In the News: Christopher Mitchell
January 5th, 2018
Media Outlet: ArsTechnica
Recently, Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society released a study detailing the pricing in municipal broadband networks versus large-scale Internet service providers. ArsTechnica technology reporter Jon Brodkin covered the study and its outcomes that municipal broadband networks often have more transparent and are cheaper.
Here’s ILSR’s contribution:
Study focuses on fiber
The researchers chose the communities included in the report from data collected by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), which has identified about 400 community-owned networks in the US.
“We focused specifically on 40 community networks on the ILSR’s list that offer ﬁber-to-the-home (FTTH) service—as opposed to service from DSL, coaxial cable, or hybrid technology,” the study said.
It’s impressive that community-run fiber networks are so often cheaper than private cable services, for several reasons outlined in the report: “We reasoned that a targeted study of community-owned FTTH networks provided a valid subset and would be fair to the local private competitors because ﬁber is the most expensive technology to deploy and would have been installed more recently (with capital costs still being paid off in many cases). In addition, ﬁber—the most advanced and versatile technology—is the likely choice for any future network construction.”
The report was written as part of the Berkman Klein Center’s Responsive Communities Initiative. …
UPDATE: Some commenters have asked whether building municipal broadband networks raises tax dollars. While that isn’t addressed in the Harvard study, it’s a topic we’ve covered several times. “Most [municipal] networks sell bonds to private investors who are repaid by revenues from the network. No taxpayer dollars,” Christopher Mitchell, director of the ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, told us in this 2014 story. Network revenue often ends up subsidizing other municipal services.
You can find more information in an ILSR report titled, Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies.