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Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Jan 10, 2018

Pricing Report From Berkman Klein Center: Municipal Broadband Subscribers Get Better Rates

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/pricing-report-from-berkman-klein-center-municipal-broadband-subscribers-get-better-rates/

The FCC collects data from Internet Service Providers that reflects census blocks where they offer service to at least one premise. Currently, the Commission does not collect information about rates subscribers pay. A new report from the Berkman Klein Center dives into prices subscribers pay and also looks at trends from national companies as well as local publicly owned networks. The report, Community-Owned Fiber Networks: Value Leaders in America, supports what we’ve always found — that publicly owned networks offer the best all around value for the communities that make the investment.

Download and read the full report here.

In the Abstract, authors David Talbot, Kira Hessekiel, and Danielle Kehl describe their approach:

We collected advertised prices for residential data plans offered by 40 community-owned (typically municipally owned) Internet service providers (ISPs) that offer fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service. We then identified the least-expensive service that meets the federal definition of broadband—at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload—and compared advertised prices to those of private competitors in the same markets. We found that most community-owned FTTH networks charged less and offered prices that were clear and unchanging, whereas private ISPs typically charged initial low promotional or “teaser” rates that later sharply rose, usually after 12 months. We were able to make comparisons in 27 communities. We found that in 23 cases, the community-owned FTTH providers’ pricing was lower when averaged over four years. (Using a three year-average changed this fraction to 22 out of 27.) In the other 13 communities, comparisons were not possible, either because the private providers’ website terms of service deterred or prohibited data collection or because no competitor offered service that qualified as broadband. We also made the incidental finding that Comcast offered different prices and terms for the same service in different regions.

The report offers frank visual comparisons of the authors’ findings. Most of the comparisons show big national providers advertising offering service in the markets, but there are a few places where small independents advertise services similar to that offered by the publicly owned network.

Comcast Chaos

The authors investigation discovered support for what many Comcast subscribers have complained about — the cable provider’s rates and terms are far from consistent across the country. They discovered:

Presenting prices as a range – Comcast sometimes defined a monthly price as a range (between $2 and nearly $15 monthly), leaving it unclear what consumers would be paying.

Varying teaser rates – Comcast employed different teaser rate progressions, including a price increase after 12 months and two price increases over a period of three years.

Discounts for paperless billing and automatic payments – In four communities, the promotional price Comcast advertised in bold was only available to customers who allowed Comcast to automatically charge monthly payments to their credit card or bank. Prices were $10 higher for customers who did not agree, a practice that penalizes consumers without credit cards or bank accounts or who are reluctant to provide permission.

Service with or without a contract – In Issaquah, WA, and Longmont, CO, Comcast offered consumers a choice of taking service through a 12-month contract or doing so without a contract (and its potential cancellation fees) for $10 more a month. As a result, anyone who chose the plan without a contract but didn’t end up canceling within the first year would spend an additional $120.

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Featured Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by Christopher Mitchell | No Comments | Updated on Jan 9, 2018

North Dakota’s Exceptional Fiber Networks – Community Broadband Bits Podcast 288

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/north-dakotas-exceptional-fiber-networks-community-broadband-bits-podcast-288/

This is episode 288 of our Community Broadband Bits podcast! Community Broadband Bits is a short weekly podcast featuring interviews with people building community networks or otherwise involved with Internet policy. With only about 757,000 residents and more than 710,000 square miles North Dakota is ranked 53rd in population density among U.S. states, territories, and Washington DC…. Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Jan 5, 2018

Arlington, Virginia Bridges the Digital Divide

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/arlington-virginia-bridges-the-digital-divide/

People living at the Arlington Mill Residences in Arlington, Virginia, are on track to obtain no-cost high-quality connectivity this fall, likely through the ConnectArlington network. The initiative is an example of how one local community plans to use its publicly owned Internet infrastructure to reduce the digital divide on its home turf. The Homework Gap Within Arlington Mill’s 122… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Jan 8, 2018

Longmont Reduces Rate For Residential Gigabit Internet Service

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/longmont-reduces-rate-for-residential-gigabit-internet-service/

In the midst of price increase announcements from Comcast and others for 2018, gigabit subscribers in Longmont, Colorado, are enjoying a price decrease from their publicly owned network, NextLight. Happy New Year As of January 1st, standard residential gigabit Internet access rates dropped from $99.95 per month to $69.95 per month. According to Longmont Power and Communications (LPC), about… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Lisa Gonzalez | No Comments | Updated on Jan 2, 2018

Oconee County, South Carolina: Achieving Connectivity Goals Beyond AT&T Obstruction

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/oconee-county-south-carolina-achieving-connectivity-goals-beyond-att-obstruction/

Most residents and businesses in Oconee County, South Carolina, used dial-up connections when county officials applied for stimulus funding in 2010; there were still people in the county with no Internet access at all. A few had DSL connections, but even county facilities struggled with antiquated infrastructure. After an AT&T attack upended their plan to offer… Continue reading