that a CD has ~700 MB and that it would download in about a minute over a ~10 Mbps connection.  It’s actually closer to 10 minutes.

I checked with a lawyer, that’s misleading enough to get a court hearing.