In the News: Community Broadband Networks
April 22nd, 2018
Media Outlet: The Washington Post
Mark Howell, the Chief Information Officer for the town of Concord, Massachusetts wrote an article for The Washington Post, detailing the steps that his community has taken to reclaim their authority over Internet access and the cast threat posed by the repeal of net neutrality. In his piece, he cites our comprehensive Community Networks Map to detail the investments that hundreds of communities have taken to improve their Internet access.
Here’s the section where he cites us:
Some people object to municipal broadband out of concern that it could end up costing the government money. While that’s possible, there are many ways to do it responsibly and economically. Fiber-optic cable is the type of decades-long infrastructure investment that municipalities are generally good at managing, such as sewer systems and roads.
In Concord, we issued bonds to get started, and they will eventually be repaid by revenue from customers. So far, broadband revenue is covering our operating costs. The debt is financing the cost of adding about 300 customers per year, and we project that by 2020, revenue will be covering these expansion costs as well. On top of that, there are the benefits that come with being a place that offers high-quality, high-speed Internet to homes and businesses.
Hundreds of other cities, towns and counties are also providing Internet service in various ways. For communities that don’t already own their electric utility as we do, it’s harder to get started but still possible. In Leverett, Mass., which had very poor cell and cable service, the town decided to borrow funds to build a fiber-optic network to every house. To operate the service, it contracted with another municipality’s electric utility that was already providing Internet. Now anyone in Leverett can get broadband for about $50 per month.
The lesson from our experience is clear: Washington and the big telecoms are letting us down, but local leaders can protect people’s rights and expand access to quality Internet with municipal broadband.